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Kateryna Zarembo

FullSizeRender PhD student, National Institute for Strategic Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Duration of the trip: 1. December - 31. December 2015

I had several objectives for my research trip to Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. In the first place, I was going to develop a syllabus for the "European Foreign and Security Policy" course to be able to teach at NAUKMA Master Program "German and European Studies". Secondly, I hoped to get peer review from the colleagues at the University for an article, which I had written based on my PhD research. Last but not least, I was going to collect some advice and literature on the methodology of research in social sciences and didactics of teaching, with a view to strengthening my overall capacity as an academic.



I must say that I fulfilled all my objectives. Overall, my work components at the Friedrich Schiller University were as follows:

- working with the resources available through the Jena University library;

- individual consultations with Professor Rafael Biermann and other members of the faculty;

- participating in the PhD retreat;

- attending an intensive German language course at the FSU Language Centre.

Let me dwell on each of these components in more detail.

I did my best to make the most of the ample resources of the Jena University library, which are incomparable to that of the Ukrainian higher education institutions. Apart from the literature for the syllabus and the article, I was happy to find the newest sources on research methodology, which are used as textbooks, inter alia, at the ECPR School in Methods and Techniques. I also was allowed to use some books from Professor's Biermann private library, which was an additional asset.

Professor Biermann was very kind to provide me with special attention during my research trip. In just one months of my stay in Jena he made time to meet with me trice and to provide me with specific consultations on the draft syllabus and the draft article. His feedback was extremely valuable and increased the quality of both the syllabus and the article greatly. As mentioned above, he not only recommended the literature but also actually shared it with me when I could not obtain it by other means.

Apart from Professor Biermann, I met and consulted with Mr. Matthias Schultze and Ms. Carolina Rehrmann, both members of the faculty. Matthias Schultze generously shared with me numerous works on research methodology, while Carolina Rehrmann provided me with some insights into the teaching didactics.

Apart from participating in the discussion, testing my ideas against that of others, I received very valuable feedback for my article, which definitely increases its chances of being published. I think that such types of research colloquia are badly needed in Ukraine's academic environment, too, and the initiative of the DAAD faculty members of the "German and European Studies" program to hold weekly academic discussions is extremely timely.

Finally, my German language skills were improved during the trip, as well. An intensive German language course started exactly on the first day of my stay, so I took and finished B1.2 level (mark 1.0).

It would probably be premature to sum up the results of the trip, since the natural development of my work in Jena will be teaching the course at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (scheduled for May-June 2016) and publishing the article. However, at this point I can describe the trip as very successful. I would say that its success could be attributed to the support of the German colleagues, on the one hand, and very good preparation for the trip, on the other. I am very grateful to Mr. Schimansky-Geier and Dr. Andre Härtel for going to great lengths in order to accommodate my needs regarding the organization of the trip. I am equally grateful to Ms. Thea-Marie Schatz for providing me with extensive support during my stay in Jena. Finally yet importantly, I could not appreciate Professor Biermann's support more. At various instances, he stressed that building local academic capacity at Kyiv-Mohyla was a strategic priority for Jena University, and this point was constantly illustrated by the amount of feedback and attention the German colleagues provided to me and my Ukrainian colleagues.

As mentioned above, solid preparation for the trip also payed off. In the first place, participating at Kyiv-Mohyla research colloquium ahead of the trip served as a useful rehearsal of my presentation. I tried to coordinate the work agenda with Professor Biermann in advance, which helped to have a quick start upon arrival in Jena. Finally, Dr Valentyna Romanova, who is the co-teacher of the "European Foreign and Security Policy" course, shared useful tips with me ahead of the trip, which helped me pick specific foci of my stay and make the effective use of the time available. She also provided valuable comments on the earlier draft of the syllabus.

To sum up, the value of such trips cannot be overestimated. For me it was extremely formative both as a capacity-building experience in general and as a step towards my sustainable academic involvement with NaUKMA.