Eva Maria Veitmaa came all the way from Estonia to study the EIT programme Human Computer Interaction Design at the University of Twente (UT), which is a double degree option of Interaction Technology (I-Tech). Her first year she followed I-Tech at the UT, and is now studying Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden in her second year. Eva Maria shares with you why she chose for the UT and how she reflects on her experience in the Netherlands.
Opinion by Eva Maria Veitmaa, published 2019 on her blog.
When I started my master’s, I basically saw it as a way to live abroad for a while, experience new cultures, and meet new people. It has been all that and much more!
In the Interaction Technology Master’s I have gained a huge amount of knowledge from a variety of different topics ranging from human-computer interaction to user research to audio design to stage make-up. I am so glad the study has been very project-based enabling me to obtain actual hands-on experience.
High Tech, Human Touch – this is the slogan and approach of the University of Twente and they manage to keep the balance between technology and human-centered approach well. At the University of Twente (UT), technology is created for humans, with humans. At UT, technology is viewed as a tool that enables people to achieve their goals, as it should be.
The University of Twente offers many programmes in English and welcomes international students with open arms. Students can choose from a variety of courses from different domains. For the EIT double degree programme it is a bit more fixed and you have to keep possible scheduling overlap in mind. Some of the courses I took during my Master’s in Interaction Technology were, for example, “Designing Interactive Experiences”, “Storytelling Through Sound”, “Innovation Management and Entrepreneurial Finance”, “Virtual Reality”, and “Tele-Interaction in Robotics”, but there are many, many more ranging from more psychological to more technical ones.
The faculty and staff treat students as equals and they are more like family members than academic personnel. UT has an open door policy and professors are very keen on communicating and collaborating with students. My programme director used to wave at me every time I cycled past her office.
The teaching staff is highly helpful. Critical questions and discussions in the classroom are expected. Of course, people differ and some got more easily annoyed by my constant questions on topics I did not understand, but I will always remember two lecturers who always took their time to explain things again and again if they noticed I did not understand it fully. I am very grateful for the patience of them and other teachers. For issues with documents, counselling, and career workshops, the student services help in any way possible.
The University of Twente is located in the countryside, at the edge of the city of Enschede. The campus has a very fresh and green vibe with parks, ponds, and fields. There are forests and pastures nearby – perfect for afternoon walks. The city centre is easy to reach by bike. There are often different cultural festivities on campus or nearby towns. It is a great place to meet new people and experience other cultures.
Everything your heart desires daily is located on campus – lecture halls, student accommodation, library, gym, sports fields, music studios, a small grocery shop, and even two swimming pools (indoor and outdoor). It is good to know that UT seems to offer every sports imaginable, for example, football, tennis, table tennis, hockey, climbing, and even quidditch! Yes, you read it right, they play the game from Harry Potter at the University of Twente. I told you that place was magical.
UT has many study rooms available for both individual and group work. There is a maker space called DesignLab on campus that offers workspaces equipped with various (power) tools, 3D printers, and a laser cutter. Materials are usually provided for free for students. Some faculties also have their own workrooms with more advanced tools and technology. In general, UT is a spectacular place offering a multitude of opportunities for tinkering, prototyping, experimenting, and creating new solutions.
In addition, it is possible to join various choirs, theatre groups, and dance associations. Did you know that students from UT have organised their own musical productions? (And they were amazing!) Most of these associations also have international groups and welcome students who do not speak Dutch.
The environment is quite international. There are students from all over the world, also because UT is collaborating with EIT Digital Master School. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) offers various double degree programmes in the domain of technology, spiced up with knowledge of entrepreneurship and business. They work alongside with universities and companies all over Europe enabling students to live in a variety of countries and experience multiple cultures during their studies.
After my first year at UT, for example, I participated in a summer school on the topic of “Longer Independent Living” in Lisbon and continued my studies at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, specialising in Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing. I am especially interested in physical interaction and designing tangible products. Inspired by that, my last project was creating an interactive light-up installation for a dark and cold winter playground.
From the EIT programmes, UT currently offers the Human Computer Interaction and Design track.
I consider coming to the University of Twente one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have no regrets apart from not being able to spend even more time there. I am sure my roads will lead me back there one day.
The University of Twente is a great educational institution, but an even better home.