Blog Day 1: Welcome to the Graduate School of Life Sciences!

This coming week Erik and I, two brand new Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) students, will be attending the ‘Introducing Life Sciences’ (ILS) course. This one week course will welcome and introduce us to the GSLS and our master programmes. Erik is starting the Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences programme and I am starting the Cancer, Stem Cells & Developmental Biology programme. Every day this coming week, we will post a blog to update you on our activities during the ILS.

The first day of the ILS, on Monday September 4th, we were invited to the Museum Speelklok for the kick-off of the ILS week. The museum houses in an impressive medieval church in the middle of Utrecht’s city centre. The building is filled with a large collection of self-playing instruments that also ornament the rooms we had the lectures in. After administration, and – not to forget – after receiving the GSLS goodie bag (students tend to like free stuff after all), the brand new academic year was heralded by the sound of classic clockworks hanging above our heads. The chair of today’s session, dr. Gönül Dilaver (coordinator of the Biomedical Sciences department), welcomed us and introduced us to the first speaker. Prof. Marijk van der Wende gave us an inspiring talk, including interesting facts on the demographics of our student population, and how the GSLS teaches a very diverse group of students. Prof. Jos van Strijp, chair of the GSLS, also welcomed us to the GSLS and continued with predicting our futures; half of us would continue our career in science with a PhD, but only two of the over 400 students in the room would end up being a fulltime professor. Prof. Harold van Rijen encouraged us on becoming our own master. He enlightened us about his own career path, and especially on the fact that he really didn’t have a certain ‘direction’ in mind while taking it; telling us to stick to what makes us happy and motivated and to enjoy the journey. Before the break, also a short overview was given on the rules and regulations within the GSLS – an important topic for us, since we will all be starting our internships soon.

After this first session, most student’s stomachs started to rumble, and it was time for lunch outside the museum with a view on the beautiful Dom tower. During the second session some other aspects of the GSLS were introduced. First of all, every faculty within the GSLS has an academic counsellor; Pim Visscher for the Beta faculty, and Jaco de Fockert-Koefoed for the Medicine faculty. These counsellors can help you with study planning, delay, and other study related issues. Also, opportunities for being active outside your own studies were presented. The Life Sciences Representatives (LSR) are a group of students that represent all students of the GSLS in education related matters. The study associations that are associated with the GSLS were also introduced, and the second session was concluded with presentations on the GSLS honours programmes: U-Select and QBio. 

To conclude the first day, every master programme got together at their own location. This enabled us to get to meet our fellow students and programme coordinators. I heard some groups even had a BBQ together or went for pizzas! It definitely was a very nice and informative first day at the GSLS!


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