Minors at the University of Twente
In January, we interviewed a student about her Study Abroad experience in her third year to give you more insight into how it might be like to go abroad. But of course this is not the only possibility to spend your elective year, you can also choose, among other opportunities, to stay at the UT to explore other study fields or participate in a Crossing Borders project to connect your skills and knowledge to practical work. Therefore, we asked some students to write about their experiences with Crossing Borders and with Minor at the UT.
Minors at the UT
When I had to choose which minor I wanted to do one year ago, I just decided that I would like to do something that is very different from Psychology and therefore I chose Earth Observation, which belongs to the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation.
Basically, the module deals with the latest earth observation techniques, which are sensors that can be mounted on earth orbiting satellites, drones or can even be hand held. During the module, we learned how these sensors measure electro-energetic emissions from objects on the earth’s surface and how these data can be used to gain meaningful information for example about 3D city mapping, crop monitoring, water flow and disaster mapping. The module comprises several assignments that make use of different Geo-Information Programs, one exam and one group project with a presentation at the end. Generally, I would say that I learned a lot during the whole module, since you need to learn how to work with several different computer programs and especially in the first weeks you need to study some physics, in order to understand how the different sensors and the electromagnetic radiation works.
The module starts from scratch and every week a new topic is introduced, but I would still recommend this module for people who have some basic knowledge in physics or are motivated to learn it. Generally, the structure of the whole module is very logical, because it is first focusing on understanding the basic earth observation technique’s and then later this knowledge is applied during the group project in the end.
I decided to do the minor in Interactive Media which is from the Creative Technology study. This module teaches you how to design and program your own game. Apart from that you also need to write a Literature review, have a math component and need to reflect on your professional development. It was very exciting for me to learn about the principles of game design, basics in coding, 3D-modeling and how to produce your own (game) music. This course is suitable for beginners because in all components, you start from scratch. Therefore no knowledge in 3D-modelling, programming or any other course is needed. Nonetheless, it would be way easier to do, if you prior experience. I felt like I learned a lot of new interesting stuff in this module, which was completely different from my psychology study. One of my favourite parts of this module was that I could gain experience with VR, that was pretty cool.
I would advise students who are really motivated or have some experience in C-scripting (and interested in this field of course) to choose this minor.
Philosophy of Science and Technology
When I had to decide on which minor I would be doing, I knew instantly that I wanted to do Philosophy of Science and Technology. This module analyses and evaluates the influence of science and technology on humans and society. We started the module by getting into know the main theories and approaches of philosophy, for example Plato’s notion of happiness or the Cartesian Doubt. Generally, several different approaches and their reasoning were illustrated in this module. In a group project, we had to analyse a technology developed at the UT to identify and analyse the philosophical and ethical issues associated with these technologies. Moreover, we wrote three essays whereas each had a main topic and we have been able to choose a subtopic of our choice which provided every student the possibility of choosing somewhat freely one’s own topic of interest. Along with that, the take-home exam was also a special experience since it was an open book exam that we were allowed to hand in in the course of three days. Ultimately, I would really recommend this minor since the module is organised really well and the work of the tutors and lecturers is also very engaging. The essay topics provided a modern approach to different philosophical topics which was, for me personally, the most interesting part of the module.
After more than two years of studying in the Netherlands, I thought that it was time for something completely different, which is why I wanted to go to Australia and do my Crossing Borders project there. After applying for the minor around May and getting accepted soon after, the preparations for going abroad already started. The decision about the destination was already made but what project would I want to do? When doing Crossing Borders, one is relatively free in deciding what topic is being researched but it should have something to do with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. After some research I decided to look for a non-governmental organization in the field of the 14th SDG: Life Below Water. In summer, I started contacting some organizations in and around Sydney and after some time, finally one organization responded: OceanWatch Australia, located right at the Fishmarket in Sydney - what a perfect fit! They were excited about working with me and made some proposals of topics I could help them doing research about. And that’s a big part of Crossing Borders: Writing a research paper about a small study conducted at the organization. With a research proposal in the pocket I could then finally leave for my journey to Australia. Luckily, I still had a lot of contacts over there as I did an Au-Pair year in 2016, which also helped me to find an accommodation.
My research topic was the TAngler Bin project, a project conducted by OceanWatch Australia quite some years ago. They were asking me to review this project. TAngler Bins are a sustainable solution for fishing gear and they were installed at the most popular fishing spots in New South Wales and especially in Sydney. To review this project, I visited many of the sites where these bins were installed to check if they were being used. Additionally, I interviewed a lot of stakeholders: fishers, rangers that emptied those bins, municipalities that ordered them and also persons that installed them on their private property. Based on these interviews, I conducted a qualitative study to identify the main advantages and disadvantages of the bins, as well as recommendations for improving the project in categories such as Maintenance, Effectiveness, Design, Education, and Implementation.
Next to all the research related to my project, I learned so much about commercial and recreational fishing, marine and coastal pollution and especially the connection of these two topics, which was interesting and very concerning at the same time. Additionally, I got to go along on a fishing boat and got a tour through the fish market.
In conclusion, I had an amazing time in Australia and even though the bushfires made it impossible to leave Sydney and travel, I could still stop in Bali on my way back which was some great recreation after finishing my research paper. I can only recommend Crossing Borders to every student as it gives you the opportunity to experience the work non-governmental organizations do and how important they are for our environment. Next to that, it gives you the chance to step out of your comfort zone and explore a new culture - I absolutely loved it!