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!
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.
A review of the University of Twente (NL)
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. In UTwente, technology is created for humans, with humans. In UTwente, 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 as long as they fill the pillars required by the university (It is a bit different for those doing the EIT sub-programme). 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.
One downside is that since the university offers so many interesting courses, some courses may sometimes have a scheduling overlap. In this case, the student needs to decide which one to pick. It’s a pity if one is only staying for a year because most courses are only given once a year. This system (which is actually common all around Europe) also makes it a bit more complicated if one fails a mandatory course in their final year of studies.
The faculty and staff treat students as equals and they are more like family members than academic personnel. UTwente 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.
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.
The student services help in any way possible. The staff will help you with documents and also provides counselling and career workshops to enable developing your professional self further. They are quick to answer enquiry emails, although I usually preferred going to the office.
Regarding the infrastructure, the University of Twente is located in the countryside. The campus has a very fresh and green vibe with parks, ponds, and fields. There are forests and pastures nearby – perfect for afternoon walks.
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). UTwente has many study rooms available for both individual and group work and you can book them online.
There is a makerspace called DesignLab on campus that offers workspaces and tools for both students and other visitors. They have a woodworking and electronics workshop 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 work rooms with more advanced tools and technology. In general, UTwente is a magical place offering a multitude of opportunities for tinkering, prototyping, experimenting, and creating new solutions.
For those interested in sports and physical activity, it is good to know that UTwente seems to offer every sports imaginable, for example, football, volley ball, baseball, tennis, table tennis, hockey, swimming, climbing, CrossFit, survival run, fitness lessons, and even quidditch! Yes, you read it right, they play the game from Harry Potter in the University of Twente. I told you that place was magical.
The sports facilities are top notch with many indoor halls and outdoor fields. The gym has proper fitness equipment, although it can be a bit crowded during peak hours.
There are also many opportunities for those interested in culture. It is possible to join various choirs, theatre groups, and dance associations. Did you know that students from UTwente 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.
As a student, you can also use the music studios with recording equipment and musical instruments to work on projects or practice in your spare time.
The environment is quite international. There are students from all over the world, also because UTwente is collaborating with EIT Digital Master School (check that one out, too). There are often different cultural festivities on campus or nearby towns. It is a great place to meet new people and experience other cultures.
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.