It still doesn’t feel like the end. I feel like I still have so much to do here, so many things to learn, so many places to visit, so many adventures to live… And although I’m excited to go back home and see my family and friends, I don’t feel like leaving this amazing city and saying goodbye to this semester quite yet.
However, these few months have taught me so much more than I was expecting, and they have changed me in a way that I can only be thankful for. Now I really understand why people say that an exchange turns you into a different person. For me, these changes happened both in the professional and personal sides:
I feel like the university’s international atmosphere and the PBL system gave me the confidence I needed to start my career. Having to work with people from different cultures and perspectives was a challenge, but it helped me prepare for a real-world company context. Moreover, the PBL system gave me the chance to discuss what I’ve learned instead of just listening to a professor, and it made me realize that I actually like participating and giving my opinion, and that I’m able to do it in a business setting. And having the possibility to argue in english about business subjects helped me to improve my language skills as well. As you might have noticed, I’m a big fan of PBL now. And I really advise you to commit to your classes, even though there are so many other things to think about during exchange – this is a huge opportunity to improve professionally, but it will only work if you really prepare to classes and make the most out of it.
But I think the biggest change I noticed was in how I perceive things and how I actually do them. Not only have I learned some “grown up stuff”, like cooking and grocery shopping, but I also have learned a lot about myself: I now know that I love to ride my bike, to make desserts, to eat kebab, that I want to be more adventurous, that I’m fascinated about other languages (and that dutch is very, very hard – I still can’t pronounce Maastricht correctly), that I like being responsible for myself and that I can do all of that! I can certainly say that I’m not the same Isabelle that arrived here some months ago, I’m an improved version of myself that has learned so much and that still has soooo much to learn! And I’m very excited about that.
I can’t truly express in words what this exchange meant to me, but what I can tell you is that Maastricht is a lovely city that made me feel at home in no time. That Maastricht University is amazing and that it made a big difference in my education. That living in the guesthouse was the best option for me, that it gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing people and to grow up. And, finally, that Europe was awesome as an exchange destination and that I got to visit so many great places and to plan everything, sometimes even the day before the trip.
In this four posts I’ve shared a little bit of my experience here with you. But of course it’s not the same for everyone. The important thing is: keep in mind that you are the one making your exchange. You can have a completely different experience than most exchange students and still have an awesome time, so please consider these stories just as a motivation to make some great memories the way you want to! And I hope you enjoy Maastricht as much as I did (:
Unfortunately, for me, this is goodbye (but just for now). Bye bye, Maastricht, thank you for the amazing times I had here.