I came to Stirling for the MSc in Aquaculture because it was a recommended course to work internationally in the sector. It was clear from my early days of study – and later in work – just how international the course at Stirling is. Students in my year came from many countries and cultures, and still today if you say ‘University of Stirling’ in many parts of the world that equates to ‘Institute of Aquaculture’ in many people’s heads. The team I work with today has some other Stirling graduates in there too and I still collaborate with old colleagues at the Institute.
Mobile phones were still bricks in 1996 and certainly students didn’t have them. The internet was pretty new too. I was always amazed how international students coped being away from home and so out of touch with family and friends. But there was a great community in Allangrange where I lived and we got to share food from around the world. I’m still in touch with some of the people I lived with then, even though it was just 10 months. I remember Veronica from St Vincent being excited to see snow for the first time. I remember enjoying my first oyster fresh from a Scottish loch, handed to me by the farmer during one of our field visits. I remember my excitement when my thesis project was confirmed for the mangroves of Thailand.
Since completing my MSc I’ve also enjoyed living in some amazing places on projects for the UN, the EU and UK government. But I am proud to say that for the last 15 years my home has been Stirling. I’m English by birth, Dutch by origin and I could live anywhere, but I’m very settled in my adopted home. When I’m not travelling I work from a home office, still supporting some of the world’s largest retailers to push for improvements in how fish and shrimp are farmed around the globe. Right now I am also advising some major international donors on their strategies to support aquaculture improvements, particularly around how aquaculture sectors are planned and managed to help prevent future catastrophes that disrupt markets and livelihoods. I know I wouldn’t be doing this as successfully without the training I received, but more importantly the international network that comes with being an aquaculture graduate from Stirling.