Six first-year Chemistry students began their studies with an extra scholarship. They were awarded these on the basis of their motivation and school results. Science LinX interviewed three of them about a month after their studies began. First in line was Harmen Sikkema from Smilde. He received a scholarship of EUR 1,835 from the Backer Foundation, named after the University of Groningen chemist Hilmar Johannes Backer.
Why did you choose chemistry?
‘My brother is also studying chemistry, and I shadowed him for a day. I already liked chemistry at school. It is a practical subject, and you spend quite a lot of time in the lab. I briefly considered something completely different – International Business and Management – but opted for chemistry in the end. It will be great to actually understand the product labels in the supermarket.’
Chemistry has a reputation of being difficult
‘That doesn’t deter me; on the contrary, it makes me feel that I’m really accomplishing something. There’s also the preconception that chemistry students are, let’s say, a bit communicationally challenged. But I can’t say I’ve noticed that at all.’
How are you doing so far?
‘You’re thrown in at the deep end right from the start, and there’s a lot of new things to learn, which is fun. We have to put in a lot of hours, but I already knew that from my brother. However, I had expected more repetition of what we learned at school.
I want to spend this first year finding my feet and focusing entirely on my studies. I am considering doing a second Bachelor’s degree, possibly in Mathematics or Chemical Engineering, but I don’t need to decide until the second half of the first semester. So I’ll see how things go.’
Any idea what you want to do with your degree?
‘Not really. Research sounds interesting, but so does working with people, in a company.’
How does the extra scholarship help?
‘Life is expensive. The extra money means I can move to Groningen without having to take out an additional loan. Without the almost forty-kilometre commute each day from Smilde to Groningen, I will have time for a second Bachelor’s degree programme. I expect to have found a room in Groningen by Christmas.’
Do you do anything besides your studies?
‘I teach children karate, which is great fun. And I play the guitar and the mandolin. My parents introduced me to the mandolin.’
Priscilla studies Chemistry
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