Focus on alumni: László Andor, EU Commissioner

Written by Fulbright on 08/30/2010. Posted in News

Andor LászlóLászló Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion reflects fondly on his Fulbright Experience:

“A Fulbright scholarship is probably a milestone in the life of every beneficiary. I am not an exception. I was invited to Rutgers University in 1997. The New Brunswick campus of Rutgers is famous with its Hungarian Studies Centre. My courses were: Hungary and the European Union, and Transition Policies in Hungary.

Much of the students came from the Hungarian diaspora. It was interesting to see how different is the approach to history and social sciences on the other side of the Atlantic. The structure of the classes and the assessment were also different. I needed to prepare for my lectures differently than in Budapest, but I gathered such detailed materials from my preparations that I decided to publish a book on the basis of my Rutgers work. To my surprise, it did not take long to make progress. Having read one sample chapter, Greenwood sent a contract in January, and eventually in 2000 my book was published under the title Hungary on the Road to the European Union: Transition in Blue.

New Jersey was an ideal place for travelling on the East coast. New York City was very close, so I could go there regularly to museums, book shops and university events. I managed to visit friends and colleagues at Princeton, Yale, Binghamton etc. and many visited me too. I even organised a trip for a group of my Budapest students, with a programme that was relevant to their studies.

At Harvard I attended a conference on the East European transformation, and wrote a report about it for the social science journal Társadalmi Szemle. At American University, I attended a conference on the European monetary integration, where some of the leading experts of the area spoke. I found all this useful later, when I had to deal with the practical side of the same subject.

Within the 9 months at Rutgers, there were a lot of memorable events in university life and opportunities to learn about American culture. What should not be left without mentioning is college soccer with men and women playing together, which does happen in Europe too, but in the US it seemed to be the standard – with compulsory shin guards.”