Exam week

Hello peeps!

The second period has officially started today!
Before introducing my new courses, however, I would like to write a bit about my exam week.

You could have noticed that while I posted 3 writings in September, I barely made it to 2 this months. This is due to the fact that the amount of workload went steep up in the last weeks, and exams were coming. Think whole days spent with learning, throw in a big pot of coffee and you get the picture.

So I’m not gonna lie, this university sets the bar quite high, the workload is very high at the start, gets even more with time, and it accumulates in silence if you ignore it, so a week before the exam you will get a smaller heart attack upon realizing the height (quite literally, when you print everything out and flood your desk with it) of that sneaky pile! Tbh, I was used to a big workload because my home university also has quite high standards, but for someone who is not used to it and wants a chill exchange with parties all week and missing half of the week due to travelling is Maastricht not the ideal choice.

When you are not accustomed to this system, 8 weeks pass so fast, especially when you have a buttload to do, and then suddenly exams will be held in a week, and then you don’t even know where to start. So, future UM students, try to keep up and prepare for every session, make notes, summaries or overviews, decorate your papers with glittery stickers, whatever works for you, but do it, it helps.

All in all, I must say that even though they want you to do a lot, the exams are quite fair, it is clear what you need to learn and what you don’t, and to which extent. Plus, there are usually a bigger assignment or facilitations within each course which make up a big part of the grade as well, so the exam will have a smaller impact.

I had only one exam in Strategic Marketing, which consisted of a multiple choice and an open end question part. As i mentioned, the tasks were fair, and there was absolutely no time pressure. We had 3 hours to complete the tasks and it took me 2 hours to finish and check it 3 times (and drink 1 liter coffee, because why not). For this course, the exam makes up 40% of the overall grade, alongside with the 40% from facilitations and the 20% from participation.

The other course, Birthing New Ventures required case studies prepared and handed in every week, which count for 20% of the final grade, and the remaining 80% was the essay which I think I already mentioned in one of my posts. We needed to choose a biography about an entrepreneur and reflect and apply the theory on it about which we talked during the sessions. This was a fun work for me, entrepreneurship really got me excited and I was interested do the research, and my chosen entrepreneur, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, was a very exciting case to handle. This was quite all right to handle with the given literature, and the online university library is also a very big help when it comes to researching papers.

Sadly I had very little time to relax, and I also got sick which is why this post is more informative and less funny, but I will work on that next time when stuff stops running out of my nose.

Until next time!
Hortenzia

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The Maastricht University experience

In my last blog, I promised to dedicate my next post to the university experience, and here it follows. In one way, Maastricht University is unlike any other educational institution I have seen: there is no real, central campus. The university is spread out throughout the city, in little pockets of varying sizes. The pockets range from the School of Business and Economics on Tongersestraat to a small building next to a canal and a deer reserve, to (what I think is) the music building perched on a bridge over another little canal. Traversing what is essentially a university town, one cannot help but be aware of the sense of vitality in the place. As I mentioned in my previous post, the Dutch are generally a happy bunch of people. Throw in a few thousand students milling around the city, and Maastricht becomes the place to be, whether morning, evening or night.
The University follows the PBL or Problem Based Learning method. Essentially, each class is divided into small groups of about 15 people that are presided over by a mentor. There is a pre-discussion for each topic, where the students set their learning goals, and then the post-discussion, in which we come prepared after going over the prescribed readings. The system does great credit to the fundamentals of agenda setting, time management, independent thought, and rational discussion. The mentor simply guides the discussion and course corrects on occasion, leaving the lion’s share of talking to the students. While I am familiar with a similar system from my home university, the PBL system is more intimate and allows for deeper discussions. Some of my best learnings here so far have been not from the readings themselves, but from the perspectives that my classmates bring.
On the topic of classmates, Maastricht University is one of the most internationalized places I have seen. My own class has German, Swedish, Dutch, Peruvian, Spanish, and Australian students. Naturally, the varied backgrounds and cultural perspectives they bring to the discussion are thought provoking to say the least. This diverse mix is, in the words of their Rector, one of the greatest aspects of the university, and truly, for an international student it is a wonderful experience to meet people from all over the world and discuss topics of common interest with them.
To any exchange student, the experience of Maastricht University is the perfect combination of stimulating and peaceful: start with walking the cobblestone streets of Vrithof Square in the morning to college. Enter one of the university buildings with their stained glass painted windows, airy halls, and little garden squares. Attend a PBL session with people from across the globe, and let the ideas flow. After class, go to one of the squares with their outdoor seating cafes, or the street market and its food stalls. Visit one of the numerous pubs in the city, and chill with the other students. At night, walk along the banks of the Maas and enjoy the view, before shutting your door to the sounds of laughter in the city.

Belgium, Germany, and of course, the Netherlands

Hi everyone! Last time we spoke, I talked about my first impressions of Maastricht, the university, and some of my travels through Amsterdam and Holland. Currently, I am writing to you in the midst of exam week, which, fortunately, has not been as stressful as I thought it would be. A group of my friends and I have been studying (and eating) our way through Maastricht by doing what we dubbed a “Cafe Crawl.” Apparently, Maastricht has the highest café density in the Netherlands, with 1 café for every 350 inhabitants, compared to 1 per 900 on average.

