#TravelAsMuchAsYouCan

HELLO AGAIN!!!

Today’s post is about traveling!!

Even though I’m from Europe I have never had the opportunity to travel within my own continent, not even to the famous interRail. This happens because the flights from Lisbon are quite expensive. However, this excuse is over if you come to study in Maastricht.

This small and cosy town is near (2h30 by train) Brussels & Amsterdam, 2 huge cities where low cost airlines operate a lot. In addition, you also have the Eindhoven airport even closer and if you prefer to travel by bus, I recommend you to use Flixbus.

Tip1: the best website to search and combine all options to travel within Europe is goeuro.com. It combines plan, bus, train and even bla bla car.

I’ve been to a lot of places since I’m here but I truly recommend you to explore The Netherlands first (specially if you come in a sunny time). You have to explore Maastricht, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Delft, Giethoorn…! Use your free weekends or maybe a free day!

Tip2: you can travel around The Netherlands for 7€ a day (including return). How!? Simple. There are a few groups on facebook like “NS GROUP AMSTERDAM”. If you have further questions about this, comment below and I’ll help you.

After exploring your second home country, Europe is yours. You name it. There are so many flights with affordable prices that is ridiculous. I’ve been to France, Switzerland, Monaco, Belgium, Germany, Prague…!

Tip3: There are some people who love to plan their own trips and do their own things. However, if you are not of these kind of people don’t worry. There are student agencies that care of everything for you. ISN/ESN, Wanderlust or even pm2am – Student Trips are some examples!

Hope I helped you with some useful information.

See you soon,

Patrícia

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The Travelbug

An important part of exchange is, of course, travelling. If you’re in Maastricht, you’re luckily in a very central location – cities like Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, and of course Amsterdam are all within half a day’s train journey at best. Berlin, Zurich, Munich, and Hamburg are just a few hours more.
Exchange classes in Maastricht are pretty forgiving to travel plans. Since you can only take up to two classes per academic period as an exchange student, if you’re smart about it it leaves you with 5 days of the week free (relatively speaking) to travel. If you’re creative (aka crazy) you can take overnight trains to maximize your travel time.
From the perspective of an Indian who’s out of his country for the first time, I would sincerely recommend the following places that are both wonderful, and close to Maastricht-:
Brussels: the capital of Belgium, and the capital of the EU. Take a train from Maastricht to Liege-Guillemins, and on to Brussels in just a matter of about 3 hours. If you love beer, chocolates, waffles, then Brussels is a must visit. If you have the time, go on to the city of Brugges, another 40 mins by train, to see one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium.
Frankfurt: German architecture, wurst, the iron bridge, the cathedral. Frankfurt is a beautiful sample of Germany’s balance between modernity and natural beauty. Not quite 4 hours from Maastricht.
Cologne: Cologne’s cathedral is famous across Europe, and it’s close enough that you can do a quick day trip and hop on back.
Paris: makes for a nice weekend getaway if you’ve had a rough week, just make sure you book the Thalys in advance.
Amsterdam: no comments needed, I’m sure 😉

Make sure you maximize your exchange experience by travelling as much as your calendar, and of course your budget, allows.

Super fun happy times

Hello everyone!

I haven’t had time to write anything for a long time, but this time it was not the workload that held me back but the huge amount of fun I had! 🙂

I was first visited by a good friend from my home university, and we spent some chill days together: we watched films, we talked, and kept stuffing stroopwaffels in our mouths (of course).

Then, after she left, one of my oldest friend from Hungary came to fill her place right away. She stayed for a bit longer so we had the chance not only to discover Maastricht, but to go to Aachen as well (which is a beautiful city and totally worth a visit, btw). We also went to the Winter Vodka Land party, which seemed as a very good decision at the time (free vodka shots), but had its downfalls (let’s just say that cobble stones and bicycles were involved).

