New Roads | Hendrik Erz

Abstract: One large suitcase and a ticket to Stockholm: This is all I take with me to begin my PhD in Analytical Sociology at Linköpings Universitet. This article focuses on moving to a different country during a global pandemic, and the purpose of this very blog.

There are many stories of people moving to different places with only a suitcase of personal belongings. Normally, such movie scenes rely on sunsets and make use of long, wide shots accompanied by sad string music. It‘s always an adventure – and always a good one – with no negative implications. But then, these shots are normally placed in two possible stages of what Christopher Vogler called “The Writer’s Journey”: Either during the “crossing the first threshold” after the story’s exposure, or on “the road back” of the hero just before the story concludes. I always enjoyed such scenes, as they are filled with either excitement or the feeling of relaxation after the last open questions of the story are answered.

I don’t need to tell you that reality is not a movie, but I want to stress one point: I hope no one of you has to actually perform such a sun-setting abhorrence. Moving with just one suitcase is an affront, and I will personally correct every single Instagram influencer or Twitter celebrity who endorses this kind of romance. There is nothing romantic at moving with just one suitcase, nor is it in any way exciting: It’s stressful, dread-infusing, and an experience no one should be allowed to make. But here we are, right in the mid of a pandemic, and while this blogpost is published, I am standing at some airport with said suitcase and possibly wet from the rain while leaving about 90 percent of my loved material possessions in Germany. (Sociology loves to call my generation “post-materialistic,” which is about as right as corporate ads embracing diversity are sincere.)

Right now, I am moving places – from Düsseldorf Airport to Stockholm, and then via train to Norrköping. Once there, I will pursue a PhD at the Institute for Analytical Sociology, Linköpings Universitet and, hopefully, in four years’ time, I will have advanced the research around using machine learning for sociological research. To be fair: this time, moving is indeed exciting, but I honestly did not expect it to be that stressful.

I start this blog today with the goal of writing one post every week, outlining the research I am performing, some results as well as dead ends. All of this will be peppered with personal details of life as a PhD student – such as today. I personally have carefully read and watched several PhD students’ blogs and YouTube channels in order to prepare myself for the journey, and I am sure that my experiences may also help those who follow me. And if it doesn’t, then I will at least develop a habit of regular writing – something which I have ignominiously neglected in the past three years.

During school and undergraduate studies I have blogged quite a bit, but with more responsibilities, it is easy to let regular writing exercises slide. However, being the developer of a major writing tool, I feel like my occupational honour demands me to write quite a lot. So you can expect me to write quite regularly. I cannot promise any level of quality from these posts, and possibly, some will be fairly redundant. But then, even dumb posts resembling the diary from some 19th century heart-broken teenager might serve a purpose for text mining or something. (If you do crawl this blog to estimate the amount of heart-brokenness, please share the results.)

So long, until next week, when I will likely share first impressions of living abroad from the perspective of someone who has never left his own country!

Suggested Citation

Erz, Hendrik (2020). “New Roads”., 30 Oct 2020,

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