Praktika Katalikiškame Liuveno universitete Belgijoje

As a fourth-year doctoral student at Vytautas Magnus University, I have already spent a significant amount of time abroad. Nevertheless, last year I got a chance and an invitation to come and work with the colleagues at Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Belgium. Since I was already familiar with extraordinary reputation and work of the researchers at UCL, not even the fact that it is situated in rainy Belgium would have caused a doubt for me to go there. I agreed to use the opportunity seeking to obtain the data needed for my research as well as to participate in the activities of the academia and to learn from the best.

It was the beginning of January, right after New Year’s, and Louvain-la-Neuve greeted me with snow. Luckily, I found an apartment next to where I had to be and had to only walk few minutes each morning to reach my destination. I got a chance to work in the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) which specializes in advanced research in various fields of economics and operations management.

I was a bit scared that my knowledge of French would be a bit of a setback during the visit, but, gladly, community of CORE is so diverse and international, that English is the absolutely the main language for communication. The first week was a bit of introductory – after a warm welcome I have been introduced to the University and the Center where I was supposed to work, started to recognize and get to know the people. Later on, I have been included in the center’s daily activities, including participation in research seminars and discussions, preparation of presentations, as well as attending multiple lectures on the research methods, especially in econometrics. In addition to that, I have been constantly discussing with the professor who invited me to CORE on my research and improvement of its quality. This traineeship allowed me to meet and develop discussions with fellow doctoral students, as well as to find common research fields and prepare a joint research project. I also helped to obtain and organize the data needed the center and for my personal research.

Nevertheless, my traineeship was not only about work – I have also been included in the social life of the fellow students, got to be introduced to Belgian culture, got to travel around the country and get to know different cities – Bruges, Gent, Brussels, Liege, Ostend. An added huge benefit has been strongly improving my knowledge of French, especially of the spoken language – in the end of my three months stay I could easily have farewell conversations with the French-speaking members of the center. I believe that becoming a trainee at CORE has been one of the best decisions I have so far made for my career and I have no doubt the skills and experience I got there will benefit me in the future.

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