Moving to another country. Starting a life in a completely new setup. It can be so exciting; it can be empowering; it can make you feel strong and brave. George Santayana once stated: “There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor.” I very much agree with him. However, sometimes moving out to another country can make you feel like this: ?!?!?!?!. In other words, confused, overwhelmed and frustrated.
Being half Dutch and half Mexican and having also lived in Chile, I know very well how much the Latin American culture can differ from the Dutch culture. Sometimes the differences can make me want to rattle people in Mexico back and forth and ask them why they just don’t behave like the people in the Netherlands and vice versa. Luckily for the people around me, I don’t do it. Through the years I have learned that keeping an open mind and a sense of humor helps a lot to cope with these situations. However, since I know how hard a culture shock can be, I’ll give you some information that might help you to understand Dutch people better.
Maybe you have heard of the Dutch saying: “Doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg”, which means “Just act normal, then you will be crazy enough”. Although the culture is always changing, you could say that this old saying still typifies the Dutch national character a bit. Although there is not one type of Dutchman, you could say that the Dutch people in general are less expressive than the Latin Americans. Mexicans have, for example, very strong facial expressions. If they like you, you can tell that quickly. In the Netherlands it’s not that; I’ve often had trouble reading people’s faces. It’s not that Dutch people are unkind, but they are simply not used to express emotions as much as Latin Americans do.
Another example is that Mexicans often say sorry and thank you. Mil gracias (meaning: thousand times thank you) is often heard in Mexico, but saying more than once or twice sorry or thank you in the Netherlands, might be seen as an exaggeration.
My biggest tip regarding expressiveness is: be aware of the difference, but don’t restrain yourself too much because in the end you will always be too much of something for someone. Express yourself as much as you like and pay more attention to what Dutch people say. If they apologize, give you a compliment or say thank you, they will probably do it because they really mean it.
Being picked up by friends to go to a party of someone's cousin (who you don’t know yet), being invited to a weekend trip with people that you have just met, being invited to a party of a colleague of your housemate. These are a few examples of situations that I have experienced in Mexico and Chile, but almost never in the Netherlands. So don’t take it personally if you have never been invited to a night out with a friend group of a person that you see quite often. The thing is: Dutch people in general prefer to keep their friend groups separate.
So what to do if you want to become friends with the Dutch? The easiest way to get to know Dutch people is by becoming a member of a study and/or a sport association or by joining a committee.
Another tip on making friends with the Dutch is to plan appointments almost one or two weeks in advance. Also try to never cancel an appointment. Meeting with friends is less spontaneous in the Netherlands than in Latin America and what was agreed first, has priority. The good thing about this is that if you invite someone to come in a week, that person will most likely really stand in front of your door in a week.
Finally, be aware that friendships grow slower here than in Latin America, but don’t forget that by doing little efforts, you’re planting seeds for future relationships.
When working with Dutch people it’s important to keep in mind that the Dutch are very direct. So dare to say your opinion; try to say what is really on your mind with clear and simple language. Dutch people don’t like and are not very used to vague/diplomatic language. It might be hard to get used to it, but once you do, you will probably like it, because it leads to very efficient teamwork.
Another thing that you should consider is that the Dutch try to use their work time for work and only work. Nevertheless, they might be open to socializing after work, with possibly a beer in their hands!
All in all, there are many differences between the Latin American and Dutch culture, but despite our differences, we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. (From Maya Angelou’s poem Human Family)
Daniela van Schagen
Written by R.Maskam
Homemade cheat meals are a better choice than eating in a restaurant. Yes, cheat meals are needed after a week of intense training and maintaining a healthy diet. When you are on a long period of sudden lowered calorie intake, your body will think you are in a survivor mode. When that happens your metabolism decreases, which results in burning less energy and not losing any weight. By planning a cheat meal, you “fool” your body that everything is fine so you can start losing weight. Since you are in Delft fast food is fairly easy to find, but here are few reasons you should preparing your own cheat meals at home even as a south American
Almost all the ingredients for any dish is available at a grocery store, market or supermarket. Maybe sushi is out of the question, but tacos or wraps? Can be found in Albert Heijn or LIDL. The great thing about tacos or wraps is that you can go wild with fillings. Experiment with chicken, beef, corn and just add different kind of dressings to your wrap or taco. Not someone with cooking abilities? Then start learning or you can also find half or fully prepared chicken in the grocery stores.
