Student - December 17, 2014

The works

‘I often wondered what I was doing there’

Who? Evelien Janssen, MSc Health and Society
What? Four-month Master’s internship at the University of Ottawa
Where? Ottawa, Canada

‘I went to Canada for a research internship. I had discussed my task with my supervisor beforehand: collecting data for an ongoing study in the field of healthcare. I would do that by talking to all kinds of different people. But when I got there it turned out that the data collection was only due to start later – one and a half months after I had finished my internship, to be precise. That was quite a bombshell. I had to do literature study from nine to five. For the first three months I often wondered what I was doing there. But at some point I managed to put the disappointment behind me. All in all, I actually had a fantastic time.

The differences between the Netherlands and Canada changed my thinking about healthcare. Healthcare is much more businesslike in the Netherlands than in Canada. The enormous distances there and the extreme climate make for big differences too. In Canada you cannot always count on an ambulance being on the spot within 11 minutes. It can take three hours.

I arrived in November and that’s when it starts snowing. It can be minus 30 degrees and it can snow like crazy. In the Netherlands a woolly hat is just a fashion item, but there it is a necessity and it even gets announced on the news that people must wear hats. A seven kilometer long canal in Ottawa was frozen all winter, so people skated to work with a briefcase under their arms.

What struck me was how laid-back people are. On my first day I was promptly invited to dinner to taste a local specialty: beaver’s tails. In cafes people would just strike up a conversation and my unfurnished room got filled with stuff people brought me. All that helpfulness really made me happy.’