Nice to meet you, Maastricht

Nice to meet you, Maastricht

Hello everyone who is reading this article,

I would like to introduce myself to you a bit before I share my life in Maastricht with you.
My name is Clara and I am from China, but I have studied in Monash University and lived Melbourne, Australia for 2.5 years until January 2015.
I will be here in Maastricht as exchange student for one semester until June.

It has been three weeks since I arrived in Maastricht.
I have been seeing beautiful views and meeting lovely people.
And now, I would like to share my experience with you.

24-25 Jan

My plan was a bit different from other exchange students after pickup service from Maastricht University because of my ignorance of instruction from guesthouse.
I thought I could not get the key for my dormitory during weekend; however, it actually can be got from the appointed venue in main guesthouse.
So I was careless but lucky that I did not get my key the first few days.
The reason I said I was lucky is because I stayed and got to know a lovely hotel in Maastricht during the weekend I did not get my key.

The snow view was perfect and I can tell that the buildings are quite old, but I love all old thingsJ

The hotel

26 Jan-31 Jan

Things went quite smoothly since I settled down in my dormitory on Monday, 26 January.
Whereas, it is not my first time leaving my home country to live on my own so I am sure I can cope everything well.
I have been looking forward to starting the semester and knowing people from different countries, especially Dutch people since I am step on their home land. Introductory days were on 29 and 30 January. A group was formed after the general introduction session and I finally met my classmates and mentors.
My mentor’s name is Naomi, she is a lovely Dutch girl and she was very patient and helpful during the session. She took us to city tour and more importantly, she gave us a session about how PBL (Problem Based Learning) works in Maastricht University.
Our group members discussed actively on a specific topic and we were aware that that will be the regular routine for our future study life in Maastricht.

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Feb 4

Time has flown and semester has begun already.
During the first week of new semester, there are many student events and activities arranged by the university.
On 4 February, there was a student musical event Stukafest , students are the performer and the university provide them with a stage to express their talent.
I went to a guitar and violin show and it was wonderful, the guitar player composes by himself from time to time and I was surprised that how well they play their instrument.
On the early afternoon of that day, there was a student event called Get Involved taking place in Student Service Centre, which consists of various student societies, clubs and organisations.
I registered for many of and will attend especially some volunteer events and Maastricht University Orchestra rehearsal activity.
There is a violin maker in the witmakersstraat in city who rent violin to people, I was quite surprised when I saw all the beautiful violins in his studio.

Feb 13

It has been a very busy week since I had tasks for group discussion leader and group facilitation for each of my subject in my period 4.
I signed up for them early because I am so looking forward to carnival holidays.
I have thought that I will be totally relaxed and free after both tasks, and it proves that I feel incredibly great after my last task group facilitation yesterday:

I have planned a lovely trip for my carnival week: Maastricht-Cambridge-Dusseldorf-Berlin-Maastricht. And I am so keen to travel around, discover Europe also discover myself.

See you in a few hours, Cambridge and see you next week, Maastricht.

 

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Problem Based Learning and Lifestyle

Problem Based Learning

Challenging and structured, problem-based learning is something you MUST be somewhat prepared for before coming to Maastricht.

Instead of spending hours in a lecture theatre, SBE has created a learning style based on participation within tutorials. Approximately 20 students complete a typical class with one tutor who acts as a “coach.” So, as there is no teacher, students are expected to thoroughly read and analyze sets of readings to discuss in class. There is no sitting along for the ride either; students must pass the participation grade to sit the final exam. To achieve participation, you cannot miss more than two classes, and in each class you are graded on how much you contribute. Also if you are 10 minutes late, then you are marked as absent.

To be honest, I thought I studied effectively in my previous studies; however, nothing can compare to work load and expected performance levels here.

As much as I dread sitting at my desk looking out to a beautiful city I am drooling to simply walk or bike around, I love the passion and commitment PBL brings. You can’t sit at the back of the class and play on your phone… It’s refreshing and something I was starting to believe was close to extinct in my generation.

