My first year as a “ReMa student”
“Awesome!”, is what I nearly shouted into the speaker of my phone when I heard the good news last year: I got accepted for the clinical psychology specialisation of the Behavioural and Social Sciences Research Master program in Groningen. I was going to be a ReMa student, and I was so relieved. I had to write a letter of motivation, was given two weeks to compose my first research proposal, and finally I made it through the final selection, the interview.
Thus, in September 2014, together with 23 fellow students, I officially started my research career. In my specialisation, we are only 4 people. What a difference; in my Bachelor of Psychology program, which I also completed in Groningen, we had started with 350 people! Being in a small group was immediately one thing I really liked and it had been one of the reasons for wanting to become a ReMa student. Having most lectures in such small groups makes a big difference. We ReMa students get to know each other on a totally different level, and also the relationships we build with our professors is incomparable to the atmosphere during the Bachelor program. They suddenly know our names and give us the opportunity to work with them on research projects one-on-one.
“We ReMa students get to know each other on a totally different level”
As the name suggests, the focus in the two-year ReMa program is indeed on research. This inevitably means that statistics plays a major role and in the first two semesters you are expected to spend many hours on it. However, it seems I am finally learning statistical methods that are actually applied in real research. In two courses, we are even asked to bring and work on our own data sets (instead of study a book and answer multiple-choice questions in an exam). So yes, if you are considering applying for the ReMa program, be prepared to tackle statistics again, and keep in mind that this plays a major part in psychological research and thus prepares you for what is yet to come.
The ReMa not only gives me the chance to do research here at the University of Groningen, but also actively supports my plans of spending time abroad. In the second year, ReMa students are expected to do a traineeship, which I will do at McGill University in Montréal, Canada. I am thrilled to be given this opportunity and I am really looking forward to working with other internationally renowned researchers. In my case, I will also stay in Montréal for my Master thesis, at the Sainte Justine Hospital. In addition to this being an exciting learning experience, hopefully it helps me increase my chances in obtaining a position as a PhD student.
“Proper planning and a lot of time investment are needed”
Speaking of which, from day one of the ReMa program, we are constantly reminded of and encouraged to think about and plan for the PhD position we are aiming for. No doubt, there is pressure to start publishing and to come up with an innovative, compelling research idea, so as to hand in a competitive application for funding at the beginning of the second ReMa year. Proper planning and a lot of time investment are needed, not only for the PhD application but throughout the whole ReMa program. After all, we were one of the few who got accepted into this program, hence good performance and commitment are expected.
If you are considering applying for the program, it may help to know that you are offered support and assistance in order to manage to deliver what is expected from you. You will have a mentor within your specialisation and there are special student advisors for the ReMa program. Moreover, during the course Applied Statistics for example, you will also be guided and supported by one of the lecturers. You will be busy with “Uni” every day and there will be times that you feel totally exhausted, but it will be good to know that many people are willing to help.
“Inspiring, stimulating, and personal”
So all in all, yes, the ReMa definitely is a demanding and challenging program but the inspiring, stimulating, and personal environment it offers is definitely worth it. If I had to choose again, I would certainly do this ReMa again.
These were some of my experiences of my first year of the ReMa and I hope sharing these will help you deciding whether this Master program is something for you. If you have any further questions, I am happy to help, just leave me a message below.
Note: Image by Simon Cunningham, licenced under CC BY 2.0.