Ayasha Interviews Lisa Monastyrova

1. Can you tell us about yourself, your hobbies and interests?

Hello! I am Lisa, a PhD student from Ukraine and a graduate of the first EUROSUD cohort 2019-21. My academic interests lie in the area of social exclusion, inequality and belonging in contemporary European societies. I am also keen on languages, poetry and painting – which altogether probably explains why studying Southern Europe was one of the best decisions I had ever taken.

2. Could you share your experience of becoming an Erasmus Mundus student?

Pursuing an Erasmus Mundus master and doing it in Southern Europe were for me two parts of the same story: I first learned about EM programmes during an academic exchange in Spain as an undergraduate. As I discovered the region and grew aware of its relevancy to the themes I felt most strongly about as a researcher and citizen, I began to cherish what seemed then a wild dream. In fact, this geographical choice was not that remote from my homeland. Ukraine can boast, historically, a robust South European spirit: from having hosted ancient Greek colonies in the Mykolaiv and Odesa regions, to Genovese settlements in the medieval Crimea, to the entirely Mediterranean port city of Odesa, founded by a Spaniard José de Ribas and governed by a French duke de Richelieu.

3. What was your study track on EUROSUD? How was your experience?

I was confident about my preferred track since applying: it was Universidad Autónoma de Madrid – LUISS Guido Carli (Rome). A semester at the UAM was a chance to add the North African dimension to our study focus. On a different note, living the first wave of the pandemic as a Madrilenian was unforgettable – and would have been much more challenging without the pastoral support of our programme. The second year in Rome was equally rewarding; I would recommend LUISS for students interested in the institutional and economic workings of the EU.

4. What is one of the most memorable experiences you had while studying in the EUROSUD program?

The deepest gratitude I feel to these two years relates to a completely non-academic aspect: I finished the programme by marrying a classmate! For the two of us, EUROSUD has definitely been a life-changer.

5. What are your future projects and aspirations?

Pursuing a research track allowed me to conduct an independent project on the topic of my utmost interest – human trafficking, labour exploitation and social exclusion and encouraged me to apply for a PhD studentship on this subject just as I was preparing for the dissertation viva last July. In February 2022, I started a three-year funded doctorate at the Open University in the UK. Getting through the proposal drafting, interviewing and eventually, the bureaucratic pains of the visa application would have been impossible without the expertise and skills I had gained, and support enjoyed throughout the master’s. Where this PhD in Law (an unexpected turn for an IR student) will take me, remains to be seen – but for now I do have an ambition to meaningfully add to the (hopefully, not only scientific) knowledge.

6. Your advice and recommendations for current and future EUROSUD students

Trying out as many opportunities as you can is a great way to understand your aspirations, but relaxing for a while, travelling and knowing people, is an equally important contribution to your journey. In a nutshell: being an Erasmus Mundus student will not always like you may have imagined, but it is up to you to make this experience uniquely yours.














By Ayasha Sarybayeva, EUROSUD Erasmus Mundus Social Media and Programme Promotion Officer