The MaMaSELF students who met in Rennes, fell in love and got married in Rome!

Erasmus Mundus MaMaSELF programme alumni, Olena Mahotkina from Kiev in Ukraine and Andrea Marino from Rome in Italy got married 2 years ago

Olena and Andrea

Olena came to Université de Rennes 1 for her first year of the MaMaSELF programme (Master's in Material Science Exploring Large Scale Facilities) just as Andrea finished his MaMaSELF thesis and was starting his PhD in Rennes. They met in Administration and Communication Coordinator Christiane Cloarec's office and a short time later, they were a couple! Olena spent her second year at the University of Torino and returned to Rennes to do her MaMaSELF thesis.

The couple are currently back in Torino where Andrea is working for an international laser company and Olena is setting up her own company.

Olena and Andrea with former MaMaSELF students Sujeet Dutta and Liya Khadeeva, and Administration and Communication Coordinator Christiane Cloarec

Their MaMaSELF experience brings back fond memories. “I decided to do the MaMaSELF programme because I had finished my master's degree in Kiev and I wanted to move forward, which for me meant studying in another country. Universities in Kiev are very good in chemistry for the theoretical side but they don't have the up-to-the-minute laboratories, equipment and the practical side that MaMaSELF offers”, Olena explained. What Olena didn't anticipate was how rich the cultural experience would prove to be. “It gave me a real understanding of different cultures. This experience opens your mind!”

“I wanted to do an international master's and travel abroad”, Andrea added. “I wanted to learn something more practical which I could use to find a job in industry. I particularly enjoyed being part of MaMaSELF for the cultural exchange and the opportunity to discover new universities. For me, the professional network is really valuable, which I had opportunity to create during my MaMaSELF and PhD studies.”

Andrea did his Bachelor's degree in Physics in Rome. He then entered MaMaSELF, carrying out his first year in Turin and second in Rennes. After his master's thesis at Université de Rennes 1, his supervisor Professor Eric Collet offered him the opportunity to start a PhD, which he finished two and a half years ago.

MaMaSELF studies are in English but Olena also speaks Ukranian, Russian, Italian and French. The couple's day-to-day language is English, with the occasional word or expression in Italian or Ukranian. And even if being an international couple isn't always easy (finding a place to settle down for example), the fact that they studied in the same field is a real advantage. “We can easily discuss our work and really understand each other's professional lives!”

Olena and Andrea now have friends from all over the world: Germany, Spain, Egypt, The Netherlands, Argentina…. Altogether, 8 nationalities were present at their wedding! “MaMaSELF is like a big family!”, Olena concluded, laughing.

Wedding photo with fellow MaMaSELF students