Chemical Engineering at the University of Groningen has excellent reviews, and is headed up by one of the best lecturers in the Netherlands, Prof. Dr. Francesco Picchioni. I ended up working on research alongside him, which proved to be an incredible opportunity. I learnt a lot, and it is a great addition to my resume and experience.
This programme can be a challenge, but the combination of theory and practice makes it very interesting. To take the formulae that are in the book and apply them to a certain process to create a product is very rewarding. At home, studying is quite mechanical and everything is served to the students on a platter. In Groningen, students are given a lot more autonomy. Doing things by myself really taught me to be creative, innovative and independent – preparing me for working life. I've spent 16 months in Groningen and every day was worth it: I took special courses, worked on a renowned research project and even spent 6 months doing an internship at a big Dutch company.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I received from the Programme Coordinator and the International Service Desk before I made the move. Once I arrived, I realised that this helpfulness comes natural to the Dutch. The atmosphere at the university and in the city is very welcoming. I never felt excluded for being from another country as there are so many international students and the Dutch are very open to new cultures. The student life offers plenty of groups, workshops and interaction: these activities can truly help you focus on creating a career as a professional in your field. And, I've found it's always good to let your hair down after some serious studying and this city offers plenty of fun.
The only thing I wish someone had told about Groningen is that it can be quite rainy – I would have definitely come a bit more prepared. However, I love how proactive the Dutch are: they are always out and about, cycling, exercising. Brazilians can take the good weather for granted, but not the Dutch: when the sun comes out, they really appreciate it and go outdoors to soak it all up.”