Hello from the Afterlife

By Fruzsina Barany

We sat down with UCU graduate called Anneloes Beekman (Class of 2007) as she revealed her current career status and her take on the benefits as well as drawbacks of life at UCU. Stay tuned for some intriguing insights!

How has your academic career progressed since you joined UCU?  

“I did neuroscience, psychology and philosophy with a minor in linguistics until 2007. After that I got accepted at Utrecht University to study a masters in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2009. Afterwards travelled for about a year in New Zealand until I started at Ghent University in Belgium where I studied medicine. I graduated in 2016, then started to work as a general practitioner.”

“At UCU, the professor-to-student relationship had a low threshold and that’s a huge benefit, as they are so accessible in those small classes”

What are some valuable skills you learned at UCU, that you have continued to use later on in life?

“Definitely thinking creatively, especially when you have to design an experimental study. As well as asking questions. I’ve struggled so much in Belgium because people don’t ask questions. At UCU, the professor-to-student relationship had a low threshold and that’s a huge benefit, as they are so accessible in those small classes.”

What are some of your criticisms of the science track at UCU?

“We didn’t learn hands-on knowledge, so we didn’t focus as much on the facts as here in Belgium. We did criticize ideas and learn how to make a presentation but there was a lack of actual practice.”

Is your current career where you imagined yourself to be after finishing UCU?

“No, not at all! It was a monumental detour! I graduated from UCU, then I kind of flowed into a neuroscience master which I think I shouldn’t have done. I would definitely do UCU again, but cognitive neuroscience wasn’t the best choice for me so I would’ve done medicine right away. In research you don’t really have instant feedback or feel the impact of your work. In medicine, it’s different. You feel the direct relevance of your work as a GP when a patient calls to tell you that they feel much better.”

How did you manage to balance your social, academic and health-oriented lifestyle at UCU?

“I noticed that it went in waves; one month I was more social than academic, then I realized that I needed to catch up. Outside of UC a C- is fine, but at UCU you don’t go for a C, you go for an A. But I liked that because you’re motivated to do well and that’s definitely a plus. I always found it easy to balance the two because everything was so much fun. The courses and projects we were working on, but also outside of classes there were so many valuable things to enjoy; like drama, dance, poetry and photography.”

What was the most engaging class you took and why?

“Psychology, because of our professor Christel Lutz. She really encouraged us to think critically about every experiment. To question it and think about how you could improve it. It encourages individual critical thinking. That really had an impact on me.”

What are your thoughts on the community at UCU and how do you believe it impacts campus life?

“I think that was grand as there are so many different nationalities and you see everyone so often outside, in Dining Hall, and at committees that you really feel like you know each other. It’s an added value that everybody has worked so hard to get in and we all want to be there and do well. We want the same thing, we want to succeed in life and do our best.”

Do you have any regrets about your time at UCU? Is there anything you would have done differently?

“I would definitely do the courses again, and I would meet all my friends again because I’ve met some really interesting, awesome people. Perhaps I would’ve taken up sports. In my time, there weren’t a lot of sports. I would’ve started a beginners running course or a cycling club.”

“Try to balance your academic, social and healthy life”

Any advice for current UCU students? Would you recommend UCU to others?

“Discover Utrecht, that’s one thing. Buy a bicycle because Utrecht is a lovely city. Try to balance your academic, social and healthy life. Most importantly, try to get feedback before you hand in a project. Ask your professor or tutor what they think about your draft. It’s free and it’s so valuable because you get pointers and get to know what they’re looking for. For the rest, it’s a cliché but enjoy your time at UC because those three years fly by. Overall, UCU has been the perfect choice for me. Would I recommend it? Absolutely!”

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