University of Lyon > Research > Welcome to foreign PhD Students > Foreign scientists

A student coming back to Lyon to do research!

Zuzana FekiacovaCould you introduce yourself in a few words?

My name is Zuzana Fekiacova and I come from Slovakia. I did part of my university studies in Slovakia, at the Faculty of Natural Sciences in Bratislava, and part in France, at the Ecole Normale Suprieure de Lyon. After that, I did my Diplomarbeit and PhD in Mayence in Germany. In this context, I worked on the ancient volcanism of the Eifel mountain range in Germany and the recent volcanism of Hawaii. I studied the age and chemical composition of volcanic rocks that form samples of deep Earth and provide us with information on both the composition of the Earth's mantle and theprocesses which take place deep inside the Earth and which are otherwise inaccessible. After my thesis and a year's post-doc work in Germany, I arrived in Lyon in March 2006 to do a two-year post-doc funded by an individual grant from the European Community (Marie Curie Individual Fellowship). In doing so, I joined my partner, who is a senior lecturer at the Ecole Normale Suprieure de Lyon.

What are the reasons that made you choose Lyon?

I had a personal reason to look for a post-doc in the Lyon area: I wanted to move closer to my partner who works in Lyon. From a professional point of view, my main motivation was to join a dynamic team in a research laboratory that was recognised in my field. Lyon offers a lot of possibilities for research. For me, the Ecole Normale Suprieure de Lyon was a logical choice because the Laboratory of Earth Sciences is one of the French laboratories whose work is recognised all over the world, particularly in the areas that I'm interested in: geochemistry and mineralogy.

What discoveries did you make in Lyon?

I'd lived in Lyon a few years earlier as a student and liked the city very much. But the way you look at things as a student is very different from the way you look at them as a post-doc researcher after spending several years living in other towns and cities around the world. So when I came back, I had the impression I was rediscovering Lyon. I'm not what you might call a city slicker, I like nature and wide, open spaces. That's why I was a bit disconcerted by the size of the city and the number of people. But at the same time, I discovered that Lyon is a very cosmopolitan city where different nationalities and cultures mix in with the people of Lyon, and I liked that diversity a lot. What's more, Lyon offers countless possibilities for cultural and sporting activities. What I particularly appreciated was the proximity of the Alps and how easy it was to do all the mountain activities: skiing, climbing and hiking.

Did you improve your French during your stay?

I was bilingual when I arrived in France, but obviously, knowing the vocabulary and grammar isn't everything. Living in France for a certain period of time brings with it experience that no language course can give. The fact that you're constantly surrounded by French and are having to deal with the situations of daily life in French allows you to soak up the language and pick up French people's habits (good and bad). Not to mention that you acquire a certain amount of ease in understanding everyday French and local expressions. I've always thought that, to really learn a language, you have to live in the country, and my stay in Lyon only goes to confirm that.

What are Lyon's pluses for a foreign researcher?

To study complex problems concerning the inside of the Earth such as how mantle convection works or the chemical composition of the Earth's core, we need innovative geochemical and geophysical methods and high-technology instruments. The Laboratory of Earth Sciences at ENS Lyon has the advantage of being able to offer means of analysis that are at the cutting edge of technology, as well as a team that's both dynamic and international as they regularly welcome foreign researchers. And because, as well as a highly favourable research environment, Lyon also boasts a huge number of possibilities for leisure activities and a vibrant, rich cultural life, it's a very attractive city for foreign researchers.

Which practical services did you benefit from via the Centre for Mobility?

When I arrived in Lyon for my post-doc, I encountered some administrative problems that I wouldn't have been able to resolve without the help and assistance of Lyon's Centre for Mobility in general and Mme Jocelyne Fayard in particular. As I came from one of the new member states of the EC, the administrative paperwork for our stay and work was complicated. I didn't quite fit into the EU box, but didn't quite fit into the non-EU box either. I received no advice from my host institution and it proved impossible to speak to the relevant people at the Prfecture de Lyon. I only got my residence permit after nine months and then it had a mistake on it. I was able to sort my situation out and eventually obtain the correct residence permit thanks to the help I received from Lyon's Centre for Mobility. Mme Fayard also gave me invaluable help at the end of my post-doctoral contract when I was looking for work and was refused the right to unemployment benefit. Through her and with the help of Lyon's Centre for Mobility, Iobtained very efficient legal assistance which allowed me to receive unemployment benefit until I found a job.

The Centre for Mobility represents a vital par The EURAXESS services mobility centre represents ; avant dernire ligne, remplacer the services of the Centre for Mobility par the services of the EURAXESS mobility centre

Even if they come from a member state of the European Union, researchers can and must call on the services of the Centre for Mobility to check and protect their rights and those of their families.

Credit photo : Zuzana Fekiacova