Bungee Jumping and Christmas Markets

Drinking Glühwein at Cologne’s Christmas Market

We’re down to the last month, and as I enter my final few weeks in Europe, I can’t help but feel bittersweet about returning to the US. During our Introduction Days, Philip Vergauwen, the Dean of SBE, discussed the diversity of the student body and Maastricht University’s commitment to creating an international community. After 3½ months here, I’ve found his words to be true, and I’ve been very lucky to meet many people from all over the world.

Some of the people who came to our Thanksgiving Potluck

Thanksgiving, one of my favorite American holidays, was on November 24th this year. The first one was celebrated in October 1621, and was celebrated by both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans after their first harvest. Now, it is a holiday to give thanks and enjoy a delicious dinner with others. My floor thought it would be a great idea to introduce this celebration to our European friends, so each of us invited a few friends to join us for a Thanksgiving potluck. The turnout was much larger than expected (~30 people), and as a result, all of us had a lot of leftovers to sustain us for the next few days.

Dumpling making party

As a part of ISN’s Social Dinners program, my group members and I took turns sharing traditional dinners from our respective families. Previously, we went to our Dutch friend’s house, who served us Dutch pannekoekens with stroopwafel ice cream! :9 For my turn, I invited them over to the Guesthouse to make dumplings from scratch and watch Christmas movies. Although we had a few accidents in the beginning, our dumplings still came out well!

Post-bungee jumping in the Hague

Our next adventure was taking the train up north to the Hague to bungee jump off of Scheveningen Pier! My go-to fun fact is that I’ve bungee jumped 33 times, so this getaway made it #34! We got to the beach at around 5 PM, so we were able to leap off the pier during sunset. To celebrate our adrenaline-filled evenings, our friend introduced us to Oliebollen, which is now my new favorite Dutch pastry.

Christmas Markets

Maastricht

Magisch Maastricht

During the month of December, Maastricht’s Vrijthof transforms into a festive bazaar where you can go ice skating, ride the Ferris wheel, or explore the many souvenir or food booths in the center. ISN held an ice skating event there, and we got 3 tickets for drinks to spend as we wanted. It’s been a while since any of us ice skated, so we wiped out consecutively within the first 10 minutes. Despite these initial incidents, we eventually became somewhat more coordinated by the end of the night.

ISN Ice Skating

Cologne and Aachen

Glühwein is always more enjoyable with friends

Yesterday, my friends and I went to the Christmas markets in Cologne and Aachen, a must-see if you are in Maastricht during the holiday season. Personally, I used this excursion as an excuse to drink glühwein, try as many delicious foods as I could, and shop for Christmas presents. Since we had two Germans in our group, we were able to try all the best foods in both cities! :^)

Something delicious with a dark chocolate drizzle

I was surprised to find out that Cologne had six Christmas markets, and we explored five of them before heading to Aachen for dinner. My favorite one was the “Markt der Engel,” or Angel Christmas Market, because of how beautiful the lights looked after sundown. 

Markt der Engel

In the 4 months that I’ve been here, I’ve travelled to 9 countries and 28 cities, and I’ve made some friendships that I know will last, even if we are in different countries or continents. Thank you, Maastricht University, for one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.

Hope to see you again soon,

Caroline (Instagram: @oh.deeeng)

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The Last One

Hello everyone!

This time I will be writing about the courses I am taking during the second period at SBE. The 7th week starts tomorrow, so I can share quite a lot with you guys.

This period was busier, partly because I managed to pick some courses where the workload is quite a lot, and party because I had many visitors in the last few weeks and I just couldn’t focus on university as much as I wanted to. Plus, I started my own blow (find me on Facebook under Makeuphoarderdiaries!), so I put my time and effort in that one, rather than the SBE blog (sorry!).

First, I will talk about Marketing Management. It is a 2nd year course here, and I had some difficulties with my home university till they accepted my choice (I’m in my 3rd year). Since I knew that the uni here is demanding, I thought that picking marketing (which I already had back in Mannheim) would be a piece of cake, and so did the administration, and boy we couldn’t have been more wrong about this.

True, we learn about the basics of marketing but we also do it through case studies, which is very far from the method my home uni uses, but we have this big market research project going on. On the 1st week, 6 companies from Maastricht and the nearby area presented themselves and the posed some challenges for us to solve. We were assigned in teams and then to companies, and had to come up with a problem statement, research questions, and hypothesizes to test based on the company’s intents. Then we needed to make a questionnaire and after at least 100 responses we gathered to evaluate the responses with some statistical tools in the SPSS program (which was just as dreadful as it sounds), write a report, which we just uploaded a few hours ago, and tomorrow we are going to present our findings.

