Hundreds of adventures!

Hey everybody!

Happy to write to you again. In this article, I will write about how I have enjoyed my first month in Maastricht. And there is a lot to say!

After the end of my arrival week, I got to begin the classes. The courses I chose were “Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management” and “Time Series Modeling”.

The first one focuses on various financial subjects, such as CAPM (and expected return of the market), Hedge Funds, Mutual Funds, Real Estate, etc.
The second one is a course of econometrics (of time series) and we use Eviews, with many tests.

Very interesting courses! I have learned a lot during this month. And the best is that it is not over yet.
But, on the other side, courses are r-e-a-l-l-y demanding, specially the first one. Many presentations have to be done and group homework take at least 20 hours per week. Working two full days (8AM to 8PM, or even more) for a single project is quite common.

I don’t want to discourage you, because work is not the essence of the exchange. There are a lot of events! You’ll get to enjoy student life here.

Every monday, tuesday, thursday, friday and saturday there are parties (or events). Themed-nights, board games, social dinners, casino nights, cantus, big parties (all these are organized by ISN Maastricht): if you want to party hard, you’ll never get bored!
But also, there are events with roommates: movies nights, dinners in the city, cocktails night, and trips!
And events with whoever you want in fact, because there is a lot to do here.

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(a dinner with my roommates at Fresh :))

Another important part of living here in Maastricht (and in the Netherlands) is… biking.
Bicycles are really going to improve your life, and there is a sense of freedom when you bike. It is also a good sport here!

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You can see how crowded it is. And this was nothing compared to now, because now you cannot see a single empty space! “Parking” the bike is a common problem here.
Bicycles will also bring you the possibility reach Aachen or Liège in two hours. I haven’t tried yet, but I am really willing to experience this.

And well that’s all for today, I am going to enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

See you!

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My First Month at Maastricht

Hi! I’m Tanuj from Singapore Management University, and this my first post about my exchange programme experience at Maastricht. I’ve been here for almost four weeks, and it’s been really interesting so far. I understand this blog is essentially for prospective SBE students/applicants, so aside from keeping it to three main sections for each post, I’ll try to end each section with a few tips/pointers that may be of help.

 

  1. ARRIVAL AT MAASTRICHT

After roaming around in Munich and various places in Austria for about a week, I reached Maastricht a day before the official orientation began. It took me a fairly expensive bus ride and a lot of asking directions from strangers to reach my residence – the Guesthouse – where I realised that there’d actually been a quick, simple and free pick-up service from the station I’d started off from. I felt like an idiot, but as this was my first solo “long-term” stay in a foreign land, I was sure that this wasn’t the last time I was going to end up feeling this way. So I didn’t get too traumatized by it.

What did traumatize me, though, was the amount of dust in my new room when I first entered it. I feel blessed to be alive to write this, because in the two full days I spent thoroughly cleaning my room, I inhaled enough dust to put any vacuum cleaner to shame. Just to prevent myself from being kicked out of here for saying that my room was so dusty, I’d like to take this opportunity to put in a few good words for the SSH, which is basically my landlord. From being kind enough to leave the keys for me at the counter even though I was late, to having my bed fixed (one of the wheels on its legs was broken) almost immediately upon notification, to always being very receptive to the requests of my floor in general, and to giving us the benefit of doubt regarding rules and regulations pertaining the kitchen and whatnot, SSH Maastricht has been truly top notch, and I’d highly recommend that you look them up (https://www.facebook.com/maastrichtssh) if you’re interested in a short stay anywhere nearby.

 

  1. ORIENTATION

The orientation was a one-and-a-half day programme. It was basically a series of talks by various people (See Image A below) – including the city Mayor and a Policeman – followed by a city tour on Day 1, with a mock PBL session on Day 2. I really enjoyed it all – I met some nice people, got all the important information that I was looking for, and got a good feel of the school and the city. I recommend using this orientation period to meet as many people as you can and, more importantly, to ask as many questions and to clear as many doubts, especially academics-related ones, as you want to. Largely, this is because the atmosphere during these two days is really chill, casual and welcoming, as opposed to the hectic hustle and bustle you’re likely to experience when school actually starts.

