Shayan Shokrgozar headshotThe Quest for Intellectual Emancipation

After a journey involving riding a bus, two trains, a flight, and a decent amount of walking with two suitcases, a carry-on and a backpack, I had finally arrived! The reason I was carrying so many things was due to the fact that I had arrived in the Netherlands right after a study-abroad in Sweden, from a study-abroad in the United States! I was expecting to snowshoe, ski, and survive the Swedish winter, and thus had a decent amount of gear I did not exactly need in the heat of the Dutch summer!

Soon after my arrival, my adviser, Dr. Janina Steinmetz and I met. She is one of the kindest, most understanding and helpful people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. After discussing our research interests, academic journeys, and getting to know each other over a cup of coffee, Janina showed me around the department, and introduced me to the people I’d be seeing for the weeks to come.

We hit the ground running pretty much from that moment, as there were many amazing projects she was working on and I was excited to be a part of it. The topics of research I was involved with were regarding Goal Pursuit, Social Influence & Self-control.

I spent most of my time working on data collection and analysis, reviewing book chapters and research manuscripts, developing research ideas, and pretesting study methodologies. Alessandra was another research assistant at the lab, I am glad she was there to help me get started at the beginning, we ended up collaborate on most of the projects in the lab during my time there.

I felt relatively homesick when I first arrived, but grew to develop a deep connection for Utrecht by the time my departure had arrived. The fact that I had decided to live in a hostel with five other people who were constantly changing was arguably not as wise of a decision as I had originally anticipated!

I did, however, over the weeks come to appreciate it and enjoy the environment. Utrecht is a historic city, with many lovely architectural structures to marvel, and an overwhelming level of cultural events. Everywhere one looks there is a café, hip restaurant, park or some delicious Gelato!

The research experience was rewarding and the environment was lovely, but I was also there to contemplate what it was that I wanted to do after graduation. Janina and I spoke in length about the process, opportunities and sacrifices one has to make in order to navigate through academia; she was even kind enough to put me in touch with other researchers to answer my questions.

I went into the SPUR program feeling confused and homesick, but I left it with a much deeper understanding of the research process, academia, life, and the pursuit of intellectual emancipation.