I decided to apply for a Master’s programme outside my home country after spending 6 months in Barcelona as an Erasmus student. Although at first I was thinking of a specialisation related to Biomedical Engineering, the Master of Cognitive Neuroscience(CNS) immediately caught my attention as when I applied, the programme had just received the prize for the best rated CNS Master in the Netherlands.
Even if the application procedure itself was extremely straightforward, with the official acceptance letter following a few days after the interview, I remember the process being very overwhelming due to its fastness. As regards the academic experience, the first few days in Nijmegen were great: during the first week we started with a practical course which involved almost 8 hours of work every day where we had the chance to perform human and rat brain dissections. In general, for me as a student coming from a different educational background, everything was completely new and interesting, from the teaching methods, exams, presentations to the practical work.
Moreover, the atmosphere in class was really informal, we could interrupt at any time to ask questions and the professors would always answer with a smile on their face (actually, everyone smiles in the Netherlands - it’s amazing!). What I liked most was the fact that each course was taught by experts in the field and I especially enjoyed the lab rotations where I acquired hands-on experience with different research methods.
Even more interesting was that we got to work on our final thesis for one whole year, during which I experienced all the steps of a research, from designing an experiment and collecting data to analysing and presenting the final results. On top of that, my supervisor was a great inspiration and I learned a lot from him due to his supportive attitude, to his openness to being available at any time, and always happy to share his experience with the students.
Looking back, the two years were full of challenges but I can definitely say that it was all worth it! Thanks to the things I learned during the lectures and the experience I gathered during my internship, I received a PhD position at ETH Zurich. Having a Master’s degree in CNS really puts you on the spotlight since both the Radboud University and the Donders institute are well-known worldwide, thus making this degree a brink to a solid foundation for a future career.