Should I stay or should I go? – By Dimitrios Sotiropoulos

It is an interesting fact that the number of Greek students enrolled at TU Delft has increased significantly since 2008. Last year, they represent- ed the biggest percentage of interna- tional students, surpassing that of the Chinese.

One can come up with a plethora of reasons as to why a young and ambitious Greek would choose TU Delft in order to pursue his/her Masters degree. I will dedicate the former half of the article to elaborate on the above issue, and in the latter will discuss a separate issue, that of choosing to stay in Greece or to leave in order to pursue a career abroad.

During my first year at TU Delft, I came across two different groups of Greek architecture students – those who had already pursued their studies in Greece and gained their professional accreditation and, those who had finished their bachelor degree somewhere else in Europe (mostly in the United Kingdom) and had chosen TU Delft to complete their 5 year education. I feel that each group has different reasons for choosing Delft as their next educa- tional experience.

I believe those already accredited with the license of a professional architect have three very good reasons to attend TU Delft. During a period of recession, where the construction industry is degrading day-by-day and the job opportunities are minimized, TU Delft offers an additional academic degree, with high global reputation, at an afford- able overall cost compared to equivalent universities in the US and the UK. Moreover, the faculty of architecture offers a wide range of specializations that can yield an extensive understanding on a specific subject. Finally, I strongly believe that studying and living abroad for the first time gives the opportunity to obtain international experience, that can broaden one’s horizons, at the very least via osmosis, in a multicul- tural academic environment.

On the other hand, TU Delft provides the students that have already studied abroad a new breeding- ground, by offering a flexible and more personal Master’s degree compared to that of the UK. The

structure of the courses resembles that of British universities, ensuring smooth transition from one educa- tional system to the other. Also, the fact that TU Delft is highly recognized in Greece facilitates the successful completion of the professional licensing process, in a country where bureaucratic obstacles can keep you unemployed for months.

Now, let’s assume that a Greek student has completed his/her studies at TU Delft and is confronted by the big dilemma – should I stay or should I go? Should I return to my country and participate in the efforts to change the socio-economic and political status quo, with the underly- ing risks of unemployment and adaptation, or should I stay abroad where I can fulfill myself, by being part of a more organized and value- based system? Whichever the answer might be, I can say with confidence that Delft has armed its graduates with the right skills to be able to follow either choice.

For those students who feel like staying abroad, their Master’s degree at TU Delft grants them a passport to numerous global destinations, in pursuit of an academic or professional career. TU Delft alumni are part of many international projects and are also highly recognized and appreci- ated. The faculty sustains very strong networks with many architecture firms, leading to opportunities for students to become part of the unique Dutch architecture scene. The advantages are clear when someone is exposed to a reality where innovation, effective collaboration between different disciplines, as well as in

depth academic research takes place.

It is very worrisome to me, however, if most of the young and educated Greeks decide never to return home. The Greek scientific community misses out on new and freshly educated minds, and thus enters a vicious cycle from which it becomes weaker, less influential and eventually loses its potential.

Greece is indeed experiencing a very deep crisis on multiple levels. The word crisis, in Greek “krisi”, has a two-fold meaning. It means a condition of instability and danger, but also, very interestingly, it means judgment. It is in periods of crisis that it becomes crucial that we have and use good judgments; and who else if not young, ambitious, motivated and well-educated Greeks to do so.

We only need to love our “topos” which is so strongly linked with architecture. Technology today allows us to virtually be part of a society that is physically very far away. I would like to invite my fellow Greek students to actively participate in the building of the future of our country, either by returning back or by continuing to engage in research approaching the various aspects of the Greek reality, while being part of a more welcoming and innovative environment abroad.

Dimitrios Sotiropoulos
Master student Architecture

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