Image A. Taken from: SBE Exchange Students Facebook Page

 

  1. SETTLING IN

I’ve always been a slow starter at most things (still haven’t really started studying hard, for example) and so it took me quite a while to adjust to life here. I usually do my own room cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping back home in Singapore, so that wasn’t much of a problem here. The only minor issue I faced was with the latter; a lot of goods, such as laundry detergents or food items, sold at shops don’t have a word of English on their packaging – it’s usually in Dutch or in some cases, French or German. Some of the friends I’ve made here had resorted to trial-and-error, buying different variants of the same food items and detergents over time and gradually ascertaining which ones were best. Aside from the comparatively adverse effects on their time, wallets, clothes and stomachs, this is perhaps a pretty decent strategy. However, I’d recommend just asking someone at the shop for help or – if you feel you are too shy or anti-social to do that – using Google Translate if the shop offers free WiFi (Jumbo and Albert Heijn do, for example) or – if you fashion yourself as more of a photographer than a typist – using Google Goggles (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.unveil&hl=en).

The biggest problem I had initially, however, was food. I didn’t want to eat out because I don’t like the food here in general (it’s never spicy enough for my liking!) nor did I have the culinary skill – the most sophisticated thing I’ve ever made for consumption is probably a sandwich – to cook the things I like from Asian cuisine. The first few days were perhaps the worst, because I’d only bought very basic groceries.  Having three meals a day became a forgotten luxury; I’d usually have bread for brunch and just carrots – on some lucky days, with some tomatoes and walnuts as well – for dinner (See Image B).

Image B: The best dinner I had in my first few days at Maastricht, no joke

It slowly got better – oats, cornflakes, and fruits (see Image C below) began to feature in my meals.

Image C: A typical post-dinner desert after a week or so here. Clearly, I’m not just a chef; I’m an artist.

And then I started actually cooking some simple meals (see Image D below) and going back to three meals a day.

Image D: Evidence of my transformation from no-hoper to a chef extraordinaire

I’ve still got a long way to go before becoming as good as I’d like to be at cooking, but I’d say I’m getting there gradually! If, like me, you’re planning to cook most of your meals here and don’t really have much experience at it, I’d also like to warn you that you might spend a bit more money in the initial phase of this endeavour than you’d expect to. I didn’t, but I saw plenty of my friends having to do it. This expenditure is largely on two things – (1) extra groceries, because some of your trial-and-error experiments in the kitchen are likely to go wrong, and (2) on eating out every now and then when you realise that you can’t rely on your amateur cooking ability for every meal if you’re keen on surviving or staying in decent health. So have some extra cash ready at all times and be willing to spend if needed – money can’t buy you happiness, but it can definitely ensure that you won’t have to end up eating just carrots and tomatoes for your dinner….


 

So that’s all from me for now! In my next post, I’ll probably talk more about the academic life at Maastricht and the environment here in general. Regards till then!

Tanuj

The Start of a New Journey

Hello to the reader,

My name is Erik Sultmanis and I am 20 years of age. I am a Queen’s University student from Canada. For exchange I will be at the SBE (School of Business and Economics) faculty studying brand management and globalization debate in the first period. I became interested in Maastricht University when I learned that it was centrally located in Europe and that it had Problem Based Learning. Before arriving I need to admit that I knew very little about Maastricht. It is amazing how fast you will learn about the culture, meet new friends, and adapt to your new surroundings.

For incoming exchange students my advice is to travel before coming to Maastricht. Depending on the individual reading this blog, I have learned that there are two interpretations of travel. On one hand, there is the North American mindset where we try to visit as many places as possible within a fixed amount of time. Then on the other hand, there is the European mindset where travelling consists of staying in one place for a week or two to fully embrace the culture. I mention this because in two weeks I managed to visit Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Salzburg, Rudesheim, and then arrive at my final destination in Maastricht. I believe that travelling is important because you build an appreciation for how great Maastricht truly is. Small number of tourists and a large student population.

Upon arrival in Maastricht I stayed at the Stayokay for 2 nights before moving into the Guesthouse at 100 Brouwersweg. For exchange students who want to live in residence the key to securing a room is to apply early and pay your deposit. I was told that the C-building is the place to be, however, the Guesthouse is made up of many different buildings and they are all attached to each other. No matter where you end up, accommodations will be pleasant.

