Welcome November! Exams are behind us, and we’re nearing the end of my first real autumn.
Never in my life had I seen so many different shades of reds, oranges and browns on trees. For an Australian, it’s spectacular. Back home, the leaves don’t fall in the winter, and if they do, they definitely don’t turn all these magnificent colours! Safe to say, I am currently the proud owner of over 100 photos of trees.
And while autumn is ending, it means winter is almost here. I am (much to my friends’ chagrin) praying for an early winter. And snow! A white Christmas. Quite different to beach and shrimp barbeque traditions back home.
Last weekend, I played tour-guide to my Dutch family who came for a visit. Maastricht is a beautiful town with so much history and it still sets itself apart from other Dutch towns. A picnic at Fort St Peter was in order – with particular surprise and appreciation for the wonderful view. Hills are still a phenomenon here
That afternoon, we did a guided tour of the caves – which turn out not to be caves at all, but rather limestone mines dug out over centuries by farmers and landowners. The history is really interesting and the vastness of these caves is mindblowing. The whole of the Maastricht region and all the way to Belgium is riddled with these caves. Naturally, they are linked to the history as well – Napoleon left his mark, and there are etchings from WWI and WWII soldiers. Perhaps the most remarkable thing was that charcoal drawings dating back to the 1700s were still present, after all these years, and despite the many people who have since wandered (and gotten lost) in the caves.
On a completely separate topic, and one which I am sure is covered by every student blogger ever to come to Maastricht University, is the MECC – our exam hall. My bike was stolen (another authentically Dutch experience) so I had a nice 3.5km walk each way for my exams (because it was as fast as taking the bus). I was so excited for my exams! Waiting outside the hall and seeing the sheer number of students, and how big the MECC hall is, had me jumping up and down with excitement.
In all honesty, it was probably a combination of loving my subjects, and the lack of pressure because the results didn’t affect our GPA, and the novelty of doing an exam with another 1000 people in a giant hall also used for trade shows and horse competitions. I took a nice panoramic in an attempt to remember just how large the hall is. It was surprisingly quiet, for the number of people, and it’s the first time I was allowed to eat during an exam (which I was very grateful for during my 5-8pm exam).
One hour after my last exam finished – so Friday lunchtime – I was on a train heading for Paris to celebrate. It was time to have fun and go crazy, eating baguettes and crepes aux Nutella, drinking cocktails in Montmartre, and finishing rainy escapades in cute corner cafes (where I discovered lait vanille and am on a mission to reproduce). Weekend adventures are the best.