Heya there! It does not matter whether you are currently studying at Maastricht University or whether you are thinking of coming here in the future as an exchange student, everyone is welcome to read my short blog about my experiences at the university and Maastricht/the Netherlands overall. And I really hope that you will enjoy the ride with me 🙂
First things first, let me introduce myself and tell you the story behind my decision about going on exchange. My name is Nastia and I am doing my Masters degree at the Copenhagen Business School with a specialization in Intercultural Marketing. However, Denmark is not my country of origin as you could probably tell from my full name. I was born in Moscow, but I still consider myself an Estonian as I spent 10 years of my life there. I also finished my secondary and high school, and got my Bachelor degree in Tallinn. Plus, I have an Estonian nationality. Nevertheless, there is once again a twist here – I spent most of my childhood in Amsterdam. And to be more precise, it was from age 4 to 9,5. Furthermore, I lived one year in Brussels when I was 2 years old (and yeah, I do not remember anything about that) and 3 years in Berlin where I worked before doing the Masters degree.
As you can see, I moved a lot during my life and it is really hard to answer the question: Where are you from? To be honest, I will ask you first whether you want the short or the long version of my story. In the end, I am a mixture of all these cultures and as I am a big fan of Japan, then that culture also plays a part in me. And some of you are probably thinking why did I choose to go on exchange and why the Netherlands if I already have spent here my childhood. Well, tough question or maybe not? I always told myself that I will never go on Eramus exchange (never say never) but here I am. Probably one of the reasons was that it was the last chance of having this opportunity and the second might be that already during October last year I felt that I wanted to go back to the Netherlands. I guess, my nostalgia hit me really hard there. And when they had in Netto (a grocery shop in Copenhagen) Chocomel for 1 week in February, this was when it really struck me that I have the chance of going back there while being a student.
I had only 4 days left to apply and of course a lot of universities were already taken. I spent a few hours deciding between different Dutch universities and finally put Maastricht as my number one choice due to the PBL system (more about that later when I start studying). After that I had some application procedures and when that was finished, I also reserved a room through maastrichthousing.com website. It is true, that the prices are higher than when searching for rooms through FB but at that point I thought it would be nice to experience also the guest house atmosphere. And it is much easier to choose quickly a room if you really like it as the process of booking is very simple.
Now let us fast forward the time a little bit. I did not arrive to Maastricht immediately (in fact I will arrive there tomorrow). Instead, I decided to spend almost the whole August in Amsterdam and get some things done as I will come back later here to write my master thesis. During this month, I visited some of my childhood places like the Rivierenbuurt (where my school was located), Amstelpark (where I used to play minigolf and just hang out with my schoolmates) and of course the city centre. I also visited a lot of shopping centres such as Gelderlandplein and Amstelveen Shopping Mall to see what has changed and where which shops are located. In the beginning of August, whilst visiting the city centre, I also went to the cinema called Pathé. I wanted to see Mission Impossible: Fallout and lucky me, it had only started 5 minutes ago (which meant they only started showing the ads). Without hesitation I bought the ticket without looking that it was a 4D IMAX experience thus explaining the fact why the ticket was so extremely expensive. I got to the correct cinema hall and when I finally sat down, it showed that you have to put on your 3D glasses and all of sudden it got really windy and water dropped from above and the chair started moving. I was really shocked at the first moment but then I got accustomed to it (especially the feeling of being punched behind!). To tell you the truth, it was fun but I am not sure I would want to see movies in 4D in the future. It actually distracts a little bit from watching.
The Anne Frank Montessori School where I spent five years of my primary education.
Also, get an OV card as soon as you come here (does not matter which city) as you can travel with that anywhere you want to but you need to have at least 20 euros if you go by train to another city within the Netherlands. With the OV card, I made a trip to Scheveningen in Den Haag on a beautiful Saturday morning and spent there a whole day near the beach and later walking along the shore until it got somehow really cold around 17:00. In one cafeteria I ate Poffertjes – one of the traditional treats in the Netherlands. They taste like pancakes and who says no to that? Well, definitely not me 😉
I also managed to go to Rotterdam to meet a friend from my childhood. First I made a tour by myself in the city centre as she was still working. But when we met, we had some nice time eating Ramen and a Japanese dessert. At the end of August we managed to meet again but this time in Leiden.
Well, this is it for my first post. August was fine and relaxing but now it is slowly the time to get into the study mood. As of tomorrow I will be in Maastricht and I will write more about how it goes there in a few weeks 🙂 Hope you enjoyed the post and did not feel too hungry at the end 😉