Student experiences - Netherlands

Boana Visser - MA Social Anthropology

Boana VisserI chose the University of Bristol because it offered the perfect solution for my study plans. I wanted to study anthropology and in the Netherlands it would have taken me another three years to get a masters degree, whereas in Bristol I was able to do this in one year. Additionally, I wanted to get to know another culture and improve my English, and no country better for that than England. I had heard many people say many positive things about the University and the city of Bristol, and it seemed to have the characteristics that I was looking for in a student city; not too large, with a lively centre and friendly people. This and the good reputation of the department of Anthropology and Archaeology, as well as the university in general, helped me make my decision to choose Bristol as location for my master studies.

Before coming to Bristol, I studied Tourism management, but I had always been more interested in the cultural side than in the commercial side of tourism. I imagined that a master in social anthropology would enable me to get closer to the concept of culture and give me an understanding of the relationship between different cultures and social groups in the world.

I have indeed gained this understanding, as well as other knowledge, experience, and insight in the area of anthropology and social life. I am very glad to experience studying at an English university, which is very different from studying in the Netherlands. This alone already taught me a lot, but also the quality of the teaching is very high. The MA (Master of Arts) is mainly taught in the form of seminars, in which the students have the chance to get acquainted with a subject, examine it in depth, form an opinion, and debate it. Even though I do not have many seminars a week, they are very intensive and require much self study about the subject. The units are assessed with essays in which students are encouraged to express their opinion about a subject they familiarised themselves with, and at the end of the programme everyone should do fieldwork in a particular place, with a particular culture and write a thesis about this. Even though I did not have much experience with these forms of teaching and assessment, there were many workshops that I took advantage of and I have in this way been able to improve my skills.

Besides the education, the University of Bristol offers many other activities to ensure a full and enjoyable student life. As a European student I am a member of the Euromix society, and of the Japanese society, in order to get an acquaintance with the culture I will be studying for my master’s dissertation. Furthermore, I will start volunteering for the Student Community Action society soon. If I had more time, I would definitely join other societies and activities, such as hot air ballooning, mountaineering, or tennis. There are thus plenty of opportunities to be involved in social activities, which I value a lot, since I decided to share a flat with my boyfriend in stead of living in a student hall where I would meet many more students. I am very happy with my flat, however, which is located at ten minutes from the University, and which I found through the accommodation office. 

All together, I am very content with my experience in Bristol and at the University. With my degree in Social Anthropology I would like to work with international people, to ensure comfortable integration and cooperation, either on government level or with a development organisation or University. I am sure that my degree will be valuable and help me find a job I like, since it has already given me much knowledge and experience in this field and will reflect the quality of education of the University of Bristol.

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