Graduate stories: One Iranian writer’s enlightening master’s programme in Canada

Graduate stories: One Iranian writer's enlightening master's programme in Canada
Montazeri armed with a Master's in Literature in Canada has plans to get a full-time job and make it her home. Source: Shiva Montazeri

Being blown away by Niagara Falls. Trying Jamaican food for the first time and liking it. Finding a familiar face from home several thousands miles away. These are the experiences that enrich Shiva Montazeri’s experience in Canada as a  Master’s in Literature student at Brock University Canada. 

The 37-year-old initially picked the Great White North for several reasons. She wanted to gain new experiences, tackle the academic rigour of an advanced and feel welcomed despite her status as a migrant. She also appreciates the grandeur of natural surroundings and wanted to be close to or surrounded by them. In Canada, she found all these and more.

Montazeri graduated from Brock University in Canada with a Master’s in Literature. Source: Shiva Montazeri

We caught up with her to learn more about her life and Master’s in Literature course at Brock University Canada:

Why did you choose to pursue your Master’s in Literature at Brock University Canada?

In Iran, I had an MA in Iranian Studies. However, I was interested in Comparative Literature as well, because I was a writer and it just made sense to do my Master’s in Literature. 

Do you think it would have made a difference if you got your Master’s of Literature a local institution? If so why?

Yes, it would be different. At Brock University Canada, I became familiar with different cultures from all sorts of people. I gained many valuable experiences doing my Master’s in Literature, and the methods of teaching are different than it is in Iran. In Canadian universities students participate more in class discussions and are encouraged to express their opinions. 

Tell us more about your career trajectory since getting your Master’s in Literature?

After graduation, I worked as a bookkeeper and a tutor. However, I lost my job because of the pandemic, and during this period, employers in Canada were not hiring because the economy was broken. I’m guessing it is the same worldwide. 

Montazeri moved from Iran to Canada with her husband, and met fellow Iranians — one who is from the same hometown as her. Source: Shiva Montazeri

Finding a full-time job was more difficult during this time. In August, I found a new job as a part-time instructor teaching English literature. I plan to make it a full-time job should my work permit be renewed. 

Do you get to apply the theories you gained at school in your current life?

Definitely. At Brock University Canada I studied literary theories and became more familiar with English literature. What I teach now is related to my Master’s in Literature.

What skills do you wish you had learned more during university and why?

I wanted to learn more about world literature because it is one of the key concepts in comparative literature. 

What’s one thing from home you miss and how do you substitute it?

I miss my family, hugs from them, and the mountains back home — Iran is full of picturesque mountains. I miss the variety of nature in my home country because each part of Iran has a different nature and climate. I also miss my social relationships back home, and the Iranian culture. 

What advice do you have for international students who are planning to enrol in the same course as yourself?

It’s a good thing if they go abroad and experience a new academic environment. I learned to be more self-confident and independent from my time getting my Master’s in Literature in Canada. 

What plans do you have for the future?

I want to improve my knowledge and get my PhD at a top-ranked university. I am also eager to get a permanent residence and settle down in Canada. 

As a graduate with a degree in literature, Montazeri has hopes to find a job in the writing industry in Canada as soon as she can get her work permit. Source: Shiva Montazeri

Are there any non-academic ones you can share with us?

When I came to St. Catharines, a young Iranian couple invited my husband and I to their house which was surprising to us because we were complete strangers. They let us stay in their home for a week and helped us a lot.

For a long time, this couple were the only Iranians I knew because St. Catharines is a small city which made me feel alone and homesick. I was sure I would never come across another Iranian person. Then I met a landlord who, after a conversation in Persian, I found out was from my hometown which was pleasantly surprising. He introduced me to his family and relatives, and are now some of my best friends in this city. I love them!

Have you explored Canada? Is there a spot that really stood out to you?

Well, we live in the Niagara region, so obviously we’ve visited the Niagara Falls which is one of the wonders of the world. It’s amazing and of no surprise to be one of the most famous attractions in the world. 

What’s the local food like? Tell us your most and least favourite foods in Canada?

Canadians eat a lot of junk food, and I’m not really into fast food. However, last year a friend of mine invited me to a Jamaican restaurant in Toronto and I really enjoyed the food there. 

Is it hard for a foreigner to strike up a conversation with the locals?

It’s not at all hard to converse with local Canadians, but it is a challenge to order food, especially at a Chinese or Italian restaurant.