20 February 2024
Carbyon’s first two carbon removal installations will help clean the Québec skies
In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. Therefore, we would like you to meet one of our pioneers: Mariia Turchina.
I am Mariia Turchina, I am 23 years old and I am originally from Russia. I have been living in Eindhoven for some time now.
I’m in the third year of my bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics at the TU/e. During this study, we create many theoretical concepts and sometimes apply those to develop models for specific applications.
I recently graduated from the TU/e Honors Academy, which is a 2-year extracurricular program in which you participate in projects or competitions. I chose the track Artificial Intelligence.
At first, I wanted to go to the UK or the US, because I already spoke English and didn’t have the time to learn a new language. But then I discovered that a study there was too expensive and so I looked at studies in Europe. At the time, in the majority of the countries, master’s programs were in English but the bachelors were not. Then it occurred to me that two cousins were studying in the Netherlands and they didn't speak Dutch either. So that's how I ended up in the Netherlands. First I studied at Maastricht University for a year, but the study wasn’t technical enough for me. I then applied for the TU Delft and the TU/e, and, in the end, I opted for the TU/e.
In Russia I had it all figured out. I already had a job in a lab and a clear career ahead of me. There were even professors who wanted to support me. But I just wanted to go abroad. I started dreaming about it when I was only about 10 years old. And besides, my achievements in Russia would not be entirely mine because of all the support I already had. And what counts is that I don't feel at home in Russian society. I just look at life differently. It ranges from clothing style, in which you have the freedom to express yourself, to gender equality: it’s about general freedom of expression and being who you are, authenticity. I went to the top school in Russia, Presidential Physics & Mathematics Lyceum, which was completely monopolized by men. There were only a few girls in my class of about 30 students. Girls were always treated as less intelligent and even bullied by teachers sometimes. I wanted to escape that.
I want to do a postdoc after my PhD. I am seriously considering a career in academia: I want to be a university professor. Alternatively, I also like the idea of researching the industry. In any case, I want to work at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience. It is a relatively new field. It interests me a lot, and I hope I can contribute.
I feel at home here. I believe that about 96% of people speak English, so I have no problems communicating except sometimes with the elderly, but that doesn’t happen very often. Even though most of my friends here are Dutch, they are all very welcoming, and I never feel like I don't belong. I also understand a tiny little bit of Dutch, but I find it more difficult to speak. I took some online Dutch language courses because I want to be able to communicate with the whole family of my Dutch boyfriend and I will start proper Dutch courses soon. I hope to become a Dutch citizen one day.
What I like about studying here so much is that if you want to do something, you have an opportunity to do so. There are plenty of options for everyone. And if there are none, you can create your opportunities, for example, by setting up your student team. Just go for it, I guarantee you won’t regret it!
However, when it comes to education, I am not as happy, but it’s not TU/e’s fault. I believe the education system in general needs to change. It should be more personalized and even more challenge-based, although I heard TU/e is working on it. Furthermore, I don't think the grading system is a good reflection of your intelligence or knowledge, and exams have been proven ineffective on numerous occasions. So, education is an interesting topic for me, and I would like to ome up with alternative approaches and stimulate some change there if I can.
I would like to encourage others to come and study or work in Eindhoven. If you strive to develop yourself in something, there is a place for you, no matter if you already know exactly what you want to do or you are like me, who needs quite a bit of a journey. The possibilities of exploration here have helped me to figure out what I can and want to do.