Student - February 25, 2016

‘I know now that I’m not going to emigrate’

Who? Bram Wennekes, Master’s student of Earth and Environment
What? Internship at the University of Calgary
Where? Calgary, Canada

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‘In 2013 there was a big flood of the Bow River, and the whole centre of Calgary was under water. Rails were torn up and the asphalt was all over the place. I spent my internship tracking the sediment transport of the Bow using models and literature study. Sediment causes erosion, so you want to know how and where this sediment moves so you can reduce or prevent erosion. The Bow is a snowmelt river and if the water flows too fast, the river cannot be used for drinking water. I enjoyed the modelling and the model turned out to predict quite well how the sediment transport goes during a flood.

The preparations for my internship were more difficult than the internship itself. I wrote to about 20 companies and only got one response. Eventually, via students who had done internships in Canada before, a Dutch company and the City Council of Calgary, I ended up at the University of Calgary. During my internship I met a lot of people, and I joined several outdoor clubs that regularly went out hiking, climbing, skiing or scrambling – which is a combination of walking and climbing, or clambering. I was also invited to an Easter dinner by my supervisor. Her daughter, who was my age, then invited me to go along to a music festival together with her boyfriend and his housemates. It was a bit like the Dutch festival Pinkpop. The location was beautiful, on a hill with a gorge in the background. It was a bit like a natural theatre. I didn’t have much contact with students at the university because I worked in my supervisor’s office. I thought that was a pity.

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One thing I know now is that I am not going to emigrate. You do get to know new people quickly but I like being able to visit family as well. At some point, too, I was fed up with having to plan everything because I didn’t know anyone well enough yet to just pop in unannounced. And sometimes it’s nice to talk Dutch with someone face to face.’