Where do you come from and why did you come to study in Enschede?
I come from Jamaica and am half Jamaican, half British. When you grow up on an island like I did, you long to find out what is out there, what experiences are waiting for you beyond the horizon. That is why I was very happy to cross borders. I started studying in Enschede because I wanted to do something with industrial design. I researched where I could best study this subject. And that’s how I ended up at UT. So I really moved here for this study.
Do you enjoy being in Enschede? What are the most notable cultural differences you’ve experienced?
I live on campus with 14 housemates. And that’s really great as there’s always someone to have a little chat with. Because I can’t exactly pop home to my family every weekend like the Dutch students. One major benefit of Enschede is that you can go everywhere by bike. It gives you so much freedom! Thanks to being so flat, the Netherlands is a perfect country for cycling, and it’s definitely not as hot as Jamaica. I don’t go to the city centre very often because we have everything on campus. But when I do go to town, I like to go to the market. One thing I love buying there is kibbeling.
Do you have any tips for other international students in Enschede or people looking to take that step across international borders?
If you move to another country for your studies, it can be difficult at first. I also experienced this in Enschede. In the beginning, it was not entirely clear to me where the parties and activities were. Later I found out that you have to look on Facebook for that or join a club. What I did in the beginning was to say ‘yes’ a lot to invitations. And I joined organisations. I worked at AIESEC for a while, for example. I met many friends there.
If you dream of studying across borders: go for it! It is important to be open to the new culture in the beginning. Many people who are new to the country like to talk a lot about their home because they miss it. But try to learn more about the new culture first and only then talk about your own home. Otherwise, you may give the impression that you do not like it in the new country. And I’ve got one practical tip: check what the temperature differences are between your home country and – in my case – Enschede. It is much colder here and I had to look carefully at what kind of clothes I should wear.
In addition to your studies, you work at a diversity project with the Fraunhofer Project Center Expertise Student Team (FEST). What exactly are you involved in?
With the project, we are trying to stimulate companies in the eastern Netherlands to be more open to people with various backgrounds, including internationals, using a kind of ‘tool’/guide. If you want to keep talent in this region, it is good for companies to also be open to people with a non-Dutch background. There is a lot of international talent at UT! Like me, for example. As a young woman with a Jamaican background, I may not be exactly what people here first expect in the ‘engineering world’. And yet it’s totally my thing! If I find my place in this world and show what I can do, it will also help pave the way for all the ‘diverse’ students who come after me. More information about the Fraunhofer Project Center at the University of Twente's project: https://bit.ly/3FFLIwI