Tara – Technische Universiteit Delft – Netherlands
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Design
My 2022/23 university exchange experience at TU Delft was the best 6 months of my life – an invaluable experience that I will take forth into my future studies and career.
Being a technical university, TU Delft shared similarities with QUT and therefore offered some practical experience. The minor I took (Designing Sustainability Transitions) comprised 6 subjects which allowed me to get a small taste/practice in many different topics. Most notable was the opportunity to do a semester-long subject where my group worked for a client (the Dutch Horticulture Industry) and completed a system map and transition map and developed a final concept for them, all related to sustainable transitions. It was interesting and insightful to learn a different perspective of design and many different theories which were new to me. The minor itself strengthened my sustainability knowledge, and I am more comfortable incorporating this newfound knowledge into QUT assignments.
The main challenge experienced from a study perspective was definitely the group work. This was very frustrating at times as we had the same group for 4 out of 6 of the subjects (which I think was poor organisation/structure on TU Delft’s end) and the commitment and work ethic from other members was not on par with mine. This pushed me to go above and beyond the expected time for the group subjects, which particularly at the start of the semester, was very draining on me. Additionally, I was not expecting the time and attendance commitment the minor required. We were told from the beginning of the semester that the minor was a 40-hour work week, and 4 out of 5 days had to be attended in person. Unlike QUT, lectures were not recorded, and having so much group work and regular check-ins with our coach meant that we really did have to attend in person. They also took an attendance role (which made me feel more like a primary school rather than a university student). The work itself was not harder than QUT (I think it was easier), but the time rigour was very unexpected and confronting for me, and it did not allow flexibility in my study times and limited my ability to explore the Netherlands throughout the semester. The load did slightly reduce thankfully in the second quarter, and I achieved more of a balance.
However, I don’t think this Minor was a true representation of TU Delft in Design as a university. Unfortunately, Dutch students approach minors as a ‘holiday’ and therefore do not contribute much effort. This was the case in my group. Contrastingly, having spoken to other students in the TU Delft Industrial Design Master studies (2-year Masters), the approach and effort levels are of course completely different, and the work is rigorous and rewarding. The Strategic Product Design Masters specifically sounded very interesting and is a combination of Business and Design (my current QUT double degree). The course is full of real-life cases where they present their solutions to the client (e.g. Dyson). Therefore, I may consider returning to TU Delft after completing my Bachelor’s studies.
Accommodation & Lifestyle
During my exchange, I stayed in The Student Hotel (TSH) in Delft, which was the most ideal location and environment. It was a 5-minute cycle to both the university and the city centre. I, therefore, used very minimal public transport and naturally had a rather active lifestyle. Whilst TSH was the most expensive accommodation option (found through the university housing portal), it was fully equipped with 24/7 service, laundry, a gym, study space, a restaurant, and a shared kitchen, and my room had a private bathroom. Most importantly, it was extremely social, and this is where I made most of my friends. I loved the town of Delft – it was very small and charming with was lined with many canals. Delft was a student city, so there were always young people to around and social activities to attend.
The Netherlands was an ideal location to travel from in my breaks. Between the quarters, my friend and I did a 4-night trip to Belgium, I travelled to London to meet friends, and I spent my Christmas break with my friend and her family in Denmark and then afterward time in Italy – all relatively close by. Once I checked out of my accommodation, I embarked on a 4-week solo trip around Eastern Europe, Norway, and Scandinavia, which will further strengthen my independence and broaden my experience.
Key takeaways, development & going forward
This exchange has instilled in me confidence in my work from a design perspective. Comparing myself to other students in Europe, I realise that I am creative in my design solutions and that Australian education is on par, if not better. I did, however, discover some gaps in my knowledge and expertise – particularly in technical programs (such as CAD) and my ability to produce high-fidelity prototypes. I do believe that my upcoming QUT Design subjects will help fill these gaps, and I will also spend time externally upskilling in these areas. This exchange has inspired me to keep learning, discovering, and travelling, and potentially to even undertake a second-semester exchange in 2024 (if subjects permit). Most importantly, the exchange has strengthened my academic, professional, and personal confidence. I have thrived in navigating new cultures and living independently for the first time, and overcoming uncertainties and many challenges. I have proven to myself that I am highly capable, and I will take this confidence forth into future job interviews, university presentations, etc.
I am very grateful for QUT’s support in making this exchange possible. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and would not hesitate to recommend the experience to others.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.