Goodbye Maastricht ):

Hello guys! I’m really sorry for being late on my post again! Exams ended 2 weeks ago, and I’ve been busy traveling ever since! Currently writing this from Cinque Terre in Italy.

Exams
So… Period 2 zoomed by in a flash. I had global business & strategic marketing, both modules which i am terribly afraid that I may not be able to pass (Praying really really hard!). My exams ended on the last day (19th!) and by then… Most people were already gone as their exams ended wayyyyy earlier. Met up with some of my friends whom i’ve made in my global business class for some drinks at night after my exams and we said our goodbyes ))’: Dont know when we will meet again, but I will really cherish the friendships created here (((:

Christmas
Christmas is amazing in Europe is soooo different from that of Singapore’s! The christmas atmostphere everywhere is amazing, and maastricht has an annual christmas market set up at Vrithof Square! I was quite amazed that they actually managed to squeeze an entire christmas market (ice skating rink, stalls, ferris wheel etc..) in that small area, but it looks super gorgeous!!

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There are many other christmas markets around, such as in Aachen (Germany), which is only a 1 hour bus ride away. (Its pretty cheap too, a return ticket costs about 8euros?) The christmas market there is a lot bigger and pretty cool! (: Worth checking it out if you wanna take a simple day trip out!

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Goodbye Maastricht ):
I’ll be saying goodbye to Maastricht and Europe in approximately 5 days… This exchange has been nothing but amazing, and it’s really a bittersweet feeling leaving this place. On one hand, I am extremely excited to be back in Singapore (back to some warmth, and to be reunited with my family & friends!) and yet on the other hand… I have enjoyed my stay in Maastricht and I will definitely miss this small cosy town very much! Many people have asked me, “why maastricht??”, since the workload in Maastricht Uni is considered to be pretty heavy.. To be honest, I have no idea why I chose to come here. Maybe it’s the pretty photos I’ve found on google, or the fact that its super central (right next to belgium and germany), or even the SBE system. No matter what, I am definitely glad that I chose to spend 5 months of my time here in this town of lovely and friendly people (: Maastricht may be small, not too bustling, nothing too happening, but I have left a part of my heart here and this place will always be remembered.

I’m extremely excited for the people who will be coming to Maastricht on exchange next sem!! (: You guys must be busy packing your bags right now. Have you gotten a bike??? It should cost somewhere around 40-70 euros! So don’t pay more than 100 euros for the bike, or else it’ll be difficult to sell it off in the future (: Feel free to contact me should you have any questions!!! (: Enjoy your stay in Maastricht, and dont forget to pause once in a while to admire the beauty Maastricht has to offer. It’s really a very very gorgeous place (‘:

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Signing off for the last time,

Jo Lin
(SINGAPORE!)

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Parties… Exams, facilitations and…… End of exchange soon?!?!?!

HI Everyone! Sorry i’m a few days late on my blogging D: Have been pretty caught up with facilitations and stuff BUT HERE I AM 😀 😀

 

So… Period 2 has started and my courses this sem is soooo readings-intensive! ): My friends and I have a total of 200++ pages of readings per week but if you don’t read them you wouldn’t be able to participate in class! So it’s really important for you to read your readings! (Sigh)

 

Soooo Halloween was approximately 2-3 weeks ago, and Halloween is a HUGEEE thing here, or at least, it’s a bigger event than in Singapore. And we went for this event organised by ESN (ESN Halloween Madness) and it was held at the bar directly opposite where we stayed (HURRAY!).

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Here’s a photo with the Singapore peeps who went for the party! And speaking of parties… How can we forget about the 11/11 carnival?! Unfortunately… I had classes till 6pm so by the time i reached the carnival it was ending in 20mins?!?!?! T.T  But nonetheless it was so much fun! Made friends with some people who were there, everyone was dressed up in onesies and lovely costumes, huddled around singing German(?) songs… The atmosphere was AMAZING!! 😀

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So anyway i was mentioning that it’s period 2 now, and we’ve been through 2 exams from Period 1…. I’m happy to declare that I passed all my courses HURRAY! I’m sure most of you have read about how exams are held in Maastricht… Basically we’re all seated in this HUGE hall (called the MECC) and exams are 3hours and you are free to leave anytime you’re done. Was pretty excited and nervous as it was really cool how huge the hall is and how many people are taking the exams together with you! We have similar examination halls in National University of Singapore, but they are nowhere as big as that one at MECC.

