Dear prospective students….

So, there’s a very high chance you have arrived here via the SAMS page and because you are interested in this opportunity. I wrote a little bit about the course a while back but never got round to publishing it. I was going to just delete the lot because we have been back for ages now and done even an entire semester back at SAMS, however it could be useful for somebody out there so here it is:

 As mentioned many posts ago we are taking part in the minor for Sustainable Island Management, in Coastal Zone Management. This minor is new to the programme so they are taking in lots of feedback on how to improve the course next year- so apologies for any changes when you arrive! This included the first block of modules: Socio-Economy, Ecology, and Research Methods. There were 3 exams for this block, a group assignment comparing 2 Caribbean Island, and a poster presentation. The second block has centered around our visit to St. Eustatius, before going we were presented with 3 research questions to choose from and this split us into our groups. Since returning we have written up our projects and will present them tomorrow.

The marking scheme here is very different to back home, everything is marked out of 10 (with 10 NEVER being awarded apparently) and a 5.5 is a pass. We personally found the course to be about the same level as back home, and passed everything smoothly with good grades. There is a lot more variation in assignment type here which was really refreshing and we gained skills in new areas. The group work was new to us, and took some practice before we mastered the art of teamwork, however being scientists who will hopefully write papers with our peers in the future-it’s an important art to master.

There was also a LOT of presentations but please do NOT panic, run, hide,faint or imagine anybody in their underwear. The majority of these presentations are in your groups, and having a mate up there who you can turn round to at any point with a look in your eyes like ‘please take over I have no idea’ is such a relief. They are also extremely casual and relaxed; tending to be based around just updating the class on the progress of your current project. Not only does this keep everybody in the loop, it also keeps you on track and stops you falling behind, leaving work til the week before its due (you know we are all guilty of it).

The course was extremely enjoyable, the lectures were lovely and gave so much support throughout the entire course.

In terms of living in a whole new country for six months… there’s a few pointers I can leave you with.

  • If you are wanting to learn dutch.. do it before you arrive. Everyone can speak English and will graciously do so- very kind but also means you come back knowing less than you went over there with.
  • Take part in freshers!! It is a LOT of drinking, it’s a long tiring week but my god it is amazing. You will meet a lovely group of people and it throws you right in to Leeuwarden life. (only advice is, arrive and settle in a bit before freshers- we flew in the day before and it was all a bit of a whirlwind)
  • Get ready to drink beer. all day. everyday. in uni.
  • Take jeans and tshirts, their idea of dressing up is none existent. Do not take heels, or dresses or even ‘jeans and a dressy top’.
  • Get a BIKE! Contact the university before you arrive and ask about a bike, they should be able to give you some details. It is a lot easier to arrive with something organised.
  • Embrace the local life. Go the the markets, have chips, mayonnaise and peanut sauce. Make the most of people in mainland europe, explore.
  • The time will fly by and you will be home before you know it so enjoy it.


If you are from SAMS and have any other questions, feel free to contact us!


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