Prior Education: Biology, University of Amsterdam
Nature, oceans and corals have fascinated me from a young age onwards. After high school I spent some time working as a diving professional abroad and after that I did a BSc Biology at the UvA to learn more about marine sciences. The UvA was a logical choice for me because I really wanted to study in my city of birth. Besides that, the broad, fundamental character of the UvA drew me.
Looking for a Master’s
After my Bachelors I started looking for a university that conducted more applied research and where I could do multiple specialisations. This was because, during my Bachelors I had noticed that I loved the fundamental biology, but that I had difficulty creating an image of a fitting career outside of an academic one due to the level of specialisation. I also liked Marine Biology as well as Molecular Biology. Wageningen UR was the only University where I could combine both fields by choosing two specialisations.
Studying at the WU
That is how I started on two specialisations of the WU-Master’s Biology. Combining specialisations is, if courses are chosen cleverly, very doable. The mandatory courses can be aligned to fit in your schedule and the internship can be shared between both specialisations. However a thesis of six months has to be written for both specialisations which prolongs the program a bit. Due to the first planning becomes some what more important, but excellent study advisors support in this. Thanks to my two specialisations I have been able to gain broadening experiences in more kinds of fields.
Within my Master’s I have done various things. The flexibility of the WU-Master’s curriculum is unique in my eyes. My courses in the first Master’s year varied from Genomics and Fundamental Virology to Marine Governance and the Cultivation of Fish. What’s more, there were different new students in nearly every course, often with different backgrounds and nationalities. I really enjoyed the variation, even though this often went accompanied with different entry levels for different students per topic. Thereby there are some differences in level between courses. An advantage is that if you know what you want to learn, this is almost always possible.
Another big difference is the student culture. I experienced the students in Wageningen as very open, social en internationally interested. There seems to be more of a community feeling than in Amsterdam. During my Master’s I kept on living in Amsterdam, like many do. I found that this gave me the best of both worlds: the fresh air en beautiful woods when getting off the train in Wageningen in the morning and in the evening the people who were out and about when I arrived back at Amsterdam CS. The only challenge was to get enough sleep.
Thesis and Future
The past year I mainly spent abroad. Firstly, I wrote my first thesis in California at UC Davis in the field of Molecular Endocrinology. Now I am on St. Eustatius to research the capacity of the coral reef in relation to diving tourism for IMARES. So temporarily no lab work but interviews. Like I said, the variation is enormous. After this I am going to start another marine thesis; probably fundamental work on sponges in the Caribbean. And afterwards, I hope to continue with a PhD. I am far from being done with research and lucky it can easily be combined with a more applied character. My choice for the WU seems to be a good one, but eventually you will end up where you want to be anyway. Good luck with making your choice!