In September 2022, 10 Indonesian Bachelor students started their Minor at the ITC Faculty, University of Twente. These students are participating in an HTHT Minor: Geographic Information System and Earth Observation. The students are sponsored by the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology as part of a scholarship program, the Indonesian Student Mobility Awards (IISMA) in cooperation with the University of Twente. This group of students will study at the ITC Faculty until February 2023. We spoke to William Sutan Nainggolan (20) from Medan and Abigail Nicole (21) from Indonesian capital Jakarta.
William: ‘We both really wanted to come to the Netherlands, that is part of the reasons I picked ITC. The Netherlands is known to be very student friendly, especially towards international students. The University of Twente is a colourful community. The introduction week at ITC was amazing! Some students face some anxiety when coming to a new country, including myself. But the whole experience has been very comfortable so far. Meeting lots of people from different countries and cultural backgrounds is great.
Abigail: ‘We learn so much from the chats we have with the people around us. For instance how the education system in Africa is similar with Indonesia. For example, we know that not everyone in India knows how to speak in their national language Hindi, because in fact, each area has their own daily language. It may seems simple, but really broadens our knowledge and opens our eyes to what is happening in other parts of the world. The whole experience of traveling and meeting new people is just as instructive as the educational content. We learn to develop more empathy and being more inclusive. I hope to meet more Dutch people and having interactions with them as well. During the Introduction Week we talked to people in the city centre. That was challenging but also something I will not soon forget.
William: ‘My Major is in Electrical Engineering. At a first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a direct link with GIS – one of the Minor courses we are now taking at ITC. But the interesting thing is that right now we are learning a lot about data management. That knowledge and experience I am now gaining can be applied to any kind of area in my future career. In this era we are now living in, data and data management is crucial.
Abigail agrees about the part where knowledge can be applied to different domains: ‘I already learned basis programming during my short time at ITC. That will be beneficial for me. My educational background lies in food technology. My dream is to open up my own food business with dairy products. Knowledge about geoinformation systems will definitely help. For instance to map the daily food consumption of people in a specific region. I think this experience will help me find new markets for my future business. I am happy that the course is friendly for beginners, such as myself.’
Abigail: ‘We are currently working on our final GIS assignment, before moving on to Earth Observation Systems in the second quartile of our time at ITC.' For the final assignment, the students can pick between various options. 'The fact that the GIS applications and domains are so broad and also different, from medical to technical and everything in between, makes it hugely accessible to almost everyone. I am focussing on Geo-Health for my final assignment, I am curious about that.’
What are your thoughts on the education at ITC? Does is differ much from the education in Indonesia?
‘The exchange students in our class are critical’, says William. ‘The topics we discuss are not just theoretical. Yes, we learn from the books but we also talk a lot about it. Our course supervisor Dr Paulo Raposo does a great job to make everyone interested in the GIS subject, even though everyone comes from different backgrounds and countries from within Africa, Asia, Europe and North-America.’ Abigail: ‘Back home, due to the cultural traditions at Indonesian universities, students are sometimes too afraid to ask a question in a classroom. Here it is really different. We are encouraged to question our teacher, each other and express our doubts about theoretical knowledge. That is a big eye-opener.’