Your meal will already cost less than going at a restaurant. A normal meal around Delft is about 10 euros. With about 20 euros you can by ingredients and can last about two or maybe 3 days. Another great thing about stores like Albert Heijn, LIDL and Jumbo is that they have weekly sales on various items and do not forget to take a look at Haagse market on Saturdays in The Hague. While some fast food may be cheaper than your home made dish, you will definitely miss the essential nutrients needed for your body.
You turn into a fine chef with cost and material management skills. Your first time in the kitchen might not be successful, but someone else might notice your craft improving along the way. By then you are successfully managing your materials throughout your week and already planning and comparing what to buy in the supermarket. At one point you have a sudden realization why your parents are so hyped when shopping for food. You might think you do not have enough time to prepare your meals, but as study longer in delft you will automatically learn to manage every aspect of your life.
Preparing your cheat meal at home is much more beneficial than going to a restaurant. With significant lower cost and healthier meals there is no excuse to not cook at home. Not to mention you develop a habit of being aware on what groceries you buy and when you buy them. Since you are in the Netherlands try the dishes from other cultures and experiment with your own cultural dishes. Occasionally you might want to go a restaurant in case your schedule is full or just for a special occasion. And if you really are bad at cooking then just ask a friend to help out…and keep a fire extinguisher at arms length.
By R. Maskam
Studying abroad challenges your fitness culture. Whereas you might have been a fit individual when you were still in your home country, you might have notice your clothes getting tighter or your cheeks getting rounder. This even happens when you are still training frequently. Is the cultural shock too great? Or is stress going to be the main, but vague, reason? Below are a few reasons why you have gained a few pounds while you still exercise frequently.
Different climate changes your dedication. It may have been warm and sunny throughout the whole year back home, but here you are still getting used to the cold temperatures. Every now and then a good snack lets you forget everything outside and before you know it you have not been outside other than going to colleges or for groceries. But even so you see locals training outdoors during autumn or even winter. So if you are dedicated it might be time to invest in some gear against the cold or plan a good warm up in your training program.
Managing your time on certain activities might also be hurdle. Since you live on your own you have a lot of responsibilities which needs your attention. Buying groceries, studying for your courses, housekeeping and having hobbies all have their own priority and staying fit might be the last on this list. But this would be the same as in your home country right? Yes, but depending on where you are from, you will see that most people here keep a tight and planned schedule for everything. Acclimating to the positive habits of locals can prove useful.
A decreased metabolism might also be the main cause of getting rounder. Your body is getting older and wont use up the same amount of energy as when you were sixteen. If your metabolism shows a sudden yet significant change you might want to consult a physician in case it might be something severe. Even then lots of people deal with a changed metabolism and it does not have to be a problem. Everyone behaves different and you just need to adjust to what your body can take and accept that your body is getting older and weaker. Of course if staying fit is the goal then it means you will have to train more frequently and intense just to maintain your current weight.
A different climate, time management and decreased metabolism might be the reason those clothes feel tight. And getting a few pounds is not a bad thing. Just ask yourself on what spectrum you want to be on the fitness scale. If you just want to stay in good health and finish your studies at Delft, then getting a few pounds might be a sign of success. Maintaining a fit life however will force you to change your mindset from before you started the study abroad. In the following articles more in depth tips will follow to help your decision on staying fit and curing your nostalgia on exercising in your home country.
Every culture has some unusual traditions, the Dutch have a very peculiar one to celebrate new year’s. They dive into the ocean on New Year’s Day, something that seems pretty wild when you come from Latin America. Some brave LATITUD members and me accepted this challenge and found a date in February to dive into the ocean in Scheveningen.
The adventure started in our very own Lati-office where we gathered after a night of heavy partying. The initial idea was to go by tram, but the day was sunny (not a very common thing in the Netherlands) and everyone was very enthusiastic to go by bike.
Upon our arrival to Schevening, we settled down on the beach and waited for remaining participants and other Lati-members who also joined. The moment finally came to dive into the ocean, so we just went for it in a very stylish Baywatch style.
We were so enthusiastic about achieving this challenge, that we even gave a little help for other Lati-members to join and take a dive. This created a very nice Lati-bonding moment because what started with 6 challengers ended up in every attendant joining into the ocean.