After this, I had a few days to relax during which I participated in the Innovator’s Challenge during the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Maastricht. This event caught my interest because this time, the participants had the chance to work with the Forza Fashion House, and well, give me an empty wardrobe and I’ll fill it. But all jokes aside, it was a nice opportunity to try myself out in something I haven’t done before, meet new people, and make some use of the squishy pink thingy taking up the place in my head. Anyway, it was a nice experience and HARD work. After the exact challenge was presented (ideas for a new creative hub in Maastricht for designers and a sales platform), we had a few hours to work on the project, with some short mentoring sessions in between. there was hardly any time for a break and long story short, we were all pretty pooped by the time we presented our ideas. Even though we didn’t win it was a fun thing to do and I would definitely do something like this again, and I advise all of you to keep an eye out for similar challenges.

Then, my parents and my brother visited (which was super great since I haven’t seen them since August and I missed them so much), so naturally I allowed them to spoil me a little bit with a bit of shopping and nice food. 🙂 Also, I mentioned to my mom that I would like het to bring me some type of Hungarian snacks so naturally, I ended up with two big home-made spicy sausages, two types of cakes, salty snacks made by my grandma, some home-made soup sticks, Hungarian paprika for seasoning, a ton of chocolate, and two bags of the snack I asked for. I love my family.

I promise to post about my new courses next week (4 weeks into the period, just in time). By the way, I passed all my exams, I got a mediocre 6.5 for my Strategic Marketing which was disappointing considering the amount of work I put in the course, but then I had a phenomenal 9.5 for Birthing New Ventures and life was good again.

So, thanks for reading and see you next time!

Hortenzia

Café Crawl, or alternatives to the Library

Happy November, and happy early Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans! :^) My time abroad has flown by, and it still hasn’t hit me that I only have one month left. My last blog post was mainly travel-oriented, with a small mention of our Cafe Crawl that I wanted to pick up on for this month’s post.

I previously discovered that Maastricht has the highest café density in the Netherlands, with 1 café for every 350 inhabitants, compared to the 1-per-900 national average. Given a personal obsession with cafe/coffee culture, and mainly an aversion to and an inability to study in my room or at the library (if I am in UM’s library, you know I am in trouble), I have been exploring Maastricht’s cafe scene for alternative study spots.

Some things that I look for in a study spot include: 1) free wifi, 2) caffeinated beverages to keep me going throughout the day, and 3) an attention to aesthetic.

Alley Cat Bikes & Coffee

This cafe is a place I would describe as quintessentially Dutch. Not only do they serve coffee and act as a study space during the day, but they also provide bike repair services and sell bike equipment. As of now, this is the only cafe I have found that serves Matcha Lattes.

The Livin’ Room

After hearing positive opinions about this place from a floormate, some friends and I decided to check this place out. While their drinks are a little bit pricier than places like Coffeelovers, they have smoothie bowls, healthy wraps, an outdoor garden, and comfortable couches in the front if you are lucky enough to grab a spot. Every time I come here, I download Shazam (music listening app) because their entire playlist is amazing and features a lot of Elvis Presley.

Furniture & Cafe

This was a place that I discovered by accident, but this furniture store x cafe gives you a complementary mini-stroopwafel with each beverage that you buy. Their Tea Quiero tea line is delicious as well. While they don’t serve pastries, they have an eclectic mix of furniture styles all over the store.

Teazone

During the warmer months, Teazone opens up its outdoor rooftop lounge, with plenty of comfortable couches and chairs. It also has a designated study room for students, as well as many delicious pastries. Inside, it combines both rustic elements with some quirky, hippie-culture inspired pieces which makes for a fun environment to study or to catch up with friends.

Koffie

Koffie is one of the most popular places for UM students to study. It doubles both a concept/clothing store and as a coffeehouse. Its interior has a very modern, minimalist vibe—almost the opposite of Teazone’s. My friends are very partial to their pastries, and if you are craving more solid food, Koffie and Cato by Cato (a cheap, international deli across the street) supposedly have an agreement where you can bring food from Cato by Cato into Koffie.

