It’s time I tell you what happened to me in Maastricht from September to December. I reassure you, I will not tell anything special or tragic, I will just comment my stay as it actually was. I will begin with a little footnote, I’m REALLY BAD at remembering exact dates so be indulgent please ;)
Let’s come back to the language-thing. As I said earlier and quite worryingly as it sounds, I spoke more English than Dutch there. But it doesn’t mean that I didn’t speak any Dutch at all! In order to do some sport, I decided to buy the UM sportcard. Unfortunately and it disappointed me a lot, they don’t offer table tennis… I thus chose badminton and basketball and I really enjoyed both of them. I especially enjoyed to play badminton with Morgane Hazard (who is not a bad player at all ^^). There, I spoke with the other students in Dutch and I tried to do it as much as I could (which was still not as much as I expected…). You are certainly asking yourself, why the hell didn’t he speak to the Dutch students? I will answer you then, THEY ARE FU***** DISTANT! Like a lot of other Erasmus students have said, it’s really hard to get in touch with them and to try to see them outside the tutorials and lectures. They rather stay with their friends (mostly Dutch ones) and the Erasmus ones stay together. In this way, I spoke English MUUUUUCH more, which is not so bad after all.
I haven’t talked about the university buildings and their easy access yet! I will first mention the university library because it’s the building that surprised the most. First of all, you can enter the library WITH your bag and jacket (which is a VERY good point in comparison to our dear BUMP…). Secondly, the open times are much more convenient there: from 9am to midnight (during the weekend as well!!!). Last but not least, even though I don’t want to sound arrogant I think that many students will agree with me: the women working at the entrance of the BUMP are really not what we can call friendly. In Maastricht, the opposite is true: they answer you with the smile on the face and are always ready to help you if you don’t know how to find a book and borrow it (true experience!). As far as the faculties are concerned, I could say that they are all well pointed out in the city and they offer facilities such as bike-garage, student card that you can top up with credit to print files, rooms full of high-tech computers and so on. To sum up, UM offers you everything you need!
I will now briefly describe the courses I followed there and how I enjoyed myself there (the second point is very important ^^). From September to October I followed the course Globalization and Inequality, taught by professor Wiebe. I must admit that I didn’t have a lot of course hours a week (only 6) but there was still quite much to do. As it was explained by former students, Maastricht uses the PBL system as education method and I found it very rewarding. You had to prepare the tutorials in advance (sooooo much reading…) and you discuss in class what you’ve read. At the end of October I had my first exam in an enormous lecture theatre, which surprised me a lot. From November to December I followed my second course called Cultureel Pluralisme which was taught in Dutch by professor Verouden (yeaaaah I practiced my Dutch ^^). I must admit that I didn’t enjoy it so much. The themes tackled during the tutorials were interesting but every tutorial was a kind of chaos because there was no line to follow, no learning goal (thus everyone spoke when they felt like they wanted to speak…). The schedule was the same as the previous course: 6 hours a week with quite less work to do this time. At the end of December I had to hand in my final paper. What about parties in Maastricht? I don’t want to keep it for myself, student life in Maastricht sucks! I mean, there is no place in the city where all the students can gather (like our dear bunker^^) except a student pub called The Highlander. It doesn’t mean though that I didn’t party a few times, of course! I rather went to jam sessions or squat parties with my flatmates and I had a really good time with them J Apart from partying, I also visited some buildings like the former church which is now a beautiful bookshop called Selexyz, the parcs of the city and I also window-shopped (you can’t live in Maastricht and not do that).
What can I say more? Mmmmh… I LOVED USING MY BIKE!!! I will miss Albert Heijn, people shouting in the street ‘Je rijdt verkeerd hoor’, my flatmates, the library, the squat parties, my studentroom, RTL 8, the radio in Dutch every morning when I woke up and I felt like I got lost, the showers with the hot water going up 80°C and many any other things…
Maastricht I love you and I will come back once, I promise <3