Phui San Cheong
"I think people in Antwerp are more open than in other cities in Europe, they are used to people coming from everywhere, and if they realize that you cannot speak Dutch, they do not mind speaking English to you."
Why did you decide to study a master degree at the University of Antwerp?
We moved to Antwerp in 2014 due to my husband’s new job. I heard about the University of Antwerp after settling down in Antwerp and to my pleasant surprise there was a list of subjects in English related to what I studied before (Electronics Engineering majoring in Telecommunications) so I told myself, why not study a master degree? I do plan to have a career again, so this opportunity of self-development is something I would like to take on.
The academic programme of the M.Sc. in Computer Science
The course is quite challenging. However, my fellow students are very helpful and willing to help whenever I have any questions about the course. As for the lecturers, there is a certain distance between them and the students because they are the ones who will make the evaluation. Regarding the course I really like it, because although it is very challenging you would feel like you have achieved something after you overcome the learning curve, and this happens to me every semester. Regarding the academic level, I think lecturers expect a lot from the students, so it’s important that you have the required academic background before staring the course in computer science, otherwise you can feel a bit lost. I also find it helpful that there are many lab sessions, and programming assignments. They offer students a more practical view of the programme and which in turn help to understand the course a lot more. It is not just studying from the text books.
An important difference compared to the educational system in Malaysia
At University of Antwerp we have the open book exam concept, and in Malaysia this is not too common. The point of this concept is that we don’t have to memorize, but to understand. It doesn’t mean that the exams are easy though, they could be more difficult than a closed book exam.
People and the city of Antwerp
I think people here are more open than in other cities in Europe, they are used to people coming from everywhere, and if they realize that you cannot speak Dutch, they do not mind speaking English to you.
A funny thing about Antwerp
In Antwerp everyone is supposed to put the garbage in the street for collection on certain days. There are no garbage bins, except for glass, and that was funny for me at the beginning. I also had some difficulties with all the types of bags they have for recycling (they have a color for each type)! Another funny thing is to see how people carry their children in the back seats of their bicycle. I think it looks easier than it actually is. I tried it once with my child, but he lost balance and almost fell, so I guess we need more practice.
Some final words about this experience
I can say I am quite satisfied with the choice of studying here and I think it’s a great opportunity for me. I also found childcare support for my children, since the childcare/educational system here in Antwerp starts quite early (childcare from 3 months and school from 2.5-3 years). This helped me a lot as it leaves me more time to study.