KTU student’s experience in Twente: more demanding studies and less attention towards international students

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“It felt as if life didn’t offer me enough challenges, that is why I chose to go to the Netherlands,” says Urtė Mackevičiūtė, a Communication Studies and Information Management Technologies student from the Kaunas University of Technology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. In 2023, the autumn semester she spent at the University of Twente.

According to Urtė, the Erasmus+ exchange programme was not a spontaneous decision, she gave the idea some time. Finally, when the Covid-19 pandemic passed, the girl decided that it is time to change her life.

“During my second year at the university, I started to think about the opportunity for academic exchange. I kept asking myself: won’t I regret not taking this chance when I’ll think about it in 5 years?” says Urtė.

Mackevičiūtė arrived at the University of Twente not knowing much about it. One of the main reasons why the KTU communications student chose to study in Twente was very similar study programmes in both universities. Besides, as Urtė says: “I didn’t want to go far from home, that’s why I chose a university in Europe.”

The beginning was not easy

Urtė believes that the main advantage of the Erasmus+ exchange programme is the cultural experience
One of the main differences between universities in Lithuania and the Netherlands is their grading system. To pass, a student of Twente University cannot have a lower grade than 5,5.

“It wasn’t an easy semester. I don’t know if anyone got the highest grades. Sometimes, it was even a challenge to pass,” says Urtė.
In the Netherlands, it is common that studies are more focused on the practical aspects of the field. For example, while studying in Twente, Urtė had to create content for social media and make eight interviews with different companies’ managers or their staff.

“Assignments like these improve your creative writing and business communication skills. I am certain that this practice will help me in my future job,” says Mackevičiūtė.

While mentioning the differences between KTU and Twente University, she pointed out the different attitudes towards international students: “In Lithuania, international students get a lot of attention and support. If there’s an international student in the class, the lecture will be held in English. In the Netherlands, this wouldn’t be considered normal.”

She mentions another difference. In Lithuania, some lecturers add an extra point for attendance or active participation in lectures. However, at the University of Twente, this rule does not apply, and the relationships between students and lecturers are strictly professional.

Dutch appreciate communication studies more than Lithuanians

In Lithuania, it is common to think that social sciences, including communication studies, are “soft”. Many think that it is not complicated or demanding to study these majors, and people choose them to get a so-called “easy” degree.
Communication is not all about making relationships with people and talking, but it also teaches you how to solve problems, write fluently and adapt to critical situations. While studying communication, you may also learn to program software. Comparing the outlook of Lithuanians and Dutch, communication is as important as other fields of study.

Cultural experience is the greatest advantage

Urtė believes that the main advantage of the Erasmus+ exchange programme is the cultural experience because you are always surrounded by people from different parts of the world.

The student also compliments Dutch for their tolerance. She said that people there are very friendly and warm, always willing to help foreigners.
“Sometimes, they smiled at me in the streets, which I found strange. They often were first to say hello, and they don’t avoid conversations with foreigners,” says Urtė.

Urtė also mentions how responsible are the Dutch students: “They take notes of everything, from the start of the introductory lectures. I found that strange since it is not a common thing in Lithuania.”

It is also a usual thing to start the team work as soon as they get the task. Meanwhile, students in Lithuania mostly do it on the last day. Some of them, do not even do their part in the group work.

Overall, very happy about her experience in the University of Twente, Urtė advises it to everyone. If you ever find yourself in a situation of not knowing whether to go on an academic exchange, Urtė suggests you to ask yourself: “What impact will your decision have on you after five years?” She believes that this experience will be very important to your future.

13 Apr 2023