In this blog, you will discover why is the fall semester the best time to come to Maastricht and some inside tips to know before you arrive!

First impressions 

First of all, let me introduce myself! I am from France, 22 years old, and am normally studying at emlyon for an MSc in Management. 🤓 I have decided to do my exchange programme at the University of Maastricht because it is said to be the 2nd best university in the Netherlands, 5th best under 50 year old university worldwide, and the city is well-known for its student life ! 🍻

I must confess that these first days have impressed me and gone beyond my expectations! The city is cute! For these of you who know Lyon for example it is quite comparable. Before arriving, I thought Maastricht would be a red brick and depressing city from the North … In fact it’s not!! On the contrary, the city centre is bright, with a nice architecture and airy thanks to lots of shops and their vitrines. 💫 Just to give you an idea, Germans and Belgians from the border come to shop and escape in Maastricht on the weekend! If you do not have the chance to study at the University of Maastricht I can only recommend you to come and visit the city at least for a weekend!! 🎉

Let me tell you why the fall semester is a wise choice!

The fall semester is sequenced by many events, which will enrich your study and cultural life!

First of all, at this time of the year the Netherlands have a lot of holidays succeeding!! For example, I was told that March begins with the Carnival, which is said to be delirious. 🎭 Then you have the European Fine Art Fair animating the city for a whole week with merchants from all around the world! Not to mention that there will also be the Easter holidays. And at the end of April, the Dutch celebrate their famous King Day!! So you’ve understood, the fall semester promises an amazing time in Maastricht! 🔥

On the student level, Maastricht University organize a Study Abroad Fair in March, which is the occasion to discover new universities around the world and meet new interesting people! 🎓 In addition, the career week at the SBE takes place in March. It’s basically a networking and information week that can be very useful to kick start your career! For example this year we will find representatives from the number one bank in the Netherlands ING bank, and also from Procter and Gamble, Amazon and EY among others ! 🚀

Useful tips and study hacks!

Tip #1 : If you are the party type or feel to meet new people, you’ll definitely use the ESN card. It’s a card sold by the international student office which costs around 20 euros and give you unbeatable discounts on many events, such as pub entrance, international parties and travels to discover Europe. You will easily earn your 20 euros back!! 💵

Tip #2: Contrary to the common wisdom, bike is not necessarily a vital tool. T he bus is expensive. But wait till you’re installed in Maastricht and analyse if you need a bike. For example I go to school by foot, it’s only a twenty-minute walk. 🕺🏼 Also buying a second hand bike is not always the best solution, considering that it can get stolen and you’ll have to buy a locker. Instead have a look at the “Swapfiets” website. This company allows you to rent a bike for 12 euros per month and replace it if it gets broken for example. Keep also in mind that bikes are not allowed in the city centre during opening hours in the day (around 10:00 till 18:00). 🚴

Tip #3: If you want to be part of a sport team of the University of Maastricht, there are a lot of opportunities! ⚽️ For instance the football teams are looking for new girl and guy players! Just give it a try and maybe you’ll be accepted in the official teams!

Tip #4: There is an official bookstore for students of the SBE, which sells the books required for your course of the period. The bookstore is called the “Studystore” and is located in front of the SBE. 📚 You may also check the Facebook groups for second hand books. It might be a helpful solution for your financings. Also check out that website where students upload their course summaries and corrected exercises! The latter is named “Studydrive”! 👀

Tip #5: Keep in mind that not all store accepts credit cards. They allow sometimes only maestro card and cash. Even the supermarket may ban you from using a visa credit card. ‼️

Why am I so excited about the coming days!

I am happily surprised to see how many international students I have already met! 🤗 In less than a week I can’t even count how many new people from all around the world I’ve met. You’ll run into students from the US, Singapore, Italy, Turkey, Scotland, China, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden etc. Maastricht University counts more than 50% of students from 100+ countries and you can feel it! That has really impressed me so far. 🌍

Also the global reputation of the University of Maastricht seems particularly laudatory. 🇳🇱 It’s partly due to the innovative teaching system, which stimulates cooperation, interaction and self-study. I am really curious to see how the Problem-Based Learning system will motivate me and bring me new knowledge! 🔥

PS: we’ve learned in the opening session that the Dutch people is particularly egalitarian. Have a look at this traffic light!! 😍

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It’s A Wrap

Hi, it’s me again. Can’t believe it’s December and that I am leaving the Netherlands in less than 2 weeks. It feels so surreal that my exchange is coming to an end! Before studying for my Management final and saying goodbye to my friends here in Maastricht, I went to Poland with my friend Janice for our last trip together in Europe.

I had always wanted to visit Poland. It’s not a very popular destination for many tourists, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to go to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and learn about the history that impacted millions of people. It was disturbing to see things like the gigantic mass of hair that was shaved from the prisoners’ heads and to learn that the brutal images displayed in the museum were merely a tip of the iceberg. Nonetheless, I think it is so important that we look back at this part of the history, and remember and learn from the lessons it teaches.

On a lighter note, we did an underground salt mine tour in Poland that was incredibly fun and interactive. We took the miner’s route to experience what it’s like to be a miner instead of the visitor’s route, which shows tourists some amazing sites (like a beautiful church) built inside the salt mine. We changed to the uniform and put on the gear before going in. Only 4 people including the 2 of us were in our group, so it was so easy to ask questions and talk to our guide. From time to time our guide would give us simple and fun tasks: cutting wood with a saw, braiding a rope with a machine, finding maps and guiding the group to the next site, etc. It was super interesting and definitely something you can’t experience elsewhere, haha. We also saw a beautiful chandelier made out of salt. At the end of the tour, we even got a certificate to show off our “hard work” underground! I recommend anyone to try this salt mine tour.IMG_5245

After that, we followed a free walking tour to explore Warsaw but it was so cold to be outside and we couldn’t really pay attention to the guide while trying not to freeze to death. Then we had lunch at the famous chain, Zapiecek, to try traditional Polish dumplings and sour rye soup. I also got their house special- pork knuckle. Everything was delicious and very reasonably priced. Would definitely want to go again the next time I go to Poland.

And then we are back in Maastricht. My 8:30 am PBL has been fairly interesting, though I would for sure enjoy it a lot more if it was after 9 am, LOL. My exam is in 9 days, but most of my attention has been focusing on my Christmas trip to Portugal and Spain that is happening after finals. My friend from Hong Kong is coming to the Netherlands and we are spending Christmas together in Europe. It’s going to be the first time for both of us so I’m extremely excited.

If anyone reads to this point, I am so happy and (proud of you HAH) thank you for reading! Sadly this is my last blog here, but I will continue posting on my travel Instagram (@hollandayssophie) if anyone is slightly interested in seeing how spending Christmas in Portugal is like. For future exchange students coming to Maastricht, you won’t regret it and I wish you have an amazing experience!IMG_5253

 

So long, farewell

Dear readers,

It feels like just a couple weeks ago I was sitting at the airport wondering what the next four months of my life were going to be like and now it’s over. I’m excited to be back home in a couple weeks, but I’m lucky to have met so many wonderful people that have made Maastricht my home away from home.

A few weeks ago, my hall celebrated Thanksgiving. It was definitely one of my favorite days here. We cooked and decorated our kitchen for the holidays. The food was amazing, but the company was even better. Next week our hall is planning on having a Christmas dinner. It will be bittersweet since most of us are leaving for home in two weeks.

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Thanksgiving Dinner

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Since the last time I wrote I have been traveling to Brussels, Luxembourg and this weekend I was in Madrid visiting some friends from home. Madrid was my final trip of the semester, as I leave for home in a couple of weeks and have to study for my exams.  I loved eating chocolate and waffles in Brussels. Luxembourg was beautiful, especially around Christmas. The city had five different markets. Madrid was so much fun! My friends studying there gave me an excellent tour, it was a great way to end my semester.

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Madrid

I am so glad that I decided to study abroad in the fall semester because Europe is magical at Christmas time. The entire city of Maastricht looks like a movie scene. The town has hung garland and lights all over and the Christmas Market is beautiful.

For readers who are thinking about going on exchange, it really is a life changing experience. I will say it is not always amazing. The entire semester doesn’t look like the Instagram photos. Some days you miss home or crave shopping in a grocery store of your own language, but I do think the highs out way the lows. I wouldn’t change anything about my exchange. I love all the people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned in class and outside of class, and the places I’ve been. The world is so big and this experience has shown me that I still have so much to learn about the world and myself. As one of my friends here said, the more you put yourself outside your comfort zone the bigger it gets.

If your thinking about going on exchange, go! See the world! Meet new people! Try new things!

Thank you for following my semester in Maastricht! I wish you all the best of luck on your future endeavors!

Best,

Natalie

One weekend in COLOGNE

Another thing I wanted to do being here in Maastricht is going to Germany! Because I’ve never been before! Instead for a transit from Vietnam to France, 5 hours transit in a German airport (I don’t even know which one! Long time ago) and I learnt that there (at least at this time) there is a special menu in McDonald’s for the morning and lunch, and they are not serving any fries before lunch! 😱 Even for 15 min earlier… 🤷🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️😢🍟

Nevermind! I wanted to visit at least one big city of Germany and I choose Koln (Cologne) 🇩🇪

I organise the weekend with 2 other French friends 🙂

We left by train early in the Saturday morning, we had 4 trains to take and we almost missed our 2nd train because we stoped 1 station before the actual station! Had to walk quite fast my to catch the train 😂 You know in Germany (opposite to Belgium) your train tickets only for the train you booked, at a specific time so if you miss it … You miss it (in Belgium, the ticket is valid for the day, of course you can use it only once, but at anytime of the day 🙂

Finally in Koln! We’ve directly been to the Cathedral as it is actually in front of the train station! More than 500 steps to start the day, after a run in Heerleen 😂🏃🏻‍♀️

Then we’ve been to the fish market area, with really nice architecture! Love the color of the house and the old design!  We had lunch there 🍽 Got myself a local nice dish! (With black pudding though, so you better like it…)

Then we just walked around 😊 We made it to this long bridge with all theses locks! It reminded me the Arts bridge in Paris, also used to be known as the bridge of Love with all these locks but they all have been removed for security reason!

Also visited a museum on Andy Warhol! I discover all his works on CD covers, that I didn’t really know about!

Then just had a snack in a café, got myself a sweet bretzel (because I don’t like the normal ones!) and a hot chocolate (always) 🍩☕️ (I know it’s a donut and a coffee)

Then we spent sometime in Primark as shops were opened until quite lately… (not like Maastricht!) I believe until 9pm but better to double check because it’s not all the shops 🙂 I have brought my nice Christmas pullover! And my dress for Christmas as well, Pusheen (the cat 🐱 on Facebook, btw I LOVE this cat) Christmas socks (yes I love Christmas as well) and a Hufflepuff pullover (HP Lover ❤️🧙🏼‍♀️)

Walked back to the hostel, and walked again to have dinner in nice streets full of bars! We stayed at the same place to have some drinks as well 🍻 I was pretty pretty pretty … Exhausted! Falling asleep while friends were drinking and talking because not a lot of sleeping hours the past days 😭😴

DAY 2

We’ve been to Phantasialand 😍 It’s a theme park! Reminds me of Disneyland kind of! 🏰🎡🎢🎠 (Yep that was my idea)

Prices are pretty attractive (compared to Disneyland for instance ahah, even if Disney is bigger and opened longer during the day) and it has been nominated best parc in Germany!

They have lands according to countries / regions or the world (Asian, African, Mexico, etc …)

We never queued too long! 15/20 min max I would say 🕑 Except one of the attraction (Taron I believe?) where my friends waited for a little bit more than 1 hour… But it is definitely the best of all in terms of sensations! Too much for me, so I choose to watch indoor shows instead 😍👯‍♀️ I am not a big fan of crazy attractions! (I wasn’t AT ALL before actually working at Disneyland Paris, then I learnt to -kind of- tolerate them!)

One of the show even has aerials in there 😍 Pole dance, aerial hoop and silk… I was thinking « Omg I want to do the same! I want to be an aerial dancer in a themed park for one season! » Unfortunately I think this is the only park where I can do that 😂 And I don’t speak a word of German!

We had a LONG 10-hour day in the park! But it was nice ☺️

But that’s not it… Our way back to Maastricht was another pretty epic challenge. Because of important train delays, we miss our transit and actually, the last train for Maastricht from Aachen… 🤦🏻‍♀️ And of course, not one from the train station was there to help us find our way home! Fortunately we found a bus going directly to Maastricht! We arrived even earlier than planned thanks to that! 🙏🏻

Some pics from my Koln trip!

*Will be posted as soon as I will be allowed to!*

One weekend in BELGIUM

Hi guys!

I’ve joined one of the ISN trip, Discovery Belgium Weekend! We visited 4 cities in 2 days! INTENSE 🇧🇪

They ask people to be (a little too much) in advance (for me) in the early morning to take the bus to Antwerp (we waited 45 min, omg sleep is precious guys)

Antwerps is a nice city 🙂 Lots of shopping! But didn’t get the chance to visit much on myself as I’ve been to a restaurant with a friend and spent almost all the free time there 😂 We were participating in the Crazy 25 challenges to do during the during! Best team win rewards 🙂

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So after the restaurant we’ve been to the train station to ask questions to some strangers!

The bus almost left without us, while we still had 2 min to arrive! #JustOnTimeIsSOFrenchy

Then we headed to our hostel in Leuven! Not much free time neither, except after dinner and before party, so we had a pre drink with friends in a very nice cocktail bar! 🙂 (Yep, I’m not a beer drinker, at all) 🍹

I danced on the bar during the party to complete one of the challenge 😂

2nd day, direction Bruges! Very nice city, very cute 😍 Loved it! This time we got some free time, I’ve brought quite a lot of presents over there! Also got a nice lunch and waffle 🤤 (but a bit on the go)

Then we finally headed to Gand! Oh wow, really looove this city, so much left to visit like Church’s and Castle! I’ve been to 2 handmade artisanal markets, where I got me (and my boyfriend) some stuffs 😂 I got me a bag vegan made of cork and a warm hair band 😍 and got my boyfriend a beer candle 🙂 (it’s a candle in a real glass of beer which actually really looks like real beer! But no no worries, it doesn’t smell beer ! 😂🍺)

Yeah I’m a kind of present person 🎁 (it’s my way to feel less guilty to spend money 😂💸)

There’s a very nice café that makes delicious hot chocolates! But they have this special HUGE milkshake! But I was too full to have it 😂😢🍫

Then time for the boat tour, that we sadly miss, even if we were there in advance! Okay, they ask to be 15 min in advance, and we were like 10 min instead of 15 … And the boat was already pretty well in the middle of the water, with a group of almost 50 people in there which means they left earlier than 15 min in advance … #Sad At least we got a selfie with the boat!

We actually walked with them 😂 Claire and I were hoping to find a police man on the way to feel better having missing the boat, as getting a selfie with a policeman was one of the challenge, 10 points out of it! But we didn’t see ANY policeman during the weekend, except 2 times but they were driving in their car so it’s complicated to stop them 😢👮🏻‍♂️

After their boat tour, we walked (quite a looong way) to the pizzeria for dinner! And finally got back to the bus to go back home ☺️🏠

In the bus, we showed the crew members all the challenges we completed! (Yep, we filmed everything!) 📹 And also got them presents as it also was one of the challenge! And I had the great idea to take ALL the free things we could get, as presents for the team! 🎁 Stuffs like napkins, cure dent, tea, dessous de verre (they have a nice collection!), set de table, candy, jam, butter (yeah we stole quite a lot of stuff from the breakfast ahah), old cold French fries (from the previous day! 🍟), sauces to go with it, perfume bracelet, cakes, plastic bags… And guess what? THEY LOVED IT 🤩

They announce the winners and it was obviously our team 😎 We got nice souvenirs from Belgium!

Again, here are some pics! 😍📸

The one with the end coming

 

Hello again! Unfortunatly this will be one of my last posts since I’m going back to Portugal in the end of January 😦

Since the last time I wrote I went to Budapest and it was one of my favorite trips so far! I was not lucky with the weather but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the city. I would definitly recommend you to go to the bath terms, having a brunch in the city, go to the christmas market and try the typical deserts!

Now is one of the most wonderfull time in Maastricht! It’s Christmas time!! And the christmas market couldn’t be more beautiful! Yesterday I went ice skating and it was really nice! I recommend you to buy a package on social deal that costs 10 euros and you can do a lot of things in the market for a cheaper price!

Now the exams are coming and the cold is arriving so we need to start studying but I will be back in January with my travellings and all!

Hope to see you soon!

 

Catarina Pimenta

It’s coming to an end

With only less than a month left in Maastricht and 2 weeks left until my final exams for Period 2, I have started to get very nostalgic about the city. My days in the city have been cut short, especially because of my wild travelling plans I have coming up.

With the days getting shorter and the weather getting gloomier I am starting to feel like Maastricht is sad to see the end of my time here too. I’ve come to love and appreciate this beautiful quaint city. The city has the most elegant river site, walking paths to luschious green parks and serene sunsets and sunrises.

The view from my room has been an absolute delight to wake up to. I watched the magnificent tree in front of my window go from being a green giant to an autumn beauty to a naked tree. The beauty of nature is something I have never been able to appreciate back in Dubai due to the lack of proper greenery, but I’ve fallen love with the nature here. With the tree in front my room dying, I feel even more sad to leave this city.

The Dutch way of life is something I have embraced. Eating Dutch foods while pronouncing the names almost accurately and riding a bike to every location has been easy to get into. Kruidnoten, Hagelslag, Stroopwafels and Dutch cheeses have made their way to my grocery lists. I even have managed to actually learn and follow the proper bike lane rules (including using my hand as an indicator and riding the bike with one hand). I feel pretty accomplished in that sense, but I worry that it’s going to be hard for me to go back to driving a car.

With Sinterklas and Christmas around the corner the city has been adorned with beautiful lights and Christmas decorations. Walking through the streets in evening really makes you feel the holiday spirit.

The Christmas Market in Maastricht is absolutely beautiful. They have a Ferris Wheel, Ice Rink and multiple food stalls to fill your bellies. A specialty of the Christmas Market is the Wine drink they serve. It’s a sweetened, warm and diluted rendition of wine that has a slight medicinal aroma, but it tastes great.

This entire exchange experience has been a rollercoaster of experiences, with me discovering things about culture, people and myself. It’s sad to see this entire experience come to an end but I am grateful that I had the opportunity to explore this experience.