Life after Delft: Best of both worlds

Delta nr 8, March 2006

Andrea Chielou May Elumbaring-Rayat graduated from TU Delft in August 2004 with an MSc degree in Biochemical Engineering. Immediately after graduation, she returned to the Philippines and her previous job as a lecturer and researcher at the University of San Carlos. Elumbaring-Rayat: "In my current job, I get something that money can't buy: fulfillment!"

"Just a few days after the MSc graduation ceremony in Delft, I flew back home to the Philippines. I couldn't wait to see my family again and celebrate my graduation with them. And before I left Delft, I had decided to marry my long time boyfriend, who was awaiting me in Cebu City. I was very excited to see him, and we got married last April.

As for work, I was fortunate enough to have a job to go back to the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. I'm a lecturer there and was really excited to start work again. After getting my MSc degree in Delft, I felt so energized, I was ready to jumpstart my career, which is exactly what I did!

I have become very active within my university department, both in research and teaching matters. After all, the whole reason why I had gone to TU Delft to study was to broaden and deepen my knowledge, so that I could apply it to my work at the university. In my current job, teaching takes up about 12 hours of my week, and for the rest of the time I do research and prepare for my lectures."


"Although I was glad to return back home after graduating from TU Delft, I did find it a little difficult to adjust to life in the Philippines. In Delft, I was used to living a very organized life: using a diary to write my appointments in, being on time for appointments and even making appointments a long time in advance, like the Dutch do.

But in the Philippines, you have to take things as they come most of the time. People don't necessarily stick to their appointments: they might arrive late, or early or not at all, without even letting you know! When I first got back, that did cause me a lot of frustration, but over time I have adjusted, although I still try to ask people to please stick to their appointment.

Being direct in my communication with others is another thing I picked up in Delft that isn't so easy to practice in the Philippines. Our society is very polite. I have definitely been more direct in dealing with people since I got back home, but I try not to overdo it, as people here might consider it to be arrogant and unacceptable behavior. So I try to find a good mixture of openness and politeness, which blends in with our society.

I still enjoy my job here, even though some people say it was unwise to come back to the Philippines, as I could have easily found a job in the Netherlands that pays a lot more. But in my current job, I get something that money can't buy: fulfillment. Knowing that what I teach my students now may go a long way in the betterment of their careers in the future, gives me a great sense of gratification. I'm hoping that by teaching my students about science and technology, and sometimes about life, they will be able to improve their lives and those of others. As they say, science and technology are here to improve our lives and to make us comfortable.

But I also like the university atmosphere and work attitude in the Philippines. I have flexible hours and can usually decide what to do and when to do it myself, especially when it comes to research. My job is different every single day, which is good, because I get bored easily if work is too repetitive. Plus, I get to travel and meet people at conferences and conventions.

At the moment, I'm in Taipei, where I'm a visiting scholar at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. I'm using the latest technology to assemble a digitized tension meter to use in research and education. I am also working with one of Taiwan's experts in bio-diesel research. As I'm doing my own research in bio-diesel in the Philippines, this visit provides me with a lot of insights.

Eventually I want to do a PhD, but I'm not sure when and where yet. My husband is an electronics and communications engineer and will be starting his PhD in Japan next year, so if the situation permits it I might follow him there."


"There are quite a lot of things that I miss about Delft and living in the Netherlands. The spring and summer months, for instance. And I miss riding a bicycle. I used to ride it everywhere in Delft, but in the Philippines it just isn't safe to bicycle. There are no cycling paths and the roads are ruled by private cars and our local mode of public transport, called 'jeepneys', which are big jeeps.

Another thing I miss is having free time. In Delft I worked from Monday to Friday and had the weekends for myself, but now I work all day, every day. I wish my husband and I would have more time to just relax or to go traveling. My country is so beautiful. Last May, after our wedding, my husband and I went on a trip to Baguio City, and from now on, we intend to do at least one out-of-town trip a year."


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