Edson Panana Villabos
Commuting to the university campus by ferry
I was born and raised in Mexico and obtained a university degree in Aqua Culture in my home country. Then I met my Dutch wife to be and we decided to settle in Belgium. We now live in Kruibeke, a small village on the Left Bank of the river Scheldt. I take the ferry from the village to the university campus in Antwerp daily.
A demanding interuniversity programme
It was difficult to find a job in Belgium with my master’s degree in Aqua Culture Science. I was already following integration courses and decided to further deepen my knowledge. The advanced master in Technology for Integrated Water Management was a logical next step. The programme is jointly organised by Ghent University, Antwerp Maritime Academy and the University of Antwerp. It is pretty demanding and I have been travelling a lot between the UGhent and UAntwerp - Campus Groenenborger. Luckily my thesis supervisor is based in Antwerp!
At first people in Antwerp struck me as a little distant but I am a flexible and social guy so I get along easily. During the first semester our student group counted several interns which was a nice chance to meet lots of different nationalities. My fellow students come from Cameroon and Belgium, we are only four this year which is rather exceptional. The class is small but there is a lot of interaction going on now that I am working on my thesis.
Adapting to a different education system
One thing I had to get used to is the examination schedule with a series of exams at the end of each semester. Back in Mexico the professor decides when you can take your exam and spread the load a bit. The Belgian education system requires perseverance!