 

Cake Club studying for Strategic Marketing @ the Livin’ Room Cafe

I can’t believe that Period 1 is already coming to an end, and thinking back, it has been a very packed month, with personal adventures throughout Belgium, Germany, and of course, the Netherlands.


SCOPE Economics Day Trip to Brussels – 28.09

Hemicycle at the Brussels European Parliament

Earlier in September, SCOPE Economics hosted a day trip to Brussels, where we got to visit the European Parliament and the European Council. Politics had previously been a topic I was wary of discussing, but in light of the US election and after learning more about European politics, I’ve been taking more steps to become more educated about both government at home and around the world.


Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a must-do for everyone at least once in his or her lifetime. As someone who did not start out as a huge fan of beer, I found myself loving German beer within a few hours. The combination of beer liters, gigantic salty pretzels, bratwurst, and Bavarian music created an atmosphere that can’t be recreated anywhere else.

Outside the Schottenhamel tent


Cantus

In case you haven’t noticed, Europeans love beer, and the Dutch are no exception. Since Welcome Week, everyone had been raving about something called “Cantus.” The closest analogy to describe Cantus would be a huge Karaoke party, where everyone sings along to traditional Dutch and English songs and drinks beer. I started out the evening very apprehensive, but eventually got more comfortable belting out the lyrics to ABBA’s Dancing Queen along with the other 150+ people there with the assistance of unlimited beers.


Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp

Two weeks ago, I made a spontaneous solo trip to the Flanders region of Belgium. Maastricht lies right on the border of Belgium, which makes it extremely easy to travel—I was in Bruges in 4 hours by train ride! Bruges is the capital of West Flanders, and is basically the backdrop for a medieval fairytale. Known as the Venice of the North, Bruges is filled with historic churches and towers, intricate canals, and unconventional architecture.

The most photographed spot in Bruges

Bruges’ Markt

After spending a day in Bruges, I made my way to Ghent, which is known for its Gothic architecture and its street art. Street art is a personal passion of mine, so at the hostel, I picked up a self-guided graffiti art tour and chose to explore the city that way.

Canals of Ghent

Ghent’s Werregarenstraat

I almost skipped Antwerp because some Belgian natives I spoke to in Bruges told me that it “was more of a working city, but Bruges and Ghent were more beautiful.” It goes without saying that I am glad I didn’t take their advice. The moment I stepped off the train, I was amazed by how beautiful the train station was. The first aspect of the city that struck me was the size and scale of the architecture and buildings in comparison to the coziness of Ghent and Bruges. The streets were a mix of both the modern and traditional, and the number of people rushing around the city reminded me of Manhattan.

Antwerp Central Station


The Hague and Rotterdam

ISN’s Discover Holland trip whet my appetite to explore more of the Holland provinces, so we decided to make a weekend trip to The Hague and Rotterdam. Home to many international courts, The Hague is known as the “judicial capital of the world.” Since all of the friends that I went with happened to be UM Law students, we made sure to visit all the important government buildings, such as the International Court of Justice and the Binnenhof.

Wandering around The Hague

After our day in The Hague, I met up with Jessica, one of my closest friends from NYU, in Rotterdam. She also studying abroad through our business school’s exchange program at Bocconi University in Milan! Jessica has a way with sparking deeper conversations with people, and we had a 4-hour conversation about our experiences abroad, what it means to be a global citizen, and representing America abroad while not feeling completely American ourselves.

This month has passed by so quickly, and I’ve begun to think of Maastricht more and more as home. Wish me luck on exams, and until next time,

Caroline (Instagram: @oh.deeeng)

#StudyHardPartyHarder

Olá a todos de novo!! (Hello everyone, again!!)

We are in the middle of my experience. 2 months have passed and still 2 months to go.

This month I’m going to talk about the university PBL system and my courses.

The Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving an open-ended problem. Students learn both thinking strategies and domain knowledge. It is like a debate where everyone needs to give their unique input on the subject. It is important to highlight the three roles that a student can have. The first one is the secretary, where the individual needs to write down the main ideas/topics that were discussed during the whole class so that later he/she can upload into the “discussion board” with the rest of the class (from my experience I never did nor saw this role in classes). The second role, discussion leader, a really important task, where the student needs to lead the class for the entire tutorial, he needs to pay attention to who is speaking and who is not, ask relevant and pertinent questions about the subject in study. Finally, the third and last role is called facilitation – can be individual or in groups – that basically means that you need to present the topic with a powerpoint/prezi to support your ideas and do interactive activities with your group.

As I said before, I’m taking Strategic Marketing and Supporting Professional Development & Human Performance and luckily I had such a different experience with this two courses that I can tell you about.

tip1: Before choosing your courses make sure that you read very carefully the course manual and the tools for evaluation. It is really clear and with that you can be aware of how much work and effort you need to put into the course.

