Hello, I'm Tim, and I am studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Twente.
Deciding what to study was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make so far. So many options looked interesting to me, but there wasn’t one that really stood out. So I started attending Open Days and Student for a Day programmes early on. I went to most Dutch universities – some I even visited several times, crossing programmes I didn’t like off my list. I realized relatively quickly that I wanted to do a science or engineering degree and something to do with technology, because those programmes usually have a practical aspect and are challenging enough. But I was still stuck with the problem that I found everything interesting. I started looking at broader programmes, ones that take aspects from different fields of study and combine them in one degree. This type of programme really appealed to me and, again, I went to various information days. But the thought that a broad study can never offer the kind of depth you will find in a more focused study kept nagging me. During my last few years at high school I was pretty bored. I needed a new challenge and I didn't want to run the risk of signing up for a programme that would barely scratch the surface of things. Then I started looking at which aspects of these broader programmes appealed to me most. I found out it was the chemical aspect. That is how I came to zoom in on Chemical Engineering. After visiting a few more Open Days and Student for a Day programmes, I knew for sure and I enrolled in the programme.
I chose Chemical Engineering, because I’ve always enjoyed chemistry and because while I was trying to decide on what to study I realized that it was the chemistry component in broader programmes that appealed to me most. On top of that I was looking for a programme that did not just focus on the abstract theoretical side of things, but also included practical application. Later on, when I'm doing researching, I want to be able to see the results. For example, I’d like my research to result in a higher yield at a plant, a new material or a whole new plant. Chemical Engineering combines all these aspects.
You can study Chemical Engineering in Delft, Eindhoven, Enschede and Groningen. At Delft, the first year of study is combined with Leiden University and you study Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the same time. After the first year, you choose which one you want to continue with. The same applies to Groningen. At Eindhoven and Enschede you just do Chemical Engineering. I visited all the universities, except Groningen. Groningen is not a technical university and I wanted to do a technical degree at a technical university. This left me with Delft, Eindhoven and Enschede. I decided against Eindhoven, as the university didn’t appeal to me when I went there for an Open Day. However, the choice between Enschede and Delft remained difficult to the end. I actually lived near Delft, so this would have been the most logical choice. Some of my friends were going there and it meant I could live at home. However, I liked the University of Twente so much because of its campus, its open atmosphere and the great facilities it offers. After going to one more Open Day at both universities, I knew for sure. The atmosphere in Delft didn't really appeal to me and I liked Enschede even more this time. I really liked the campus, with all that park-like space. On top of that, there was such an open atmosphere – you could go up to anyone and ask a question and they would take time to answer it in a really friendly way. The facilities were also very new and looked well cared for.
My studies at the UT are going well. I am having a wonderful time and really enjoying the subjects. Of course, some subjects are less interesting than others, but overall I am keen to hear what is being taught. I also enjoy going from theory to practical work. It allows you to immediately apply the theory in real life and to see that it really makes sense. Twente's Educational Model does mean that we have a full schedule, which seems annoying at the beginning. But once you realize how much it helps you get the most out of your studies, you are very grateful. During lectures and guided study sessions you don’t fall behind if you run into a problem, problem because you can always ask questions. You also learn a lot from working in groups; it makes the programme really varied. All in all, I am really glad I chose to study at the University of Twente.
The party scene here is not as big as it is in cities like Amsterdam, Leiden and Utrecht, but Enschede does have a very nice Oude Markt (Old Market) with lots of great bars and clubs. The student associations here are also very active, with lots of activities and cocktail hours. If you want to meet people from other programmes and experience more of student life you can join one of the four student associations in Enschede: Alpha (Christian), AEGEE (which is a little less demanding, with no initiation, for example), A.S.V. Taste (a normal student association, but with traditions and rules) and Audentis (similar to A.S.V. Taste, but a little more like a corporation).
During my first year, I was on the first-years’ committee of my study association, Alembic. We organized all sorts of activities and our main goal was to help the first-year students meet older students. I was also one of the guides who showed prospective students around. I play basketball with D.B.V. Arriba on campus and I am also part of the Public Relations team. This year I am chairman of the Loopbaan-oriëntatie-commissie (Career orientation committee), a committee that helps put students in contact with companies by organizing lunchtime lectures, excursions and other activities. And I also joined A.S.V. Taste this year.