Our graduates| Jonáš Jelínek| Third semester in St. Andrews
20. November 2013 Jonáš Jelínek

Third semester in St. Andrews

In my post today I will come back to my internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and describe the start of my third semester in St. Andrews.

Before immersing into what my second year has been like so far, I want to touch upon my internship at the Czech Foreign Ministry of Affairs this summer. Having come back from Tanzania, I was assigned to the department of Sub-Saharan Africa. Although the ministry has a centralised system for accepting interns, it is up to the director of a particular department what task an intern will be entrusted with. So after a few days of finding my feet and the way to my office, which was much more difficult than I thought since the Černín Palace is somewhat of a labyrinth, I started contributing to the daily routine of the department. My first task was to monitor presidential elections in Zimbabwe which happened to start on my first day. Besides following the world newspapers, I had another source of information – reports from the Czech embassy in Harare. It is an obligation of every Czech embassy to send regular reports to the Ministry; these are then used as a main source of analysis and decision-making. In my case, the reports gave me a really useful insight into the country as they covered what the major media sources such as the BBC, CNN and others failed to report on. My other tasks included monitoring Malian presidential elections, conducting an independent research, translating documents, proof reading, writing analytical summaries and preparing background for a new embassy in Senegal. At the end of my internship I also got to draft a report about Czech involvement in the Joint Africa EU Strategy and help organise the second ever Meeting of Honorary Consuls, which both felt as making a real contribution. Overall, the internship, although relatively short, gave me a decent grasp of the importance and real work of the ministry, just as some valuable knowledge about international relations in general, and African countries in particular.

This time I set off for St Andrews a few days earlier than last year. As the secretary of University Hall, my hall of residence, I welcomed new students and helped to organize the freshers week. It was certainly interesting to be on the other side this year advising students and helping them to settle down, yet it was also a very busy and strenuous time.

Academically, I keep studying International Relations, Arabic and courses in Economics, namely Topics in Finance. Although the courses are in general more challenging than last year, there is still enough time left for some extracurricular activities. Apart from dedicating my time to dodgeball, I started writing for a student run magazine which publishes regularly on international issues and foreign affairs (Foreign Affairs Review). I write an article every month covering events in mainly African countries. It was only this October that, after a long and exhaustive hunt, I managed to finally get a job. I work 8 hours a week as a kitchen assistant in one of the halls of residence; the job does not bring much satisfaction but is well paid. Another activity I took on this year is an internship with a specialist consultancy firm which consists in writing regular analytical summaries on selected countries.

Overall, I am enjoying my second year in St. Andrews. I try to capitalise on my experience from last year and, more importantly, on the broad range of activities available throughout the town. As I also want to maintain my academic results, there is almost no free time left. That is the reason why I need to conclude my post and go back to studying.

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