​'Be passionate about what you do. It will make studying a lot easier!'

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Statistics from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Prior to coming to Antwerp, I was working as a clinical data manager and a database programmer for contract research organizations. I have always had a passion for research, and my experience working in the research industry fueled my interest in epidemiology and public health.

What are your impressions of the Epidemiology programme?

The classes are small and focused, and participation is highly advised, especially when you disagree with a particular point in the discussion… Similarly, there can be heated debates in class about how best to go about the methodology of a particular research topic. It’s normal and constructive.

Independent learning is very much encouraged. know that not everything is handed down to you. There will be assignments where you have to learn how to use a statistical software or technique you may not have used before, and there will be times when you have to read a hundred relevant publications to come up with a research proposal. It’s not an easy program, and you have to work hard to pass.

What do you think of our city?  

Antwerp is an old, romantic city. The Belgians seem to have a penchant for parks, libraries and open spaces, as well as for chocolates, waffles and fried potatoes. They value personal space, which may make it harder for non-locals to make friends. You will undoubtedly succeed, however, if you gain their trust and respect, usually by just spending time with them.

Since Antwerp is a student city, it also has a substantial student population and therefore a thriving nightlife and shopping center. It is culturally diverse, with around 170 nationalities walking around.

What can you recommend to future epidemiology students?

Be passionate about what you do. It will make studying a lot easier. Remember that you are in the program to learn, so don’t focus so much on passing your exams as getting insights from your interactions with your professors, classmates and the people you meet from your day-to-day life as a student. If you have the chance, do also take the time to learn a little bit of Flemish/Dutch. Atlas usually offers free or discounted language classes to interested foreigners. The language ability can help you land a part-time job, an internship or even a formal job.