The equivalent of one semester (three subjects) at Waikato is equaled to two periods at SBE. Each period has two courses. ‘Cognition, Learning and Human Performance’ and ‘Management Information Systems’ are my current courses; ‘Ethics, Organisations and Society’ and ‘Understanding Society’ are my courses for the upcoming period. I have no prior knowledge in my courses. This was a deliberate decision with the intention to learn as much as I can before specializing in my major when I return to Waikato.

Cognition Learning and Human Performance:

Filled with 99% of exchange students, we have created an interesting and talkative atmosphere. However, what I love the most is that it’s the course coordinators who have emphasized this significantly positive atmosphere. Rarely in education, especially University, students are inspired to learn, understand and succeed; rather, a pile of books is shoved in their face with the demand to memorize theories for a three-hour exam.

Management Information Systems:

Surrounded by European accents is entertaining; however, being the only exchange student is also hugely intimidating. The class commenced at full pace, I am trying my best to keep up but substantially struggling. Many lessons will be learnt; 1) I am going to deeply understand IT, something that is heavily important in society and business. 2) My persistence ability is going to stretch; only good things come from that. 3) Question my current spontaneity when choosing classes – will being outside my comfort zone and current knowledge improve my skills or should I remain in topics of my interest and comfort zone?

Altogether, the simple fact that Maastricht School of Business and Economics is Triple Crown accredited demonstrates it’s outstanding nature.

Lifestyle

The Dutch lifestyle has been greatly integrated with my American, Italian, Chinese and African flat mates. From our first night together, we have created a hilarious and happy vibe… “So much fun.” Understanding each cultures way of life provides wonderful entertainment everyday. Comfortable and relaxed, I feel lucky that we able to travel and live happily with one another.

Central and equipped with everything we need to survive; Volkplein has proved to be a perfect environment to live in during my exchange. http://www.maastrichthousing.com Maastricht Housing is the best way to find central accommodation that is shared with other exchange students. Volksplein and Guesthouse are my recommendations and each suit different desires.

Supermarkets: Aldi is approximately 200 meters away, which serves useful on busy days and for little trips. Aldi is the cheapest supermarket; however, small and minimal. Jumbo and Albert Hein are located all around the city and have everything you could possibly dream of. Reasonably difficult, understanding what food to choose is still a mission. With the added issue of no oven, I have resorted to a vast range of delicious meals. Cooking for myself or together as a flat is always exciting and fun.

Clean and friendly, living in Maastricht is beautiful, energetic and healthy. It is impossible to not have a smile while biking through the cobbled stone streets. Maastricht has it all. I could spend all day every day walking or biking around amazed by the architecture and beauty.

YUM
YUM
Flat mates
Flat mates

Carnavel, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Aachen

Spontaneous, breath-taking, refreshing, incredible… Words can barely describe how perfect the last 10 days have been.

  • Carnavel
  • Barcelona
  • Amsterdam
  • Aachen

A delicious flat dinner commenced the beginning of our celebrations on Friday 13th February. We had survived our first two weeks of University and the city of Maastricht was put on hold for one week to celebrate Carnavel.

Carnavel is a once in a lifetime experience. Imagine thousands of Europeans dressed in the most elaborate costumes, streams of colour everywhere, and music from parades blasting from random streets… Truly impressive, interesting and thrilling!

Fast-forward to Monday afternoon… Feeling tired, but hungry to explore. Why not book a ticket to Barcelona and from there, Amsterdam? It was as easy as that. No questions were asked; Tori, Shiv and I wanted to break our comfort zones and satisfy our travel bug.

5:20 AM: rise and shine!

6:15 AM: a highlight of the trip… Biking to the train station through the crazed carnavel city… holding my suitcase. Smiling and laughing the whole way. This would NEVER happen back home.

Catching the train to Brussels was simple with two transitions. A short plane trip landed us in Barcelona, where the 16-degree heat captured our hearts! Barcelona was filled with activities from dusk till dawn. Parc Guell and La Barceloneta beach were my favourites.