We still have attendance, participation, and a written exam at the end of the period next to the research project. This course is very practical, but a lot of work and effort (we already had two deadlines on the second week, come on!). I am the only exchange student in my tutorial group meaning I was one of the few brave people who dared to take the challenge.

Anyway, by the end of the period, I like it better than my other course. This one starts out with a big explosion and you have to really put in some work to keep up, but calms down as exams approach.

My biggest stress factor is actually the fact that I have another very big project going on parallel to this with my other course, and the deadlines fall to the same time period for both, so it’s really just an enormous amount of work that I have to deal with right now. OH, did I mention that exams are in one week? Casual.

My second course is Brand Management, which I liked far more than Marketing Management AT FIRST, but then this dreadful project happened, which is just a complete mess. Anyway, this course is obviously about branding approaches, their history, application, pros and cons, managerial implications, etc. The subject itself is intriguing, and it was quite all right.

Then, we had to go to a movie and write a report based on a chosen product placement which was in it and its ethical implications. It was a short assignment, and the movie was a good one (Skyfall), but it only gives us 5% of the full grade and took a few hours to complete, so I think at least a 10% would have been more fair.

On top of that, we go a really awkward branding challenge to complete: a pension awareness project. PENSION. That’s not even branding! We had a looong challenge manual, plus something else about it in the actual course manual, plus some e-mails and announcements concerning some questions or problems with the challenge. So, all in all, it was pretty hard to filter out the really relevant information, our task was not exactly clear, and I got the impression that it was no different for out guiding tutor. Even more stupid is the fact that we only had a consultation with her two times, fifteen minutes each. The first consultation was at the very beginning, when we didn’t have a lot to show yet, but we got reassurance that we are on the right track. Then, the second consultation, one week before the final event, the tutor changed her mind about a lot of things and told us that what we did was not really useful. So, we spent days to re-create the whole thing, so close to the exams, wrote the report, and tomorrow we need to participate in this big event, where we have a promotional stand with flyers and posters and whatsoever, pitching our idea a few times over something like 5 hours.

The challenge in itself was a nice idea, but just the lack of clear guidance and the weird allocation of the consulting sessions made this a lot harder than it should have been. So I hope they reorganize the architecture of the challenge by next year and improve the process.

The workload was easier to manage with the new Gilmore Girls episodes airing in November. Who else has seen it three time already as well??? J

In less than two weeks, I am flying home for Christmas. I cannot believe how fast these few months have passed! I really enjoyed my time here, the uni is very hard and demanding but it really made me speed up and kept me energetic.

I engaged in a lot of activities here, the language course was fun (mostly because I speak German very well, that way it’s a piece of cake), LaunchBase is still going strong and I just love the little community there, and Maastricht is truly a beautiful and nice place to live. In January I will come back for a few more weeks, so it’s not the ultimate goodbye for me, and hopefully I get accepted for my Master studies here and can continue this energetic, busy way of living and learning.

But, for the blogging part, this will, sadly, be my last post. I really enjoyed this task, it was fun, and creative, and inspired me a bit to finally get started with my own blog. It was nice to reflect back on everything that happened over the last few months, I had an amazing time, made some amazing friends, had a lot of fun, and now it’s time for somebody else to experience the same.

I wish you all wonderful Holidays and a successful exam period!
Hortenzia

2 weeks left

Feeling a little bittersweet that we’re almost at the end of the semester. Can’t believe its just another 2 weeks till my last paper and i’ll be leaving Maastricht! Just when i’m starting to feel this is home, i feel like its time to leave 😦 Nevertheless, will be making the most of my last 2 weeks here. Top on my list is the christmas market in Maastricht. The Maastricht Christmas Markets are open and they look really pretty!!! They even have a mini ice rink and a Ferris Wheel!!! And i’m also looking forward to visiting one of the parks in the city. Some friends mentioned to me that there were some animals being kept there (i hear there is even a goat)! I haven’t really had a chance to visit it just yet, but will definitely make my way down soon enough!!

This small city has somehow become very much like my second home. So many things about this experience that i’m going to miss but i’ll leave the reminiscing for when i actually do leave.

 

 

#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

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