You’ll get used to Maastricht

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Ok so, let’s say you’ve just got here, in Maastricht.

Let’s say that you’re half an hour late on your timetable because you forgot and sat in the wrong coach on the train from Amsterdam and so you had to get down at Eindhoven and wait for the next one (it happens to the best of us).

Let’s say that you’re standing in front of the station, tugging at your sweater’s sleeves because it’s much colder (or warmer, depending on where you are from) that you’ve anticipated.

Let’s say that you look around.

And let’s also say that you’re terrified.

It makes sense, nothing looks familiar. The voices, the signs, the people. Even the sky looks a tiny bit more Dutch than what you’re used to. But don’t worry: you’ll get used to it.

You’ll get used to the fact that you’re a kid from Stranger Things now and the only vehicle you will ever use is a bike. Just like you’ll get used to the fact that car drivers here are like unicorns, not only incredibly rare but also magically nice, stopping miles before you even approach the lines to let you cross the street.

You’ll get used to the fact that pushing a man’s buttons here doesn’t make him red angry, but actually turns him green. At least when it comes to traffic lights.

You’ll get used to Maastricht at 7 pm. The cobbled streets glowing under splashes of neon lights, like you were in some sorts of DC movie.

You’ll get used to the fact that waffles here are readily available, incredibly cheap and dangerously delicious. Just like beer.

You’ll get used to the sound of clinking glasses slowly turning into one of clinking heels at 4 am. Hold my arms ‘cause I’m stumbling. Boy talk knows no nationality.

You’ll get used to the ‘They speak Dutch here?’ jokes and no, you won’t learn Dutch. At all.

You’ll get used to looking into eyes that weren’t even in your same hemisphere a few of days ago.

You’ll fall in love with smiles and accents you’ve never known before.

You’ll get used to talking to kids that never felt the water of your sea with their toes, but that were playing Yugi-Oh with their brothers just like you, even if under different skies.

You’ll get so used to going to the gym in a church, and having drinks in a church, and taking notes in a church and getting coffee in a church that the one day you’ll actually walk into a proper church it’ll feel weird.

You’ll get used to looking into the warm windows, consciously lighten up, to show a glimpse of somebody’s life. Voyeuristic privacy.

The words ‘de Alla’ will have a meaning for you. Which meaning depends on the night and the number of drinks you had.

If you’re not already, you’ll get used to making Powerpoint presentations.

You’ll get used to the failed attempts at pronouncing street names that always start out so promising until nonsense sounds start rolling off your tongue like a tumbleweed in a western film.

You’ll get used to that random sock in the hall of your apartment that at first was stressing you out but now it’s like a weird pet and you’ll feel weird if it’d ever disappeared.

You’ll even get used to the nonsense that is the myPrint account.

You’ll get used to Maastricht. And, in the meantime, you’ll fall in love with it.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Advertisements

New journey begins @Maastricht

img_1466-jpg

New journey begins @Maastricht

A Marvellous Journey

I’m an international student from China, but I’ve been studying and living in Canada for more than 6 years. I guess it’s a smart decision to escape Canada from the snowy season in Feb (I still love Canada!).  I’m in Master of International Business at Queen’s Smith Business School, and currently doing my master exchange at Maastricht University.

After celebrating Spring Festival with my parents in Jan, I was busy in packing and preparing for my Euro Trip. It took me more than 30 hours to fly from Da Lian, China to Amsterdam, Netherlands (long story). Then I took train to Maastricht right after my flight for 2.5 hrs. (Tip: I would recommend you in asking the staff to print out your schedule, thus you know when to transfer.) I cannot imagine me with two 23kg luggages would survive without the pick-up service from ISN. (Thanks Sebastian from ISN!).

Introduction Day

img_1087-jpg

img_1115-jpg

I received my student card & admission letter in the morning. All exchange students receive warm welcome from Dean of SBE, Dr. W.H. Gijselaers, and last but not least politie. (Tip: You may also ask for the letter which is one of the documents you would need from Student Services Centre in order to open a Dutch bank account.) In the afternoon, everyone was assigned to a group of people for taking a city tour. It’s a cozy city which has decent number of supermarkets, shopping stores and restaurants. I enjoyed it though my feet disagree with it.

