HOW DO YOU CHOOSE AN INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY?

My name is Alba García and I was born and raised in the Canary Islands, Spain. I am currently taking my A Levels at Canterbury School. Growing up in a bilingual school, I knew that the doors to my further studies in any university were wide open. Knowing both English and Spanish allowed me to aim for a degree in most parts of the world, if not all, and this initially seemed an exciting fact. I was eager to explore new cultures, immerse myself in a fresh environment and especially learn about the subjects I am passionate about. However, it soon rained on me that choosing the most suitable university and course was going to be a tedious task and, as I sat in front of my laptop ready to start my research, I asked myself: “but where do I even start?”. 

Looking for the right thing to study

The first step was to choose a career path. During my last years of high school, I felt myself drifting toward the more technical sciences such as physics and chemistry. I was really enjoying my practical courses and found special gratification in solving the complex, multi-step problems proposed in class. Given this, I decided to begin a short internship at an aviation engineering company. It was there that, while watching the engineers’ dynamic work and the aerospace engineering community as a whole, I decided that this was what I wanted to do. 

Narrow my choices down to a specific country

Since I knew that I didn’t want to leave Europe, my array of options was considerably smaller, and being exposed to so many resources, such as the SRT Universities Fair, helped me begin to have an idea of where I wanted to go. I first discarded the UK, because I believed it was overpriced in comparison with other countries. This left me with The Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, and France as suitable candidates, but upon superficial research, it became clear that neither Italy nor Denmark was sufficiently involved in the type of technical developments I was interested in. I leaned towards The Netherlands after going on a University Tour organized by my school. I had completely fallen in love with the relaxed atmosphere and their commitment towards sustainability, plus I found Dutch people open and kind towards foreign students. This, and the positive feedback from past students from my school living there, made me finally nominate The Netherlands as my top candidate. 

It was now time to have a more in-depth look into the Dutch University System. I made a list of all universities which offered Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering and started a process of elimination. The first choice I had to make was between research and applied universities; as my learning method is more traditional (reading textbooks, doing practice questions, etc) I opted for a research university. This didn’t mean that there was going to be no practical work involved, but the ratio of individual studying to group work would be much larger. This decision meant that over half of my list of universities would be discarded. 

Next, I considered the general vibe of the campus since this was where I was going to spend most of my time. I knew it had to be a very green area, with relatively modern installations and substantial scientific equipment. Regarding the city itself, a mostly quiet environment with an entrepreneurial, vibrant feel would suit my personality the best. By taking this into account, I eliminated even more universities from my list which was now down to three: Tu/Eindhoven, Tu/Delft, and Tu/Twente. I would be applying to all to make sure I had a backup plan but at last, I had to rank them in order of preference. 

The final choice 

For me, this was both the hardest and the easiest part. Since the universities were similar I had to look at the small details and nuances between them. For example, I investigated each university’s partnerships and the most common internship destinations for each. Moreover, I considered activities and student associations relating to my degree as well as other events organized by my faculty. After an intense investigation, Tu/Eindhoven was standing out the most to me, while Tu/Delft stood out the least. I found myself very interested in the fields the former was researching; how to make cars sustainable and emission-free. It was also obvious that their technological progress was well funded and recognized not only by the Dutch government but by other worldwide corporations. 

This top position awarded to Tu/Eindhoven was only consolidated when I visited the institution and its surroundings. It only took a couple of hours for me to feel I would fit in and safely state that this place was right for me. 

Though choosing an appropriate university seemed an impossible task at the beginning, all it took was some research both about the universities and about myself. It is because of this that I am confident in my choice of studying Mechanical Engineering at Tu/Eindhoven.


Alba García
Alba is currently taking her A Levels at Canterbury School, where she is also Head Girl and Manager of the Student Union. Although she is passionate about the science and maths subjects she takes, she also enjoys playing the guitar and surrounding herself with nature and a good book.