Can you tell us something about yourself? What do you study? Where did you spend your exchange stay?
My name is Levan Bezhanishvili, and I am pursuing a PhD in Economics at the Institute of Economic Studies, Charles University in Prague, with a major in Energy and Environment Economics. I spent almost 7 months in the US visiting my research partner, a full professor at the University of Maryland, where we collaborated on joint projects in the Energy domain.
What made you decide for University of Maryland? The reputation of the university, the professors, or some particular courses?
The main reason for visiting the University of Maryland is the professor at UMD whom I have been in touch with since 2018.
Was acquiring a visa for the United States easy or document/time consuming?
Regrettably, the coordinator at UMD, responsible for preparing my documents for a visiting scholar visa, never completed them despite multiple promises. After numerous reminders from me, my professor, and her boss, we decided to proceed with a tourist visa, which was easier to obtain.
Although you were awarded partial funding, I don’t suppose it covered all your expenses, so how challenging was the financial side?
Considering my limited financial resources and the high living costs in Washington DC, sustaining myself during my research visit was quite challenging. Fortunately, I found a decent apartment with a reasonable monthly rental price, allowing me to live in DC and conduct my work with the funds I was granted for my secondment.
Once you settled into life at University of Maryland, did you find alignment in your current PhD research with professors, or other PhD scholars there?
I primarily worked with my host professor on our joint projects, which are part of my PhD dissertation.
What resources were valuable for you at the University of Maryland?
I did not use many resources at UMD. However, I was provided with a special office room where I could work.
Was the environment supportive for you a PhD scholar?
Yes, it was supportive for networking and presenting my research at a conference. I also had the opportunity to share a bit about the life of a PhD scholar in Prague with people in the United States who might be interested in learning about global higher education environments.
What were two exciting, inspiring, or motivating experiences as a PhD scholar on a study abroad experience at the University of Maryland?
Working closely with my host professor on my PhD projects and attending UMD advanced classes in Econometrics and Climate Change.
Were there any challenges you faced while at the University of Maryland and the United States?
I did not face any serious troubles during my secondment at the University of Maryland.
Do you have any words of wisdom or insight for future PhD scholars interested in going to University of Maryland or another partner university in the United States?
I would certainly encourage students visiting the University of Maryland for either research or study purposes, as both levels are very high.