Parc Guell: The simple fact that I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt couldn’t keep my smile away. Looking over the city and observing the incredibly curved architecture was stunning.

La Barceloneta beach was like a detox to my soul. Walking on the sand and hearing waves crash was special as it reminded me of home. I feel as if it gave me inspiration and motivation for my studies and healthy lifestyle. The conclusion of Barcelona was spent wandering the city center and visiting the beautiful historical monuments.

Amsterdam! My goal: Visit Anne Frank’s House. My goal was accomplished on the second day after a 2 hour 40 minute wait in the freezing rain; however, every second was worth it. Due to my significance interest in history, the house and museum was astonishing and extraordinary. Shocking yet interesting, many emotions were stirred while wandering through the secret annex and museum.

I love food. And I loved The Happy Pig Pancake Shop. Fill of organic and delicious goodness, I highly recommend. Deeply regretting the few photos I took on our first day when the sun was shining, a return trip to Amsterdam is insight. The inability to take photos of the canals and old-fashioned streets drove me crazy!

Comfortable and satisfied, returning to Maastricht I felt ready to take on the busy week ahead! A few hours after I returned, my flat mates informed me of their road trip to Aachen in Germany the following morning. To study or road trip to Germany? Hmmm. I guess I will be studying all day Monday!

Aachen is a beautiful city. Exploring the city centre, the cathedral and cobbled-stoned streets still feels like a dream. Lunch was divine at a boutique café where I had a seafood risotto. Yum. The day concluded with a trip to the three-way border. Standing in a tower above the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany… Wow. What a day. What a week. Life is amazing.

Flat mates before Carnavel
Flat mates before Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Carnavel
Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona street
Barcelona street
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
Park Guell, looking over Barcelona
Park Guell, looking over Barcelona
Barcelona beach
Barcelona beach
Amsterdam. Outside Anne Frank House
Amsterdam. Outside Anne Frank House
Amsterdam Canal
Amsterdam Canal
Aachen city hall
Aachen city hall
Aachen city hall
Aachen city hall
Aachen
Aachen
our group in Aachen!
our group in Aachen!
Aachen cathedral
Aachen cathedral
Aachen cathedral
Aachen cathedral
On top of the Netherlands, Belguim and Germany!
On top of the Netherlands, Belguim and Germany!
On top of the Netherlands, Belguim and Germany!
On top of the Netherlands, Belguim and Germany!

Start New Life In Maastricht University

I still remember the first day I came here—Maastricht—a beautiful and quite city.It took me about 10 hours to arrive in Netherlands from China by flight, together with another three girls from the same home university.We were picked up by regular students from UM and the pick-up service was really nice.After we finished registering the guesthouse, students there driven us to the guesthouse and made a short brief of the room.I was quite keen on the new life here!

After I arranged all the things well, my buddy Julien, a Belgium boy, came to meet me and we took a city tour together.He is really a nice person and he told me the way to SBE and made an brief introduction of buildings there, such as music hall, library, cafe shops and so on. After that, he showed me some places where I could find something to eat and even the Chinese restaurant. He also suggested me buying a bike and he said that if I had one, he then could show me the whole city:)

When comes to the introduction day, I have to say I am really a lucky girl:P I got to know a Chinese girl who studied in Australia on the introduction day since we were assigned in the same group when visiting the university. Her English was quite good and she helped me a lot about life and study, just like an big sister. And she was also good at socializing.She would invite me to grab a coffee with some international friends and under her help, I felt more confident to talk to people from different countries.And also our mentor in group 9 on the introduction day was a good girl who took us to learn more about the city and explained the PBL session for us.I definitely sure that I had fallen in love with this lovely city, Maastricht.

FB_IMG_1422993248354(on introduction day)

Next thing can not be leaved out is the course here which makes me feel a little bit stressful since I need to read a lot of materials before class and the most important thing, get used to the completely English spoken environment.But I have faith in myself as I am the person who will perform better under pressure. Now, I feel much better about the discussion with other students and the problem solved ability.

