Tuesday, March 01, 2011

My stay in ...Masdrid/ Maachdikt/ Mâstrikd/ Mââjtlikt/ Maztrit/.. or the impossible-to-pronounce-unless-you-speak-Dutch city ;-)

Hey guys! I hope the Erasmus corrida has not got to you yet ;)

Modernity, tranquillity, studious, international character, smiling and easy-going staff, huge opportunities, … Welcome in the marvellous world of Maastricht University

When I was told I would go to Maastricht, the flat hunting began! All the rentals are centralised on the internet, so don’t waste your time (like me) in going in Maastricht to look for flyers or phone numbers, they all tell you “Go on the Net!”. The official websites require you to pay a entrance fee of around 30euros (of course!): www.kamernet.nl, www.kamerburo.unimaas.nl. Non-officials include googling on forums or Facebook (Flat Hunting Maastricht, I’m searching for a room in Maastricht, Maastricht, Erasmus Maastricht, Maastricht University,…) There is also the Guesthouse which provides accommodation for Erasmus students only. It’s a bit more expensive and it often gets booked out before summer holliday: first come, first serve. If you're not a bike-aholic, check the distance from the room to the university (Grote Gracht) to make sure it’s not too far away. Many rooms are across the Belgian border and it’s quite a distance using the bike.

Vrijthof at sunset

I arrived in Maastricht on September 2 for the Introduction Day, which is the finale of the famous “Inkom Week” where all sort of events are organised for Erasmus students to get in touch. We were welcomed like kings and queens! If you have time, you should definitely go there during the whole week to get acquainted with the city and students. I shared a flat with 3 students in Scharn, which I found on one of those Facebook groups. It was about 15 minutes by bike, which was just fine. A little warning for the bikes: if you don’t have one at home, there are plenty 2nd hand sales in Maastricht. When buying it, don’t forget that Maastricht is full of old pavement and therefore the cheapest bikes are not always the best option.

Old paved bridge in Maastricht

I chose 2 courses: Globalisation & Inequality (12ects) in English as well as Cultureel Plurialisme (9ects) in Dutch. Sadly, none of the courses offered in Maastricht have a linguistic or stylistic character. Anyway, I enjoyed both courses: the one about international problems making you aware of the world's issues around you, the other about what made our society as it is today. You can find the descriptive (as well as all the other courses) on the website of UM: http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/web/Faculties/FASoS/TargetGroups/ProspectiveStudents/BachelorsProgrammes.htm . Both courses were adapted to the PBL system, which is typical of Maastricht. It generally consists of two classes of two hours each a week in a small class of around 15 students and of one lecture of two hours to introduce the topic of the week. This way of teaching makes you prepare the class and the reading assignment in advance, so that we can discuss and present what we've learnt and go beyond it during the tutorial. The nice thing about that is that it makes you work on a regular basis, you assimilate the course progressively during the whole period, always using what you've learnt for the next class. It is a very active way of learning.

Entrance of FASOS faculty: Faculteit der cultuur -en maatschappij wetenschappen

Another positive aspect is that the quadrimester is splitted into periods: from Sept to Oct, I had G&I only, and the exam in the end of October. From Nov to Dec, the 2nd course started with the exam in the end of Dec. So it's not like in Namur where you have several courses at the same time, then a heavy bloc-periode and all the exams at the same time. One at the time and you even get to enjoy each course :) And you get to celebrate Christmas without worrying about exams coming up in Jan, which is priceless:)

Lovely parc in the heart of Maastricht (with goats & deers!)

Maastricht is filled with students from all over the world. It provides a lot of opportunities for the ones studying there thanks to its modernity and fame: great access to books and online databases, super timetables of the library (from +/- 9 a.m to midnight, even during the weekends!), wifi signal everywhere, students projects of all kinds, many additional lectures from great international lecturers, trips to European Commission, UN participation, newspaper contributions, etc..

City hall on the market place (Friday)

There are also many parties organised every evening, so f you want to have a full life, you can't get bored in Maastricht. However, forget about the myth that “Erasmus = parties all the time and no work”. Keep in mind that there is no such place :)

To conclude, I liked Maastricht because of

-the international and objective character of the courses

-the diversity of the students' culture and background in each class

-the active way of learning

-the facilities for students

-the strong desire of students to take part in stuffs, be it humanitarian aid, festive or intellectual events

-the bike-thing

-the sometimes impossible-to-understand accents in Dutch of some Maastricht people, funny ;)


Maastricht is definitely an interesting place to go to :)

Have fun!


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