Interview conducted by Laura de Boer

Atiena Abed Nia is a fourth semester Euroculture student, having started the programme at Georg-August-University Göttingen and completed her second semester at Uppsala Universitet. At the end of her second semester in Sweden, she also took part in the 2021 Intensive Programme (IP) hosted by Uppsala.

Euroculture Magazine [EM]: What were your general feelings about the IP when you entered the Euroculture program? Were you excited about it, or were you nervous?

Atiena Abed Nia: The first time I heard and read about the Intensive Programme, I was very excited. It sounded like a very special event and the highlight of the Euroculture program. I really looked forward to it, especially to meeting and exchanging experiences with other students, but the closer the IP preparations came, the more nervous I became. This was mainly because our universities started the preparations very early and put a lot of pressure on us with deadlines, which was not that bad in the end because we did everything in small steps.

EM: When the IP topic was announced, did it take long before you knew what you wanted to write about? Was the final version of your paper different from what you initially had in mind?

Atiena: Unlike some of my fellow students, I was very happy as I heard the topic (Religions in Europe) because I have dealt with it a lot in my free time. This served as good support for writing my paper and especially choosing the specific field I wanted to write about. Therefore, I had a rough idea from the first moment but of course, the final version changed a bit. This is because you get new impulses from your professors and also from talking with your fellow students.

EM: How was the writing process? Were there any challenges that you did not expect to encounter beforehand? If so, could you give any tips on how to overcome these challenges?

Atiena: The writing process itself was not the hardest part. The most challenging part was for me to find a suitable theoretical framework and methodology to use. But it was nothing that I didn’t expect to encounter; I knew that it will be challenging because I haven’t learned and worked with different methodologies and theoretical frameworks before. Therefore, I not only had to deal with the topic itself but also with everything around it. For me, it was helpful to do research and to see if there is something similar written, and what kind of methodologies other academics have used.

EM: Would you say that your second-semester university prepared you well for the IP? How did they help you to get on your way?

Atiena: We did get support, but I would have liked more help. What I liked was that we were given a consultation time with a lecturer very quickly, who was also not our main lecturer. I was able to learn a lot from them and they helped me, especially with the methodologies. It was also helpful to listen to other fellow students who asked questions.

EM: How was the IP week itself? What kind of activities did you do?

Atiena: As it was very unfortunate that everything had to take place online due to Corona, some of us arranged to go to an island in Sweden and rent accommodation there. The whole IP week was online and for this reason, nothing spectacular was organised by the university. The week consisted of lectures and IP paper presentations in groups. We diversified the days ourselves by, for example, cooking each other food or discussing content during the breaks or dancing for a short time.

EM: Did you make a lot of contact with other Euroculture students during the IP?

Atiena: We were divided into different groups which was very good because we got to know other Euroculture students and had nice conversations. Unfortunately, it only lasted in that week. 

EM: After the IP was over, did you use your topic as a foundation for your thesis? Why (not)?

Atiena: No. I decided from the beginning not to use my IP topic for my thesis because there are a lot of other interesting topics which I would love to investigate. I also got the result I wanted, so there was no need to investigate it further.

EM: Is there anything else you want to say about your IP experience?

Don’t be scared. The IP paper is like a common term paper. Choose a topic which you are really interested in otherwise you will get bored very quickly.

EM: Thank you very much for answering these questions! We value your contribution and believe it will be useful for future and current Euroculture students!

Picture Credits: Andrew Friberg; Atiena Abed Nia

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