It’s A Wrap

Hi, it’s me again. Can’t believe it’s December and that I am leaving the Netherlands in less than 2 weeks. It feels so surreal that my exchange is coming to an end! Before studying for my Management final and saying goodbye to my friends here in Maastricht, I went to Poland with my friend Janice for our last trip together in Europe.

I had always wanted to visit Poland. It’s not a very popular destination for many tourists, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to go to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and learn about the history that impacted millions of people. It was disturbing to see things like the gigantic mass of hair that was shaved from the prisoners’ heads and to learn that the brutal images displayed in the museum were merely a tip of the iceberg. Nonetheless, I think it is so important that we look back at this part of the history, and remember and learn from the lessons it teaches.

On a lighter note, we did an underground salt mine tour in Poland that was incredibly fun and interactive. We took the miner’s route to experience what it’s like to be a miner instead of the visitor’s route, which shows tourists some amazing sites (like a beautiful church) built inside the salt mine. We changed to the uniform and put on the gear before going in. Only 4 people including the 2 of us were in our group, so it was so easy to ask questions and talk to our guide. From time to time our guide would give us simple and fun tasks: cutting wood with a saw, braiding a rope with a machine, finding maps and guiding the group to the next site, etc. It was super interesting and definitely something you can’t experience elsewhere, haha. We also saw a beautiful chandelier made out of salt. At the end of the tour, we even got a certificate to show off our “hard work” underground! I recommend anyone to try this salt mine tour.IMG_5245

After that, we followed a free walking tour to explore Warsaw but it was so cold to be outside and we couldn’t really pay attention to the guide while trying not to freeze to death. Then we had lunch at the famous chain, Zapiecek, to try traditional Polish dumplings and sour rye soup. I also got their house special- pork knuckle. Everything was delicious and very reasonably priced. Would definitely want to go again the next time I go to Poland.

And then we are back in Maastricht. My 8:30 am PBL has been fairly interesting, though I would for sure enjoy it a lot more if it was after 9 am, LOL. My exam is in 9 days, but most of my attention has been focusing on my Christmas trip to Portugal and Spain that is happening after finals. My friend from Hong Kong is coming to the Netherlands and we are spending Christmas together in Europe. It’s going to be the first time for both of us so I’m extremely excited.

If anyone reads to this point, I am so happy and (proud of you HAH) thank you for reading! Sadly this is my last blog here, but I will continue posting on my travel Instagram (@hollandayssophie) if anyone is slightly interested in seeing how spending Christmas in Portugal is like. For future exchange students coming to Maastricht, you won’t regret it and I wish you have an amazing experience!IMG_5253



Traveling Season

Hey, it’s me again!

Since my previous blog, I traveled to the Hague, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Gent, Kinderdijk, Luxembourg, and Efteling Theme Park. I would say Period 1 ended on a good note!

For the first time in my life, I traveled solo. I went to Rotterdam and Kinderdijk in the Netherlands, and Gent and Antwerp in Belgium(cheers to Maastricht’s convenient geographical location). It was truly a wonderful experience and I highly encourage everyone to go on a solo trip at least some point in their exchange.

Maybe it is just me, but not having a travel partner for the first time was exciting and a bit of stress! My apprehension before the trip mainly was due to how forgetful of a person I am. I was worried about leaving my passport in the hostel, missing the train, forgetting my charger and so on. Also, because I go to SBE, I did not have reflection week after my final, which was scheduled on the Friday two days before period 2. I could not go anywhere too far and the hostel was more expensive in the weekend, so I decided to visit somewhere in the Netherlands and Belgium that I haven’t been before two days before taking my final.

I did not plan a concrete itinerary and google “must-sees in…” like I would when traveling with others. Instead, I wandered in these cities at my natural pace and tried to let them lead my way. I did miss a bus, haha, and I almost lost my OV chipkaart at the train station, but I made it. It was a feeling that I had never felt before. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to go abroad and see the world. More importantly, I am grateful for myself for seizing this opportunity to make the most of my time here. I was a bit down when I got my final schedule, thinking that I would be stuck in my dorm studying while my friends go on fun adventures in Santorini and Rome. But it turned out great! 🙂

After final, my friend Janice and I went to the Efteling Theme Park for our birthday celebration. Our birthdays are only 5 days apart and we decided to do something fun together! The next day, we went to the Hague with 2 other friends because our friend Tamar, who is from there, offered to tour us around. Having a local guide to show us around is so great! The city was really beautiful and serene which I loved. Though some of the architecture resembled the ones in Maastricht, the Hague was more modern and energetic to me and I could see myself living there.



The Hague

The following weekend, I went to Luxembourg with a couple of friends. This time my friend Jo who lives there offered to be our tour guide and host for dinner, and we could not thank her enough for that! Her family is the most loving and amazing host: Jo’s mom prepared a great dinner for us, and her dad drove us to the Vianden Castle the next day. We wouldn’t have been able to go there without a car because we had to catch the flixbus at 3pm. Plus, both Jo and her dad were awesome tour guides who explained the history and stories of the site very well. They made our trip incredibly fun and memorable. Sidenote: We all were so excited to visit a local’s home in Europe and even felt a bit homesick when we got there because we had not been in a house for months!


Dinner at my friend’s house in Luxembourg


Vianden Castle in Luxembourg


This is a wrap for the blog this month. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I will be heading to Prague with ESN next week and I can’t wait to see the Xmas market there! I will also be going to Poland so stay tuned for more travel photos!


