After 3 Months

Hi Everybody! I am an exchange student from HEC Montréal in Canada (Québec). This is my first post, a bit late I agree, but I guess I’ll just have more stuff to say! I have been here for over three months now and of course a few aspects of my stay are more memorable than the others. Here are my impressions so far on a few subjects:

1. Language.

Hard. Probably one of the most difficult non-Asian languages I’ve ever tried to speak. Still, of course, as a matter of respect, I managed to learned a few words or sentences, starting from the name of the city (!) to how to order a beer. You know, the essential.

2. The food.

I came here with a pretty serious prejudice about Dutch food. It’s not necessary to say that when we think of the country, culinary speaking, it’s no France. The local specialties seem to be a mix of fried-everything, marinated fish, chocolate sticks and greasy pancakes. The most surprising thing: it’s (overall) not even bad! A simple question remains how locals manage to be so thin, especially from a North-American point of view (used to see overweighed people all the time).

3. PBL.

Ahhhhh the Problem based learning. When I arrived, I read a few papers provided by the school on the subject and got introduced to the 7 jumps. I started my first period with a first year course, as well as a second year one. The first year course was the same as what I read, so I was prepared. The other one… No clue! Suggestion to improve the exchange students’ arrival: mention that from the second year and afterwards, it’s not the same – at all! I must admit though, after more than 3 months in this system, I never thought I would say that, but I – sometimes – enjoy it! It’s a good way to develop new skills and eventually not being afraid of doing a 10 minutes PowerPoint presentations per semester with a team of 4 (Canadian-style). It is also nice to see to what extend local students love arguing with the tutors and defend their (good are wrong) opinions, a clear difference from my home don’t-even-think-of-responding-to-a-teacher school system.

4. Cost of living.

For anyone from Canada, especially Montréal (one of the cheapest big North-American cities), the cost of living in Europe is expansive. The Netherlands are far from being the exception. Excluding beer and wine (so I guess about half of our groceries budget), everything is more expansive: clothes (this explains why I always wear the same stuff), food, furniture, visits… Plus the Euro-factor, times 1.33 of every transaction, no need to say my bank account is suffering.

5. Weather.

‘Oh, you’re Canadian, so you’re never cold!’ Yes, the temperature is usually colder (or way colder) in Canada. But it is also drier. We are not used to humidity and at least from my point of view, 5 degrees with humidity is worse colder than a minus 5 but dry, especially when the isolation is so bad!

6. Travelling.

Of course, as an exchange student, travelling is a must. It’s probably even more attractive when, with 3 hours of train (an extremely short time when you come from a country of almost 10 000 000 km2), you can go by 5 countries! So far, I had the pleasure to visit Amsterdam (actually to visit, and not ONLY partying, although…), Rotterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag, Texel Island, Paris, Copenhagen, Riga, Vilnius, Liège, Brussels, Bruges, Luxembourg… I started to travel before the beginning of the semester, because we also should not forget we are here to study!

So basically, this is it! If I survive my second exam sessions, you’ll hear of me again. Cheers!

Advertisements

travel, travel, travel

Dear followers.

As promised, I am going to write about my numerous travel experiences, which I gained since I came to Maastricht 3 months ago. Oh my Gosh, in less than one month, I am going to sit in the plane back home. Time is running out fast… However, with this blog entry I can show you, what I did the last 3 months, besides enjoying my student life in the beautiful city Maastricht :).

Most of the time, I travelled during the weekends with other exchange students from all over the world. It was always fun and every single city had something very special and unique in itself.

Let’s start with my first travel experience to…. of course, the capital of the Netherlands: Amsterdam.

Amsterdam has two faces. I think for most of the people around the globe it is well known for its famous window prostitution in the red light district and the numerous coffeeshops. But the city has a loooot more for you to offer. With its idyllic canals, the historic city center, the parks and modern architecture, Amsterdam belongs to the most beautiful cities in Europe. And the night-life is awesome there! Here is a short must-do-list for you guys:

  • Van Gogh Museum
  • Anne Frank House
  • Boat tour through the lovely canals
  • Iamsterdam Monument
  • Red light district (NOTE: DO NOT try to take photos of prostitutes even from the streets, or you might lose your camera without any warning!)

Image

Image

Image

Next… Bruges (Dutch: Brugge) is a town in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium and offers the kind of charms rarely available elsewhere. Bruges is a postcard perfect stop on any tour of Europe.

  • Grote Markt and Belfry Climb
  • Boat tour
  • Heilige Bloed Basiliek
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk
  • The Begijnhof

Image

Image

Brussels, the capital city of Belgium is also always a visit worth. As headquarters of many European institutions, Brussels might also be considered something of a capital for the European Union. Brussels as a “melting pot” still retains its own unique character. You should not miss:

  • Grand Place
  • Manneken Pis
  • Atomium
  • Palais de Justice
  • Palais Royale
  • The Bourse
  • European Parliament & Commission

… and don’t forget to taste the famous Belgian chocolate in one of the numerous little chocolate stores.

Image

Image

Another gorgeous city in Belgium is Antwerp. Renowned for being the “world’s leading diamond city”, more than 70% of all diamonds are traded in Antwerp. So you should definitely go into one of the diamond factories and have a look at the beautiful jewelry.

  • Rubenshuis
  • Cathedral of Our Lady
  • City Hall/Old Market Square
  • Vleeshuis
  • Diamond District

Image

Last but not least, there is another beautiful city in Belgium you should not miss: Gent. Enjoy a city with an interesting crossover between open cosmopolitanism and the quiet atmosphere of a provincial town.

  • Belfort and Lakenhalle
  • Sint-Baafskathedraal
  • Het Gravensteen
  • Sint-Niklaaskerk

Image

Let’s come back to the beautiful cities in the Netherlands I visited during the last 3 months.

If you guys, after a while of living in the Netherlands, miss “bigger” houses or even skyscrapers, then Rotterdam is a visit worth. The city is famous for its port, which is the largest in Europe. So you definitely should make a boat tour through this port to get the best impression of these huge dimensions we are talking about. The atmosphere of Rotterdam is absolutely distinct from other Dutch cities. The modern look of the city, the bustle and its building spree all add to this impression.

  • City Hall
  • Erasmus Statue
  • Euromast
  • Spido harbour trip

Image

Last but not least, I also visited the beautiful city Den Haag in the North of the Netherlands. It is the seat of the Dutch parliament and government, and the residence of Queen Beatrix, but it is not the capital city. The Hague lies on the North Sea and if you have time, the sea is always a visit worth, even in winter.

  •  Plein
  • Binnenhof
  • Mauritshuis
  • Stadhuis
  • Vredespaleis

Image

Image

I hope that I could give you some ideas, which cities are worth visiting and what you can see if you have at least one day to spend there. Maastricht has the perfect location to visit cities in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and of course, the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, I will write my next post sitting in front of my desk in Austria or maybe I will write something on my flight back home on the plane. Time is running short and there just a few days left for me in Maastricht.

Wish you all the best,

Marie