Michiel van Rijn

Michiel van Rijn

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Michiel van Rijn followed the Premaster’s program in Sociology and started in September 2014 with the Double Degree Master’s program Sociology at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) and Tilburg University. Besides that he did an internship at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) as part of the Extended Master.


"It's also possible to switch to the extended master after the courses of the double degree are finished. With this I've both had the experience of studying abroad, ánd to discover what it would be like to have a job as a sociologist."



Educational background

After my secondary school I choose to study social geography at the Radboud University Nijmegen. I've finished the Bachelor’s program in Nijmegen and made my move towards the Premaster's program Sociology in Tilburg. I specifically choose the premaster to refresh my skills and knowledge of statistics. Also to get more acquainted with the main sociological theories. Currently I’m involved in the Double Degree Program between UPF in Barcelona and Tilburg University and doing an internship at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) as part of the extended master. Yes, it is also possible to switch to the extended master after the courses of the double degree are finished. With this I've both had the experience of studying abroad and to discover what it would be like to have a job as a sociologist.

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Why did you choose this study program?

I deliberately choose the Premaster’s program because I knew the Master Sociology in Tilburg is very quantitative. I really wanted to refresh my statistical skills and get more acquainted with the sociological theories. With this I thought I would be more prepared to successfully complete the Master's program. It turned out to be a good decision. It really helped me with refreshing my statistical knowledge and to learn and upgrade my academic skills. Maybe that's why my masters is going quite well.

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My experiences so far

I think the Premaster’s program is a perfect program to get acquainted with sociology and Tilburg University in general. It is not an easy study, however if you devote enough time to your studies I think that you can really pass all courses with good grades. It really depends on your own effort, thus the amount of energy and time you devote to it. The program is a mix of methodological, research and more theoretical courses.

Within the statistical part you get to learn the quantitative techniques needed for conducting sociological research. There is also one course on qualitative methods, and this really broadens your perspective on how to conduct research. Another part is learning academic skills, like how to find the proper literature needed for your own research and how to read and summarize academic articles. It gets you prepared to work at the university level. The other half of the courses is more theoretical, like learning about contemporary sociological theories and thematic courses on identities in Europe. You have to read a lot, but with the right amount of time and energy spent on the subjects I’m sure you will pass. The most beautiful thing of studying sociology is that it changes, or enhances, the way you look at society: a kind of sociological imagination.

After the Premaster’s program I thought of applying for the regular Master. However, because I attended an Erasmus Intensive Program hosted by Tilburg University in 2014 it made me change my mind. I was now interested by studying abroad. The Double Degree Program between the UPF in Barcelona and Tilburg University offers you to learn from top scholars of one of the best social sciences departments of Spain and the Netherlands. At the UPF you will get some quantitative research courses and you even get to know how to work with STATA. You’ll have the opportunity to choose two elective courses and the compulsory courses are about demography, family and gender (equality) and social inequalities. All of them are really interesting. Besides, living in Spain (Barcelona) is awesome. I’ve had a great time! In Tilburg you get to know more about how the welfare state functions and you’ll follow courses about social capital and populism. The other courses of the Double Degree in Tilburg are about statistics, so you will have a very broad sociological background with a lot of themes passing. And you will know all the quantitative methods needed to successfully conduct your research for your master thesis.

Studying abroad really enriches your life and now I had the chance to attain two Master degrees in one-and-a-half year. After the courses ended by end of 2015 I still felt I could do more, I wasn’t ready yet. All the master students are given the opportunity to enroll for the extended master. That implies that you will do an internship at a (research) company in the Netherlands. That looked like a great opportunity to get as much learned as possible during my last years of being a student. I’m really grateful that I was given all these opportunities and I’m really happy I took them.

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Why Tilburg University?

I just finished my Bachelor in Nijmegen and really wanted to obtain a Master degree in social sciences. Sociology would fit my personal interests best. My first impression was quite good. The class was not too big, so you get to know everyone quite fast and the teachers have more time for you when you need it. I also enrolled in the student climbing association, if you are interested in other sports or associations then Tilburg has a lot to offer as well. I really like the 'green campus', I mean, there is a big forest next to the university and there is also a lot of green on the campus.

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Campus and facilities

The campus is really nice, not too big and not too small. You can easily walk form a building to another if you have classes at different locations. There are several places where you can buy food for breakfast, lunch or dinner and there are also two cafés where you can buy your drinks after a day of hard work. The restaurants serve different dishes every day (also vegetarian). There is also a Starbucks located at the campus. It is also very attractive that there is a lot of green on the campus, with some parks surrounding the university. If you want to go for a long walk you can enter the forest next to the university. The sports center is also very nice, it has just been renovated and you can practice almost every sport over there.

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What do you think of Tilburg as a city?

I like Tilburg. I have been living here now for a few years and it is a lively and fun city to live in. Not only the campus has a lot of green, Tilburg as a city is surrounded by a lot of forests. So if you want to escape the business of everyday life you can get really fast to the surrounding forests. The city center is attractive, with one street filled with cafés. In the summer you can go to the biggest ‘fair’ of the Netherlands or attend festival Mundial. As long as you are open to it, you will find that Tilburg has a lot to offer!

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What are your expectations for the future?

For a long time I have not known what I wanted to do in the future. And to be honest, I’m still in doubt. I’m an intern right now at a national institute, although I really like doing research I also felt a lot of satisfaction while teaching when I was a student assistant. So, I might either go on with doing sociological research, be it at a university for a Phd position or at a company/institute, or I will choose for the post-master Sociology for becoming a 'real' teacher.

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Do you have any tips for new students?

I really recommend you to devote the time and energy required to your study. This really makes it a lot easier for you to complete the program successfully. Make a planning and stick to it, so put your study at number 1. With this you keep enough time left for other things. Also, studying sociology gives you a lot to talk about, everywhere, and anywhere. But maybe more important, enjoy your study in sociology!

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