A hundred Questions
When we applied for the course there was a lot of questions. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any alumni as we are the first batch of the course. We didn’t have the luxury of getting any advice regarding the program, the location, the expenses. not to forget the paperwork with visa and travel. We have been receiving several inquiries about the program and it made sense to not reply individually, instead create a blog with all the information we can provide. This blog is completely run by the students of the first batch to create a framework to help the students who are applying for the next year.
Why the degree?
The world is witnessing one of the biggest transformations in technology since the internet. In the next decade, the automotive industry will see a shift to renewable fuels and this course is the way to be a pioneer of that change. The degree’s primary focus is electric drivetrain and the curriculum is oriented for that one purpose
After getting admitted to the program
Ensure you apply early for the program because the visa processing to enter Belgium is not quite fast. From arranging the documents, submitting and collecting passport it could be 3 weeks or 3 months. Instances of visa getting delayed so much that the person couldn’t join the program also happened. Then again this depends on the embassy where you are applying to. If you are from India, Delhi embassy is really slow and will advise you to apply at least 3 months before class start.
Although the website doesn’t say so have a good understanding of Matlab and by good, I mean very good. Teaching dives straight into the depth of Matlab and Simulink and lack of awareness leads to quite a lot of extra work. The software is provided by all the universities in the consortium. Some of the exams are open book and tests your ability to analyze a problem rather than memorize it. 3 of the exams have an oral exam immediately after the written exam, which means no copying answers from your mates, cause you won’t be able to explain them to the professors. The course is relatively easy compared to the more intensive class structure followed by countries like Germany.
You will receive a mobility grant. It starts only from the term in Loughborough. 335 euros per month which should be enough to pay your rent in UK and France or Spain.
Selecting France or Spain
After about a week of classes, students are asked to submit a choice and reason for the choice. After this, the class will split in half and one half will go to Spain and one half to France. The final decision is taken by the university.
Things you need for a VISA
This list will vary from country to country. Yet the embassy generally requires the following items
- University certificate of your degree apostilled. Keep in mind apostilled certificate is absolutely essential not just for the visa but for applying to almost any university in EU. It is a time-consuming process and would advise getting started on it as soon as you receive your degree.
- Proof of solvency: This document proves that you will have enough money with you to survive in the country. You can create this document by contacting helpdesk of the University of Antwerp and paying a blocked account. This money will be paid back to you during the period of your stay.
- Medical certificate
- flight Itinerary
- Health insurance papers which will be provided by the university and is paid by the university for your whole term which is really good as most universities charge 100 euros per month for the same.
- Apply for a long visa and you will get a visa for 6 months. Which should be extended using a residents permit which you can obtain once you reach here. Ensure you take the correct article number when selecting visa for Belgium.
Antwerp is listed as one of the top places to visit in the world for 2018. That itself says a lot. The city is not very big but it is very beautiful. The buildings are from a bygone era, most of the roads are still cobblestoned, there is a generally relaxed atmosphere. Antwerp is at an ideal location for travel to most places like Aachen, Cologne, Amsterdam, Hague which are just 2 hours away and Paris is just 5 hours.
Before coming to Antwerp
Some absolutely essential things
- Have at least one really good warm jacket, the mercury drops to negative at times in Antwerp. Now if you want to travel light that’s possible too. You can buy the jacket once you reach Antwerp the cost of clothes are affordable. Better than paying the airline for extra luggage anyways. (Try C&A)
- Some cash in Euro. If you have cash half the worry is over (Do not bring in any Indian Rupee into Belgium) youcannot convert it to Euro.
- Forex card. Take a forex card and add enough cash to it. How much is enough you might ask? I will give a list of expenses below.
- Multiplug: EU doesn’t use normal plug points and to run the electronics keep a good quality multiplug and an extension plug if needed.
- Thermal wear: Winter actually is frigid and you will need thermals if you are not used to cold climates.
