Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Dutch Education System - The Bad Part + Tips

Well, as they say, everything has its pros n cons. Well, lets jump straight into the awaited part. And mind you, they are just minor inconveniences and not “Bad” bad :)

The Bad Part:

The most important thing I find lacking here is the link between the Professor and the student. The professor arrives, teaches and goes. Maybe you talk and discuss on certain topics in class but that’s how far the relationship goes. He will know your face but not your name. And in some cases, not even your face. It does feel really odd and uncomfortable because from where I come from, we have a bond that in most cases exceeds outside the college too. Here it is too professional in nature. When I pointed this out to my friend, he said it is mainly because lecturing is not the only job of professors here in technical universities. They are involved in various projects sometimes national or even international. They constantly keep in touch with people from the industry and keep updating themselves. This makes lecturing only part time for them thus making things the way they are.

Moving on, the next thing that I feel can be put on the negative side is the software dependence. Having done most calculations and solutions by hand, it really feels like a new world where even for normal reports you end up using softwares. It turns worse when you don’t know those softwares. Here the level of problems and complexity is totally on a different level and this demands the need and use of these softwares. It is in fact good to be exposed to industry level complex cases and use various techniques to solve them and be more familiar with it.

Lastly, scheduling appointments. If you need to meet or talk to a professor, you need to mail him and schedule an appointment. While this basically is a good call, it does seem silly to schedule appointments for small queries that you might have. So you either mail him/her your doubts and he gets back to you or you can clear it during the breaks in the next lecture. Of course there are Professors who tell you to drop in anytime and if the door is open, it means you can come in and discuss your doubts.

Surprisingly, I guess this was all I had .. As I mentioned in the beginning, just minor inconveniences :)

Now for the tips :)

For the first part, if there is any professor whose subject interests you and you would like to work with him/her, go meet him/her. Make sure you meet them enough times either to get your concepts cleared or to share your ideas, so that they remember your name. This is level one. You have managed to make a place for your name. Next is all up to you. You can maybe put forward a proposal or tell them what you wish to do and ask for guidance and they will be willing to help you :)

Another major tip is, don’t waste time typing mails. Their time is more valuable than yours. So jump straight into the question or doubt. And no they wont judge you based on your mail. They get hundred’s of mail and they probably will spend only a few seconds to read and reply to your mail.

Thirdly, for people like me who aren’t much familiar with softwares, do contact the last batch students who are currently studying and ask them what softwares they work with so that you can familiarize with that software and be comfortable using them.

Rest, I am sure you will figure it out :) Good luck and have a good Spring :)

The Dutch Education System - The Good Part

My friends back home always ask me how I find the studies in Netherlands and I always tell them it’s different. And then I proceed to tell them how. So today I will tell you some things related to study and how things work around here.

The Good Part:

The first major difference between the studies back home and here is the approach. The studies here are practical in nature and up to date with latest developments. This way, when you graduate and step out into the industry, there is no gap that needs to be filled.

Next up is Blackboard. Blackboard here is much more than the usual blackboard we had back home. Blackboard is the TU Delft student-studies connection software. You enroll for your courses, you download softwares, the lecture slides are uploaded here, to order the readers (textbooks) and much much more. I cannot imagine life without Blackboard now. It has even simplified the interaction between the professor and the students enrolled for the course.

Then the library website Discover where you can see if the book you need is available or not. If it has already been borrowed, you can always reserve it from the comfort of your home and when it is returned, you can go pick it up from the library. Now that is so convenient. Although I wish they had more than a couple of copies of each book, looking at the collection of books in the library, there might be a problem of storing them :D

Facilities: If you need it, you can get it. If you are working on some flight simulation project and would like to use the flight simulator Simona, you can always put forward a proposal and it can be arranged. The way things work here is simply straight and to the rules. It feels comfortable working in such an atmosphere.

Lastly on the good side is the flexibility. It is really something when you can tailor your course according to your needs. You can highly streamline your stream and work towards your thesis in the same stream or you can keep it normal, try everything out and then choose the topic u like to write your thesis on.

