Veronika Šigutová is studying for a doctorate specializing in Parkinson’s disease at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Germany, which is the third country she has studied in after graduating from the 1st International School of Ostrava (ISO). She recently won the “Talent of the Year” award. How did studying at 1st ISO affect her and how did it help her achieve success in life? That’s not all she talked about in the interview below.
Why did you decide to study in Germany? What study opportunities does this country offer you?
I decided to go to Germany after it became clear how the negative impact Brexit is going to have on PhD funding for European students. The conditions for postgraduate students in the UK were already less than ideal: as a PhD student you still have student status, so your ‘income’ is just a scholarship that you can barely get by with. What’s more is that you don’t have the rights of an employee that typically come with an employment contract. In this regard, Germany is one of the best countries for PhD students: I get the same privileges as all employees (e.g. holidays) and I can save up a little every month. The quality of the research plays an important role as well. Germany has a huge neuroscience community at the top level and even in our “small” lab I can collaborate with researchers from all over the world.
Which university are you studying at? What does it take for a Czech student to get into such a University?
I am a PhD student in neuroscience at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Erlangen. Our lab specializes in understanding neurodegenerative diseases and I personally specialize in Parkinson’s disease, which is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. What specifically interests me about this disease, is how the inflammatory environment in the body can contribute to the triggering or exacerbation of the disease.
At a master’s and doctoral level, admission to German Universities is not that difficult. Most courses are offered in English, so you just need to provide proof of language skills, previous diplomas and a list of courses, including grades. The biggest advantage of attending a German school is the free tuition.
You have recently received an important award from the city of Ostrava. What does this award mean to you?I won the “Talent of the Year” award. This award is given annually to University students residing in Ostrava who have achieved outstanding academic and research results, such as scientific publications or placing in competitions. The award carries with it a monetary reward, but more importantly, it shows me that I am on the right track with my research, even if it doesn’t always feel like it in my everyday laboratory life.
I would not be where I am today without the 1st ISO.
You are a graduate of the 1st ISO. How did the school help you to achieve your success?
Studying at the 1st ISO was a major factor leading to my decision to study abroad. Our multicultural group has always made me see the world from different perspectives, and has definitely made me more tolerant and open-minded. The International Baccalaureate, with its flexibility in subject choice and emphasis on independent, logical and creative thinking, suited me perfectly and prepared me very well for University study in England. I have met some great teachers during my studies who have always supported my passions and pushed me to strive higher. It is thanks to these teachers that I owe part of my intense interest in science, poetry and art. In short: I would not be where I am today without the 1st ISO.
Veronika, thank you for the interview.