It has been four months that I have moved to the Netherlands and started my PhD. I vividly remember the joy that I felt when I received the positive response and I was and I am genuinely honoured to be chosen as an ESR (Early Stage Researcher) in MSCA-ETUT project. However; soon I felt anxious about the unknowns since it was my first experience to live abroad and far from my family (but that is expected when you want to make big changes in your life).
As we know, electric vehicles (EVs) are attracting more attention in recent years to replace gas-fuelled vehicles mostly due to the environmentally advantages. Rechargeable batteries are an integral and expensive part of EVs. Batteries are also required in renewable energy applications and microgrids. A Battery Management System (BMS) is required for battery systems to guarantee the safety, efficiency and reliability. The main aim of project that I am working on in collaboration with the University of Twente and the University of Nottingham is applying power electronics to the battery management systems.
The first thing that attracted my attention in the Netherlands was that people here are willing to help. There were people who smiled and stepped forward to help me with my luggage without even me asking and I can say at that moment it warmed my heart. They also speak English very well that you wouldn’t face any problem without knowing Dutch language. Bicycles are the main transportation vehicles in the city which was hard to adopt at first (to be honest sometimes it still is especially on rainy days which I have to say are not a few). Beside the benefits for the environment and health that cycling culture brings, sometimes I feel blessed cycling and being surrounded by the green nature and listening to the birds chirping (the University of Twente has a very beautiful campus) and I am fascinated how the nature is green even in winters and it also helps to relieve stress (trust me it is mostly needed in the PhD program). Another thing I like about Dutch culture is that it is quite egalitarian, you can call everyone by their first name regardless of their position which is totally different from Asian culture.
Adopting to a new culture and environment far from your family and friends can be hard but you learn how to adjust and make new friends and integrate into the host country; although it will take time, it would get better day by day. I am learning personal and soft skills like presenting and how to interact with people from different cultures and background and learn from them.
Although I have a long way to go and many things to learn yet, this period has been an amazing experience in terms of both academic level and adventure. I feel extremely honoured to be a part of ETUT project founded by European Commission and I hope one day in my life I would be acknowledged as someone who has contributed to the society to give back what I have received.