At first when I went to look for the Guesthouse I got lost so I highly recommend the pick-up service IESN provides. It was easy, efficient, and you get to start meeting other exchange students. This is where I found the city tours to be great. You learn about the city but most important of all you get to interact with people from all over the world who are in different faculties. It was at one of the dinners at the end of the tour where I met people who are my good friends today. When on exchange I have found that it is possible to strike up a conversation with anybody by just smiling and saying, “Hi,” followed by, “where are you from?”

Being from Canada where bars and clubs are closed by 2:30am, I was surprised to find out that clubs are open until 6am. Not only are they open until 6am but there never seems to be a shortage of parties. For exchange students who are not into clubbing there are plenty of patio bars that are very nice to visit. Two events that I highly recommend are the Summer Memories party and the first Cantus that IESN hosts.

As for student life, it may be cliché, but it is solely up to you to decide how busy you want to be. I played Frisbee with the ultimate team, joined the my-buddy program, and the blogging opportunity. The rest of my time has been spent with friends and exploring the city. What you will learn quite quickly with navigating around Maastricht is that a bike is crucial. This will decrease your travel time immensely and you will be able to experience a part of the Dutch culture. With regards to Maastricht the crime rate is very low but be sure to always lock your bike or else it might not be there when you come back.

The first couple of weeks at Maastricht are a hectic time but they are also the most memorable as it is the start to either a wonderful semester or an amazing year abroad.

Cheers,
Erik Sultmanis

I’m back

Dear reader,

welcome to my new blog! My task is  to let you know what life is like in Maastricht for an exchange student. I will in fact only be here for a semester, but I obviously decided to give away my thoughts in return for a University of Maastricht hoodie. Do you think it is going to be worth it?

By the end of my writing you will probably think I am studying marketing and that this is an assignment in which I had to convince any lost soul that came across my blog to come and study in Maastricht. In that case you would get the reason wrong, but the intention right. I am a student of international economics at the Faculty of economics at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, that was dreaming of studying abroad almost ten years ago, but somehow awakened in the mean time and so had two years of student life in hometown pass me by now. That is how you will be more likely to understand why I came to Maastricht a month before the start of the semester, straight from a three-week trip in Spain and Portugal.

Yeah, yeah, you don’t believe me! I had absolutely no intention of showing this picture of a tourist wandering around School of Business and Economics with a grin from ear to ear to anyone but my worried mother, but since we are talking about a hoodie here … you get the proof.

First look at SBE

Imagine a month old puppy that sees a possible new friend for the first time. I was like that on the 3rd of August this summer. My intention was to settle in my new home, get to know the city, maybe explore the country a bit … just relax and enjoy while the end of holidays slowly approaches.

None of that happened though. Well, it did, in a way, but not in Maastricht. I came to town on Monday and left on Friday! I just woke up that day and got an urge to go home and spend the remaining three weeks with my friends and family. I was actually in a real hurry when searching for a ride home on blablacar (ridesharing website) because I had a plan to crash my brother’s eighteen birthday party (hi, David!) on Saturday. The idea basically came to my mind in the morning and three hours later I was at the train station … Besides, I took care of everything here in Maastricht, the papers, my room and of course the bike. And ooh, it was so fun to lie in ambush for my mother to come through home doors or walking up to my father and brother at the party. You should have seen their faces! Of course I didn’t tell them I was coming, what fun would that be?!

So I came back on the 26th, only a few hours before the introduction days began. Probably the most important thing of those two days was our very first session with problem based learning, Maastricht University’s best characteristic. Since talking is not quite my thing I knew that studying here will be a great opportunity to change that. I am still nervous before the tutorials start but after three weeks, I sometimes even speak without directly being asked. What an achievement!

I will give more information about how I found a room, why did a printer rob me and exactly which color my new gigantic cycling bruise is – in the post to follow.

