Student testimonial

Ellen - BSc Animal Sciences (int. student from Zambia)

Ellen is an international student from Zambia. She just finished her BSc Animal Sciences and will now continue with the MSc Animal Sciences. She explains her motives, struggles and pleasures of studying Animal Sciences at Wageningen University and Research.

To be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy the first year of my bachelor’s; I expected more courses on wildlife. Luckily, I had much more freedom in my third year to choose my own courses, and now again in my master’s, so I am finding it more and more fascinating.

Why did you choose this programme?

I grew up in the Kafue National Park (Zambia), where I was surrounded by nature and wildlife every day, so there was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to study something related to animals. For a long time, I wanted to study veterinary medicine, but after several internships, a lot of discussions with practicing veterinarians, and some research I changed my mind. I wanted to work more outdoors in nature, and so animal sciences seemed the better choice with more flexibility. Further, I was also a bit worried that I would find veterinary medicine too difficult and therefore wouldn’t have any room next to my studies to have a fun social life and discover new hobbies during my time as a student.

How is the degree going so far?

To be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy the first year of my bachelor’s; I expected more courses on wildlife, but it was by a long shot mainly about livestock animals – also very important of course, but I have always been more interested in natural habitat, so I was a bit disappointed. Luckily, I had much more freedom in my third year to choose my own courses, so I am finding it more and more fascinating.

Which course do you enjoy the most? And why?

So far, I’ve had quite a lot of interesting courses, but if I have to pick one favourite it would be Wildlife Conservation Genetics. The contents of the course aligned exactly with my interests; wildlife, conservation and genetics! The only downside was that I followed the course during COVID, so it was all online. However, I do have to say that it was one of the only periods that I looked forward to sitting behind my laptop at home for.

Which course did you enjoy the least? And why?

Even though it wasn’t my passion, I did find a lot of livestock-related courses interesting. One of the courses I didn’t enjoy, however, was Animal Science Professionals in Society. For the duration of the course, I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to be learning, and once completed I didn’t have the feeling that I learned something.

What do you hope to do after this study?

I just started with the MSc Animal Sciences at WUR and thereafther, I still don’t know exactly what career path I want to follow. But I am certain I want to go abroad. Hopefully working for a conservation organisation somewhere in South America. As long as I am somewhere surrounded by nature I don’t mind! Maybe working as a consultant or researcher.

Do you feel that this programme contributes to this goal?

Yes definitely! As already mentioned, I had some doubts in my bachelor’s, but now that I am more specialised in my master’s and in contact with the right chair groups, I see the options available to me much more clearly. I am also able to build up the connections I need that will help me get to my goal with this degree. Plus, of course, I am learning a lot in my courses to do with nature and (wildlife) management during my master's.

Would you recommend this programme to others?

That depends on their goal. Someone starting their bachelor’s with the exact same goals I had might benefit more by doing a bachelor degree in, for example, biology – or like me, they will have to grit through some years which may be less interesting. That being said, at the end of the day, it worked out (or is in progress of working out) for me, so I definitely wouldn’t advise against it.

What do you think of Wageningen University & Research, and would you recommend it to others?

I 100% recommend Wageningen University! It is a bit smaller than most universities, but that makes it very easy to speak to you study advisor to tailor your studies to exactly what you want and need, and everything feels very personal; you’re not just a number in a massive system. Professors are also often very ‘gezellig’ (translated: nice) and want to get to know and invest in their students. Wageningen is also a nice place to live. It’s small, sometimes there isn’t much to do, but the atmosphere is great, people are very kind to each other, and if you put in some effort then you can build a great student life here!

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