Starting student life in Enschede

It has already been three weeks since the first day of the academic year has started. When you have been walking around here for a while this might not be that exciting anymore, but for many first year students the start of the academic year is an experience they will not soon forget! First year IBA student Kirvy Avila Arosemena takes us with him on his journey to Enschede and his experiences these past few weeks studying here at the University of Twente.

I will never forget the moment when I had to say goodbye again to my parents and my brother before taking a 10-hour flight all the way from Panama City to Amsterdam. That moment is filled with mixed emotions: Sadness because I’m not going to see my family for a year, but also happiness because I’m embarking on a totally new experience in a totally different country.

The reason I chose The Netherlands is that since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in the aviation industry thanks to my dad who is a pilot. During my first travel to Europe, I was introduced to KLM which is the main carrier of The Netherlands. Today, it is my favourite airline and during that trip, I happened to notice that it is the oldest operating airline in the world. I find it very interesting how it is possible to administer a business of that size for so long in a high volatile industry that is the aviation industry. Apart from the good education and lifestyle that the country offers, that was definitely one of the main factors that led me to choose the Netherlands as a study destination. The reason for choosing Enschede and the University of Twente as my place to study was because Enschede, even though far from the main cities of the country, is a very peaceful city with lots of international students. What differentiates the University of Twente from the others is its campus. The instant I saw the pictures and the multiple videos of the University I instantly fell in love with it and decided to tell my parents: this is the one!

Now back to the present. I arrived in The Netherlands exactly one day before the Kick-In. However, the jetlag was not going to stop me from having an amazing start of my student life. I remember that I was anxious about how we were supposed to choose our Do-group, but the decision came naturally and thanks to my choice, I’ve been able to meet amazing people who have made me feel at home even though I am far away from my actual country.

The first weeks around campus have been very interesting so far. During my first day of class, I was shocked when I had to cycle all the way to the university and saw a large group of people cycling throughout the Hengelosestraat which is an unprecedented event in Panama. Back home it’s mostly cars and being in a country where the bikes have their own roads with their own traffic lights is definitely an interesting experience not only for me, but for every international. Classes in the Netherlands are also structured different than in Panama. For instance, the lecturers back home take charge of most of a person’s education by establishing rules that all students must follow. However, here I have the feeling that it is more of my own responsibility to oversee my own learning. I get to decide whether I want to go to the lectures or not, I get to decide whether I have study time or not. The campus of the University is very big as well. It is quite a challenge to learn all the building names and to locate the right classroom every time. Just to not arrive late, I try to arrive 30 minutes prior to the class to locate the room. Back home during high school, you got assigned a room and you wouldn’t move from that room throughout the day. So instead of you going to the room, it was the lecturers that moved from room to room.

Apart from the school life, I have been having a lot of fun doing the activities organized by Stress. There are so many events I want to join so every day, I’m just basically scrolling through the events section of the association to see if there are any interesting new events. My favourite events so far were the freshmen BBQ where I was able to meet my fellow freshmen and the “How to borrel” event where I was taught the different games that Dutch people usually play when they are having their afternoon drinks.

So far, my first weeks of university have been a blast, I was very scared about trying a new thing on a different country, but I can tell for sure that I have made the right decision in coming here. For anyone reading this article and thinking: Should I also leave my country and try something new in a different one? My recommendation is to just go for it, you will never walk alone during this path!



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