Luis Acosta Resendiz is a third-year student enrolled in the Bachelor of Biology & Medical Laboratory Research in Breda. He is currently living in Cork, Ireland for six months, carrying out a work placement at University College Cork.
What type of work placement are you doing?
‘I work as an undergraduate student in the Department of Neuroscience. As part of my project, I will conduct research into the nutritional quality of mineral-rich food supplements and their effects on the brain. This research project involves animal testing, in this case on rats. Although I obtained a minor in laboratory animal science back in the Netherlands, the Irish authorities still require me to take a special test assessing my knowledge of research involving animals. This test, held in Dublin, takes place over 2 days and also involves taking a module covering Irish legislation. Irish and Dutch legislation are largely similar, but the fact that I’m authorised to handle lab animals in the Netherlands doesn’t mean I’m authorised over here too. Regulations here are pretty strict.’
Why did you opt for Ireland?
‘I wanted to spend some time abroad to gain more experience and expand my network. Many Avans students have completed a work placement here. I didn’t want to run into communication difficulties and I figured everything would be well organised in Cork. Ireland is stunning, not at least because of the mountains, which the Netherlands sadly lacks. It does rain often, but after a while you get used to that. It did take me some time to adjust to living in an English-speaking country. However, I was already living on my own in the Netherlands, so that part wasn’t hard for me at all.’
What’s your life outside the lab like?
‘My student flat is situated close to the city centre. It’s the perfect spot for me since all the shops and bars are located there. I moved to Ireland with a group of 4 other Avans students. We share a flat where everyone has their own room. Irish student flats are rather upmarket compared to those in the Netherlands. Every day after my lab work, I hit the gym. On weekends, we go clubbing or enjoy a drink in the Irish pub, which is always buzzing. Cork is home to a large number of international students. There’s a bustling international student community here, so there’s always a party going on. I’ve already met lots of great people. We moved to Cork before the start of the summer holiday, but the Irish academic year kicks off in early September, which is when the city slowly fills up with even more students. Irish nightlife is very different from ours. People here are much more relaxed and easy to talk to. I’m not very fond of traditional Irish beer. When I go out, I tend to order a bottle of Desperados, a rum and coke or a Caipiroska. Same as in the Netherlands, really.’
Was it hard to arrange everything for this work placement abroad?
‘Ireland is also a member of the EU, so I didn’t face a lot of red tape. I would recommend completing a work placement abroad to other students. After all, opportunities like that don’t come along very often. It’s not only a great résumé builder, it’s definitely also a once-in-a-lifetime experience.’