Follow up interview with Ana Lima 2021

Ana Lima is a third-year dual degree student, combining Illustration at WdKA and Molecular & Cellular Biology at EUC. She has been a student assistant for a little over a year now. Ana was previously interviewed back in 2018. Now, 3 years later, Doran meets her to find out how it is going and what has changed. 


(Photos by Doran van Nifterick)

Why did you decide to combine your studies?
I think that, just like other Dual Degree students, I had an interest in two very different topics, and wasn’t sure how to make time for both during my university time. Now, I’m able to allocate enough time and effort into both.

What does a typical day in your life look like?
Currently, I am working on my internship for WdKA, so I have meetings with my supervisors and do some work on whatever illustration I am currently working on… I also have lectures and PBL prep for EUC courses spread throughout the week for my Embryology and Developmental Biology course. Generally, though, I tend to work on different things for the different courses every day. If I have some free time I go for a jog around the park or play some Animal Crossing.

Are there any days that you are in both universities?
That was quite common before lockdown. I had a few days where I had to leave 15 minutes early from a class or two to make my way to a different campus, but since WdKA and EUC are a 5-minute walk away from each other, it’s not that big of a deal.

What is something that surprised you about RASL?
Probably the amount of free time. Everyone that I talk to about the dual degree is concerned with the amount of time off that you have, but it really is not supposed to take more time than a regular degree. That’s why it’s spaced out the way it is. Of course, I have to make a schedule for the week and stick to it to make sure I have all of my class prep done in time, but if I can follow my plan I have plenty of time to unwind.

 How have you been able to combine your studies?
In my third year, it has become easier, since we get a lot more freedom with projects at WdKA. It is hard to bring illustration into Molecular Biology, but I have been able to make some projects at the academy that bring in scientific elements. For example, I made a VR environment of the inside of a lung and a comic about bone remodelling, and more recently I made a prototype for a classroom companion comic book that explains typical science topics that you learn in high school in a more accessible way.

How do you unwind?
I really enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons with some of my friends from the academy. It’s super engaging and it’s a more lowkey creative outlet. At home, I play video games, and I’ve also been reading a bunch as a way of “unplugging”. I recently finished Middlesex which was super good, and have gotten through about a third of Garden of the Evening Mists. Both of them are fiction, which I enjoy, but still cover topics that I didn’t know much about. So I get to learn while unwinding.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
Probably at home to be completely honest. I’m usually pretty tired at the end of the week and I enjoy having some more relaxed downtime. On a Saturday night, you might find me rewatching a rom-com with my roommates or something. I also call my family in Brazil every weekend to catch up, which is really nice.

Is there one that you’re leaning more towards out of the two degrees for the future?
I think at the moment I’m tending more towards Molecular Biology. I love learning new things and keeping my mind engaged, and I feel like I can do that better with science than art -at least for the time being. It’s been great to be able to do projects where I can do both, but if I had to pick from one of them, I would say I am feeling more fulfilled with my academic studies.

What has pulled you through the dual degree?
Keeping a meticulous calendar. I freak out if I don’t schedule everything I have to do because I double book all the time. I have a physical agenda and I use Google Calendar, just to make sure I note everything down. Aside from that, it’s really about making sure to schedule in free time and knowing when to stop working. Just because you can work more tonight doesn’t mean you should.

Compared to your first interview, has your idea about your future changed?
I don’t really remember what I said in my first interview, but I think probably not too much. I wasn’t sure of what to do next and am still not sure. I’ve been really enjoying working in the lab for my courses, I especially enjoyed the genetics courses I’ve taken, so maybe something with that? Although I would actually also really like to continue my project about science education through comics and illustration.

Do you have any struggles in dealing with the dual degree?
I think the biggest struggle is sticking to your own schedule. No one is going to tell you exactly what you have to do every day. You just have to make sure to have everything you need to be done by the end of the week. But I think that’s a struggle that any university student has.

What’s your favourite study location?
At home. I mix and match between my bedroom, the office, and the living room table. I feel like I get too distracted with external locations, and I like just being able to make myself a cup of tea whenever I want or to take a break and go to the park.


What is your favourite part of each study ?
I was going to say the lab work for EUC but I’m actually not sure. I wasn’t the best at it but it was so fascinating to be able to apply the theoretical knowledge we got in class and see the actual implementation. I also really enjoy the lectures, they expand on the scope of the courses in a really interesting way. For genetics, for example, the lectures ranged from ethics of “designer babies” to forensics. For WdKA I have been enjoying the internship too. It’s very different to work for such a long time with people that are not in school with me and try to make a helpful product.

What do you wish you knew when you started ?
I think most of the things I wish I knew were more about living in the Netherlands than the dual degree itself. I was super confused about healthcare and getting a GP for example.

What would you advise Ana in her first year ?
It’s a lot harder to get really good grades in university than in high school, but that’s okay! Just because you don’t get a 90 doesn’t mean you didn’t learn important things. Focus more on enjoying the information you acquire than scoring the perfect mark. Also, it’s okay to do a resit sometimes, it’s not the end of the world. 

How did COVID affect your university life?
It didn’t make that much of a practical difference – I already spent most of my time studying at home, so that wasn’t as big of an impact. I think the biggest learning curve was manners in an online class. It’s hard to read other people’s body language and to know when to participate without cutting someone off. Obviously, it also limited how many of my friends I could see, which was difficult to deal with.

How have you adapted to studying in quarantine?
I had to learn to wake myself up early. When I had classes in person I had a regular schedule, but in the lockdown, especially for WdKA, my number of classes went down a lot. I had to create my own regularity and manage my time with more precision