PBL and Traveling

Hi! So this blog is mainly about the classes I am taking this period at SBE and my travel experience outside of Maastricht so far.

Before signing up for classes, I sent the course advisor a list of courses that seemed interesting to me. The advisor then recommended some classes based on my academic background and the course passing rates. That was really helpful because very few students from my home university came to Maastricht before, and I did not have the chance to get some insight from former exchange students before coming here.

I am currently taking Managing Learning and Development at the workplace(EBC2032) and Development Economics(EBC2092). So far my class experience has been great. I especially like the MLD class in which we learn about how to cultivate an optimal learning environment in the corporate setting. The course consists of two stages: PBL stage and project stage. The PBL stage is basically class discussions like most other classes in Maastricht. During the project stage, we interview a professional from an assigned company and write a final report based on the interview and everything we have learned in the 1st stage. I had never interviewed any professionals before so it is a very interesting and new experience for me. I am so glad I chose this class as the knowledge we get is very practical and applicable to many fields. While there is a lot of reading(like every other class in Maastricht), the workload is manageable.IMG_3676IMG_3661

My friend and I decided to go to the Black Forest National Park and Heidelberg in Germany. And before going into the forest to try a slice of authentic black forest cake, we stopped by Colmar in Alsace, France. For people who like Studio Ghibli, Colmar is the inspirational site for Howl’s Moving Castle! Even people who have not seen the movie would think that this town looks like a fairytale town. I felt like I was walking into a storybook when wandering around. Colmar also has some cool wineries that offer wine tasting and an indoor market where local, affordable food can be found.


We then took the train to Triberg im Schwarzwald, a town inside the Black Forest in Germany. Our main goals were to see the biggest Cuckoo Clock in the world, the House of 1000 Clocks, and the longest waterfall in Germany! Triberg gave a more tranquil vibe compared to Colmar because there were fewer tourists. The old man at the House of 1000 Clocks was incredibly nice and passionate about cuckoo clocks. He explained to me the mechanisms and the history of the clocks and patiently showed me around the store. The waterfall was a bit disappointing in my opinion because it comprised many short segments which made up “the longest waterfall”. It looked more like an ordinary creek to me.


The last stop of our trip was Heidelberg. A lot of people were there, probably because it was a Sunday. We did a one-hour long castle tour then wandered around, got some really good gelato, then bussed back to our hostel.

That’s a wrap for my blog 2! In the upcoming weeks, I will be taking my final, going to Efteling theme park for my birthday, visiting the Hague and Luxemburg, and more. Stay tuned!

The Beginning


Hi Y’all! My name is Sophia and I am from California, USA. I arrived in Maastricht in August and will be spending the next 4 months here as an exchange student at the School of Business and Economics.

Before coming here, I traveled with my family to Paris, Brussels, Brugge (10/10 recommended, by the way), Amsterdam, and Giethoorn in the Netherlands. Something unexpected happened during our trip: my suitcase got stolen. We took a direct Flixbus to go from Brussels to Amsterdam. Like other passengers, we put our suitcases in the bottom of the bus before departure. The bus was direct and did not make any stops before arriving in Amsterdam. We were among the first passengers to get off the bus and did not see anyone took my suitcase. So we could only conclude that the suitcase was taken away before the bus left from the Brussels station. Anyways, it was chaotic and made me sad, to say the least, but I was really fortunate to have my family by my side, comforting me and helping me make arrangements. We then decided not to let this incidence interrupt our vacation, and had a good time at Giethoorn. It was nice that I got to make awesome memories with them in Europe before living on my own and being 12+ hour flight away from them.


During orientation, I made friends with other exchange students coming from France, Japan, Belgium, and Spain. Together, we toured the school and the city of Maastricht and had a mock PBL session. As many may already know, PBL stands for Problem Based Learning, meaning that classes are discussion-based, and students collaborate with one another to solve problems. I was a bit worried about this learning style because, in most American public universities, students listen to professors’ lecture in big lecture halls. Whereas here, students are responsible for actively participating and sharing their knowledge with the group. However, turns out PBL is not half as stressful as I imagined and has been in fact quite effective in assisting with my learning. One tip is to be prepared for each PBL session by doing the readings on time and making sure to ask questions if there is any confusion. The classes are very fast-paced, and new concepts are almost always built upon the old ones. But overall the workload is manageable, and exchanging knowledge and ideas with your peers is more beneficial than you may think. Also, the tutor is there to facilitate the discussion and clarify confusions when needed. Most students I have met so far seem to enjoy PBL style, so no need to get stressed out 🙂


Aside from academics, Maastricht has a lot to offer. There is always something going on in the city, like karaoke nights at Peter’s Irish Pub, ISN’s parties, street food festivals at the market square, etc. (Tip: on Tuesdays, movie tickets at Pathé are €5 each). And if you are more interested in the cultural experience, the St. Petersburg fort and underground cave tours may sound appealing to you. Biking around to explore is fun too, and it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the city before classes start. One of the good things about Maastricht is its proximity to Germany and Belgium. Be ready for spontaneous day trips and weekend getaways! This weekend I am going to Cologne and Aachen, Germany and I cannot wait to get some good German food. Also, the International Student Network (ISN) organizes trips to cities like Prague, Brussels, and Munich (for Oktoberfest) and they seem like some pretty good deals so I am excited about that.


I’ve been enjoying my experience here because of how diverse the school is. You will meet local Dutch students as well as exchange students coming from various backgrounds who want to make the most out of their time here. I am so thrilled about the upcoming 4 months and sharing my experience with y’all. Stay tuned for more blogs and travel tips!