Intern Abroad

Archive for December, 2023

Writing a master’s thesis at TU Delft

December 1st, 2023 | by
  • Molecular and Applied Biotechnology M.Sc.
  • Netherlands, Delft
  • TU Delft
  • 05/2023 – 10/2023

    A street in the city centre of Delft (weekday), with the Nieuwe Kerk in the background.
    © Raoul Liepelt

I wanted to do my master’s thesis abroad and therefore applied at a few universities across Europe. Applying at TU Delft, I noticed that there was no need to be shy, as they were very friendly, helpful and quick at replying to my e-mails. You can simply write to the research group leaders directly, introducing yourself, and stating that you are interested in doing a thesis with them and why (with attached CV and grades of course). At the section I applied to, the section of Bioprocess Engineering, they even have a standardized procedure. I ended up working  on Microbial Electrosynthesis, which is a topic that I did not know that much about before coming to Delft.

I was lucky enough to receive university housing with Duwo. They are by far the cheapest and easiest option if you can get a flat with them. If you do receive housing by them and your flat is dirty upon entry, make sure to immediately complain directly to them. This was my mistake, as I complained to the university and therefore did not achieve anything and had to spend several days cleaning my flat by myself, which was extremely dirty.

Doing everything by bike and public transport: The Netherlands make it possible
© Raoul Liepelt

From what I have heard from other students, this is not common, but can sometimes happen. However, the rental market in the Netherlands and especially Delft is very bad, so this is still your most financially affordable option. Otherwise, I can recommend trying for flat shares on kamernet etc. Do note that knowing a bit of Dutch might be a heavy asset.

In my section at TU Delft, I thoroughly enjoyed the working culture, which was a bit different compared to what I was used to.

The modern train station with one of the largest roads for cars of Delft and a bicycle path in front of it
© Raoul Liepelt

Hierarchies were much flatter and more collegial, and everybody at the section had their breaks together, even most of the professors. A lot of my colleagues were internationals and from different backgrounds, and I could always find someone to talk to about problems I was facing in my research or in general. Whether it was in post-lab

barbecuing sessions, having international treats, or watching Barbenheimer, I greatly enjoyed my time there and I miss all of the wonderful people I got to know in the section already.

Delft, like a lot of Dutch cities, is a greatly designed and beautiful little city that makes getting around by bicycle not just trivial, but natural. It is indescribable unless you experience it for yourself. Because of the lack of cars, the city is really quiet and cozy, even in the bustling centre. For me, getting around or exploring the area by bicycle never got old, even though I never cycle here in Germany.

Exotic plants at the botanical garden of TU Delft.
© Raoul Liepelt

Delft is also extremely well connected by efficient public transport to other major Dutch cities, such as The Hague (with the beach at Scheveningen), Rotterdam, Leiden, Haarlem, or Amsterdam, so I can heavily recommend making trips to these places if you are there. For this, I would advise you to get a personal OV-chipkaart as one of the first things that you do when you arrive. It makes taking public transport much easier and cheaper if you take out a subscription,

Good-bye Delft! Sunset over the Nieuwe Kerk.
© Raoul Liepelt

which I can also recommend.

To my surprise, it is possible to rent canoes and go on a ride in the canals of Delft, which was amazing to do. Delft also hosts a large amount of small shops, cafés and restaurants that were really lovely to explore, and I always asked the locals which ones were best for my needs, and they were happy to provide me with plenty of tips. If you are there in early-mid spring, you can check out the tulip gardens at Keukenhof, which are really lovely and colourful, even if they are a bit full at times. Lastly, the TU Delft botanical garden is definitely worth checking out, and it is free if you are at TU Delft.

All in all, I can heavily recommend the Netherlands and Delft in particular. If you happen to be interested in Bioprocess Engineering, give the section I was in a try! My Erasmus money went entirely to my rent and was therefore essential in financing my stay in Delft. I am really thankful that I was granted this opportunity!