And I have to add that there is no race for excellence or cut throat competition here. Everyone does what they love. On a scale from 0-10, 6 is usually the passing grade. Although 10 might be on our mind, but 6 is pretty good in itself. People here value how much you have learnt rather than how much you score. Of course you can argue that if you know it, you can score better but lets leave that for a debate later ;)

Since the atmosphere is so relaxed and its all you and no one else that matters, people tend to join clubs like the Energy club or the Rocket club Dare or the Hydrogen Car or even the Solar car (Nuna) club. They do more with their lives and that helps them get out of the books and apply what they have learnt. Student here are involved in so many different projects in different countries trying to make a difference where it is needed. Rank, marks or competition hardly holds here. And maybe that is the reason why it does not matter if you fail once or twice or if you score less. You can always take the exam again and the better grade is taken.

Sorry for the long post. Guess I ll have to shift the Bad part to the next page :)
PS: Will be sharing some important tips so do check it out ;)

Game of Cricket - The Ice Breaker :)

Well, hailing from India, since my childhood I have heard and read about the wars and bad relations with our neighbouring country Pakistan. This scarred history prevents us from starting a new chapter where both countries live in peace and help one another out. The feeling of brotherhood.

Well, TU Delft offers us students a chance to acquire one of the crucial management skills and that is interaction with different multinational students. In fact this is one of the reasons for the orientation project to help u settle down comfortably with other students from different backgrounds.

Now, whenever you look at some “Indian” looking people on the way, you always start wondering if they are Indian or Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshi’s etc. But after a period of time you stop thinking that. You become one. This feeling indeed get proven when I recently saw a poster on the TUD page by some students who called out others interested in a game of cricket.

Well, cricket to Indians is like the unofficial National sport. There was a time in the 90’s when the whole nation was into it. You could bond with total strangers over a radio commentary of the match. And cricket match against Pakistan was more important than dinner or work (Thanks to the war still being so fresh). Every kid of my era has played cricket at some point of his life or another. It is more like a religion back home.

Now that you get the picture, let us continue. So, the thought of playing cricket here was something so wonderful. And so we arrange to meet in the Sports Center (The snow still hadn’t cleared) and realize that the majority of the students playing are Pakistanis. Okay! Tense moment! But it’s Cricket!!! So my friend and I go to play. Turns out one of the players had his birthday on that day do got welcomed with some delicious cake.

Then it begins. The nagging, the fun, the comments added to the wonderful moment of playing cricket. No more religious or national difference but simple and pure bonding over a game of Cricket.

Later that week, there was a Pakistani Cultural Night hosted by the Pakistan Student Society. Great food, music and atmosphere. It surely makes you feel that all is not lost and that there is still hope when peace and oneness will become a reality :)

Btw, if you do get an opportunity to watch a India Pakistan match, do watch. There is nothing like it when both sides give their best :)

The DDB Saga - How To Get The Best Out Of Career Fairs

To be frank and honest, many people were not satisfied with what the DDB had to offer. To some extent I agree with that. But I would like to differ. There were company stalls and presentations along with CV checks etc. It was a great atmosphere where you could meet people working in the companies and knowing what they do and what they look for. Many of my friends expected them to take CV’s and maybe screen them later. Except a few, others did not accept the CV’s on the spot and instead asked us to apply on their online portal. So many failed to see what the DDB was all about.

This is about what I feel about this concept and how you can get the best out of any career fair you plan to go to.

To start with, you need to have checked out the companies you are interested in and are going to be there in the fair. You need to see what they do, what markets they are part of. What roles they play and how you can fit in. Then, if you really would like to be a part of it, go ahead and check out their career page and apply for positions if available. See what obstructions you face in terms of eligibility or availability or even visa issues. Make a mental or physical note of these.

Next, move on to what your interest lies in and how flexible the company can be in incorporating those. Go ahead and send them a mail if you would like to know more. Check how the company is divided and which department applies to you.

During the fair, you can ask for the person who can come closest to that department and ask them about the work atmosphere and relevant technical questions. If none, they will give u the contact details of the person who can answer those questions. Next you can meet the HR (who usually is present during these career fairs) and ask them about any issues that you faced while applying and learn more about the process involved.

