Short Story

PhD program at the University of Virginia, US

I am currently in my second year as a PhD student at the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia (UVA), specializing in American political development. In the American education system, graduate students spend several years doing course works and passing competency exams before beginning their research for their dissertation. I will be taking my exams this spring and summer and I am scheduled to begin working on my own research in the fall. UVA’s Department of Politics is relatively unique in its focus on combining political science with historical research.

The University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville – close to his own estate at Monticello. While the size of its student population (around 21.000 of which 14.500 undergraduates) is limited in comparison to equivalent institutions, UVA is regarded as one of the highest rated public universities in the United States. The Academical Village, of which the design was based on Jefferson’s design and which includes the Rotunda (the original library) and residences for students and faculty around ‘The Lawn’ is a UNESCO World Heritage site – the only university in the United States to have earned such a designation.

After studying in New York and living in Amsterdam nearly my entire life, Charlottesville is certainly a change of pace – but overall a pleasant one. While small in size, Charlottesville in many ways produces attributes usually associated with much larger cities: the undergraduate population draws alternative music acts, coffee shops and  heap food, the wealthy ranch owners that populate the surrounding areas have attracted high quality restaurants and shopping malls, and UVA’s high profile theater department produces exceptional plays and other types of perfomances – all of which placed in the natural beauty of the Virginia countryside.