“Brightlands Campus exudes professionalism”

Megan Entzinger is in the final phase of her bachelor’s degree in the Maastricht Science Programme. In her thesis, she looks for the answer to the question of how a mussel attaches itself to a rock wall, clinging tight even in the face of huge waves. “The animal does this using a glue-like substance. If we can create a bio-based adhesive that mimics the chemistry mussels use to cling to surfaces in the ocean, it can offer tremendous possibilities for medical applications.”

Born in South Africa, this 21-year-old student will be completing her three-year bachelor’s degree this summer. She is already looking back on her time here with fondness. “I really got lucky,” she says from a small lecture hall in the education building at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, where a total of 5000 students enroll in a bachelor or master’s program each year. “I was given the time to learn more about different aspects of science. That’s the great thing about this program: you are free to choose from a few different modules. This was important to me since I wasn’t sure what I wanted. During the course of the program, I gradually started focusing on Biology and mathematics with a bio-based materials thesis. I want to pursue these areas further and get my master’s, but first I’m going to work as a student assistant for a year and spend more time learning Dutch. I think I would like to stay in the Netherlands a little while longer.”

  You work with other students on projects and assignments. These are students with different backgrounds and interests, so this leads to great discussions and you learn from each other.

Science

Megan Entzinger actually ended up at Maastricht University more or less by chance. “Growing up, my parents and I lived in different parts of South Africa and Europe. I actually wanted to go to England after I graduated from high school in Switzerland, but I was put off by the high fees for foreign students and the really demanding admission requirements. After spending some time searching online, Maastricht emerged as an option. Having a Dutch passport made it easier and besides, it was exactly what I was looking for, a more general bachelor’s degree in science with a lot of biology and chemistry. In 2016, I moved here and started the program.”

Diverse

Megan was pleased with the problem-based learning method from day one. “You work with other students on projects and assignments. These are students with different backgrounds and interests, so this leads to great discussions and you learn from each other. The study groups are very diverse, which is logical given the international composition of the student body. We have people here from all over the world; Russia, Asia, Africa, Europe and the US. You hardly need to adjust since everyone is new and they have also come from far away to study here. It is actually this mix that helps you learn to see certain issues from different sides.”

Demanding

The South African did have a bit of a hard time with the course load. “It’s pretty demanding. The basic premise is 20 hours in the classroom and 20 hours of independent study. And believe me, you really need this. I noticed that the bar was set higher and higher during the study program. They really challenge you here; you are always aware on some level that people are working on new materials and sustainable solutions for the future. Maybe it’s because the production companies are right around the corner, so you can literally smell the practical applications. There’s a sense of urgency. We use the most modern facilities and labs here. Everything just exudes professionalism. There’s a great mix of entrepreneurs and students, and lectures and symposiums are offered at the campus. You’re actually already surrounded by chemistry, even as a student. It’s different from being in the city center.”

Bio-based materials

Megan Entzinger wants to focus more on bio-based materials. “Probably, yes. I would very much like to do the bio-based masters here at Maastricht Science Program as I discovered a keen interest while doing my bachelor thesis in the subject.  UM is a great university to continue my education. I really like it here and I can’t complain when it comes to my social life. I’ve made a lot of friends here and I love living in Maastricht. After all, there’s a reason I’m going to learn Dutch.” 

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