Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Country of origin: Lithuania
Study course: Master in Neuroscience and Cognition
Why did you decide to study abroad?
My learning curve took a huge step upwards upon undergoing an Erasmus program at University of Warsaw. During this program, my exposure to cultural diversity was huge, and an international experience was the stepping-stone in deciding to study a Master’s degree abroad. Moreover, while being an exchange student I had the honor of meeting professors from the University of Warsaw, spurring my interests in topics related to emotions and emotion regulation.
What made you decide on this university?
The first time I became interested in Neuroscience was after learning about the very tough and difficult subject during the second year of my Bachelor’s programme. Neurophysiology was the most challenging course I have ever had. After this I was more interested in knowing about the brain and cognition. Therefore, I took a course called Biological Bases of Behaviour, where I was learnt how brain activity influences a person’s behaviour. Moreover, around that time I read one of the best books “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. This book changed my mind about psychology. I have found a new field of psychology (cognitive science) where I can imagine myself discovering new things. In my opinion, the first step was to decide what I wanted do in my life; and the next thing was looking for the right place which would help me to achieve my dreams.
The best thing about studying here in Utrecht is that you can link different disciplines and find new aspects for researches. There are different labs and the field is very broad. Therefore, we can find something that we are really excited about. We have so much freedom to choose among different labs, topics, electives, etc. This Master’s programme also provides the opportunity to study abroad in almost any place in the world, in a topic related to neuroscience and cognition – something I find really amazing. I believe that those who are really interested in studying in a PhD would benefit the most from this study programme.
How is your experience of studying abroad?
The first 4-5 weeks when I came here were very intensive, filled with course-work, documentation, etc. Everything worked fine, however, people might be anxious at this time because we are supposed to handle a lot at once. I was lucky to have accommodation when I arrived, because some other international students struggled to find a place to stay. Therefore, that was really the best decision, to look for as much information as possible before moving to another country. Furthermore, I signed up for the buddy programme where I met a wonderful and very friendly Dutch girl who helped me understand the course system (it takes some time), gave me many tips for studying / preparing for exam, explained many things about transport, medical insurance, and, even, sent me useful apps. For instance, she showed me one app about weather conditions, which was really important while travelling everywhere with my bike.
I am also very happy that I found a lot of new friends because I am pretty sure you are going to miss your family and friends when you are far away. However, trying to be active and communicating with others is important if you want to get the best experience. I would say that I learnt many things and if I have to choose again, I would definitely go abroad.
Why do you think others should not miss out on studying at your university
We have freedom to choose; therefore, it is very important to use this opportunity and try to look for the best option and things you really like. I believe that those who want to study a PhD should definitely consider studying here (research master) because they mainly focus on research, and you have the chance to work with the best scientists and best laboratories, while using the newest techniques, etc. On the other hand, if you do not know what you want do in your life, this also might be a good choice, as many Master’s or Bachelor’s programmes provide a broad perspective, and you can choose many different things in order to find things you might like. In my opinion, it matters much more what we want to achieve in our life than just the place. However, a new place might give us a better understanding of what we want to achieve.