“We were taken into the dissecting room right in week 3. That was bizarre. The very idea of it was bizarre,” says Tirza den Hertog. The dissecting room is where medical students get to dissect human bodies that have been donated to science. “There were a few people there who were having a very hard time dealing with it and who either had to leave the room or fainted. In the end, though, everyone returned, and we all got a few hours’ dissecting done.” Tirza herself, who was only seventeen at the time, managed not to faint.


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‘I want to enjoy student life as much as possible’

This is Tirza den Hertog (17) from Nunspeet. She’s starting in the Medicine programme…

Studying medicine is ‘really full on right from the get-go’, says Tirza. She reckons she spent about seventy hours revising in the week leading up to her first exam. By now she has sat her second exam of the year, as well. “Anatomy and cell biology. In other words, in this first block we are discussing how things work in a healthy body. We are spending a lot of time at uni and have many contact hours. If you slack off for a moment, you’ll have a hard time catching up. I don’t have a boyfriend myself, but I often hear my fellow students complain that they are hardly getting to see their boyfriends. This is quite a demanding degree programme.” However, quitting is not an option. “I am definitely motivated. After all, I know I want to become a doctor, and this is what it takes.”

It will take Tirza a good many years to realise her dreams. It will take her at least six years to graduate and complete her foundation programme. It will then take her another five to six years to specialise in a particular field. “I’m not scared off by that, but other people will sometimes balk at the idea. ‘Are you really going to go through with that?’, they’ll ask me.”

Tirza had to leave her beloved Nunspeet to pursue her degree. She now lives in the Oude Noorden neighbourhood of Rotterdam. “I got used to it quickly. I feel at home here and I’ve already got to know a lot of people. Rotterdam has really become a home away from home.” It took her a little more time to become accustomed to being in a hospital every single day, but she got used to that, too. “Sometimes you’ll see sick children walking through the corridors while dragging IV poles along. That’s a really weird thing to see. Those children are in a horrible situation, and we’re off to attend a lecture. But I do think attending lectures at the hospital is a good thing. We’re getting to see a bit more of the medical world here than we would at the Woudestein Campus. After all, this is the kind of environment in which we future doctors want to work.”