- Pressure cooker: it is not possible to buy it here so if you plan to cook yourself advise is to bring one.
- Electronics: Laptops have the azerty keyboard and it is not something that easy to get used to. Suggest you buy any electronics you need before coming to EU.( Once you reach here to go to mediamarkt for any electronics you can possibly imagine). Online purchases have a dreadfully slow delivery here takes about a month in some cases.
- If coming from India: Bring spices and pickles well packaged. Spices are hard to get here and are very costly.
- Arrange accommodation before coming here. Don’t think of taking temporary accommodation and then searching for proper housing. Every single house will be rented out by the time you reach here and the houses available won’t give for rent for a 3-month period and you will be in real trouble. This is absolutely essential and I can’t stress enough how important it is. Once you reach here you will need an address for applying for the residence permit and you cannot delay that process.
Take a flight if you are from outside EU to Brussels International Airport. The airport has the train station underground. Take a ticket for the train to Antwerp central. When you search for the University google redirects you to a Victorian-era building in the center of the city. Now, this is not the building you will be studying. The actual location of classes is Universiteit Antwerpen-Gebouw Z. As the whole city is small taking accommodation almost any location in a 5km circle will have no issues.
Theft is common do not leave bags unattended. Even inside the airport.
- Mobile sim: Two options Lycamobile and Orange. will cost you 15 euro per month, in either case, take one based on your needs.
- Bank account: BNP Paribas as they do the process in English and they are quite relaxed about the resident’s permit.Once you get your account follow up on the blocked account.
- bike: you will need a bike to pedal around the city. ignore the rental bikes, buy one. Used bicycles are cheap here and you can get one for under 50 euros in www.2dehands.be you can find one in facebook market too. Buy a really good lock as theft is pretty high. headlights and taillights are absolutely mandatory. If caught without those you will land a fine of at least 50 euro. ( If you want to buy a new bike cheapest is 150 euro and is available at decathlon, that’s where you can get almost any sporting good you will need) when you travel to the UK you can book a ticket on the bus for the cycle and take it with you.
- There are laundry shops available will cost you around 4 euros to wash and dry your clothes.
- Aldi and Lidl are two supermarkets that are affordable.
- There are Kebab shops all around and those are affordable for a quick bite.
- Usual restaurant cost is in the 10 to 15 euro range.
- Movie theatres at UGC and Kinepolis. With student-concession will cost around 9 euros.
- Room rents vary from 225 to 300 euro per month including all expenses.
- Travel to any place via train is cheaper by 50% on weekends, if you are above 26 or get the benefit of being under 26 with go pass.
- For transactions using the BNP card and reader use CVV code as 000. This information came in very handy.
- Ensure you get the resident permit for Belgium. This is critical for traveling back to France or Spain after the term in the UK. With this card, you need not have a valid visa to enter the Schengen areas.
Do not miss the STU day.
- Suggested travel: Amsterdam, Hague, Prague, Berlin, Luxemburg, Brussels, Ghent, Brugge. Aachen. Don’t go to Paris from Antwerp. During the journey from Loughborough, you can make the stop in better spring weather.
Loughborough University is a very quiet place with a single university and a hospital and nothing else. There isn’t much to see or do. The whole place is based on the university. The university has ample space and has sports as a priority. Excellent gym, swimming pools all available to students. So if you have interest in sports you are at the right place.
- Apply early the company in charge of the processing is not quite that good.
- Application charges are 172 euros.
- Takes approximately 21 days but try to apply as early as you can. the official name is TLS
- You will need the letter of acceptance from Loughborough for the application.
- Pay keen attention to your passport and make sure they pack it. There were incidents of passport missing from TLS office.
Arrival in the UK
- Bus from Antwerp is the cheapest option, followed by train and plane. Bus costs are 32 euros. The train cost 45 euros and plane 100 approximately. The bus journey takes approximately 7 hours and the verification happens in between the border of France and UK.