 

Anyway, the courses i’m taking this period are Global Business and Strategic Marketing. Every. Single. Time. i tell the local students that I have Global Business, their responses are ALWAYS the same. “WHAT?!?!?” “Poor you!!” “Did you choose it?!” “WHY did you choose it?” and “You better study REALLY HARD for it”. I’m starting to be quite scared of that course… Some called it the hardest exam they have ever taken.. I’m not looking forward. So if you’re thinking of choosing that course, think twice maybe? HAHA, i’m kidding i’m sure you’ll manage fine! The workload this period is also much higher, with a total of 4 facilitations, 2 presentations, 1 final report and 2 final exams 😦 BUT I BELIEVE IT’LL BE FINE IN THE END 😀

 

So anyway, I made a short weekend trip to Amsterdam 2 weekends ago and I found a new found love for these amazing mini pancakes. They are called poffertjes and I’ve not seen any stalls selling the fresh ones in Maastricht ): So if you do drop by Amsterdam, YOU’VE GOTTA TRY IT! They are amazing!! I’m totally addicted to it. And i visited this place called Zaanse that is only a 30 mins train ride away from Amsterdam Centraal and it is absolutely gorgeous!!! Let the photos speak for themselves 🙂

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Zaanse

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As winter is approaching… The nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter ): Having classes from 4 to 6pm meant entering class when the sun is still shining and leaving class thinking that it’s 10pm already (its super dark!!!)

This cartoon perfectly sums it:

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I have approximately 1.5 months left in Maastricht and I’m starting to feel the heartache of having to leave this small cozy town :((( So with whats left of my time here, I’m going to make the best outta it!!! While cycling past Vrithof today, (Vrithof is the town square in maastricht!) I saw that they have started to set up tents, christmas markets and such for CHRISTMAS!! There is even a ferris wheel! Oh God i’m super excited!! I heard there’s gonna be an ice skating rink too! Shall upload photos next time 🙂

 

Till next time!! SEE YOU 😀

 

Exams!

So.. It has been 2 months since i’ve arrived here in Maastricht, and we are on the 7th week of the first period! And sadly….. ITS EXAMS NEXT WEEK D:

I am currently sitting at the library, and it is fully packed with people!! Be sure to pay attention during orientation when your group leader brings you to the library….. If not you will probably end up like me. I got lost on the way here, and thankfully I met 3 really really friendly regular students who walked me over! According to them, many people camp outside the library early in the morning before opening hours, and rush in immediately when the doors open. Sounded pretty much like what happens in Singapore as well……….. 😀 One friend of mine said that her group mate in class skips classes the whole of week 7 just to stay at the library to study the entire week. I’m starting to feel the pressure too!

As mentioned previously, its week 7 now, which means that its the last week of classes before exams start! I was thinking about the whole PBL system here in Maastricht and the 6-7 weeks that i’ve spent here. I only have 3 more months here in Europe and then I will be back in warm sunny Singapore!! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVEEEE Singapore! But I’ve already started to get used to the lifestyle and system here and I love it here very much too! So I shall cherish what’s left of my time here in Maastricht 🙂

Previously before coming to Maastricht, I’ve been looking through blogposts of exchange students who have been here and have experienced the PBL system. I was originally really worried that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the PBL system, and was quite skeptical about having to do our own readings before sharing them in class. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed my classes and I feel that the PBL system has allowed me to speak up wayyyy more than I used to in Singapore. The way the classes are structured, the layout of the classrooms… It has made sharing less intimidating, and everyone seems to be very accepting of your opinions and many regular students will encourage you to speak up and share your ideas! So if you are thinking of coming to Maastricht, don’t be too afraid of the PBL system! It’s really manageable as long as you do relatively consistent work 😉

Sorry that my blog posts are so wordy! I promise I will add in more pictures next time 🙂 Feel free to comment on my post should you have any questions and I’ll try my best to answer them 🙂

Till next time!! 😀

Hello Maastricht!

