A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Part of my Master course is obviously a Master thesis. For Clincal Neuropsychology, you need to do an empirical study, or at least organize yourself a data set and analyze it according to a research question. As I was in Leiden before starting my Master and had the time to search for institutes and research groups that focus on my area of interest. With a bit of google I found ENCORE in Rotterdam, a research group that focuses on neuro-developmental disorders and they also had a place (and topic) for a Master thesis. So I was really lucky and found my thesis project within a few weeks.
The best way to find a thesis internship/topic is probably calling and emailing research institutions. Don’t let the title “Professor” or “Hoogleraar” deter you from writing a short (!) message.
They usually read it and forward it to someone who might use an eager young student to analyze some data for them. Another option is to come to Leiden first, follow the first few lectures and ask your lecturers. The course coordinators invite specialists from the field and approaching them directly is also worth a shot. Given that Psychology is a rather talk-intensive field, you will at some point get the question “and how is your Dutch?”, because they would like you to talk to patients or test them. You might have to answer then something like “Well my Dutch isn’t good enough to talk with patients, but I am happy to help you with data entry”, that might convince them.
Once you found a place for your thesis, you will need to sign the contract papers and then you can start working on your thesis proposal. In my case, this means first of all catching up on quite a bit of genetics and trying to get hold of people that can explain me how the data I’ll be analyzing will actually look like.
I had my first work meeting this week and I can certainly confirm one stereotype: Dutch work culture is very friendly and doesn’t know too many hierarchies. The discussion we had was really nice and I had the feeling of really being included into the research and that my input will be valued in the process. More about my thesis and Dutch work culture later, for now: let’s revise some Mendel.