The last month in Maastricht

I didn’t realize it’s my last month in Maastricht until I received the email reminding me to write this blog. I feel really sad every time I am at the thought of this fact. There are still so many items on my to-do list. However, the only thing I can do now is make full use of every minute left and share my experience with you guys at once.

The first thing I’d like to talk about is King’s Day. No matter how many times you have been to Amsterdam, missing this so Dutch festival must become your biggest regret in Holland. MyBuddy Team organizes a King’s Day trip every year. The €20 participation fee covers a round-trip bus ticket, a big breakfast, and an amazing opportunity to meet a lot of old friends and make more new ones. Or you can go to Amsterdam the night before the King’s Day. It’s said that the exciting music parties already begin then. On that day, the whole city is full of orange. Bells sound, bands play, children perform, deals are made, bargains are found, drinks are consumed, and above all, love, laughter, and smiles abound. What impressed me most is the flea market in the Vondelpark near the Rijksmuseum. When you are bored with the noisy music parties in the street, nothing could be better than wondering in the beautiful park with the delicious homemade apple pies bought from the Dutch family’s stalls. By the way, almost all the stores and museums are closed to celebrate the national festival. Even though a few stores open in the red light district, I can definitely say it must not be the best time to explore Amsterdam thoroughly. Just enjoy a crazy Amsterdam with abandon!

Another place that is worth a visit is Keukenhof, where you can see the most beautiful spring in the world. The park doesn’t open all year round. The specific open time seems to change year by year. So don’t forget to collect all the information you need when making a plan. Besides the open time, tickets, address and some other basic information, the website also provides you a load of background knowledge about the history of the park. When you have a general impression on the park and find what really interests you, you don’t need to worry what you might miss and then can concentrate on the amazing flowers. I went there on the last day of April. Actually, it was a little late although the park was open until the mid of May this year. Many tulips had been cut then and the flower fields were not as splendid as what I saw from the pictures. I just consider it as an unusual experience since not every visitor has a chance to see those less than perfect but actual tulips. In addition, the theme of the expiration this year is the Golden Age, which was exactly the most familiar part that I knew about Holland before I went here. It’s so exciting to see something related in person. Yet, I highly advise you to plan reasonably especially if you are a perfectionist.

Finally, the examination is coming again. What seems a little weird for me is that the library is totally not as crowded as it was this time. I am always nervous when preparing for an exam. What’s more, as I said before, the course I took in this period might be the most difficult one in SBE. According to the old exams which the coordinator has uploaded online, I believe the exam must be a great challenge for me but I think I can make it. Now it’s time to say goodbye. Thanks for you guys reading ~~~

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Another new beginning!

Hey readers, I’m back! So lucky to survive the first final exam! After the exam, I took a fantastic holiday in Paris and had a good rest to prepare for a whole new period. Now let me talk about my experience in more details.
As I mentioned earlier, I took only one course in period 4. But I still had a hard time passing the finals week. Apart from language barriers, you needed to tell the key points from the less important ones by yourself. In other words, if you are not sure about what will appear in your test paper, you’d better read all the chapters, cases, and papers discussed in the tutorials and do lots of exercises. It can be a huge workload. However, in my home university, teachers usually tell you a general examination scope at the end of the last class. So it might be one of the challenges for me in terms of PBL. Speaking of preparing for exams, there is one thing I want to remind you. Don’t forget to check your email or announcements on eleum to get the most accurate and updated information about exams. Take myself as an example, our tutor had told us there would be three open questions in the exam, indeed, but I didn’t notice that the latest announcement writing two and only two problems were required to answer until the right night before the exam. Also, I found I didn’t have a pencil which was necessary in this computer-based exam at the same night. Thankfully I scanned the notice before I went to MECC. Don’t be as silly as me!

After the exam, there was an about 10-day vocation depending on when your exam ended. Since only 2 months left in Europe, it was a great chance you mustn’t miss to travel around. I stayed in Paris for four days. I really regret what a short time I spent there. Luckily, Maastricht is so near to Paris that it doesn’t take you too long on the road. To be honest, it’s quite convenient to travel to any European city from Maastricht. Besides the worldwide famous sights, what Paris impressed me most was the kind people there. I received a great kindness from the strangers on the street, in the restaurant, at the metro station and so on. Even though their English was not as fluent as Dutch people, they still tried their best to help me in English. Every time thinking of them, I am always moved a lot. It is the people there that make Paris so attractive.

Memory is always good, however, it’s time to go back to reality. I took options and futures in this period, maybe the hardest one in SBE, according to some regular students. Do not be cheated by its name! It has nothing to do with your future. Actually, it focuses on the pricing of financial derivatives. A good command of theory of probability and statistics is essential. Every tutorial is based on a practical case. That is just what you might face in your future job. Aside from reading books, what you have to do is solve the problems raised in the case using excel. I think this course combines theory with practice in a good way. If you are really interested in derivatives, I recommend it to you! It is a worthwhile challenge, isn’t?

Last, King’s day is coming two days later. I am looking forward to it and sharing my feelings on that day with you guys next time! Thanks for reading!

Exams this way come!