Besides class, I also join some activities to learn more about the local life and people here. For example, last week I joined a volunteer team to help a kindergarten to do some gardening and childcare. It was my first time to do the gardening and at the same time I attained some knowledge about it. Like why to mix soil and sand together and what was the proportion of the mixture and so on. It was interesting:p What impressed me most until now was the big festival-carnival in Maastricht. People here dressed up and drunk beers to celebrate this crazy day. It was still hard to believe that some beautiful consumes were made by people themselves. They must be genius! On Monday, I spent the whole day in Koln experiencing the colorful carnival and met a lot of interesting guys who dressed themselves in various characters they wanted to be. I was attracted by the wonderful music and enthusiastic people here.

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About my personal life, I keep doing the plan everyday to make my life meaningful as well as wonderful. Study, health and hobbies are the three things I consider the most important during my whole life. That’s why I keep reading and jogging and practicing drums everyday. Like UM says”learning in learning”. Always being a creative man and taking reflections everyday to make progress!

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Coming to Maastricht, and the whirlwind of events…

Hello everyone! I’m Wen Jie, from Singapore (National University of Singapore), and I’m pleased to be given the opportunity to blog for this coming exchange semester! People just call me Wenz here… just because my chinese name is really hard for people to pronounce.

I flew from Singapore to Schiphol airport alone on 23rd January, and thankfully it wasn’t too difficult to get to Maastricht by train. Only problem though: trains were suspended due to snow and I was stuck exploring the airport for around 2-3 hours 😦

Something you don't want to see.. no trains out from Schiphol
Something you don’t want to see.. no trains out from Schiphol

To get to Maastricht, you would have to take a train from Schiphol Airport to either Amsterdam Central or Utrecht Central, where there would be a train to Maastricht after that. Make use of the free wi-fi at the airport! (Plus this very handy travel app I used: http://9292.nl/en , which helps you plan your trips in the Netherlands – timings are really accurate and updated real time!)

I stay in the main guesthouse, so after arriving at Maastricht station I took a bus right outside the train station to bring me to Sint Annalaan (the roundabout where the guesthouse is located), especially since the pick-up service only started on the 26th. By the way, I flew in early because I wanted to have some time to settle down before everything started happening (and I think I made the right choice!)

After almost ~20 hours... Maastricht!
After almost ~20 hours… Maastricht!
Screens which show the upcoming stop on buses... very useful!
Screens which show the upcoming stop on buses… very useful!
Guesthouse room in the M-building - so huge and I have it all to myself
Guesthouse room in the M-building – so huge and I have it all to myself

I really like the room I have in the guesthouse (M-building). It’s so big (double the size of the room I have back in Singapore, where I stay on campus), plus I have a great view from my window! I also got a bed package from SSH Short Stay because I was too lazy to get one myself – you should really consider this if you’re coming from a faraway place and want something nice to sleep on for your first night.

In the first few days I was here, I set off to get acquainted with the place – supermarkets, banks etc etc. Most of these you can find in this place called Brusselsepoort, which has 2 supermarkets (Jumbo and Albert Heijn), and an ING bank branch. There are also other shops such as HEMA (sells small items such as cups, small furniture etc at an affordable price), and another furniture store (forgot the name) that sells stuff like electric kettles, hair dryers, electronics etc.

After settling down, it was time for ESN’s arrival week – basically I would recommend to go for everything! (City Tour, Neon Party, Pub Crawl, Semester Kick Off Party etc.) It was a really nice way to meet new people while getting to know the place (and pubs) well! Tickets can be bought at the ESN office / at a booth on the ground floor of the guesthouse (it isn’t that expensive considering all the things that you will be doing!) It was also during these events which I found people to go to watch a football game together!

Watching a football game in Maastricht - MVV Maastricht V Roda JC
Watching a football game in Maastricht – MVV Maastricht V Roda JC

Of course, this was an eye-opening experience as the atmosphere was really heated up despite the light drizzle and cold weather – glad to be part of the home side which won 3-1 in the end! Tickets can be bought easily online (but you would have to use Google translate as the website is largely in Dutch!). If you’re a football fan and want to travel somewhere close to watch it (only 20-30minutes by bike from the guesthouse!), why not consider this?