Lessons learned after this diving experience:
Daniela is from Medellin in Colombia, where she studied her Bachelor in Industrial Design Engineering. As a part of an exchange programme between her university and TU Delft. The Industrial Design faculty at TU Delft helped establish the corresponding faculty at the university in Medellin, EAFIT. The influence and contact between the two faculties is therefore strong and noticeable. So when Daniela got the opportunity to come to Delft, she felt it was an opportunity she could not say no to. And that is how she ended up studying a semester on the master Strategic Product Development, with a lot of contact with companies where she for example participated in projects strategically counselling companies such as KLM (picture, Daniela is third from the left) and Ultimaker.
So how did she find it here in the Netherlands? Well for starters on an academic comparison the level at Delft is a little bit harder, but this could also be due to the fact of the difference between studies in the bachelor and the master level where you are expected to start creating knowledge rather than just learning it.
Being an international environment it is a fairly open environment both professionally and socially, but comparing to for example Colombia the Dutch way is more reserved and distant in general, an example is in the elevator where you can go in and don’t greet the people there, very different indeed! What she misses most from home is the food though, Dutch food is bland and rich on carbohydrates, e.g. deep fried bread. Furthermore Dutch people seem to eat sandwiches for lunch every day! She mentions that there is a small Colombian market in the Hague she could visit to get a little taste from home. Another observation made is that card is used more often than cash for payments. When for example the faculty doesn’t accept cash, it is important to be prepared to avoid struggles when first arriving here.
After living for 20 years in Germany I wanted to see and experience something different. Videos and pictures from TV and internet triggered the wish in me to live for some time abroad and see at least once in my life time the jungle. Through a coincidence, I ended up at probably the most unlikely place that not a lot of people would think about when travelling: Santo Domingo de los Colorados in Ecuador. It’s a city with 305,000 inhabitants between the Andes and the Ecuadorian coast and is in particular known for the indigenous group Tsachila. For 3 months in 2012/13 I should work there as a volunteer in a kindergarten and live together with 1 priest, his niece, mother, 5 Ecuadorian and 1 German volunteer in a parish.
This experience in Ecuador fascinated me that much that people still realize after 6 years that this experience changed something in me. Thus, I get often asked what I liked most about my time in Ecuador. The answer is not the jungle, that I wanted to see on the first hand, but: the people. Why? I explain you here, what I liked about them.
Gracias Ecuador por tu cariño, te quiero mucho!
We would like to give a shout-out to Yenni Villa Acuña, from Colombia, who is one of the eight nominees for TU Delft Best Graduate Award 2018!
Yenni completed her master’s degree in Applied Earth Sciences. Her thesis work is part of the IDEA-League Master Program and is done as an internship at Aramco Overseas Company BV in Delft. Minimisation and optimisation are at the heart of many challenges oil & gas companies face in structural imaging of the subsurface in oil & gas exploration. Many algorithms and ideas struggle to find robust solutions because of the scale and complexity of the subsurface.
During a period of 5 months, Yenni created new ideas to make a general optimisation method significantly faster and more robust. She also demonstrated the applicability of the new method to a number of synthetic data sets that are well-known in the field of numerical optimization, as well as to seismic data processing algorithms that are used by many oil & gas companies.
The quality of the results achieved are extraordinary. Yenni’s thesis was rewarded with an impressive 9.5 and her work has already been recognized as state of the art in current seismic processing software.
“Yenny worked very independently on her thesis while taking the suggestions of her supervisors seriously. She managed to defended her thesis as good as perfectly. Besides her thesis work, she also did her course work very well, with excellent marks in all 3 high-standard European universities (ETH, TUD and RWTH).”
Graduation committee - Dr G.G. Drijkoningen, Dr Yimin Sun, Dr Florian Wellman.
Since its inception in 1975, Genetics Algorithms (GA) have been successfully used as a tool for global optimization of non-convex problems in several real world applications. Its creation was inspired by the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, where the goal is to evolve an initial population of candidate solutions using the artificial operators of selection, crossover and mutation. An advanced Genetic Algorithm (aGA) was developed by AOC* to find the global maximum of n-th dimensional non-convex functions. However, as computational time is a key factor when it comes to scalability, the objective of this project is to improve the convergence speed of this currently available aGA by simultaneously enhancing both its global and its local search capabilities. To this end, two solutions were proposed. The first is a modified version of the well-known Island model GAs and the second is a Self-Adaptive Differential Evolution (SADE) fine tuning scheme. After a successful demonstration of its improved performance on multi-modal test functions, my enhanced Genetic Algorithm (eGA) is used to tackle two common non-linear Geophysical problems: static correction and Common Reflection Surface (CRS) stacking, where promising results were obtained.