Is it March already? I can’t believe it! That must be the quickest month I’ve ever spent. It’s so wonderful to live and study in Maastricht. Indeed, time flies when you are having fun. I just can’t wait to share my second month with you.

Daily life
With so many nice friends to help me settle down, I can definitely say I look more like a regular student now haha. Instead of visiting as many places as I can in the first month, I start trying a local lifestyle. Being more familiar with the city, I gradually adopt to and fall in love with the slow and relaxed life here. As the weather is becoming warmer and there are more and more continuous sunshine days, it’s a crime to stay inside all day on such beautiful days. It is a good choice to take a walk in the city park near the inner city library when you are tired of studying. Besides, I recommend you to wander on the ancient city walls! The view is always different when you stand high. Also, you can enjoy your lunch with your friends sitting on a bench there. When it comes to lunch, I think the food on the first floor of the library is a little expensive. Lots of students choose to have lunch at cato by cato nearby, where the prices are reasonable and the food is delicious. For sweet food lovers like me, you should not miss Bakker Bart, a bakery near the river, not too far from the library as well. Both the taste and the price are perfect!

Extracurricular activities
My Buddy, ISN, SCOPE , SBE as well as other institutions in the city provide you with a wide variety of extracurricular activities no matter day or night. Just choose those interest you and have fun! Group trips are also available, for example, My Buddy will organize a King’s day trip to Amsterdam on 27th, April. I believe it must be a good chance to make new friends and experience unique Dutch culture. Walking dinner was another activity that attracted me a lot. In short, it is a food party held by different groups of exchange students at one night and you guys walk to several hosts’ home to taste food from all over the world. It sounds fantastic but essentially, you need to cook well. However, I am a terrible cook. What a pity! If you are also interested in this activity, take some time to practice cooking in advance.

Study and exams
Last but most important, exams are approaching and you have to concentrate on your study especially for students whose grades are not just pass or fail when converted to their home university. Libraries create a ideal study environment. The atmosphere is thick with study and the study space is adequate for your books, notes, computers and even food. Accordingly, it is not easy to find a position if you go there too late. What’s more, about two weeks before examination, libraries usually open earlier and close later, so be aware of the open time and get up early for your favorite seat. All the information about the open time is accessible on the Internet. As for how to prepare for the exam, my buddy introduced studydrive to me, a website providing many related study materials such as summaries, solutions and even old exams. All of them are free for download.
Nothing could be more magical than observing your own growth in a new environment. I’m so happy with these wonderful changes that Maastricht has brought about in me. Hope to share my next month with you!

The first month in Maastricht: meet Europe and the world

Hi everyone! My name is Shuo Li, from Shandong University, China. I am really excited to share my exchange life with you during this spring semester. When the plane took off at 6:30 am in Amsterdam, I hardly believed it. Just three days ago, I had been taking the final exams in my home university. Once finishing the exams, I took the train to Beijing and flied to Hong Kong there. Then I boarded the plane to Amsterdam in Hong Kong. You can buy a train ticket to Maastricht at Schipol airport. There is a train station under the floor where you pick up your luggage, like other European cities. Everything went smoothly until we were on the train to Maastricht. As we were unfamiliar with the route, we missed the right train stop . Also, we had a hard time finding how to go to guesthouse. Luckily, residents here speak English very fluently and are pretty patient to show us the way. It was a pity that we did not book the pick-up service by e-mails. Finally, with the help of the bus driver, we got off at the right stop and stood in front of the gateway of the guesthouse.

When I walked into the lovely guesthouse, all the exhaustion disappeared at once. Careful staffs told you how to use the mail box and something like that. By the way, you have to pay for your rent of this month when you check in. What’s more, do not forget to get a free SIM card from ISN! The double room I have booked is in the P building. The accommodation is worth the rent. The kitchen in the room is clean and well equipped. I like the big window very much. The decoration in the room is really warm. Our luggage settled well, we began to look for supermarkets. The location of the guesthouse is great. It takes only 5 minutes to the big shop mall nearby, where you can buy almost all the necessities in all kinds of supermarkets. Besides, it is not far from the city center. I went to the city center to shop or visit once a day in the first week.

SBE arranged introduction days for exchange students before we started taking class regularly . It was an excellent opportunity to get familiar with the university, the culture in Maastricht and make new friends from all over the world. What impressed me most is the small group guided by a mentor, a regular student in SBE. All the exchange students were randomly (I guess) distributed into different groups, where a regular student as a mentor was responsible to introduce the institutions in SBE in more details, show us around the city and organize a tutorial based on PBL, which helped us exchange students to adapt to the new study mode as soon as possible. The first tutorial on Tuesday began with a self introduction. Almost half of the students in my class are exchange students from America, France, Australia, New Zealand and so on. The other regular students also just end their exchange in Singapore, Hong Kong, America etc. I had completely realized how international the school was until then.

I only choose one course in period 4 but I have had a busy life since there are so many extracurricular activities held by ISN and My Buddy. I strongly recommend the My Buddy program to you! By this program, I know a nice buddy who helped me a lot when I planned my trip during the Carnival break. I am looking forward to the other fantastic activities we will join together in the left four months! Thanks for your reading O(∩_∩)O~~