Testing the Waters in the Netherlands


I set foot in Groningen for the first time amidst a swarm of other college-age people, all getting off the train at this northernmost outpost of the Netherlands. A true university city as well as a classic Dutch town, Groningen is full of young energy and old architecture. 

My first visit to my new home lasted for about 24 hours and led me from a denial state to the dawning realization (on my 24th birthday, no less) that I would indeed be moving across the country and Atlantic for graduate school. While there, I saw the labs, signed the papers, found a room - and with that, it suddenly became real. Happy birthday to me!

After two inspiring years working as the Coordinator of Marine Research for MacGillivray Freeman's One World One Ocean Campaign, I’m venturing back into the academic world. Soon I'll be making a bittersweet departure to start this new chapter - entering the marine biology master’s program.

The biggest reason I chose to study in Groningen was the mild weather it's so famous for... Okay, no. It's going to be cold and wet. And yet, maybe it will rain as much there as it would if I were living in a tropical rainforest.

I'm thrilled to be based in Europe because a number of critical marine conservation issues are being addressed now right here, from fisheries subsidies, sea level rise, cetacean captivity and marine debris. Living in the Netherlands at this time offers me the chance to be part of the debate - and resolution - of many of my generation's environmental challenges. Of course, another draw of studying here is that I have roots in the Netherlands allowing me to be near my extended family.

Some of the other things I'm looking forward to in this new adventure are:
• Ice skating on canals in winter (hoping they freeze over this year!), and tulip fields in spring.
• Refreshing my fluency in Dutch.
• Abandoning the car and using bicycle as my primary mode of transportation. 
• I’m also looking forward to cheese. Eating it, mainly.
• Hagelslag. Not familiar with it? It’s chocolate sprinkles eaten on buttered bread. For breakfast.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what adventures I may immerse myself in – but between conducting marine science research and traipsing through Europe during breaks, I’m sure there will be much to share!

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