'A European view on my field of study will make me a better biologist'
Alexander in the Master of Biology: Biodiversity, Conservation and Restoration
If someone had told me three years ago that I would get a degree in Europe I would have told them what a dumb decision that would be and why I would need a degree from the U.S. But when I had to decide on a master programme it became obvious that this was hardly affordable in the U.S. A friend of mine suggested that I look into English programmes in Europe, since they are much more reasonably priced. And so I did. I had a look at several countries and study programmes but in the end I chose Antwerp because the master in Biology - Biodiversity: Conservation and Restoration was exactly what I had been looking for.
Not only because I was finally able to merge my two previous degrees from the University of Miami in Biology and Ecosystem Science and Policy and it’s solely taught in English, but also because it offered the possibility to return to Africa to pursue my research interests for my thesis. The fee for an international student from outside Europe is only about 2600 euro a year, compared to what I am used to at home this is close to nothing. And after all it’s good to be able to get a European view on my field of study, which certainly will make me a better biologist. Furthermore my study programme can be considered as pretty international, since almost half of my fellow students are from abroad. I think it’s a great enrichment if you have so much different knowledge and many points of views around.
I learned to ride a bike
I started looking for a 'kot' as student flats are called here, back home and actually received several positive answers from landlords pretty fast. When I arrived here my landlord even picked me up from the station. The Belgians I met so far were friendly and always willing to help. And since almost everyone here in Flanders speaks (besides several other languages) English, it’s no problem at all to survive outside the university. Antwerp itself is a nice and rather chilled student city with a lot to do, many old buildings- the university even looks a bit like Hogwarts- and it’s definitely a great starting point for travels.
Not only is the International airport just about half an hour away but within less than two hours you can actually be in several other countries. In preparation for coming here I even learned how to ride a bike. I know that this sounds strange for Europeans but in the U.S. you don’t really ride bikes, at least not if you are planning on making it home alive. But here it’s a means of transportation for everyday life and just one of the many differences between the two countries. I find studying here more relaxed during the semester since exams only take place at the end of the term. Compared to the U.S. there is also a lot more group work taking place and the student-teacher relationship is a bit more traditional.
I will stay for another year here in Belgium and I am really looking forward to it, it’s a great experience and I think if everybody would study abroad once in their life, the world would be a lot different!