Tleuzhan, 26, International Lawyer, Florence, Italy


“After several years spent in Italy, I have learned a lot from locals and to a large extent, I have adopted their attitude to life.”

Koshpendiler: Hi, Tleuzhan, please tell us about yourself.

Tleuzhan: Hi, I’m an international law enthusiast and a globetrotter.

I have always been keen to explore the world. I started moving around since I was 18: first for studying and now for research (I am currently doing a PhD  in international law). Since then, I have lived in 6 countries, mostly in Europe, including Spain, UK, Italy, Switzerland, as well as Israel and Kazakhstan, of course. Unfortunately, these days I don’t get to travel that much due to lack of time. Apart from travelling, I enjoy speaking foreign languages (English and Italian), dancing salsa and bachata. After several years in Italy, I learned to enjoy good food and spending time outdoors, at the seaside or elsewhere.

Koshpendiler: Where from in Kazakhstan are you from?

Tleuzhan: I was born and raised in Karaganda, central Kazakhstan.

Koshpendiler: How long have you been gone and where do you live now?

Tleuzhan: I moved to Italy in 2012 to pursue my PhD and since then study and live in Florence.

Koshpendiler: Why did you choose this country?

Tleuzhan: It was rather I chose a PhD programme. When I was doing my Masters at the University of Edinburgh, I was advised by my international law professors to apply to the European University Institute (EUI) where I am studying currently. EUI is a research institute established by the EU member states to contribute to research in social sciences. EUI is an international organisation and although we are situated in Italy, we have very little to do with Italian educational system. All research and teaching activities are in English and most professors and students are foreigners. Most  of us have a hard time learning Italian because EUI is an English-speaking bubble where one can easily survive without speaking Italian.

EUI has a great reputation in academic world, it is also very weel-known in international organisations. Moreover, all four years of the PhD programme are fully funded, we are provided with plenty of opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. I, myself, specialize in public international law. To be more precise, my research project focuses on the responsibility of international organisations and their member states under international law. During my PhD, besides the research itself, I also got to teach international law in German and Italian universities, intern at one of the UN agencies, participate in a research project at the University of Tel Aviv, and present my work at a number of conferences with leading experts in my field. To sum up, I am more than happy with my choice of PhD programme.

Koshpendiler: What do you like most about Italy?

Tleuzhan: After several years spent in Italy, I have learned a lot from locals and to a large extent, I have adopted their attitude to life. This may sound cliche’ but I think that what I appreciate most in Italians is their ability to enjoy small pleasures in life, such as a cup of tasty capuccino in the morning, long Sunday lunches at their nonna‘s house, pre-dinner aperitivo with friends in a sun-kissed piazza, relaxing picnics in Tuscan countryside or vacationing at breath-taking seasides.

The most important is to do all the above-mentioned things with no rush (piano piano) and with full awareness of the beauty of the moment. It has to be said that all these leisure activities are accessible to everyone here, including people with an average income:  in Italy you can find beauty everywhere and good quality food and coffee are not very expensive. The same goes to other expenses, such as rent, grocery shopping, tickets for public transportation etc. In Italy you can live well without spending much, especially in comparison with other European countries.

Koshpendiler: How do you like to spend your free time? 

Tleuzhan: See the paragraph above about my little pleasures in life :). Eating good food is what I enjoy the most! I also love to spend time outdoors and go salsa dancing with friends.

Koshpendiler: How and for what purpose our readers can contact you?

Tleuzhan: I would be particularly interested in connecting with academics and practitioners in the field of international law from both Kazakhstan and abroad. I am open to collaborations with NGOs, govermental and international organisations, as well as with universities and other research institutions, wishing to consult me on a matter of public international law or invite to give a talk or a lecture on a subject of interest.

I often get questions from my compatriots on how to appy for a PhD programme at the EUI so I will also be happy to help with that. You can contact me via my work email or find me on Facebook (Tleuzhan Zhunussova).

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