‘We are all concerned about starting during a pandemic’

| Rense Kuipers

Starting a study at is a leap of faith in any case. But starting one in the midst of a global pandemic can make things even more uncertain. Four international freshmen were willing to share their expectations and concerns with us. ‘I want to get the maximum out of my experience abroad. Worrying too much won’t help with that.’

Ana Ruiz-Deance, from Mexico. Starting a Master’s in Chemical Engineering.

‘I’m flying to the Netherlands this week. I feel very lucky in multiple regards. Because of a special treatment for students, I was able to get my visa in time. And despite a financial crisis in Mexico, I can still afford to study at the UT. So no issues there, also not in the Dutch corona regulations. I’ve been taking care of myself in that regard, by not leaving my house all that often, wearing a mask and avoiding crowded places. I’m a little bit scared about participating in the physical activities of the Kick-In, I’ll see what I feel comfortable with. I did see some videos of last year’s Kick-In, it looked so awesome and fun! Unfortunately, but understandable, that can’t happen this year. So for now, I’d rather make the apartment in Enschede feel like home, that’ll probably be more relaxed.’

‘I know education will mostly take place online, but I don’t think it’s that bad. There will still be room for physical education. And I’m eager to experience the Dutch attitude towards research, since I’m already familiar with the Mexican methods. Sure, there will probably be some difficulties along the road, possibly in bridging some cultural differences. But that’s also why I chose to study abroad, I’m happy to know that I’m about to undergo a complete culture shock in a very international environment.’

Mira Pohle, from Germany. Starting a Bachelor’s in Psychology.

‘I think we are all concerned about starting a study during a pandemic. Concerned about missing out on a real student experience and concerned about the effects this pandemic will have on our future and our careers. Still, I am able to study what I’m passionate about and I am certainly one of the most fortunate during this global crisis. Accepting the current situation and adapting to our circumstances is the best way to overcome the challenges this pandemic has placed on all of us.

I chose the UT because it offers me the chance to get an internationally recognised degree. I’m looking forward to working more independently and developing critical-thinking skills whilst meeting people from all around the world. Having any sort of expectations during a global pandemic might lead to disappointment and frustration, so I prefer to be open-minded towards the programme nonetheless. I do think it will be hard to stay motivated when you’re studying mostly online, because temptations – like social media, food and basically anything that’s not study related – are everywhere and hard to resist. I’m hoping to still manage to focus on my studies and learn as much as I possibly can while I’m here.’

Daniil Malikov, from Russia. Is going to spend a semester on exchange at Communication Sciences.

‘Because of the partnership between the UT and the Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don, I’m able to go on exchange for a semester. I really want to get the maximum out of it, so I know I have to be consistent and sharp. Since I heard that Communication Sciences at the UT is a top rated programme, I expect the education here to be really good. I hope it will blow my mind and force me to think out of the box.

I’m not that bothered about the pandemic really. I can only take responsibility for my own actions; wearing a mask, keeping my distance and using sanitizer. And why would I worry about things that are out of my control? I have a pretty good idea of what to expect the upcoming semester and I don’t see the majority of education taking place online as that big of a problem. All in all, the situation’s not that bad at the moment. I already met a lot of people on Facebook and by living on campus together with a lot of other students, I don’t think I’ll miss out on the social side of studying. Again, I want to get the maximum out of my experience abroad. Standing still and worrying too much won’t help with that.’

Samantha Orozco, from Mexico. Starting a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering.

‘The pandemic made things quite difficult in arranging to go study at the UT. Many offices where you could arrange documents were closed because of the pandemic, they moved the deadlines for scholarships. Even for renewing my passport and arranging my visa, I would have to go all the way to Mexico City to arrange things, while I live in the north of Mexico. It took over a month before I got my emails answered. I even thought about postponing my study until February, but that would mean losing my scholarship. I was so stressed, but now I’m relieved things turned out okay. Now I’m almost ready to travel to Enschede, I feel kind of nervous but also very excited. I’ve never been in Europe before.

I don’t want to have any expectations about studying abroad, I want to be totally surprised! Of course I expect it to be a completely different culture. And I already spoke to a Dutch girl who warned me about the directness of Dutch people. Luckily, I already got know my future roommate Ana (interviewed above, ed.), which will help with adapting. I know I won’t have to feel alone and of course I’ll also get to know my classmates. My only concern with following online education at home, is that laziness and distractions can kick in. I know Dutch education has more of a do it yourself philosophy, so I will have to adapt to that. All in all, I think it’s going to be fine, despite the circumstances. Let’s make the best of it!’

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