Last week several dozen prospective applicants visited SAIS Europe during its annual Open Day. Irena Grizelj, an MA candidate concentrating in Conflict Management, housed a visitor and participated in a panel that tackled potential applicants' questions -- many of them asked the same queries Irena had when she first visited the Bologna Center.
Facing a sea of expectant faces, I was transported in my mind to the same room two years earlier.
I had sat where they were, full of questions, concerns and nervous excitement that I found hard to contain. It was Open Day at SAIS Europe, a chance for aspiring candidates like myself to see the Bologna Center up close and personal.
Then last week I was at the head table, facing potential applicants, telling them what to expect.
As a member of this year's Student Government Association (SGA), I participated in a panel last Friday to answer Open Day visitors' questions – the same queries I had asked two years before.
What is student life like in Bologna? What did you do before SAIS? Should I have more work experience before SAIS? How do you find funding?
The similarity of thoughts and concerns was somehow reassuring. Everyone embarking on the application adventure faces the same uncertainties and concerns.
To be honest, when I first visited SAIS Europe my expectations were not fully met. Although I had spoken to alumni and done my research, and I had a grand vision of SAIS that put the school as my top choice, the small Bologna campus did not sweep me off my feet during my first, brief stay.
But I had not had the chance to understand and explore the vast opportunities the program offers: exceptional and focused courses, experienced and approachable professors, countless interesting seminars on topics I would not have thought to explore, career trips, informational panels, social events. The list goes on.
My first semester is now almost over, and my experiences have surpassed my expectations.
We all know that SAIS students are diverse and do not fit into a single mold. But in speaking with some potential students during Open Day, I could not help but think: “You would be a great fit with SAIS.” Call it intuition.
Here are some words for all potential students: “Everything will work out the way it should. Work hard and you will end up where you want to go.” Reflecting on my own application, I’m confident those who are meant to be at SAIS will end up at SAIS.
And I look forward to meeting them.
Irena Grizelj (BC14/DC15)