Hello! My name is Sonali. I study at the University of Sydney, Australia. I’ve been in Maastricht for almost a month now, and I am glad to say that I really love this beautiful little city! From the cute cafes, great shopping, amazing student life, friends, and much more! Before I arrived in Maastricht and whilst preparing for exchange, I read many of these blogs for some quick tips. So I hope I will be of some help to you!
About 4 weeks before exchange started, I boarded a 14-hour flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, then an 8-hour flight to London. I stayed with some family for a few days while in London. If you’ll be taking a long flight, I highly recommend staying somewhere for a few days so that you can get over the jetlag. It makes travelling a LOT easier!
After London, I met up with one of my best friends from Sydney in Copenhagen, where we celebrated New Year’s and were so cold that we couldn’t feel our hands or feet or faces! We then went to Berlin, met up with some other friends in Munich, then went to Rome. After that I went back to London, went to some museums and visited some more family.
Maastricht – Arrival week
Now, to Maastricht…I had heard and read many times that Maastricht is a “university town”. This could not be any truer; Maastricht is a small city filled with a LOT of university students.
The ISN (International Student Network) organises a free pick up service from Maastricht train station during arrival week – this makes it really easy to get to the Guesthouse. I highly recommend this over taking a taxi or bus!
Most of the exchange students here stay in the Guesthouse. There are a few different buildings which are all part of the Guesthouse. While it isn’t the most beautiful of all places to live, it’s definitely the best because you get to meet so many people really quickly, and really easily. I highly recommend staying in the Guesthouse, especially the C building! The people you live near become some of your closest friends.
One week before classes start is Arrival week, during which there are some dinners, city tours, parties, a pub crawl, and other fun things organised by the ISN. Tickets for these events are all sold at the Guesthouse. Additionally, students of the SBE (School of Business and Economics) have two introduction days (Thursday and Friday), during which we are informed about some formalities, logistics, etc. Arrival week is really crazy for a number of reasons. You meet an overwhelming amount of people in a very short time frame at the events. While this is great and exactly what you need at the start of exchange, it’s also really tiring! However, overall, Arrival week really was a great way to start off exchange.
At Maastricht you will be taking two courses per period. Some may have to do the skills period too, that depends upon your home university. The PBL (Problem-Based-Learning) System is employed at Maastricht University, which is really different to the didactic lectures at my home university. Here, it is important to do your readings and take part in the tutorial discussions, as this is essentially how you learn. It takes some time to get used to, and I must say that I find this harder than didactic lectures. Some courses have assignments, exams, presentations…each is different.
Try to enrol into courses that don’t seem too difficult…you don’t want to do a course that you’ll struggle with whilst on exchange! And if you want to change a course, visit the IRO office in the SBE building and ask. It is possible because I changed one of my courses. However, make sure you don’t leave it too late!
Cantus is a highly popular event organised by ISN. It involves lots of beer and lots of singing. It is a night that really loves up to all expectations. You MUST attend Cantus when on exchange in Maastricht!
Carnaval in Maastricht is 3 days filled with crazy costumes, glitter, beer, music, dance…all in the streets of Maastricht! If you’re here in the spring semester, you’ll be lucky to experience Carnaval. The entire city comes to life; it really is something extra-ordinary. I can easily say that Carnaval has been one of the best few days in Maastricht so far for all of us here! It is something I will look back on fondly.
Life in Maastricht – some tips
- Be organised for your exchange. Make sure your Visa, passport, course registrations, flights etc are all under control. It’s really important to be organised to avoid difficulties in the future. It can be broing and tedious, but it’s worth it.
- Be social! Talk to people, don’t stay in your room with your door shut all day! Exchange is all about meeting new people and having fun!
- Try new things!
- Buy an ISN card. This costs about 19 euro. It gives discounts on a lot of the events, some shops, food places, flixbus, airbnb etc.
- Look out for discounts and deals. There are many cheap ways to travel, you just have to do your research! But trust me, it’s worth it!
- Buy a bike! Everyone here bikes everywhere. Bikes can be bought second hand for around 50 euro, sometimes even less or more. It’s an easy mode of transport and makes you feel more like a local
- Look after yourself. It’s really easy to eat unhealthily, or not eat enough, not get enough sleep etc, you get the gist. Try your best to keep a balanced diet and lifestyle.
Overall, I want to add that if you’e thinking of coming on exchange, do it! It is absolutely amazing!
That’s all for now, if you have any questions please comment! 🙂