Hello! I am Jolin, from National University Singapore (NUS in short) and I’m here on a half year exchange in Maastricht University at SBE 🙂

I arrived in Maastricht on the 12th of August, (orientation only starts on the 28th and so I had a bit of time to go traveling and settle down/explore Maastricht) and it was reallyyyyyyyy quiet and empty! I asked one of the dutch girls in one of my tutorials and she said that it was because Maastricht is really heavily populated by students, and most students were still at home when I first arrived…. That explains how quiet it was. Anyway.

Getting to Maastricht

My friends and I took a plane from Singapore to Amsterdam Airport, and then we took to a train from Amsterdam to Maastricht. Be prepared that taking the train might be a little tricky with your heavy luggages as you’ll have to lug them up and down the stairs within the trains. You can get single train tickets, but i think it’s more worth it to get the ovchipkaart. (It works like an Ezlink card, for singaporeans who understand this term) So basically you buy the card (I’m not too sure how much it is, the guy said its 7.5 euros, but said that he’ll charge us 2 euros???) and then you top up an amount. It costs around 20 odd euros to get to Maastricht, unless you have the discount card. Remember to tap your card at one of the machines before boarding! The train conductors check pretty frequently. You’ll have to change once at Utrecht Station, and after approximately 2~2.5 hours, you’ll arrive at Maastricht!!

Accommodation

Most exchange students stay at the guesthouse, and my friends who are staying there are really enjoying themselves as they get to make lots of new friends. However, as I came to Maastricht with a group of friends, we decided to rent/sub-rent an apartment, as it is slightly cheaper than if we were to stay at the guesthouse. We managed to find a suitable one on one of the Maastricht housing facebook pages and it worked out well for us! Be careful though, and be sure to check that the address exists as I read that some of these advertisements are scams and that the address posted does not actually exist. To be safe, the guesthouse is the best option, and they even provide pick up services from the Maastricht train station!

Maastricht

People cycle EVERYWHERE here! There are wayyyy more bicycles than cars and after approximately 2 weeks of cycling everywhere, we kinda got really lazy to walk anymore. The bike is a really good investment, especially since the MECC (the place where you take all your exams) is across the bridge from SBE. Walking to MECC will probably take you 45 mins to 1 hour from SBE, so I would really suggest getting a bike. 🙂 It gets you everywhere! Getting a bike should cost you around 50 to 70 euros, and you can sell it off before leaving Maastricht! Rmb to get a good lock too, my dutch friends have warned that bike theft is pretty common here.

Traveling

Maastricht is really well connected, and so we have planned quite a few weekend trips so far! Heh heh. By train, its approximately 30 mins to Liege, 1.5-2 hours to Brussels, 2 hours to Paris, 1 hour to Germany etc etc. Will update more on the different places after visiting! 🙂

SBE & PBL System

Well, being an exchange student means that you’re a part time student and full time traveler but don’t get too complacent! In Maastricht Uni, they conduct lessons using the PBL system, where we are supposed to do our own readings and preparations before discussing them in class. There will be a student facilitator every week, and the tutors are there to ensure that every concept is covered and that we are on the right track. Do not be too worried about the PBL system though! It may sound daunting but it is actually pretty fun! There will be a PBL session conducted during orientation, so you will get to experience the PBL system before school starts. I actually feel that I am able to learn better here in Maastricht, and the pace at which lessons are conducted is really comfortable! The PBL system will be quite a cool experience and a refreshing change from the tutorial-lecture or seminar style at done in most universities!

Alright that’s all for now! Sorry for the lengthy post, I will be blogging again very soon!! 🙂