Isabella - Technical University of Delft

M. Architecture
Semester 1, 2018
The small things make a difference - You don’t get these experiences in Australia.

Academic experience

I studied my Masters of Architecture at the technical university of Delft in the Spring semester of 2018. If you are an Architecture student, the subjects you choose are part of a set package, which makes course selection very simple compared to a lot of other programs. 

Overall, My program consisted of 6 subjects over the 20 week semester. The work load varies, some subjects have only 1 or 2 contact hours per week and last for 10 weeks, where others have 6 contact hours per week but only last for 5 weeks. 

The only subject we got to choose in the set package was the design studio elective. I chose dwelling and density. This included bike riding field trips to housing estates in Amsterdam and precedent studies of modern housing in the Netherlands. The workload is substantial, but totally achievable if you just do what is required of you.

Personal experience

Trying to summarise exchange is difficult, and cliche to put into words. Exchange undoubtedly affects your life long term. You will make friends from all over the world, see places you would never normally see on holidays and develop independence and confidence in your own decision making.

Accommodation

I lived on campus. The company that TU Delft operates through to help house international students is called DUWO. While you do not have to use DUWO, they take care of all the administerial issues to do with renting a place, like bond, furniture, cleaning, internet, waste removal etc. 

My accommodation was three stories of student share living. On my level i shared two kitchens with 14 students. Everyone has their own bathroom and bedroom. I thought the DUWO accommodation was perfect for my time there. My housemates ended up being my best friends from exchange. 

My biggest piece of advice would be to try and get accommodation as close to your faculty building and the centre of town as possible - and try and get a room that faces south! If you do, you’ll get direct sunlight in your room which makes such a difference when you’re feeling a bit homesick!

Budget

Europe is expensive - all up the exchange cost about $15,000 AUD - Although this included everything; rent, flights, travel, social and education.

Challenge 

Skiing in Germany
Skiing in Germany

There were three major challenges. The biggest challenge was the weather. The wind never stops in the Netherlands! Get used to riding in rain, snow and sunshine, but always wind. You will begin to miss sunny Australian beach days. However the weather is a small trade off for living in the Netherlands. 

The second challenge was the food. Fresh food is hard to find in restaurants, with most menus being based on bread, cheese and meat. A good coffee is far and few between also. 

Finally, the academic workload. Delft expects a much high level of technical resolution than UQ, but don’t let this deter you. It’s an awesome learning curve if you’re willing to put in the hours.

Professional development and employability

In terms of professional development, exchange helps you develop so, so many skills. You learn how to navigate very multicultural groups of people, you understand other nationalities perspectives and histories and furthermore you learn how to vocalise your own identity in this mix.

Highlight

For me, the highlight was getting to know a small, authentic Dutch town really intimately. It is rare, when you travel, to be be able to experience the lifestyle of a place.  The small things make a difference; riding your bike home in the snow with fresh groceries, Sunday farmers markets, watching the town transform from winter to summer - You don’t get these experiences in Australia. It’s a privilege to be a part of.

Top tips

My top tips for students considering exchange in Delft would be;

  • Say yes to everything,
  • Get a bike ASAP!
  • It’s pass/fail - don’t worry if you’re not getting the same grades as you would at UQ,
  • Be brave,
  • Money helps! Ultimately the more money you can afford to take over there, the more you can do. Try and save up before heading over.