#myCEU - Stefan Roch

When you graduate with a PhD from CEU after 5 odd years or so, there isn't one poignant story that will sum up what CEU means to you. After 5 years, I can say this: for me, for my wife and many of my friends, CEU has become a home. It is not only a place where you come to work, it is where your community is. It is the place that connects you to what have become some of your closest friends. It is a place that is intrinsically linked to most of your recent memories, the good and the bad ones. It is a place that supports you when you're down and where you find comfort. It is a place that challenges you, pushes you further on your academic endeavor and, be it a master’s or a doctoral thesis, makes you accomplish something that seemed so distant and unbelievably complex at the start. It is also a place that can make you hurt. People come and go, good friends leave, most graduate, some don't and some leave prematurely. That is what makes this experience so immediate, so complex.
Being a student at CEU for a considerable amount of time is all those things: beautiful and distressing, exciting and frustrating. All that makes you care for it deeply. All the more this makes it painful when CEU is under attack and when misguided political force tries to make away with not only what you, but literally thousands of others call their home. It is impossible to accept the claims that CEU is foreign and has no right to exist as it is. I don't believe any person has ever left CEU with less respect for their own community, with less interest in ordinary people and with less admiration for the city of Budapest. They may say it is an illusion, but for us who have been at CEU it is a basic truth that your home is not a given, but that you make it. You make it by laughing and crying together, agreeing and arguing, disagreeing and reconciling. You essentially make it by recognizing that a community can only be enriched by respecting each other, accepting differences with all the annoyances, frustrations and misunderstandings that come with it. You make it by caring for the ones that are close to you, that you work, live and spend time with, and by experiencing what it means to be cared about. Maybe, after all, this is something I learnt at CEU.”
Stefan Roch graduated from CEU’s Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations in 2017 and he is currently a project manager at Bertelsmann Stiftung .