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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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

 

Belgium, Germany, and of course, the Netherlands

Hi everyone! Last time we spoke, I talked about my first impressions of Maastricht, the university, and some of my travels through Amsterdam and Holland. Currently, I am writing to you in the midst of exam week, which, fortunately, has not been as stressful as I thought it would be. A group of my friends and I have been studying (and eating) our way through Maastricht by doing what we dubbed a “Cafe Crawl.” Apparently, Maastricht has the highest café density in the Netherlands, with 1 café for every 350 inhabitants, compared to 1 per 900 on average.

 

Cake Club studying for Strategic Marketing @ the Livin’ Room Cafe

I can’t believe that Period 1 is already coming to an end, and thinking back, it has been a very packed month, with personal adventures throughout Belgium, Germany, and of course, the Netherlands.


SCOPE Economics Day Trip to Brussels – 28.09

Hemicycle at the Brussels European Parliament

Earlier in September, SCOPE Economics hosted a day trip to Brussels, where we got to visit the European Parliament and the European Council. Politics had previously been a topic I was wary of discussing, but in light of the US election and after learning more about European politics, I’ve been taking more steps to become more educated about both government at home and around the world.


Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a must-do for everyone at least once in his or her lifetime. As someone who did not start out as a huge fan of beer, I found myself loving German beer within a few hours. The combination of beer liters, gigantic salty pretzels, bratwurst, and Bavarian music created an atmosphere that can’t be recreated anywhere else.

Outside the Schottenhamel tent


Cantus

In case you haven’t noticed, Europeans love beer, and the Dutch are no exception. Since Welcome Week, everyone had been raving about something called “Cantus.” The closest analogy to describe Cantus would be a huge Karaoke party, where everyone sings along to traditional Dutch and English songs and drinks beer. I started out the evening very apprehensive, but eventually got more comfortable belting out the lyrics to ABBA’s Dancing Queen along with the other 150+ people there with the assistance of unlimited beers.


Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp

Two weeks ago, I made a spontaneous solo trip to the Flanders region of Belgium. Maastricht lies right on the border of Belgium, which makes it extremely easy to travel—I was in Bruges in 4 hours by train ride! Bruges is the capital of West Flanders, and is basically the backdrop for a medieval fairytale. Known as the Venice of the North, Bruges is filled with historic churches and towers, intricate canals, and unconventional architecture.

The most photographed spot in Bruges

Bruges’ Markt

After spending a day in Bruges, I made my way to Ghent, which is known for its Gothic architecture and its street art. Street art is a personal passion of mine, so at the hostel, I picked up a self-guided graffiti art tour and chose to explore the city that way.

Canals of Ghent

Ghent’s Werregarenstraat

I almost skipped Antwerp because some Belgian natives I spoke to in Bruges told me that it “was more of a working city, but Bruges and Ghent were more beautiful.” It goes without saying that I am glad I didn’t take their advice. The moment I stepped off the train, I was amazed by how beautiful the train station was. The first aspect of the city that struck me was the size and scale of the architecture and buildings in comparison to the coziness of Ghent and Bruges. The streets were a mix of both the modern and traditional, and the number of people rushing around the city reminded me of Manhattan.

Antwerp Central Station


The Hague and Rotterdam

ISN’s Discover Holland trip whet my appetite to explore more of the Holland provinces, so we decided to make a weekend trip to The Hague and Rotterdam. Home to many international courts, The Hague is known as the “judicial capital of the world.” Since all of the friends that I went with happened to be UM Law students, we made sure to visit all the important government buildings, such as the International Court of Justice and the Binnenhof.

Wandering around The Hague

After our day in The Hague, I met up with Jessica, one of my closest friends from NYU, in Rotterdam. She also studying abroad through our business school’s exchange program at Bocconi University in Milan! Jessica has a way with sparking deeper conversations with people, and we had a 4-hour conversation about our experiences abroad, what it means to be a global citizen, and representing America abroad while not feeling completely American ourselves.

This month has passed by so quickly, and I’ve begun to think of Maastricht more and more as home. Wish me luck on exams, and until next time,

Caroline (Instagram: @oh.deeeng)

New beginnings in Maastricht

Hello from beautiful Maastricht! My name is Caroline Deng, and I am a 4th year at NYU Stern studying Marketing and Information Systems. I will be at Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics (SBE) for the fall semester. I’m excited to make new friends, learn new perspectives, and see more of the world.

For those of you who don’t know, Maastricht is located in the southern-most tip of the Netherlands, and is considered to be the oldest city in the nation. In light of Brexit, a relevant fact is that the European Union was founded here in 1992.

Sint Servaasbrug

Growing up in California, I’ve never had the chance to explore Europe, outside of a family trip to Italy. So, around the same time last year, I applied to Maastricht University for many reasons, but the main ones being: 1) the unique PBL Learning System, 2) my desire to experience Europe beyond the typical tourist attractions, and 3) Maastricht’s central location so I could travel to other destinations easily. It has been around three weeks since I arrived in Maastricht, and I’ve already become enchanted with the city, the university, and the people I’ve met.

The City

Maastricht has the charm of an old European village, with a lot of meandering, cobblestone roads. That being said, I had one or two days of frustration trying to find where I wanted to go with the assistance of Google Maps. The town square, called Markt, is filled with both small boutique shops and global corporate brands. Another place to see is the Vrijthof, where the Museum aan het Vrijthof and the Basilica of Saint Servatius stand.

The University

I’ve had the opportunity to experience the Problem-Based Learning system that Maastricht is known for, and it’s completely different from the way that my home university teaches. Rather than lectures that are intended to teach you what you should study for a final exam, PBL is somewhat like the Socratic method, where you ask and discuss questions to come to your own conclusions. During my first facilitation, I had to keep stopping myself from going into “presentation” mode—the purpose of a facilitation is to encourage debate and discussion, rather than preaching about what you have learned on the topic—and that was difficult to get accustomed to.

The People

Amsterdam adventures

Unlike many other universities, Maastricht University has a strong international student presence, which means that the school is well-versed in helping international students transition into day-to-day life. The moment I arrived on August 31, the International Student Network (ISN) already had several events planned for the week and throughout the year to help us transition and get to know other people studying away. I attended the Dutch Dinner event the first night, where we went to a local restaurant, Cafe Ma van Sloan, to try a traditional Dutch meal, filled with sausage, mashed potatoes (the Dutch love their potatoes), pork, and other dishes. Last weekend, ISN also hosted a Discover Holland trip, where I got to visit cities all over the Netherlands, such as Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Delft. On that trip, I was able to meet friends from all over the world, and we are planning to travel together soon. So far, Maastricht has given me a very warm welcome to Europe, and I’m feeling optimistic about the semester ahead!

ISN Discover Holland trip – Delft