Each month the English Page meets a member of TU Delft's foreign community. Victor Chan, 37, is a Post-doc at WBMT (Aero and Hydrodynamics Laboratory).

He was born in Britain and raised in Hong Kong and received his PhD from the University of Manchester (UK).

Why did you choose TU Delft?

I met my current boss, Jerry Westerweel, at a conference in Portugal. At the time I was working as a post-doc researcher at Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland). He invited me to interview for my current position. I came here because of the job; it just so happened it was in the Netherlands.

What feature of Dutch society do you like the most?

I love Dutch deep fried fish, lekker! I used to work in an English fish & chips shop and think the Dutch deep-fried fish is much better. The Dutch fish has much tighter batter coating, it follows the fish contour much better. But I think the English got much better chips. Maybe one day I%ll open my own fish & chip place with Dutch fried fish and English chips.

Are there any notable differences between the TU and your home university, in terms of research or relationships or general workings?

TU Delft is more structured and they strictly follow the rules here. This makes it a more systematic, well-organized university than the University of Manchester. Here, the work environment is social and nice, but the language barrier makes it difficult to integrate fully into the culture.

If there was one thing about the TU you could change, what would it be?

Make Dutch language courses more available for internationals (not only students, but post-docs and visiting scholars as well). I'd also make it easier to work after-hours. The university closes very early and then you have to apply to stay longer or work in the weekends. This is another element where they follow their rules so strictly, which takes the human element out of decisions.

At TU Delft, do you feel as if you're working at an international university?

Yes. You meet people from so many different countries here. But I do think more international research collaboration at the TU would make it a truly international campus. International exchange of research ideas is very important, but currently at the TU it seems that this is facilitated more through individuals than through the university as an institution.

How might TU Delft raise its standing in the international ranking of universities?

I think TU already quite famous, has international exposure. But I think they could do more to increase EU funded projects, like the Marie Currie Fellowship for example.

What do you like the least about Dutch society?

Sometimes their strict adherence to rules and regulations results in serious inconveniences and absurd interpretations, like not being able to apply for a home telephone without having a Dutch ID card, which can take several months to receive.

Why did you decide to become a scientist, to make your career in science/technology?

When I was 8 years old I remember my mum took me to Hong Kong island and pointed to a tall building and said, ,,I hope you can become an engineer when you grow up‘'. Also, I grew up on a farm and we didn't have many toys, so we’d build our own toys from bamboo, wood, stone, and paper. This inspired me to be creative and sparked my desire to construct things. We were always trying to figure out a better way to build something interesting to play with.

If you weren't a scientist, what profession would you like to have?

A stand-up comedian or sit-com writer. Like my current take on shopping for singles. It‘s simple really, it's all about communicating to your potential date that you're available by buying single-sized portions of each item (one apple, one banana...). Both planning and execution is crucial for success, but unfortunately while my theory is good my execution is rubbish, so it’ still very much a work in progress.

In the field of science and technology, is their one person (living or dead) who you particularly admire?

I'd love to meet Osborne Reynolds, the first professor of engineering at the Victoria University of Manchester. He was the first scientist to do research on turbulence, and the Reynolds number is named after him.

How would you like to die?

I‘d like to live to 150-200 years old. I know this isn't possible today, but I try to 'cheat' life as much as possible by going to the gym and staying fit and healthy. Anyway, I’ll try to live as long as I can and then I want to die in the mountains of Hong Kong in a peaceful natural way.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

Turtle, land turtle because they seem to move so slow and they appear very relaxed. Like having one foot in the grave, which is a symbol of longevity in Chinese.

What qualities or quality do you most admire in other people?

Sincerity. I like to know that what you see if what you get when you talk to a person.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I‘d live in England and go on vacation to Hong Kong. I love the English landscape, the historic places, and the people. I guess there’s no place like home!

Is there one book that changed your life in some way?

‘Tao Te Ching' by Lao Tzu. It made me more aware and insightful of interpersonal skills and how to solve problem from inside. Learn to think laterally, more like a spider web, not just vertically. My father gave me this book when I was 22-years-old and it’s been my favorite book ever since.

What causes you the most anxiety?

Living in the Netherlands, I worry that people will feel uncomfortable or dislike that I cannot talk to them in Dutch. I worry that they‘ll think, 'Why don't you speak Dutch', or that there'll be misunderstandings because of the language barrier. Like when Chinese say 'yes', it doesn't mean they understand you, merely that they hear what you’re saying.