David is studying Water Management at HZ. He moved from his native France to Middelburg for this study programme. "When I studied in France, I learned mainly how to act. At HZ, it's much more about the question of why."
Why did you choose to study Water Management at HZ?
"In France, I was studying a programme that was very similar to Water Management. I worked for a while after that, but wanted to continue studying. A college degree gives me the opportunity to work in other places in Europe. I came across HZ at an international scholarship. As a college from Zeeland, HZ is well regarded in the field of water. I also found the Netherlands interesting because I already knew the language a bit thanks to my Dutch father. It seemed like a great way to master the language better."
What directions can you go with the Water Management course? And what did you choose?
"The programme is incredibly broad. During your studies, you have many choices to grow towards a specialism where your interests lie. Through three study routes, but also thanks to minors and electives. Water management students can be involved in very different fields. It ranges from ecology or groundwater issues to reinforcing dykes with material from the sea. I specialise in water treatment for industry. In this field, you are involved in a lot of chemical processes. I have always found chemistry and chemistry very interesting."
Do you think it is important to contribute to a better world with your knowledge?
"The main reason I am doing this study is my fascination with water and chemistry. Of course, it is a nice thought that I can make a positive change with my work. Working on water treatment has a direct effect on our society and the world. I like to work on things I can see the direct benefit or result of. HZ, as a practice-oriented university, fits in well with that. For long-term research, I am a bit too impatient. Fortunately, others are good at that again, because for the challenges in the world you need both types of people."
What is the relationship between theory and practice?
"In the first year, you lay the foundation for the rest of the programme. That means that compared to the years after that, you do get a bit more theory. Of course you run projects in practice, but you also learn how to research and how to write a report about it. I was by no means a writer, but I have become much better at it. To new students who, like me, want to start working immediately, I would say: keep it up! You will start working more and more in practice. Besides, I immediately experienced why the material from year one was so important."
What have you grown most strongly in?
"When I studied in France, I mainly learned how to act. For example, how to grow bacteria, how to turn it into a culture, how to operate a hydraulic system. At the HZ, it's much more about the why. Many things I learned in France I only truly understood here. Here, you learn to work in an investigative and solution-oriented way, but also to interpret your results. Manipulating a bacterial culture is not the most difficult thing in the world. Much more challenging is giving the results meaning and coming up with new steps from there."
How are you guided by your lecturers?
"From the very first moment, I was incredibly well supported. Of course, I was a special case: I speak the language, but I didn't know the Dutch education system. Then it's great that lecturers take the time to show you around. I still have that experience during graduation. The lecturers are involved and interested. Of course, at a hbo you also have to take initiative and think in a solution-oriented way. But you never have the feeling at HZ that you are left alone."
What did your graduation internship look like?
"I did research on removing micro pollution from sewage water using ozone bio. Think, for example, of micro residues from medicines. These are difficult to extract with a conventional treatment plant. Ozone-bio is a hybrid form. The ozone reactor oxidises the pollutants, facilitating the biological process. It is a fairly new technique, so a lot of research still needs to be done to find the optimal treatment. The less ozone you need, the better, as it saves energy. It's complicated stuff, but very interesting. This internship really enriched my knowledge, on top of what I already learned at HZ. I came out a lot wiser!"