Of course, I have to agree to this one point my friend Ravi made and I am sure many others did: When there are international companies in the fair and when you approach them, they say they are looking only for Dutch students or at least students who can speak Dutch. It does not make sense when a Multi National Company says so because even if the position is based in Netherlands, they will be interacting with offices in other countries and obviously it cannot be done in Dutch. It is sad but since you cant do much about it, no point cribbing, just move on to the next ;)

Basically, career fairs are not about what they offer. Almost everyone can find out about it. You should not expect to receive a job/internship there on the spot. It is more about what you can get out of it. Clear your queries and learn how you can apply successfully. Moreover, you can learn about the personal opinions & stories of the employees and learn more about how the company operates and the opportunities and other factors involved.

Last but not the least, they did have good food and drinks and we definitely got a pocketful of goodies ;). So go ahead and have a good time .. Good luck for the next one :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

The General Update

After a long long time, I finally met my friend from Eindhoven when he came to Delft for his interview with IBM for an internship. We had a great time rushing to IKEA (IBM is next to IKEA) and he was against taking a bus because he was worried what he would do if he misses it "somehow". And so there we were holding a huge map of Delft which I had got during the introduction days and figuring out the shortest way to walk towards IKEA. Well, we did manage to reach on time despite having to wait at signals :D He was telling me how in Eindhoven that is not the case and people just jaywalk without worries.

So I left him there and headed back home. He came back later and told me it went good and was still worried. He kept on bugging me till yesterday saying the results are still not out and today they told him that he has got the internship (Phew :D).

Ok serious stuff now .. 

On 7th of Feb I had a training organized by De Delftse Bedrijvendagen (DDB) or The Delft Business Days. It brings in companies and students under one roof. It is something like a campus fair. The training I had was an Application Training for hunting, applying and achieving a job in Netherlands. I know, I know that it is too early for me but it is a great chance for me to use it in finding internships too :) The training was provided by Nannette Ripmester who works for the institution Expertise in Labour Market.

We were provided with valuable tips regarding how the Dutch society works and what approach works best. We were also briefed on how to make an effective resume and what questions can be expected in an HR interview. So overall, a great training session.

Tomorrow onwards we have the Presentation days till 15th of Feb and many companies will be coming and setting up booths in the Aula. NLR - The Dutch Aerospace Laboratory will be coming tomorrow and I hope to get an opportunity to talk to them and get some crucial insight. Day after there are many more aero companies coming like EADS, Rolls Royce, Fokker, Atkins etc. So do wish me luck for that :)

Catch ya all soon :)


It sure has been a long while since my last post. Exams beating down on you sure isnt a pretty time but it aint no excuse either. It was on 3rd Feb that we had a very heavy snowfall and we sure as hell had a good time packing snowballs (not as easy as I thought) and hurling at each other. After some time we got so tired of making snowballs that we just carried the snow around n hurled it on people :D

After a few days I was walking by the major Delft canal and I saw this black bird happily walking away on the ice making a nice plop-plop-plop sound. And suddenly the ice gave way and the bird had a dip into the icy cold river. It crawled its way back onto the ice and sat there with a totally new expression staring at the place the ice broke. Looks like the birds do find the water cold after all :P

The snow experience was great. The whole city covered in a blanket of white. It almost brought in a spirit of Christmas. Too bad it dint snow back then. But everything has its own time :)

Few days into the snowfall, it had been walked on, compacted and turned into ice. It was sometimes slippery made getting around scary but it was fun none the less :)

We tried walking on the canal first and boy it was fun until a Dutch lady came to us and told it can be risky and guided us to the frozen pool in front of the Industrial Design. There were people skating and sliding. It was a great atmosphere. Then my friend and I had to be idiots and walked to the other end near a bridge and as we approached it more, we could hear the ice cracking. We panicked and scrambled back to safe ice and told the others. Maybe thats human tendency but they had to disprove it. So off they went and heard it cracking again and came back running as fast as they could :D

Chilled Beer

Will be back with more news. So stay tuned :)