CHAPTER ONE: THE FIRST SEASON
Every time we face things for the first time something seems strange. This first period of classes (actually, the 4th period here) for me felt like that. New university. New dorm. New friends. Unfamiliar teachers. Different city. Indeed, everything seems strange when you start your exchange. But I’ve realized, after two months living and studying in Maastricht, that strange does not mean bad. In my case, strange turned out to be the best experience of my life.
CHAPTER TWO: SBE
I’ve been studying at SBE, the School of Business and Economics of Maastricht University. The structure is simple amazing. Not only the classrooms are very well equipped and comfortable, but the university also offers a lot of space to study and prepare for the classes, like the group or individual rooms at the library and the SSC (Students Service Center).
What I really enjoyed is that the university space is also used in periods after classes hosting lectures and debates. I attended to two events hosted by the university. The first one was a LinkedIn lecture, organized by SCOPE, which brought Bert Verdnck, a LinkedIn “expert”, to give us tips and advices about this important social media in our careers. The other event was a student debate, organized by MAAS, which discussed important subjects concerning student’s life with different representatives of political parties in Maastricht’s elections. It was really informative and fun, I could learn more about the election of a different country and understand the problems, obstacles and improvements that local citizens are worried about.
CHAPTER THREE: PBL
For those who don’t know, the majority part of SBE’s classes use the PBL system of teaching. PBL is the Problem-Based Learning method, that aims to engage students to be active learners. And how do they do that? Starting with the numbers of students per class. There are about 12-15 people in each class, that we call “Tutorial Sessions”. In a small group is easier to talk and you can get closer of your classmates and your tutor, letting him/her to help you organize and study.
For each course you have to attend 2 tutorial meetings a week (or 2 meetings and a lecture, depending on the course), each one of 2-hour duration. And how does this “active learning” work? Well, I’ll tell you how it is for the course I’m taking right now, which is Cognition, Learning and Human Performance. We have classes on Monday and Thursday. On Mondays, our tutor leads the class: asking more questions than giving answers for us to reflect, share and discuss the week’s topic. But the learning extends toward the entire week. After Monday’s tutorial we have to read the mandatory literature to fill in a report paper on Wednesdays. On Thursday’s tutorial we discuss the topic again, but now having a lot more background to improve the last debate, and this time, who takes the lead is a group of students. Then, for the weekend, we need to prepare in advance for next Monday’s meeting. And that’s how it is: we engage in discussions in class, which give us even more questions than answers, and we try to fill in these gaps with literature to discuss it again in the next tutorial. So, we really active learn: we seek answers, generate them and we can really talk, share and express our ideas, getting out of our comfort zone, making us learn from our mistakes and improve even more our knowledge, communication and group-working skills.
CHAPTER FOUR: SPRING
It’s now Spring season in Europe (finally!). The cold is almost gone, and we’ll have a short break between the 4th period exams and the beginning of the 5th. It’s a perfect time to visit other places and test my travel-organization skills. I’ll tell you in the next post how it went.
CHAPTER FIVE: LEARNING
This first period made me get out of my box. Getting out of your comfort zone means that you have now entered in another area called: Learning Zone. And what is an exchange all about then? It’s all about learning. Learning how to live own your own. Learning how to be more responsible and have also empathy. Learning how to connect with people and share moments. Learning about yourself. Learning that stranger things can turn out to be the best experience of your life.
ALINE AYUMI TAKARA