‘I’m so happy nobody works on Saturdays here’

| Michaela Nesvarova

In the series The International, UT students from all over the world talk about their lives, studies, choices and passions. In this episode: Vignesh Balaji Vijayan (25), Master’s student of Systems and Control. ‘Dutch people live life the way it should be lived.’

‘I come from India. I’ve been in the Netherlands only for about four months, I arrived in September. Why did I come here? That is a long story! I was working for a start-up in India. We were developing electric scooters from scratch. We were all very young and didn’t fully understand the complexity of it, but it was so much fun. We wanted to make something different, to make a mark. Because of this I was postponing my Master’s for a long time.’

‘After my Bachelor in Electrical Engineering, I wanted to work for a year but ended up staying in the company for nearly four years. I was really immersed in the project. There was a lot of emotional connection to the product. I slept in the office many nights, working and working. Once the product was launched, I kept working there but started thinking: what next? Should I keep doing the same thing or should I work towards something bigger? I still had the fire to do my Master’s. I badly wanted to go back to academics and I liked the process of learning. Even during my hectic schedule I used to have a cupboard with whiteboard paper and used to learn with it whenever I could.’

No language barrier

‘I wanted to study in Europe, because the educational system here is solid and most of the scientific innovation comes from here as well. And I wanted a place where the culture was very straightforward. That is how I found the Netherlands. I talked to Indians who were already living here and they told me that everything I saw on the internet was true. Plus, I heard that there was no language barrier. And I have experienced this to be true. People make sure that you can join in. They switch to English so you can be part of the group. I’m happy that the UT makes sure of this shift. The attention is on it and the whole system is transforming.’

‘I haven’t been here that long, so it’s still exciting. I’m still not completely used to everything, but what I’ve experienced makes me even more curious to learn about the Dutch culture. I keep asking people about their life, trying to learn from them. I’ve had a good time so far. People here are so kind. They always make sure to help you. And they want to help you genuinely. Dutch people are friendly, open-minded and straightforward.’

Work-life balance

‘When I arrived here, I was surprised by the amount of discipline here. Things here are much more organized and on schedule. I was surprised by the trains. They always leave on time! On top of that, people here follow their work-life balance well. I used to have a very hectic life. I had a work-work balance. I’m so happy nobody works on Saturdays here. People give importance to their personal life, they make sure to get proper rest. I like that life! Dutch people live life the way it should be lived.’

‘I’m thinking of doing a PhD at the UT. I like the culture and the research here. I appreciate that PhD is considered a job in the Netherlands. And I value the work. People do things their own way. That is a very good quality. Boundaries are stretched here. That takes a lot of courage and grit. I find it inspiring. Although I miss my parents a lot and at first I really missed the food – now I’ve learnt how to cook -, I like this country and its way of life.’  

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