Boekhandel Dominicanen

Boekhandel Dominicanen is featured on a Buzzfeed article highlighting “bookstores that will literally change your life.” It is regarded as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, since it is located in a 700-year-old Gothic church. As one of Maastricht’s main tourist attractions, the Coffeelovers cafe inside the bookstore can get crowded, but it still makes for a solid study spot.

SSC Coffeelovers

Located inside the Student Services Centre, this Coffeelovers is usually crowded. While it is not my favorite place for this reason, it is very convenient when going to and from class, since it is very close to the SBE.

UM Sports

During Maastricht University’s Welcome Week, they offered free Try-5 fitness passes to the UM Sports Gym. Although studying at the gym may not sound particularly appealing, they have study spaces on the second floor and a bar/cafe on the first floor which may help make cramming for tutorials go by more quickly.

Deli Belge

While Deli Belge is more of a sandwich/food shop than a cafe, it provides free wifi and some window seating, and is located conveniently across from the SBE building.

Hopefully these cafés were a good starting point for anybody interested in exploring more of Maastricht (or for those who just need a break from the library)!

Until next time,

Caroline (Instagram: @oh.deeeng)

September Blog Post

October Blog Post

 

End of Period 1

Exam week was very different from my exam week at home.  Having only 2 classes to study and prepare for was nice in comparison to the five or six exams I usually take at my home university. However, there was a lot more pressure to do well since a final assignment or exam is a much larger percentage of your grade here. At home, I’m used to having multiple assignments, tests, and projects throughout the semester.

The two classes I took in period 1 were Crisis Management and Finance & Accounting. Crisis management had a final paper but finance had a written exam. The prompt for my final paper was given to us the last day of class and we had a week to complete it. The paper encompassed everything we had learned and read about over the course of the period. I applied all these topics to the assigned case. It took me a while to write.

For finance, my written exam was 80 multiple choice questions. The exam was held at the MECC in a room with hundreds of students and lasted approximately three hours. The exam environment was rather intimidating and the exam proved to be equally as difficult. My one critique of the exam was that the assignments did not prepare us for the test questions. I think the course assignments should have been more applicable to the test questions. I was very happy to have the exam over with. Luckily, I passed the final exam and will not have to re-sit.

Since my exam was the first exam, I was able to travel for the remainder of the week. I traveled to Athens and Santorini, Greece for 5 days. I had to work on my paper while traveling but it was worth it in order to see Greece. In Athens, I was able to see Acropolis and shop along the streets. The Acropolis was incredible to see and learn the rich history behind it.  At night, we were also able to enjoy a rooftop bar and plenty of Greek food. The street food vendors that sold chicken gyros were my favorite. Athens was relatively cheap and had some great souvenir shopping.

In Santorini, we were able to relax and enjoy the beautiful island. Since it was the end of tourist season, we didn’t have to deal with large crowds. My favorite part of Santorini was the hike from Fira to Oia. It took us four hours long but it was incredibly beautiful. We were able to enjoy the sunset in Oia as we grabbed dinner and enjoyed some baklava for dessert. We were also able to take a boat on a day trip to see an active volcano, a hot spring, and end with a sunset in Oia. The hike up to the volcano was manageable and very cool to see. At the hot spring, we had to swim from the boat to get to the hot spring. The water was freezing at first but after we made it to the hot spring it was worth it. The hotel we stayed at was one of my favorite places we stayed. The staff was super friendly and gave us a complimentary meal and bottle of wine. We were very sad to leave.

As the week in Greece ended, we returned back to Maastricht just in time for period 2. I was excited for my new classes to start and for life in Maastricht to be more carefree instead of the intense pressure felt around exam week. Also I was excited to find out that my period 2 courses only had final papers instead of written exams.