Matthijs: “ You learn how to deal with changes”

“For my internship during the third year of the Bachelor’s programme, I went to Malawi. I worked on something called ‘rainwater harvesting’: how can we collect rainwater and use it during the dry season?”

During your stay abroad, you learn how to deal with change

“This was the first time that I had been so far away and stayed so long in a foreign country; it was about five months. I tacked a holiday onto the end of it, because I wanted to continue travelling. It was a great experience and it is also nice that the Bachelor’s programme already includes space for that. After all, the study programme has an international focus, so it has to be possible to interact with different cultures, both at the private and professional levels. I realised that I really enjoyed living in such a different culture. This stimulated my interest in continuing on in the field and it is also why I wanted to return to Africa during the Master’s programme. I was really pleased to be there!”


Being flexible

“Things never go the way you expect them to, which is something you learn during the internship. In hindsight, I can say that it went well, but during the process I sometimes felt differently. For instance, for my final research study in the Master’s programme, I went to South Africa. There, I collaborated with a university in Cape Town, where there were a lot of student protests at the time. As a result, we could not always work as planned. You have to be flexible in order to handle change and when it works out, it is a fun and educational experience. Everything worked out well for me and supervisors from Wageningen University stayed in contact with me all throughout the process as well. You are not left to fend for yourself, but, of course, they also expect a certain level of independence from you.”


Future workplace

“I would like to work with a diverse team of experts on international water issues and personally see myself working in project management. The advantage of our study programme is that you gain knowledge from many different fields, which allows you to combine disciplines when working towards solutions. The disadvantage is that it can sometimes be more difficult to carve out your niche. That was one of the reasons why I chose to combine my electives in order to gain additional competencies in the field of water quality. Working with project teams seems really fun to me in terms of both design and management, where I can utilise my knowledge of irrigation and water quality.”


Group work

“The group work during my study programme enabled me to realise that I enjoy bringing people together, in order to see what everyone’s strengths were and to bring them out. I find it interesting to see how everyone can make their own contribution and, if it all comes together, it can lead to great results. I think that project work is incredibly important, because in your work you will often have to collaborate with other people from different disciplines as well as different cultures. The way of thinking and the capacities for collaboration and resolving issues can be applied everywhere.”


Matthijs Wessels, Master’s student