Student - October 2, 2009

Snipping branches in Canada

The level-headed Remco Vreeburg was looking for an international experience. While going through a file with accounts of traineeship experiences, this third year Forest and Nature Management student of VHL Velp came across an address in Canada.

Collecting water samples in Canada
'It went very smoothly. Canada seemed really something, and they were looking for a trainee. In fact, I didn't have to do much.  I did worry a little that my visa would not be issued on time, but I had it after two weeks. I ended up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and started doing research for the Ontario Forestry Research Institute.'
Course on bears
'I had to follow various courses before I could begin. That's very normal there. I found it a little excessive at times, though. The courses actually covered all and sundry, from how to handle discrimination to lab safety. As there are many bears in that area, I also did a course on what to do during a bear encounter. That lasted a day. I can't explain all the ins and outs at once. In any case, grizzlies are more aggressive than black bears. Mostly, they would go away on their own, but if they should attack, you have to fight back. This course was necessary; I have seen 25 bears. They were outnumbered only by the squirrels.  The creatures look really creepy. Black, half a meter tall and with eyes which glimmer in the night.'
Cutting branches for science
'I carried out both field and office work in my research. I measured trees and collected plant samples. The tree branches had to be separated from the leaves or needles. In the lab, we determined the nutrient percentage for each sample. In this way, we could compare the difference in nutrient composition before and after a clearance. In the office, I processed my own data and the data of those before me. This research work was completely new for me, not having done real research in VHL before. Everything went well.'
Mama online
'In my free time, I would watch a film in my room or skype with my mother. I'm not the going-out type; that's too expensive. Friday afternoons were exceptions, and then I would go with a group of colleagues to eat chicken wings in the city. I enjoyed myself tremendously there, but got used to being home again very soon. I'd like to go back there for a year, but not forever. I'm a family person, I am.' / Stijn van Gils