On one hand, in my strategic marketing course I had to facilitate and and simultaneously, perform the role of discussion leader. Period 1 has approximately 12 weeks and during the first two weeks, and the final week, there was a discussion leader who provided an agenda for the tutorial and led it the whole time. I had to facilitate twice, it was quite a challenge since I had a big group (4 people) which I have never spoken to before. In this specific course, there is always a chapter, an article and a case in the book, so in the facilitation we had to incorporate and articulate all these 3 together in a fluent and useful presentation.

On the other hand, in the SPD&HP course I only had to facilitate once. There was no discussion leaders nor secretaries. This was my favorite course since it had two different parts. The first one was PBL system and the second was Project Stage. The PBL system lasted 4 weeks and in these 4 weeks I had to facilitate once and to deliver a single page assignment every week. Whereas, in the second part I got the opportunity to go to a real HR company within The Netherlands and see in real life situations what I learnt in the tutorials. In the end I had to deliver a final report as my exam. It was really really interesting!!

I think I covered the main aspects of PBL and my courses. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask 😉

Ps: After studying this hard, parties and trips will feel even better!!

Follow me on instagram for more daily updates: https://www.instagram.com/titacostasantos/

 

 

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End of Period 1

Yesterday, i had my last lesson for Period 1 and i can’t believe how fast the last 2 months have gone. In just another week i’ll be done with my first exam in Maastricht and Period 2 will be starting.

Well that aside, i’ve realised over the last 2 weeks that i’ve managed to travel to quite a number of places around Europe but i haven’t really explored the Netherlands. Given that i can’t travel out of the Netherlands as much next semester, i’ve decided that i’m going to make more day trips to see the different places in the Netherlands itself. I’ve recently found about the De Hoge Veluwe National Park and i’m planning to make a trip there after the exam.

Will update the blog with pictures when i’m back 🙂

Weekend Travels

While classes have required a lot of work outside the classroom, I have still managed to travel a lot and see new places. I dedicate my time during the week to school work and I enjoy my travels on the weekends. However, I’m usually busy preparing for tutorials on the plane and train rides.

Some of my favorite trips have been to Denmark, Germany, and Italy.

One of the first trips I took was to Copenhagen. We took a train from Maastricht to Eindhoven and flew directly to Copenhagen. My friend and I visited for the weekend and stayed in Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. This hostel had a bar attached so it was a great way to meet other travelers. While in Copenhagen, we enjoyed a canal tour that showed up some of the most famous spots including the Little Mermaid statue, the opera house, and Christiana. After our canal tour, we walked to Nyhavn and saw the picturesque colorful houses with restaurants lining the water. After enjoying the views, we headed off to Carlsberg Brewery where we received a beer tasting and a brewery tour. We even got to try beer ice cream. Then, we headed off to Tivoli Gardens, one of the most popular sites in Copenhagen. It is a beautiful amusement park that is only open certain months of the year so try and visit in the warmer months. On Sunday, we walked around Christiana, an autonomous nation in Copenhagen. We found it very interesting to hear about their nation’s story. My least favorite part of the trip was how expensive the city is but for a short weekend, it wasn’t too bad. My favorite part of the trip was the city’s welcoming atmosphere and walking around Nyhavn.

Another favorite trip of mine was to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. When telling people back home that you are studying in Europe in the fall, it is expected that you will spend at least one weekend at Oktoberfest. To prepare for Oktoberfest, you must get a dirndl and be prepared to spend a lot of money on large liters of beer. On our first day, we arrived to the Hofbrau tent around 12pm and luckily did not have to wait in line to get in. As we walked in, drinking songs were being sung my people of all nationalities. The crowded tents and the mass amounts of people just added to the atmosphere. After a long day, the beers start to weigh you down and you cannot forget to eat! Enjoy a nice bratwurst or some schnitzel. At night, we were able to go out into the city and see more of Munich. The next day, we were off to a slow start and didn’t arrive until 11am. Unfortunately, there were lines and we had to pay extra for our beers for the waitresses to let us inside the tent. Once we got it, the same familiar, fun atmosphere was present. My favorite part of the weekend was to introduce friends from my home university to the friends I’ve made at Maastricht. I think everyone would agree that they could spend multiple days at Oktoberfest, they would just need some rest days in between.

My most recent trip was to Rome and Florence. In Rome, I was blown away by the history on every street corner. When walking around, you had to look up to make sure you didn’t miss a thing. Before you know it, you’re walking through the Roman Forum and seeing the Colosseum. While there, I got a guided Colosseum tour and a guided Vatican Museum tour. It was helpful to hear the ancient history behind both. Seeing the Sistine Chapel has always been a bucket list item of mine. After two nights in Rome, we hopped on a train to Florence. We were able to do a Tuscany wine tour for a full day and become wine experts. I enjoyed copious amounts of homemade pasta and Chianti wines. I will never taste a wine the same way again. Florence was also chalk full of history with the Duomo and Michelangelo’s David statue . I was amazed by the pure size of the David statue. My friends and I also climbed the steps to the top of the Duomo which provided us with an amazing view of the city. My favorite part of Italy was the amazing Italian food and historic tourist hot spots.

As finals week is approaching, I’m fortunate enough to have traveled as much as I have but I will need to focus on my studies for now. I’m looking forward to my trip to Greece after my finance exam!