- From London, you can either take a bus or train to Loughborough. The bus is the cheaper option at about 10 pounds, while trains are very expensive with a return ticket cost of 70 Pounds. Bus companies are National Express and Megabus both have apps for phone and online booking.
- Theft is common. So do not leave bags unattended. It will be stolen.
Accommodation in the UK
- The accommodation in Loughborough is cheap compared to rest of UK but costlier than Antwerp. Expect around 90 pounds per week for the best rooms and 75 for a good one with utilities. Most houses come with washer-driers.
- Shopping in Loughborough is easy and affordable and the choices are in fact better than Antwerp. There are several pound shops, TESCO, Morrisons, Sainsbury to do purchases and prices are in that order. Take your time at the shopping malls cause most of them offer good deals you just need to find it. And you will get everything from these shops.
- Sources of entertainment are limited and there are 2 theatres for movies. For Indian food, there is Delhi bites and mount Gurkha. There is an Indian food truck at the city center and the fish and Nan are a must try and its very cheap at around 3 pounds per dish.
- Indian driving licenses are accepted in the UK for a period of one year from the date of entry and hiring a car on rent for 3 days cost approximately 80 pounds without fuel for unlimited distance. The car can only be driven by one person if more people need to drive will need to pay extra 10 pounds per person. Good option to take the car if going to Wales or Scotland. Be very cautious and follow all rules as the fines will follow up with you and they are not cheap. Visits to Scotland, Edinburgh, Wales, Stonehenge and bath are suggested. Do not go to London on a hire car it is a complete headache.
- Cards from BNP work fine in the UK but there is a 2.5% transaction charges per withdrawal. If possible arrange for a cash payment of rent to your landlord so that you can save some cash on the online transfer, which might charge you 25 euros per transaction. Also look for free cash ATMs.
- one of the most important things to do once you reach Loughborough will be getting the certificate of attendance signed by the administrative office which is next to the fountain near the entrance. The certificate of attendance should be signed for 5th of January to 5th of April. This is very important as your mobility grant completely depends on this one item.
Transportation in the UK
- The campus is very big and takes a bit of getting used to. Walking is the preferred method here as bicycle lanes are not quite that marked.
- Unlike Antwerp, there are no trams or regular bus services here. Although traveling inside the campus is free with sprint buses although the ones to the town will ask for payment before you board them. The classes happen closer to the main entry gate but occasional meetings, library, and certain classes are at quite a distance.
- Temperatures drop to an average of 2-4 on arrival here and probably will stay under 9 till you leave. This year had unusual weather with a snowstorm with temperatures plummeting to -5 but its a rarity. Roads get covered in snow and ice so be very cautious as accidents are commonplace with vehicles and people losing traction
- Travel from Loughborough to Bordeaux. Several methods are available. Bus, Train, and Plane in the order of increasing expenses. But if you book ahead and plan well you might be able to find cheaper flight tickets. Bus journey albeit being cheap at around 40 euros is around 19 hours journey. A personal suggestion would be to take a bus to Paris and the TGV which is the fastest in Europe from Paris to Bordeaux. A ticket will be 23 euros to Paris (7 hours) and 42 euros TGV for Bordeaux (2 hours). Plan it well and you might have a day to spend in Paris. Maybe visit the Arc de Triomphe?
- Biggest sports university in the UK and has all the benefits of it. you can join the gym which would cost around 30 pounds per month and swimming is free with it. All details regarding timing and location come from Loughborough apps for the phone.
- Classes are fast and kind of hard to keep up with and is over within a week. But the whole point of the term here is not the classes it is the assignments. It takes several hours of work and is not a group work and plagiarism is a strong-noo no. The assignments although based on the intensive week’s class is not quite that straightforward simple work.
- There is nothing much to do in Loughborough and will be a let down when it comes to parties and nightlife. Especially when compared to Antwerp.
