Is the program the reason you chose HAN?
“Yes, because I only did some research on different courses and different master programs and the one in Automotive Systems seemed the most interesting to me and my personal passion for cars, but also the fact that it was more applied. I like to see apart from studying, also the practical side of things, so I found now that I am finished, I'm quite happy with my choice. I had a lot of hands-on experience as well as theoretical. This gave me the opportunity to immediately start working, because I already have a job with the company where I graduated. Overall, a very positive experience.”
Personal and professional development
Andrea explains how he develop professionally through the program. “Well, from a personal level because on the one hand a bit the society, in the sense that when you speak to a lecturer, it's very much one-to-one it's like you can talk to them normally without having to be like very respectful exactly because you are equals.”
“Also, the fact that basically half of my examinations were group projects, so you have to work a lot of other people and give presentations, so that definitely helps. Also, in terms of work skills, because obviously need to work with other people and presenting in as professional a way as possible. The fact of having not just exams, but even presentations to give and minor projects to prepare and write and home assignment. I think this definitely helps to improve your professional skills.”
Preparation for the future
Did the program prepare you well for the future? “Well I think the program is quite related to what the industry demands. They make adjustments and try new things every year, so it's not exactly the same as the program the year before and not the same as the one they are currently giving. They make slight changes as time passes, so they try to adapt to the trends of the industry. Right now, it's small smart mobility. When I did it, I had the course called intelligent mobility, which was the first time they were doing it and it was all about automated driver assistance systems. The company is I'm working for now, basically is involved with a lot of these projects. They prepare you by listening to the industry.”
Did the program meet your expectations?
“Not exactly, I thought some things would be a bit tough, coming from electronics there are some subjects that are not strictly related to electronics. In the first term, I needed a bit of time to adjust into the Dutch system. I guess my expectations were what was shown in the brochures of the program. HAN had the few resources in terms of labs and that kind of stuff and I was fortunate enough to be a part of them."
"We had a course ‘Advanced Vehicle Dynamics’ and there was like a track testing where we could take the BMW of HAN and we drove it on the track. This was quite fun. However, last year in September they didn't manage and now this year I actually did it with the company that I'm now working at and actually did the test driving for them. I expected the practical side which was actually was what I got, so I suppose in term of expectations, they were met.”
What about the country?
“In the beginning you don’t know what to expect of the country, how the system works and everything, but I found it quite easy to adapt.”
Was it difficult to move from Italy to the Netherlands?
“It was quite easy, in the sense that I drove to the Netherlands from Italy. I just went for a trip to IKEA and it took me about a week to find the room. In the beginning before I came to the Netherlands nobody was replying to my messages and then once I was here then I managed to find a room quite quickly. In the beginning it was quite stressful, because I did not have a room.”
What didn’t you like about your program?
“In the first term there were a few complaints, mostly at the beginning. It felt that everything was moving quite fast. You would have exams in the first term and the minor projects starting, so you have a lot of things going on at the same time. At the beginning staying at the pace was a bit difficult. What was also strange was that we had lessons from 2 pm in the afternoon till 9 pm. That was a bit strange, because I wasn't used to having classes in the evening.”
“Especially in the beginning it was difficult, even though the lectures were like twice a week, you’d arrive at home quite tired. I think this was to allow part time students to join, but it took some time to get used to. Especially, if the days are short and going towards winter and it is like dark at 6 pm and you would be till 9 pm in the university. When you go out everything was closed, even the bar at the HAN was closed or closing.”
Are there differences in studying compared to Italy?
“In Italy everything is a bit more theoretical. You need to know the things by heart, like the exact definition. In the Netherlands they focus more on understanding it, instead of learning it by heart. Some exams you can use the book and the equation is written down, so you just need to know how to apply it. In Italy it is more that you have to know everything.”
What do you like about the Dutch teaching method?
“I suppose, I like the fact that the modules are quite short, so you study for a relatively short amount of time before you have an examination and you don’t have maybe like 6 months and then a massive exam at the end. Also, you don’t need to know a lot of things by heart, you just need to understand the things behind it, then you don't need to memorize things, you only need to know how to apply it.”
What do you like about Arnhem?
“You can go round with the bicycle in Arnhem or anywhere in the Netherlands. You don't need to walk everywhere and you don’t need public transportation that much because you can get around with a bike. It’s easy to go to other cities by train, because everything is practically direct. If you want to go to Amsterdam or Utrecht, there is a direct train. The center is quite decent, there are few restaurants or places to go out and shops, it is quite a nice town.”