Imagine having to move to a new city in a foreign country. Imagine having to adapt to a completely different lifestyle: strange temperatures, strange environment, strange people, strange food, … This is one of the reasons why on June 28th 1991 a group of enthusiastic biostatisticians, decided to found Alumni Biostatistics Diepenbeek (ABD) with Kristel Luijtens as the first president. Later she was followed by respectively Jacqueline Smits ('93-'95), Els Gaens ('95-'97), Helena Geys ('97-'99), Ivy Jansen ('99-'02), Saskia Litière ('02-'04), Herbert Thijs ('04-'06), Niel Hens ('06-'08), Philippe Haldermans ('08-‘11 ), Kim Van Kerckhove (’11-'13) and now Yannick Vandendijck ('13-...). When in September 1999, the new program, Master of Science in Applied Statistics, started, ABD became A²BD. In 2007, with the start of the Master of Science in Bioinformatics, A²BD changed its name again, into A²B²D. When in 2009 the program directors decided to change the name of the applied program into 'Epidemiology & Public Health Methodology', A²B²D decided to go for a completely new, fresh name: JOSS (Joint Organisation of Statistic Scholars).
With a group of energetic board members, most of them PhD students of CenStat, we try to facilitate living in a completely different environment, what Belgium for sure is for a lot of our foreign students. We also try to keep contact with the graduated students as well as with the current students and with their instructors. All are kept up-to-date through the JOSS newsletter, with announcements about social activities, statistical meetings and also with personal matters.
Every academic year starts with an introduction day for the VLIR and other foreign students. During this day, we help each other to understand the many cultural differences and we make a tour through the university campus and Hasselt, the city where most of our students from abroad, will spend at least one year of their life. We end the day with a nice drink.
Other activities include ice-skating (a new and exciting experience for a lot of them), soccer games, bowling, jenever feasts, citytrips, go-karting and so on. Twice a year we try to meet as many of our members as possible, once after the January exams with our end-of-exams party and once at the end of the academic year with the General Assembly, followed by our yearly barbecue. The main goal of JOSS during all these activities is to create a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere in which it is possible to meet friends and to exchange personal experiences.
MSc in Epidemiology & Public Health Methodology, MSc in Biostatistics and MSc in Bioinformatics are three degrees you can be proud of to list them on your curriculum vitae. It is our job to make sure that working very hard and gaining a lot of useful knowledge will not be the only memories you will have after your stay at the Hasselt University …