Before we talk about all the fun and adventure Europe has to offer, let’s focus a little bit on the PBL system here at Maastricht University. I’m sure most of you are aware of and/or exposed to this interesting learning concept and I’m also very sure we all have our own opinions on it but my opinion.. is quite a sour one (hey, I’m still rocking my Maastricht University sweatshirt). Sure, the statistics of the university’s success is very impressive but I feel that on an individual student level, the self-taught way of absorbing knowledge can be quite a struggle. My classes here consist of mostly discussions on the books or articles assigned. The amount of reading that needs to be done is pretty hefty too. Not to mention, the notes are all self-made and based on your own summary of the assigned readings, which makes it hard and confusing to know what to focus on for the exams. Just to be fair, on the brighter side, this system really does mold students to be more independent, self sufficient and great at time management.
Speaking of time management, for us adventurous exchange kids, we do most of our assigned readings and presentation preparations over the weekends, on the train (or bus or flight), while happily waiting to reach our next destination. You’d be surprised how quick travel time flies when you’re busy digging into your book. At first, I was 100% sure that my sensitivity to motion sickness would mean I’d just have to stare at random Europeans on the train, but oh boy was I wrong. I’ve discovered that desperation and boredom brings out the best in you! (or in my case, gets rid of any sense of motion sickness). I’m actually quite glad I’ve ‘recovered’. See, the tough PBL system does have its benefits! J
So where did I go? As the title suggest, quite a handful of places. I’m slowly trying to check off different countries from my ‘Must go to’ list and since I’m trying to avoid sightseeing while braving the cold, I do try to fit most of my plans on the earlier half of the semester.
First of, the city of love; Paris. Unlike the romantic couples retreat cliché, I explored this gorgeous city with five other girls. Since we were all hopeless romantics, it was like we were meant to visit Paris together (Girls really do just wanna have fun!). From Laduree macaroons for breakfast and enjoying the view from the top of Eiffel Tower over sunset, we all had a blast. Also, since Paris is basically the birthplace of all of my desired luxury brands, I gave myself some leeway from my usual strict student budget to buy that one bag I’ve always wanted: the Chanel Classic Flap 2.55, Yayyyyy! *jumping up and down, high pitch screaming*
Just a week later, I made my way to the beautiful country of Luxembourg. Despite it’s relatively small size, Luxembourg is very rich in culture, history and breath-taking sceneries. So rich in fact, we almost got lost in the castle at Bock. The hallways were small, the stairs was steep and the windows were blocked with bars. It would have been scary to actually get lost there at night. Thank god we met with another lost group of people and braved ourselves out. In total, I spent only half a day to cover the entire the city and have one more country checked off my list!
The most recent visit was to Berlin, Germany. The timing was perfect for Oktoberfest! So, after a few guided tours through the very controversial history of Berlin, we spent an entire day drinking chugs of beer and eating curry bratwursts. And yes, hands down, German beer is the best. Along with the all the Germans dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing and the German songs played with the accordion, we definitely enjoyed the festives that is Oktoberfest.
All in all, these first four weeks passed by really quickly! I’ve adjusted well to the school, the social scene and the travelling quests. Our next trip will be in a week 😉 Hopefully, this gives us enough time to recuperate ourselves for more adventures ahead.