Choosing the right study trajectory is a tricky thing to do: at a young age, deciding what and where to study are life-defining decisions. After I completed my Bachelor’s in Japanese Studies in the Netherlands I worked as a clerk in a law firm. Yet I had the feeling I had not made the right choices for my personal development. Interested in the European Union, political thought, sociology, and party politics, I wanted to change course. The LSE’s European Institute was the perfect place for this.
After a year at the KU Leuven in Belgium, I was accepted to the MSc European Identities programme at the European Institute. I became enthralled with questions pertaining to EU politics and political representation, and I became interested in empirical academic research. I had the enormous benefit to discuss and debate key theoretical and political questions pertaining to European politics with classmates and professors in an open, but extremely thought-provoking way. I learnt how to write an academic paper, and my MSc dissertation was published in the EI’s Europe In Question discussion paper series.
Buoyed by my enthusiasm for political science research during my studies, I successfully applied to do a PhD in Political Science in Berlin. At the Hertie School, I had the opportunity to write my doctoral dissertation in political science on the impact of anti-EU parties on mainstream politics, titled Is Euroscepticism Contagious? The Impact of Eurosceptic Challenger Parties on Mainstream.
After I received my doctoral degree in political science in 2016, I decided to pursue a career in academia. Soon after, I was hired by the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands for the position of Assistant Professor of Political Science – where I have been employed since. Today, I conduct research on topics such as citizen attitudes toward party representation and democracy, populism, and political parties, as well as European Union politics. I teach courses on political representation, and frequently comment on political affairs in various news outlets. In 2020, my work received prominent recognition as I was awarded an Early Career Award by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
My time at the LSE was, therefore, truly pivotal for my personal development. Before considering to study at the LSE, I missed a sense of urgency and direction in my career path. I finished a study programme that did not fit my personal interests. My interdisciplinary studies at the LSE allowed me to explore new topics and new disciplines, and ultimately enabled me to pursue a PhD in political science. I believe my story shows that career paths are not always linear. Interests change, minds are made up. The interdisciplinary programmes at the European Institute give young, gifted people exactly that opportunity.