Sunday, February 01, 2009

Life at Maastricht University

Hi everybody!

As you probably have noticed I am back at the fifth floor! Most of you have already heard about my stay in Maastricht but some have not. That is why I wrote this blog entry ;).
Nolan told you about the academic system and I am not going to talk about that again because I exactly followed the same courses as him (The Making of Crucial Differences and Cultureel Pluralisme). By the way, I really enjoyed both courses. However, I would like to say one more time that it was really difficult to get used to that system. But once you get used to it, you appreciate it a lot. Key words are active participation and personal work.

Thus, I will focus on life at Maastricht University in general. When I first met my tutorial group in September, I got the impression that I had been sent to the wrong place. But as time went by, I got on very well with some students, who by the way were almost all erasmus students. After classes we often drank coffee together at Selexyz. Selexyz shops are bookshops and in Maastricht the one they have is within a church! Weird but very pleasant. We did not often party together though. Only a few times at the Twee Heeren, the only place I knew to go out in Maastricht. Why? We had so much work to do that we were most of the time under pressure! Our ends were indeed to pass the exams.

The change from one tutorial group to another was... let’s say surprising! Once again you need to get used to a new tutor, new people and above all to the Dutch language which is in tutorial groups very difficult to understand. People knew each other already in my Dutch tutorial group( BA 2 students) and because the key word was still ACTIVE participation, they talked very fast and in a very broken way. But as for the first period, you progressively get acquainted with it.

Maastricht the city, is really beautiful. Even though you are not far from Belgium, the landscape is very different. The first thing which caught my eyes was the amount of bikes everywhere in the streets. You have more risk to be knocked down by a bike than by a car in Maastricht. I brought mine and used it to go the the library or stuff like that. Then you have the Maas river and the pedestrian streets which were of course also wonderful. I would like to pay attention to the kmarkt Albert Heijn too. Of course you have all the products you have in supermarkts in Belgium but food is differently organised and you have much more choice which is really useful when you have no idea of what you are going to cook ;).

During my stay I particularly enjoyed seeing people disguised on Carnival’s day the 11th of November. The Vrijthof (the main place of Maastricht) was literally invaded. More striking, the day after the 11th you could not say that something had taken place thanks to the efficiency of the cleanliness services. As second big event I cannot do without talking about the Maastricht’s kerstmark. It was the most beautiful, breath-taking kerstmarkt I had ever seen in my entire life and I would strongly advise you to go next year. It impressed me a lot. These were the two biggest events but Vrijthof is a well-animated place and it was very common to have things such as concerts organised there.

Do I have some regrets? Yes I do. I wish I had more contact with Dutch people. If I had the opportunity to return to Maastricht, I think I would go out more often. Yet I am stressed from birth onwards and I think it is hard to change one’s personality in 4 months only...

In short Maastricht was a great experience as experiences always are. When you are abroad you realised that you miss your home university and Belgium a lot and I think that it is something positive too. Seeing what happens outside makes you feel happier when you are back at home.


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