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People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, E52 has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.

Name: Marisol Velasco Montanez
Country of origin: Mexico
Study: PhD student Industrial Engineering at Eindhoven Technical University

When we enter the Innovation Space on the TU/e campus, it is buzzing with people. Downstairs a group attends a course, upstairs groups of students discus a project and in a separate room people work quietly. Marisol is connected to the Innovation Space for her PhD: “This is my client company where I do my research. There is always something happening here and people from different departments work together. I meet new people constantly.” Students can take courses here, or organise presentations or build prototypes for the student teams’ projects. “Everybody is very motivated, that gives a lot of energy.”

Marisol studied in Mexico and worked for a Coca-Cola bottling company, a company that was part of a bigger group. “I got the opportunity to set up an innovation project with the government, academia and the company. In this project, I was pioneering with a team. I got inspired to learn more about innovation and decided I wanted to do an innovation management master. I did research for a year on where I wanted to go. I was looking for a study program where start-ups and big companies work together. That is hard to find. I found two options for the master: here and in Denmark. I chose the TU/e for the program and the location and I got in.”

“I arrived in winter. I wouldn’t recommend anyone starting a study in the middle of the academic year. It comes with a lot of inconveniences you don’t come across when you start in September. In the beginning, I felt alone. Starting a social life was quite difficult because I didn’t have an introduction week so I didn’t know a lot of people. I tried to connect with Dutch students, but that took a lot of time. Eventually, I could connect with Dutch people who previously studied in other countries, they understood me. I tried to go to some events, but can be challenging by yourself. When I got involved with Innovation Space, my social life exploded.”

“I wouldn’t recommend anyone starting a study in the middle of the academic year. It comes with all kinds of inconveniences”Marisol Velasco Montanez, PhD student Industrial Engineering

“The most stressful thing that happened to me while I was here, had to do with my tuition. My scholarship covered two years, from  February  2015 until February 2017. But Dutch law says you have to pay a full year of tuition, and if you graduate in February, the university will refund half of the money for that year. You need to know that we as non-EU students pay a lot more than Dutch or EU-students. I didn’t have that kind of money. So my two-year study, would cost a two and a half year tuition. I didn´t know this in advance. Somebody helped me with figuring everything out. To me, this is a system flaw.”

“Things like the situation with my tuition happened more often. Like when I got a letter stating I didn’t earn enough study credits to pursue my study in the second year and that I couldn’t live in the country anymore because of it. At first, I got all stressed out when something like that would happen, but this time I just called the authority that sent the letter and asked questions, because I knew something didn’t add up. It turned out the rule about the credits didn’t apply for me because I started in February. Annoying these things happen, but I learned to be a bit more pragmatic and that people here listen and are very logical. They really make use of ‘common sense’, so everything can be discussed and arranged. I love that. After all, ‘common sense’ is not as common as it seems.”

“In my spare time, I like to go to Natlab with friends. I also love Down Town Gourmet Market. They have really good food and the atmosphere is very nice. And I also like Strijp S a lot. I’m drawn to it. Many different events are hosted in the area like the super cosy Feel Good Market, but also hard rock shows. When I walked home a few months ago, I saw gothic looking guys. I thought: ‘What’s happening here?’ Turned out there was a Marilyn Manson concert in the Klokgebouw.” And what are Marisol’s plans for the future? “I don’t know what I want: stay here or not. I really like Eindhoven, and I felt like coming home after visiting Mexico. I am learning Dutch, so if I decide to stay, I know the language a bit. The biggest challenge when it comes to Dutch is the pronunciation of words. But I’m learning, and here at the Innovation Space, I learn also by listening.”

Read all the internationals stories here.
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel