Vaarwel (Farewell)

Today is the day.

We all woke up early, made pancakes, and chatted, but the mood was solemn. The first person in our corridor was leaving.

Up until this point leaving seemed unreal. We had our last International Tuesday, our Farwell Party, our commemoration video, but now as our first friend stepped into a cab and drove off into the foggy morning, we all finally realized this was the end. There would be no more late night talks in the common room, no more movie nights, no more common room pre-drinks, no more study cram sessions, and no more dinners as a family. Corridor C2.20 as we had  grown to know it no longer existed.

When you go on exchange you are separated from everything you have ever known. Your family and friends are thousands of miles away, your culture and school are no longer a part of your daily life, your routine is turned upside down- basically all your safety nets are gone. It is terrifying and exhilarating. It causes you to become more independent then you ever have been. It makes you take risks. It makes you bond faster. It makes you fall in love harder.

To all those considering coming to Maastricht- do it. That’s all I can say. It has been an amazing journey.

It has been a pleasure to write about my time here for SBE. I will always have this place in my heart.

-Carly Kanwisher 

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IMG_8607Fall 2015 Farewell Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S973zC2HUA&feature=share 

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Last One

I am not sure how this has happened but this is my last blog post to you all. I will also do a short goodbye post, but this is the last time I will write to you about my travels.

In the last few weeks I have been to Friesland, The Hague/ Scheveningen, Prague, Amsterdam (again), and Dublin.

Friesland
I visited some family in Friesland which was a lot of fun. They showed me around some small coastal towns and told me all about the local culture. A good part of the population in Friesland speaks Frisian, the second official language of the Netherlands. It unique to Friesland and is the closest language to English, so it was interesting to learn about. My mom’s aunt showed me around the area my grandmother grew up in and told me a lot about growing up in Friesland. It was really cool to be able to learn about my mom’s family and my roots.

The Hague/ Scheveningen
After Friesland I went  south down the coast to Scheveningen, a popular beach area. I would really recommend taking a day trip there at some point in your exchange. Even in the winter it was beautiful. While we were in the area a friend and I visited The Hague. The Hague is home to the Dutch government and the Mauritshuis. My friend showed me around the government buildings and palace. Afterwards we visited the Mauritshuis, a museum that houses several famous artists including Rembrandt and Vermeer. It was one of my favorite museums I visited during my time here.

Prague
A few weeks after my beach trip I joined several other schools in the Netherlands for the national ESN trip to Prague. Prague was a beautiful and affordable city. The history was really interesting and the river was breathtaking. ESN offered the trip at a really nice price and all the boarding and transportation was taken care of so that was nice not to have to think about. There were a few blips planning wise but overall we had a great time.

Amsterdam
For my last day trip I went to Amsterdam just to see the Anne Frank house. I had been to Amsterdam two times before, but the group I was with either didn’t want to see the house or the line was just too long. You can get tickets online so you don’t have to wait in the infamous line, but they are very sparse and not always available on the days you need. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised the line was only approximately 45 min long. I felt the experience was more than worth the wait. Having read her journal, it was amazing to see where she lived with my own eyes. I would really recommend it. While we were in Amsterdam we also stopped at Lombardo’s for a burger and their lamb burger is honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten. The place is really small and doesn’t have a lot of seating, but it was well worth it in my opinion.

Dublin
The last trip I took during my time here was to Ireland. I don’t want to end on a bad note but it was comically bad. We were the last plane to land with severe turbulence before they shut down the airport due to high winds and flooding that made the news. It was so windy that it was hard to walk straight on the first day. Our hotel screwed up our booking 3 times and we were woken up at the crack of dawn by a fire alarm. Dublin turned out to be very similar to parts of the north US and didn’t have that much character in its sights and architecture.Some of the highlights were the Guinness factory, the Viking Splash tour (my friend was very set on this and it turned out to be a great laugh), and a traditional Irish lunch. I think if I were to do Ireland again I would really focus on seeing the gorgeous national parks and landscapes, not the city.

School
Uni, not surprisingly, has not changed much since I last mentioned it. After period 1 we all got a better feel for the systems and are familiar with what is being asked of us in class and on exams. The PBL system continues to not be my favorite thing, but I think it good to try out different ways of thinking. I had one professor this period who has been really awesome and made me love SBE.
We have our final exams this week and I am totally dumbfounded on how the semester went so quickly.

Social 
As the semester came to a close, the parties and gathering seem to pick up tenfold. Some of the highlights included my corridor celebrating Thanksgiving, The ISN Charity Ball, and the student arranged Farewell Party. I have made a lot of grand memories with my friends here.

Photos 
(see last post for photos from Friesland, The Hague/ Scheveningen)

Prague
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John Lennon Wall 

IMG_0256Prague skyline

Amsterdam  

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Dublin
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Guinness Factory

Maastricht 
IMG_5114Thanksgiving ❤
IMG_5235ISN Charity Ball

ISN GALA Muziekgieterij 2015 © Harry Heuts
Maastricht 1 december 2015 ISN GALA Muziekgieterij 2015 © Harry Heuts Foto: Harry Heuts

12336306_10153741788632400_1290811577_nFarewell Party

 

Photos

Here are some photos from my last few weeks! The next post will have more info on all these places, but I realized my posts are very text heavy so I am going to leave you with this:

Friesleand 

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Canal

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Friesland Flag


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My local tour guides of Friesland, my moms aunt and uncle 🙂

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Coast

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Coast

Maastricht 

Local churches and town square:
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Church off town square that was converted to a book store

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The view from the one hill in Maastricht

The Hague/ The Scheveningen 

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Parliament Square

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Flags from all the regions outside the government square

Travels & PBL System

The finals induced hibernation period has begun. I write to you as my  notes sit in a corner not being studied.

The update: Life here picks up fast. Because each period is only 7 weeks long classes go really fast, (more on that boring subject under “The PBL system”). Almost every weeknight there is a party hosted by ISN, the school, or a dorm. On the off chance there isn’t an event you can easily find a group to go out to the city center for some bar hopping! On the weekend the dorms are dead as people are usually traveling across Europe. (Maastricht is perfectly situated for travel, a real plus for a student traveling on a small budget)

Travels
So far I have been to Amsterdam, Munich for Oktoberfest, Brussels, and Utrecht. I went with friends to Amsterdam and Brussel, with ISN for Oktoberfest, and visited family in Utrecht. Going with friends is great because, obviously, you aren’t tied to a schedule. You are free to spend hours in a location you find interesting and pass by the ones that don’t really interest you. However, this means planning everything yourself and not getting the deals you would get if you went with a group like ISN. ISN does an excellent job of planning trips for exchange students at a really reasonable rate. Their cost usually includes travel, board, and a breakfast or 2.

Amsterdam
Lives up to all the hype. My friends (even the ones form Europe who see this stuff all the time) kept saying that Amsterdam was unlike any other city they had ever seen. It was stunning: the canals, the architecture, the museums, the abundant marijuana, the Red Light District combine to make something really unique. I would suggest going back a few times for day trips during the semester to fully see the city, one visit is not enough.

Oktoberfest
Definitely an experience. We left school at about 10 pm and drove all night to Munich. Once we arrived at about 5 AM we arrived in Munich and at 7 AM we were in line for the famous international tent. From there we spent the day chugging liters of beer, eating delicious German food, visiting the Oktoberfest amusement park, and of course, hanging with friends. The next day everyone woke up at 5 AM and did the whole thing over. A friend and I slept in and then toured Munich. It was beautiful and so nice to have a calm day after the merriment of Oktoberfest.

Brussels
Waffles, chocolate, Belgium beer, and french fries, what’s not to love? Brussels was an interesting city, not incredibly exciting, but worth of a day trip. We saw the European Parliament, Grand-Place, Town Hall, Mannekin Pis, downtown, and few parks.
Utrecht- Some of my mom’s family is in the Netherlands so I got the chance to meet her cousin and aunt. It was really cool to meet the extended relatives and Utrecht was really pretty and had a lot of history. I am amazed how different the north, south, central, east, and west parts of this tiny country are. I would really recommend day trips to each part of the country to get the whole Holland experience.
For photos see the end of this post 🙂

Travel Deals
Cheap Netherlands Tickets- For group train tickets search “NS Group Tickets The Netherlands” on Facebook. This group will match you with 9 other people for a group ticket deal so you can buy tickets for 7 euro. (to give you an idea how expensive train tickets are, Maastricht to Amsterdam Centraal is about 25 euro one way.)
Cheap Belgium Tickets- Look up the Belgian Rail Go Pass to get form Maastricht to anywhere in Belgium for only 7.5 euro.
http://www.belgianrail.be/en/travel-tickets/abroad/maastricht/gopass1-to-maastricht.aspx

The PBL system
Ah, so here’s the boring stuff. The PBL system is something the university really prides itself on. It is very unique and I have been told it is only used by the finest universities. This system is based on student discussion and student taught lessons with very few or no lectures. Because Maas uses the period system (similar to the quarter system) there is a very large amount of reading for each class. It is interesting and very different than anything I have ever had in the states. Back home I have frequent quizzes and homework assignments throughout the semester based on lectures. We also have usually have a few tests or at least a midterm before the final. Here, there are way fewer assessments. In one of my classes I have a paper 80% and participation 20%. In the other the final is worth 50% and the other 50% is participation and a project. The consensus among the exchange student seems to be a few things. One, the PBL system is very different from their home university. Two, it makes it easy to slack off and get behind. And finally, three, it makes you teach yourself from the readings and asking questions about what you don’t understand as opposed to learning form a teacher in lecture. As you can see the system works better/ worse in some classes than others and can differ quite a bit. Be prepared to be flexible!
Also join Study Drive! Students post notes and summaries there that are very helpful!

Amsterdam
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Munich
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Brussels
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Pre-Arrival & First Thoughts

Hi guys! I am Carly Kanwisher. I am from Atlanta, Georgia and I am currently a junior at the University of Georgia studying Management and Information Systems. In my spare time I enjoy swimming competitively and reading.
I am really excited to spend the semester in Maastricht and to write about my experiences here. I hope I can give you guys some tips to make your stay better 🙂

Pre-Departure: UM will send you a ton of information to help your prepare for the semester. One thing I can not stress enough- deadlines are very strict here. If you do not sign up for classes by the specific date you cannot take classes. Once you are in them there is also no changing. They design the classes so you have small groups of about 15 and it is impossible to reschedule them.  Be sure to thoroughly research what classes you need and get your home university’s approval before you leave!
Here is a list of a few other things to check out before you leave:

  • Sign up for the ISN pick up service. They will pick you up from the train station when you arrive and drop you off at your residence for free!
  • Plug Converters. Check and see what appliances need just plug converters and which ones also need voltage converters.
  • Look into reserving a room at the Guesthouse early. It is a great way to meet people and it is a great location!
  • Get some of your currency changed to Euros. Once you are here I would highly recommend opening a Dutch bank account, but that takes some time. Also, some international credit cards don’t work here so it is always nice to have the security of cash.
  • Get your travel plans down pat. Book flights early, but don’t forget to also look at what train you are taking from the airport to Maastricht’s station.

Residence Permit: Well, one thing for sure is universal, immigration services suck no matter what country you are in. Applying for a resident permit is a long, expensive process, but there is no way around it. Be sure to start the process at least 3 months before you arrive, it is incredibly tedious. I started my application in June and will not receive my permit until late September.

Arrival: After 10 hours on a plane, 1 layover, and 2 hours on a train I finally arrived in Maastricht. I arrived on Wednesday and had orientation on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday night ISN (a student club that arranges events for international students) had a pub crawl around the city. I would highly recommend that you sign up for as many of the ISN events as possible, but especially the pub crawl. It was so much fun and one of most memorable experiences thus far. (Also, be sure to get a ESN card from the ISN office. ISN has a ton of events you can get in for free/with a discount if you have a card and you get a ton of discounts around town!)

Maastricht: This city is so beautiful. When you get here you will fall in love. It is designed so with separate bike paths from the road so you can easily bike around the entire city. The Meuse River is gorgeous and the architecture here is unlike anything I have seen in the US. Ill stop rambling and let the photos speak for themselves below 🙂

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