Ten months ago, when I selected Maastricht University in my exchange application, I could scarcely have imagined how the journey would turn out. I had expected Maastricht would be just another modern town, with a stale old university campus, students running around like in any other institute of learning, boring lectures and endless assignments.
I did not for one second know of the beauty of this little town. How the sun would sparkle on the Maas at dusk and dawn and transform the area into a scene straight out of Eden. How even the humblest of university buildings or train stations would have stunning, kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows that would leave an unprepared visitor awestruck.
I did not know that here, students and mentors stood together almost as equals, each guiding the other to be better, do better. Where the act of learning was not a transfer from one party to another, but a self-powering cycle
I was unaware of how neither lectures nor assignments would be boring, but (for the most part), challenging and stimulating and would force me to broaden my perspectives. I had no idea that I’d be sitting in a room of 15 people from 12 different countries, each with a perspectives so completely unlike any that I could have conceived of.
I did not know that we, a gaggle of guests spending barely a semester with you, would be greeted with such warmth. That parties would be held in our honor, that we’d be folded into the daily life of the University as family, and that we’d be given gifts on your festivals.
But my stay here has been a reminder of how surprises are not always unpleasant, lectures not always boring, cities not always loud and crowded, universities not always grey and daunting.
Thank you for the welcome and the hospitality, Maastricht. It is with regret that I must bid you adieu, and it is with certainty that I say I will be back, for your stroopwaffels and your beer if nothing else 🙂
There is a quote on farewells in my language, that I leave here with its translation-:
“Alvida nahi kehte, kehte hain phir milenge.”
For we do not say goodbye, we say rather that we will meet again.