Welcome drinks * 8

img_1146-jpg

I signed up the Pub Crawl event hosted by ISN on Feb 2nd. More than 400 people show up in the Markt at 8:30pm and waiting to be surprised by checking out 6 clubs till midnight. It’s an amazing experience since you could meet groups of people from all around the world, you name it, and yes we got lots of shots. I’m also glad that most of people I’ve met speak English here. On the other day, we had PBL simulation and learned how tutors would facilitate the session. And 2 more welcome drinks awaits!

What’s more? 

On a sunny day, a lady came to me and ask if she could take a picture of me. Guess what, I got featured by Humans of Maastricht!

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-3-13-13-pm

16463330_1230947716981992_999004142243921759_o

(Photo Credit to V @Humans of Maastricht)

So did I have any difficulties along the way?

Of course. It’s challenging to study and live abroad, though this is my second time. But I believe that as long as I have an open and optimistic mind, I will be fine. I would like show my gratitude to the nicest driver – Nacho, lovely Buddy – Caroline, omniscient knowledgeable friend – Eric, new friend – Guo Ai, and sweet MIB classmates from Queens. Thank you for helping me to figure out where I can buy travel adapter, the most convenient way to purchase a train ticket, and where I could have delicious Asian food….Dankuwel! Looking forward to my exchange journey!

Stay tuned.

Feb 10th, 2017

Jane Cai

fullsizerender-jpg

img_1292-jpg

Bungee Jumping and Christmas Markets

Drinking Glühwein at Cologne’s Christmas Market

We’re down to the last month, and as I enter my final few weeks in Europe, I can’t help but feel bittersweet about returning to the US. During our Introduction Days, Philip Vergauwen, the Dean of SBE, discussed the diversity of the student body and Maastricht University’s commitment to creating an international community. After 3½ months here, I’ve found his words to be true, and I’ve been very lucky to meet many people from all over the world.

Some of the people who came to our Thanksgiving Potluck

Thanksgiving, one of my favorite American holidays, was on November 24th this year. The first one was celebrated in October 1621, and was celebrated by both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans after their first harvest. Now, it is a holiday to give thanks and enjoy a delicious dinner with others. My floor thought it would be a great idea to introduce this celebration to our European friends, so each of us invited a few friends to join us for a Thanksgiving potluck. The turnout was much larger than expected (~30 people), and as a result, all of us had a lot of leftovers to sustain us for the next few days.

Dumpling making party

As a part of ISN’s Social Dinners program, my group members and I took turns sharing traditional dinners from our respective families. Previously, we went to our Dutch friend’s house, who served us Dutch pannekoekens with stroopwafel ice cream! :9 For my turn, I invited them over to the Guesthouse to make dumplings from scratch and watch Christmas movies. Although we had a few accidents in the beginning, our dumplings still came out well!

Post-bungee jumping in the Hague

Our next adventure was taking the train up north to the Hague to bungee jump off of Scheveningen Pier! My go-to fun fact is that I’ve bungee jumped 33 times, so this getaway made it #34! We got to the beach at around 5 PM, so we were able to leap off the pier during sunset. To celebrate our adrenaline-filled evenings, our friend introduced us to Oliebollen, which is now my new favorite Dutch pastry.

Christmas Markets

Maastricht

Magisch Maastricht

During the month of December, Maastricht’s Vrijthof transforms into a festive bazaar where you can go ice skating, ride the Ferris wheel, or explore the many souvenir or food booths in the center. ISN held an ice skating event there, and we got 3 tickets for drinks to spend as we wanted. It’s been a while since any of us ice skated, so we wiped out consecutively within the first 10 minutes. Despite these initial incidents, we eventually became somewhat more coordinated by the end of the night.

ISN Ice Skating

Cologne and Aachen

Glühwein is always more enjoyable with friends

Yesterday, my friends and I went to the Christmas markets in Cologne and Aachen, a must-see if you are in Maastricht during the holiday season. Personally, I used this excursion as an excuse to drink glühwein, try as many delicious foods as I could, and shop for Christmas presents. Since we had two Germans in our group, we were able to try all the best foods in both cities! :^)

Something delicious with a dark chocolate drizzle

I was surprised to find out that Cologne had six Christmas markets, and we explored five of them before heading to Aachen for dinner. My favorite one was the “Markt der Engel,” or Angel Christmas Market, because of how beautiful the lights looked after sundown. 

Markt der Engel

In the 4 months that I’ve been here, I’ve travelled to 9 countries and 28 cities, and I’ve made some friendships that I know will last, even if we are in different countries or continents. Thank you, Maastricht University, for one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.

Hope to see you again soon,

Caroline (Instagram: @oh.deeeng)

Previous Posts: