My Journey to CEU

January 8, 2021

by Maria Zakaryan, Alumni Scholarship Recipient and MA student in the Department of International Relations

I have noticed that the greatest decisions in my life happen randomly: it clicks in my mind and then all my actions lead towards that exact decision. Unconsciously, certain fragments of my life led me to CEU, and now, when I look back, the journey to CEU was an accumulating series of random events.

It all started in 2016 when I first visited Vienna. I remember how I looked at the Wiener Staatsoper before entering the bus to leave for the airport, and tightly held my newly bought souvenir package as I whispered to myself, “I promise, I will live in this city one day.”

The next random event happened when I was a sophomore BA student and taking part in a conference in Milan. I was walking with my Hungarian colleague near the Teatro alla Scala when we started talking about CEU, completely randomly. We had a long discussion, up to the point when we reached the other side of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. At that point, I did not even think about my master’s but CEU captured my mind: the process had begun.

My real interest began with very random but truly influential meetings with former and current CEU students. My internship supervisor was a truly intelligent, hardworking and inspirational woman. I remember how once she told me that she started to truly understand herself only after living and studying abroad—in a vibrant and motivational community. “Try new things as much as you can,” she advised me. This was the point that made me realize that I should definitely try CEU. Afterwards, during my different study programs abroad, I met many CEU students. Strangely, I could feel a unique comfort with those people: as if I was already a part of CEU without actually being at CEU.

Lastly, I realized that I wanted to continue my studies in International Relations. During my research of possible candidate universities, CEU stood out as one of the top universities. “This is it: CEU is my destiny,” I thought to myself while registering with CEU’s online application system.

In 2016, the CEU campus was not even in Vienna. In 2018, I had no idea what I wanted to do for my master’s. However, the Wiener Staatsoper, my Hungarian colleague, my supervisor, my international friends and my emerging interest in international relations very logically, yet mysteriously led me to the decision to apply to CEU.

Now I am here, a current CEU student writing about my journey to CEU while being fully certain that the real journey has yet to begin. Here I am, a person who has gone through the application process and numerous inquiries about CEU from alumni, yet I am absolutely sure that the small fragments of my life were the ones that led me to CEU. After all, trust in random thoughts and little occurrences is what makes the greatest stories. So trust in your serendipities!