The end is in sight…

Hello readers!

 

It is crazy to think that this is my final blog that I’ll be writing for you! this means, as the title suggests, that the end is in sight…

I’m not so sure how to feel about this! We just have a few weeks left here in Maastricht, and then exchange is over! As stereotypical as this will read, it has been an absolute rollercoaster. From Arrival week, to travels, to friends, cycling, amazing sunsets, exams…and so much more.

With the end near comes a feeling of nostalgia. i’ve met some lovely people who I may or may not see again. The end of this is really bitter sweet – we are of course exciting to do some more travel, and then go home to our family and friends. But it is unbelievable how fast this has gone.

Now that I don’t have too long left, I will try to do as much travel as I can, soak up whatever is left of Maastricht and the Netherlands, and really appreciate what I have here.

I cannot begin to explain how much I have learnt. There has been so many laughs, tears, happiness, surprises, friends…you name it!

If you are thinking about going on exchange, I just have two words for you, DO IT!!!!

 

Thank you for reading my blog! Please comment for any questions,

 

lots of love and good luck!

 

Sonali xxx

 

 

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Period 5 begins!

Hi again everyone!

We are now in week 2 of period 5, which means we are well over half way through exchange!

I just travelled to Paris and Amsterdam with my parents over the break. Paris was amazing, we visited many tourist sites, ate great food and croissants, and overall had a great time. I recommend going to Paris because not only is it a great city to travel to, but also because there is a 19 Euro bus straight there from Maastricht! Much cheaper compared to the train or a flight! Amsterdam was also a great place to visit (again). If you’re here in the spring semester, I recommend going to the Keukenhof Gardens which are open from March-May, close to Amsterdam. These gardens are incredible, and really show off Holland’s amazing tulips. I can easily say that I have never seen so many tulips in my life! It is not too expensive and is really worth doing the day trip there. I’m even considering going again! Quick tip – don’t go in March, the flowers will not be in bloom! best to go Mid April-may!

 

University:

It is really great to be back in Maastricht and to see everyone again. It’s amazing how accustomed you become to seeing the people you live with everyday.

Period 5 has begun, this period I only have classes on Mondays and Thursdays, which means I can easily do weekend trips, and even short trips on Tuesday/Wednesday. I think my subjects this period are a little easier, which will make life easier in general.

 

Trips:

This weekend, many people are going to Munich for Springfest with ISN. We have all bought german outfits and are super excited for it! On Wednesday 27th April is Kingsday, again we are travelling with ISN to Amsterdam to celebrate. In the next blog I will surely update you on how the trips with ISN were. It seems though, that these trips are worth it, especially since ISN organises all the transport, accommodation etc for us!

 

That’s all for now!

 

 

 

 

 

Almost half way!

Hello again! As the title of this blog suggests, I am almost half way through my exchange program here in Maastricht. Exams are soon approaching, and then we will be done with period 4! It is unbelievable that we have been in Maastricht for almost two months now – time really flies!

General Things:

I can now say that I have settled into life in Maastricht. It’s definitely really different from my life in Sydney, but it is a fantastic experience. I have learnt so much living away from home, not only about doing things for myself, but I’ve also learnt more about myself as a person. The weather is finally warming up – there is much more sunshine and much less rain!

The warm weather makes it nice to go to the Markets, which are held every Wednesday and Friday. At the markets, you can buy fresh fruit and veges, meat, seafood, great cheeses, and other little things. It’s really nice to spend an hour or so at the markets – I highly recommend it!

After being in Maastricht for over a month, you will find that you settle in quite easily. You will learn good tips from other exchange students, especially those who have already been studying in Maastricht for a semester, and are currently completing their second semester. You’ll know your way around the university, and hopefully, you’ll be accustomed to the PBL system here.

Travels:

I travelled to Amsterdam for a weekend with my corridor at the Guesthouse. Travelling around the Netherlands is very easy to do, and is also quite cheap if you get a group ticket for transport. It was nice to go to a big city for the weekend, because unfortunately there isn’t much to do on the weekend in Maastricht!

This weekend, I have been in Lancaster in England. I have a friend studying there, and also have some family there, so it will be great to spend time with them and have some meals cooked for me!

Study/exams:

In about a week, it’s exams time! It’s hard to find motivation to study whilst on exchange, especially because there’s always someone to talk to and somewhere to travel to! I recommend studying in the library, or a quieter area – it’s hard to study in the guesthouse (unless you have a quiet corridor).

Holidays:

 

After exams, we all have about ten days of holidays. Everybody has been planning where to travel to…some going to Spain, Italy, France…you name it! It’s important to take advantage of the fact that you’ve got ten days off, and you’re right in the centre of Europe! I will be going to The Hague to visit a friend for a couple of days, then I will be travelling In Paris and Amsterdam with my parents who are here to visit me.

At this point, I can definitely say that exchange is something that makes you a much stronger person. It is an invaluable experience for many different reasons – you learn how to do things for yourself, how to budget, how to look after yourself, what to do in times of adversity when you don’t have your family to rely on. On the other hand, you get to travel, meet plenty of different people from around the world, experience new things, and most importantly, have a lot of fun.

Since I really have to study, that’s all for this blog! I hope you have enjoyed reading and I look forward to writing my next one.

Bye!

The first few weeks

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.

University

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

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

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! 🙂