Humans of TU Delft: Robert Leal

Who are the people who study and work at TU Delft? Meet Robert Leal, a first year bachelor. “Going to another country was not something I could easily transition to.”

(Photo: Heather Montague)

“I got my Dutch nationality from my mom because she’s from Curaçao, and I was incredibly lucky to gain dual citizenship. Because of this, I was able to look at universities in the States, but also here in Holland, which was something no one else in my high school was doing. Most of my life I thought I would stay in Texas, and I was even leaning towards Texas A&M or UT Austin. But then I started looking into schools here and calculating what it would cost. I was thinking about the experience I would have here and felt like it was something I could not pass up. As far as building character, I thought it would be a great experience, giving me confidence to live by myself and adapt to a new lifestyle and culture. I knew it was going to be the harder path but that it would be worthwhile and memorable for the rest of my life.

‘I miss country music, Whataburger and my dojo’

Going to another country for university was not something I could easily transition to. At first, my mom wanted me to study super close to home so I could live at home. But I have some cousins that have studied abroad and they told me that because of my Dutch citizenship, I wouldn’t have to pay the international fees here. In the US, student debt is treated as a custom of life and it’s ridiculous. I actually had a full-ride scholarship to Arizona State for my bachelor’s and everything was covered except for my room and board. But I calculated what that would cost compared to coming here and even with the cost of flights, rent, and tuition, it was still $10,000 cheaper to come to Holland. I was so surprised by that. I can finish here in three years, pay less, study at a prestigious university, and get an amazing experience.

The hardest part was knowing I’ll be so far away from home, but everything else was a benefit. I’m feeling pretty settled now. I’ve mapped out the entire city of Delft just by walking around because everything is so close. I miss my friends, family, and Houston life a lot and I miss some things from home, like country music, Whataburger, and my dojo. But it’s great to have technology and social platforms so we can stay in touch and talk every single day.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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