- Assignments are time-consuming and based on your Matlab and Simulink skills you can make a small improvement to clear it or do a complete overhaul of the model. It is not easy to clear the assignments and do not expect any help from the faculty with coursework. Hopefully, the next batch will have a better situation with it. Can’t stress enough how much Matlab and Simulink knowledge can help you in this course. Loughborough or Antwerp will provide you a beginners class into Matlab if you ask.
- Visit to London is better accomplished by bus. Its cheap and it is not far. Transport within London is best achieved with the subway system. Take a pass and keep recharging it will hit a maximum charge at one point and then the tickets are free for the day. The maximum charge depends on the zone you travel to. For cheapest accommodation for a day or two look up St Christopher’s Inn in Greenwich. Its the cheapest possible stay in London at around 10 pounds per day although I wouldn’t suggest it if you want to stay for several days. Most of the museums and art galleries are free of charge. Maybe see a Van Gogh for a change? London has all kinds of food places and you will have no shortage of finding one.
- While in the UK watch a football match at a stadium. It is a worthy experience. The weather will be cold layer yourself. Sitting in the open for 2-3 hours won’t be easy at 2 degrees
- The University of Bordeaux is one of the biggest in France and is famous for several of its courses.
- First and foremost reach the university before the start date. Delayed arrival will cause your mobility grant to be rejected as the start date will not be modified in the Certificate of Attendance. As a warning kindly avoid traveling to home country during the transition from the UK to France any delays would mean the end of your mobility grant for Bordeaux.
- On reaching Bordeaux do not hire a cab, as they will overcharge you and you will resent the decision. The best option is to get a tram and bus pass which will cost 12.4 euros for 10 journeys. Tramline B is the one to take, and bus number 10 if you prefer a bus. Do not skip taking a ticket as there is checking and if caught will cost you a lot of money. Unlimited travel passes are also available for monthly basis but remember to take it at the start of a month because they charge for the entire month regardless.
Accommodation in Bordeaux
- Now, this is tricky. Bordeaux is one of the most visited tourist destinations in France and as such accommodations costs are sky high. The one affordable option is to get a CROUS accommodation. Now here is where it gets tricky. The accommodations are not guaranteed as the availability depends on rooms being vacated by other students from Bordeaux. The availability will show up only one month before reaching Bordeaux. Although they will ask you to send several documents via post do not worry about it. Apply for the accommodation and when confirmed pay the deposit. To skip the guarantor you can pay for the whole period of stay that is till 7-10 of July. Monthly cost is 243 euros and you get one room with cupboards and bathroom attached. This is very comfy and one of the best student accommodations possible in Europe. The accommodations are around 5 tram stops from the place where classes are taken. This is why previously mentioned passes or tickets for a regular journey.
- Shopping in Bordeaux is not as comfortable as Loughborough. Most food items are not available in shops and night shops do not exist. So finding some good green chilies would be near impossible here. The shops are Auchan, Leader price, Casino and E.Leclerc in the order of increasing expenses. To get pillows, duvet, pans and most household stuff that one can’t find in the first three shops visit E. Leclerc.
- Laundry is expensive and would suggest using one near the accommodation. Laverie Pessac-Compostelle. It is clean and mostly empty with 3.5 euro wash and 1 euro dry.
- Food is available at canteen near campus but you will need your ID card and all payments are via the ID card. This takes time.
The second part of the masters is a 6-month internship and thesis. The following companies are providing opportunity this year.
- Siemens Industry Software NV, Brussels
- Punch Powertrain, Belgium
- Toyota Motor Europe, Belgium
- Technische Hochschule Köln, Germany
- GKN Drive, Germany
- Gestamp, Spain
- AIC, Spain
- CIE Automotive, Spain
- University of Deusto, Spain
- MP Motorsport, Netherlands
- Dyna-lytics , The United Kingdom
- California State University, LA, USA