Ayasha interviews Madina

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

I’m Madina from Kazakhstan. I have my background in International Relations and recently received my master’s degree in South European Studies. I am a huge coffee lover and can speak four languages. My area of interest is Central Asian and Turkic anthropology, history, and politics.

2. Could you share your experience of becoming an Erasmus Mundus student? Coming from Kazakhstan, how did you decide to study Southern Europe?

I will never get tired of telling everyone that everything started from Enrique Iglesias (giggling). As a teenager, I was fond of listening to his music in the Spanish language on loop. That’s how my interest and passion for Spanish culture took a start. Afterwards, during my bachelor’s degree, I had been studying Spanish as my second professional language for two years. As an undergrad student, I had a class on Introduction of World History where I discovered that history and nations of South European countries went through the same political route that Central Asian states are currently passing, namely hybrid or authoritarian political regimes, ethnic cleavages, corruption, and migration. Apart from that, I also noticed mental and cultural similarities between these two regions such as hospitality, strong family ties, and friendliness. These factors in sum nudged me to press the ‘apply button’ when I bumped on the EUROSUD Program. I was preparing myself very deliberately and started collecting necessary docs before two months to the deadline. Other than that, I spent the same amount of time preparing for the IELTS and passing it.

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

I chose the academic track (Glasgow-Madrid-Italy). I must admit I regretted it a bit at the beginning because we had more classes to study and more workload to do. Nevertheless, the heaven-like climate of Italy in combination with gelato and high-quality education delivered by LUISS made me forget regrets in a flash. Initially, I should have studied in Greece, but in the middle of the second semester, I realised that my areas of interest had been altering. When I was applying to the program, I had a huge interest in the Balkan countries and I was eager to learn the political development of these countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, courses in Greece also covered contemporary Turkish politics which topped up my desire to choose Greece because I studied in Turkey for a while and became aware of the importance of Turkey in the Central Asian region. Nevertheless, while studying at the program my visions and goals have changed: somehow it became clear to me that I would like to explore a tangled, diverse but united institution named the European Union. I want to thank the EUROSUD’s executive board for allowing me to change the path because it had an invaluable effect on my life afterwards.

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

Definitely, writing the dissertation. Owing to this experience I revised the whole Research Methods class within a week and learned how to conduct qualitative analysis in three days. Furthermore, surprisingly for myself too, I mastered coding sentences and using a software program in a couple of weeks. I would sum up by saying that this experience taught me self-discipline and self-study. Besides, I really miss every now and then the classes of Ignacio and Leila when you could have a decent cup of Arabic tea with spices and biscuits aside. I was literally feeling like I was in the Middle East.

5. What are your future projects and aspirations?

So far to enrich my working experience.

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

Enjoy! Study! Travel every two weeks! Save up the money! Be Grateful! Try Arabic tea with spices.


by Ayasha Sarybayeva: EUROSUD Erasmus Mundus Social Media and Programme Promotion Officer