Take care till next time,

Monika

Pre-Arrival & First Thoughts

Hi guys! I am Carly Kanwisher. I am from Atlanta, Georgia and I am currently a junior at the University of Georgia studying Management and Information Systems. In my spare time I enjoy swimming competitively and reading.
I am really excited to spend the semester in Maastricht and to write about my experiences here. I hope I can give you guys some tips to make your stay better 🙂

Pre-Departure: UM will send you a ton of information to help your prepare for the semester. One thing I can not stress enough- deadlines are very strict here. If you do not sign up for classes by the specific date you cannot take classes. Once you are in them there is also no changing. They design the classes so you have small groups of about 15 and it is impossible to reschedule them.  Be sure to thoroughly research what classes you need and get your home university’s approval before you leave!
Here is a list of a few other things to check out before you leave:

  • Sign up for the ISN pick up service. They will pick you up from the train station when you arrive and drop you off at your residence for free!
  • Plug Converters. Check and see what appliances need just plug converters and which ones also need voltage converters.
  • Look into reserving a room at the Guesthouse early. It is a great way to meet people and it is a great location!
  • Get some of your currency changed to Euros. Once you are here I would highly recommend opening a Dutch bank account, but that takes some time. Also, some international credit cards don’t work here so it is always nice to have the security of cash.
  • Get your travel plans down pat. Book flights early, but don’t forget to also look at what train you are taking from the airport to Maastricht’s station.

Residence Permit: Well, one thing for sure is universal, immigration services suck no matter what country you are in. Applying for a resident permit is a long, expensive process, but there is no way around it. Be sure to start the process at least 3 months before you arrive, it is incredibly tedious. I started my application in June and will not receive my permit until late September.

Arrival: After 10 hours on a plane, 1 layover, and 2 hours on a train I finally arrived in Maastricht. I arrived on Wednesday and had orientation on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday night ISN (a student club that arranges events for international students) had a pub crawl around the city. I would highly recommend that you sign up for as many of the ISN events as possible, but especially the pub crawl. It was so much fun and one of most memorable experiences thus far. (Also, be sure to get a ESN card from the ISN office. ISN has a ton of events you can get in for free/with a discount if you have a card and you get a ton of discounts around town!)

Maastricht: This city is so beautiful. When you get here you will fall in love. It is designed so with separate bike paths from the road so you can easily bike around the entire city. The Meuse River is gorgeous and the architecture here is unlike anything I have seen in the US. Ill stop rambling and let the photos speak for themselves below 🙂

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Introduction week!

Hey everybody!

I’m glad to write to you again, finding some time in this new lifestyle is a challenge.

I arrived two weeks ago in Maastricht: I had barely the time to settle that the arrival week started.
This arrival week was organised by ISN Maastricht, an important exchange student’s association, which prepared various events so that we, students, could meet a lot, a lot and a lot of other students.

Monday, the first day, was the day of discovery, and these questions popped up in my mind: what can we find in this city? what am I doing here? where are we going to go?
I wanted to meet some people, so I decided to go to ISN’s “City tour”.
Within a few seconds of waiting outside to leave for the tour, I started talking with many students from Spain, Germany, Austria, China, United States, etc. And in fact, I never stopped talking with them, and we went on the tour, which was enjoyable, with nice sightseeing of Maastricht.
Then I went to the dinner organised by ISN. It was also a place where I could meet a lot of people, and I ended up joining the “Welcome Drink” to party with my new buddies.

On Tuesday, my floor roommates did a pre-party, and then we went on International Tuesday in the Van Bommel bar, where there were a lot of international students.

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Wednesday was a chill day, I did again the city tour and the dinner, to meet other people. It was lots of fun!

And on thursday, the school introduction began at my nice university: the SBE. I like this brown chocolate color of the school!

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A nice welcome word was presented by Marielle Heijltjes, and we received a warm reception from the SBE staff.

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After that we had some information about laws, PBL, dutch culture, sports, the library, etc. And we did a city tour under the rain (it was my 3rd one…).

The same day, I went to the pub crawl! One of the funniest events I’ve ever been to. You get to go to 8 different bars, and in each bar, you get a drink. The mood was so high, and my group was really cool: I also have new spots where I can find good beers in Maastricht ;-).

And finally on Friday I did a mandatory PBL session, and enjoyed the Welcome Party of the SBE with some delicious kroketten.

I enjoyed a calm night with my roommates, and slept happy of knowing all these people.

Because yes, this exchange is a huge opportunity to meet a lot of people (I’ve meet more than a hundred I think) and to have fun (and in-between studies :-)).

See you!

Diego