I owe it to the central library of Montpellier’s Université Paul Valéry and some unknown marketing people at Essex that one late afternoon, during a coffee break, I found this prospectus about postgraduate studies at the University of Essex. In hindsight, I’m ashamed of my ignorance, but this really was the first time I’ve heard of this institution of Higher Education on the island close to Europe. Anyway, I recall that, when getting to the pages about the Department of Sociology and the Department of Government, I was struck by an almost instant sensation that the overall study experience – and particularly staff student relations – would be so much more inspiring and engaging there than in any of the places I had studied before. I didn’t change my mind even if (or perhaps because) I used to pass by the statue of Auguste Comte when walking home from the Université to the 16th century inner city flat that I was living in back then. Even the fact that in the Montpellier of that time (autumn 2000 to summer 2001), ordinary public cinemas used to screen productions like “La sociologie est un sport de combat” – a documentary dedicated to Pierre Bourdieu – could not convince me of staying on the continent.
As much as I never got to develop a strong affection for Britain’s oldest recorded town (apart from some notable, geographically quickly locatable, exceptions), I did instantly fall in love with the University and the nearby village of Wivenhoe. I often miss the open, diverse, and friendly atmosphere at the university’s main campus and, above all, the wonderful people I had the good fortune to meet during my time there. It is no exaggeration to say that I spent some of the happiest years of my life at the University of Essex. In particular, I owe a lot to teachers and fellow students from the Sociology Department and am deeply grateful for their companionship and (in many cases) lasting friendship. One of these friendships led to a marriage, two children, and me/us living in Mexico City.
Whatever one may think about causalities … and common indicators of graduate student satisfaction (let alone the obsessive measuring of it) … one can hardly deny this University’s charm. I am now working at another great university – the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – with particular research interests in the field of intercultural teacher education and the notion of intercultural capital.
The following link leads to some further and regularly updated information on my research and publications: http://unam.academia.edu/AndreasPöllmann