Raymond, from Indonesia, thought it was time to change tack at the age of 18 and become more independent. Raymond: “I would like to experience outside my comfort bubble and meet new, different people with different perspectives.” His parents have always supported him in his choices and also in this decision to study abroad.  

Why did you choose the bachelor's programme Chemical Science & Engineering? 

Raymond: “Chemistry is what I always wanted to do since high school. I’m fascinated with how things happen and its reasoning, that’s why I fell in love with science. Besides chemistry, I also have a passion for math and physics combined. This makes Chemical Science & Engineering the perfect study for me. I’m excited with all of the lab experiments, synthesizing and analyzing compounds directly from raw materials.” He smiles and says “making things from scratch excites me!”

Why UT? 

“I wanted to study outside of Asia. I think Europe is the perfect place to do so because of the international environment, the beauty of its nature and buildings, and the history that fascinates me. I chose The Netherlands because 90% of its citizenscitizen speak English and I don’t simply need to learn a new language. UT is one of the four technical universities here in the Netherlandsin Netherlands and famous for itson its engineering majors. What adds great value to the university is the production environment that is suitable for study. It also serves and provides the best facilities with both academic and non-academic activities; mentioning I like playing baseball and UT has a very well-maintained baseball field.” Raymond explains.

During your studies, you will be given many theoretical subjects, but you will spend just as much time in a laboratory. Why is this so important?

Raymond: “Both theory and laboratory work are very crucial in Chemical Engineering and it is being taught carefully. To make and apply something in the lab, you do need to understand the basics and the reasoning of the phenomena. It also works both ways, only learning the theory doesn’t get you anywhere. You need to test what you’ve learned and put it in practice. 

Since we are Chemical Engineers, we often play around with chemicals with different hazards that might harm you if you’re not cautious and come prepared. Hence, studying the compound and the reaction also prevents accidents and minimize risks when doing experiments in the laboratory. We are trained on both theoretical and practical skills that will prepare us to become an actual Chemical Engineer. 

Every module (quarter) we have laboratory assignments that you need to carry out. In the first year, we learned to synthesize phenacetin and analyzing its properties and composition using analytical methods. I had the chance to make one of my favourite and interesting compounds, which is Dinitro toluene (which is one step before TNT J). As a process engineer, we also learned the separation techniques and catalysis to speed up reactions.”

You are now in the third year of your programme. You performed an internship at Pt. Rena Haniem Mulia, a company that finds chemical solutions for companies. What was your specific assignment? 

“ I did my summer internship in my hometown at PT. Rena Haniem Mulia. They are specialized in additives for coating problems and metal die castingdiecasting lubricants. For example, one of their products can enhance the wetting in rooftops to avoid water leakage problems. I got the chance to analyze the composition and function of their products to help improve its functionality. Besides engineering problems, I also had the experience on how to communicate with clients in the marketing side by visiting clients and responding to their problems, keeping up to date with the product usage, and trying to find potential clients as a salesman that will further generate their revenue. It’s a great experience in general and I learned a lot in the world of work both in engineering and marketing aspects.” Raymond says.

What was it like to be back in Indonesia (for 3 months) after living in NL for a while?

He continues: “I feel that it’s always good to be back home after studying for a while in the Netherlands. It’s a good opportunity to take a break from your routine in CSE. I missed my family, friends, food, and also the weather. Even though you are studying abroad, it’s always good to remind you where you are from. It gives you the ‘fresh air’ to breathe and motivates you even further when you go back again to the Netherlands.”

Have you thought about what you will do after graduation? 

Raymond: “It is my final bachelor year at the University of Twente and I’m graduating soon. After my graduation, I’m open to any possibilities in the future. Ideal, I would like to experience working in a diverse multi-national company in the Netherlands. By this, I could get valuable knowledge and experience to determine which working field I love the most. I can either pursue higher education for a master degree (a scholarship if possible) in that corresponding field or continue working and eventually bringbringing my expertise to my beloved country. My dream is to contribute and make a positive impact on creating a sustainable/ eco-friendly world. My knowledge and experience can be very useful in Indonesia that is considered relatively new regarding sustainability”.

How international is CSE? Where are your international fellow students come from?

“When I first came to CSE, it was the first year when they changed from Dutch to a completely English curriculum. At that time, there were around 15 international students that came from South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Now, the situation has changed to a more international friendly environment and there are plenty of international students that joined the programme. You will get the chance to meet and make friends from all over the world. I generally study and play with people from diverse backgrounds; from Nigeria, Vietnam, France, Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Ecuador, Serbia and many more. It is very interesting and fun to hang out with people from such a diverse background. You can learn more about their culture, lifestyle, jokes and morals or standards which is very eye-opening.” Raymond explains.

What are your experiences with the differences between education in your country and the Netherlands? 

Raymond: “The Netherlands have a better education in general. In the Netherlands, we are being taught from the basics and forced to think critically instead of memorizing. We’re given the knowledge and skillsets to prepare us for the real work outside of the university. The system here is very flexible and very student-centred. They focus on our different capabilities and personalities as a student and they adjust accordingly. We get direct advice from our study advisor and mentor that is very helpful to communicate our problems and to determine our right path.” 

What about the Dutch traditions or lifestyle? 

“Dutch tradition is pretty much shocking for me in the first place. They do drink a lot of beer, they cycle everywhere, and they are very straightforward. I remembered when I got mesmerized on someone who chugged tons of beer in a split second. It’s something that you don’t see very often in Indonesia and it’s truly amazing. They do eat bread all the time and that’s something I can’t do even in my third year staying here. They are very open to internationals and definitely, they do know how to party J.”

Any regrets?

Raymond smiles: ‘I do not regret a single thing when I decided to study Chemical Science & Engineering at the University of Twente and live in the Netherlands. It’s a great experience and I got my wish: I am more independent and met a lot of interesting people.”

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