And after this whirlwind of events that happened in a week (I barely got much sleep due to all the parties), it was time to get acquainted with the school with its compulsory orientation days. The facilities are really nice and modern, although some of the classrooms’ sizes are a bit smaller than what I would have preferred. During the 2 days of SBE’s orientation, we got to know more about the school and its PBL system (on the 2nd day!). If you’re coming from Singapore (NUS in particular), I would think that this would not be completely foreign to you! Basically it’s a combination of participating in class and reading up textbook chapters before classes to prepare yourself with the content.

However, that is only my understanding after 1 week of classes – so watch out for my next post about PBL (and of course the upcoming Carnival break – (a week long, wow!). Hope you guys enjoyed reading this so far!

Classes... officially begin
Classes… officially begin
And of course, this is me.. at the Maas.
And of course, this is me.. at the Maas.

BRUGGE

“Wow!”

  • Joshua’s favourite word.

15 Euro return tickets to Brugge made our first weekend trip extremely easy. Alongside Siobhan and three of my flat mates; Filippo, Joshua and Titi, we planned an enormous Saturday venturing around Brugge with the intention to not miss one attraction.

“Wow” is a word so over-used that I can’t help but laugh at it; however it perfectly describes our speech-less feelings towards beautiful Europe. Brugge is said to be one of the most “European” cities, due to the medieval architecture and elegant canals throughout the city. This couldn’t be more accurate, I highly recommend Brugge to anyone who wishes to experience an historical, European city (with chocolate and waffles everywhere).

The day began at 6 AM with a quick breakfast before starting our journey with a 2:45 train trip. Excitement and anticipation filled the air as our first weekend trip was commencing… For me, it felt unreal… I was bursting with interest to explore Belguim for the first time.

Beautiful blue skies welcomed us into Brugge. While walking along the canal from the train station, I quickly realized that I was in one extremely beautiful town that I would never forget about.

Every Cathedral was visited before venturing into the markt to have a taste of the beautiful architecture of the town hall and its surroundings. Canals surrounded the city, which inspires the “Venice of the North” reference. We walked everywhere and we went to every monument. Even walking down an ordinary street was amazing. It is impossible to describe the feeling of exploring a new place that I have only dreamed about. My favourite part was walking approximately 300 steps to the top of the Belfast Tower… Speechless.

Lunch was over looking the canal at an adorable restaurant called Duc De Bourgogne. I felt as if we were treated as royalty… Or, maybe they thought were typical starving students as they continued to give us unlimited baskets of crispy bread rolls throughout our meal. In total, we had 5 baskets, which equals a total of 25 rolls. Lunch was divine… I began with broccoli and scrimp soup, the main course was salmon and dessert was a beautiful cake.

Belguim waffles were next on the agenda before concluding the day with a relaxing Belguim beer at De Halve Maan brewery.

Exhausted! My first day trip filled with enormous amounts of excitement took every inch of energy out of me. I ended the day with my cultural, architectural and historical cravings completely satisfied!

Liege train station at our switch-over
Liege train station at our switch-over
Brugge
Brugge
Canal
Canal
Filippo, Deanna, Siobhan, Titi & Joshua
Filippo, Deanna, Siobhan, Titi & Joshua
Peaceful
Peaceful
Street
Street
Historical site
Historical site
Pretty
Area next to Cathedral
Architecture
Architecture
Shapes
Shapes
Colours
Colours
Lines
Lines
Roof tops
Roof tops
The Markt
The Markt
Markt
The Markt
Lunch
Lunch
Broccoli and scrimp soup
Broccoli and shrimp soup
Salmon
Salmon
Cake
Cake
Top of Belfast Tower
Top of Belfast Tower
Top of Belfast Tower
Top of Belfast Tower
Top of Belfast Tower
Top of Belfast Tower

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