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How Do You Keep Travelling

At least once a week someone asks me how do I do it. How do I keep on travelling and how do I it with money. Aah money. The magic word for which every backpacker would wake up for. Just whisper in their ear: “Hello sunshine! Time to rise and shine! Money is waiting for you!”
BAM! I garantuee you, that person will jump out of its bed and be wide awake.
Money, expecially among younger backpackers, seems like a never ending struggle. It is like water in the desert: where can you get it?

In this blog I would like to give you some tips on how to save and earn money while travelling. I will mainly focus on countries where I have been and where you can obtain a Working Hoiday Visa (WHV) such as New Zealand and Australia. With a WHV you can legally work up to 6 months for the same employer. Check the immigration websites for more details as every country has different rules and regulations. Also, make sure you know your rights; there are very nasty companies who do not pay you the right amount or tax you more than you should be.

Little important things to think about, but firtst of all, I would encourage everyone to go travelling. Even if it’s just for a year or so. It really opens up your mind and might makes you change it too. Were you planning on studying? Perhaps you change your study. Did you really wanted to work in IT? Maybe you find out you enjoying working in construction more and maybe your relationship is as good as it seems. Travelling gives you knew insights and perspectives on your live but also on yourself. Some people call it: “finding yourself“. It sounds a bit too dreamy for me but you will find out a great deal about yourself and work on your social aspects. You might needs to push some boundaries and step out of your comfort zone more often than you hoped for.

To keep on travelling might have been a conscious descision or not. You might have , at one point, decided to continue and explore another country. Others just go with the flow and they have just ended up somehow, travelling on. I belong in the latter catergory. It was the mere suggestion of my partner who suggested that we could go to Australia after New Zealand, and so we did. We started dreaming of other places and where to go next. Because you as free as a bird, you can do whatever you want to do and that feels great.

However, this doesn’t mean I am lying on the beach the whole day, sleep in, stay up late, party and consume lots of booz and drugs, like some of my friends and family are thinking. I would like to get this huge misunderstanding out of the way. Surely, there are backpackers who do that and love it but if you are travelling on a long term basis – let’s say, longer than 1 year – it becomes a lifestyle and who wants to live, needs to eat. Who needs to eat, needs money to buy food. Thus, you probably need to work at some point. (There are still many backpackers calling their parents for money…). Travelling can be hard work. We tend to wake up early and go to bed around 9-ish. Making a cup of coffee or tea involves a bit more than just putting the kettle on. Little things take much more time as you have limited space or facilities.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love camping and living in a car but it does require some energy.

When we settle down for a few months to fill up our wallets, we both go out looking for a job. I will be the one backpackers waking up with the whisper: “money is waiting for you”. But to get that money, I will have to work.

So here we come to tip no. 1. WORK. The magic word. But not every backpacker will jump out of its bed to work. Specially if you don’t like your job. In my case, I’m working 2 jobs and both of them are quite OK but not fantastic. It does bring in a fair bit of income but it is brain draining too. Knowing it is just for a short period – usually 2 or 3 months – I can deal with it.  Easy jobs are not dreamjobs. For example housekeeping. It is something I have done many times before and very easy to get. Still, I absolutely loathe it but when I look in the long term, it will keep me on the road for a while.

You don’t need to do things you don’t like. I choose to work easy jobs as I want to start quick and work hard to earn a lot of money. That is why I don’t look to long for a job and take the first thing I get. Others do look a bit longer and ending up with someting they more enjoy – or not.
A huge adventage of working while travelling is that you can try many things. Actually, you can do anything you want! In the countries where I have been, nobody cares about your education; as long you have the right attitude. Your experience list will grow rapidly. I can proudly say I have worked as a: cheesemaker, vegan baker, kitchenhand, sheep herder, housekeeper, doorknocker, car sales(wo)man, barista, waitress, receptionist, grape picker. On a blue Monday I have changed engine oil and break fluid for someone on a parking lot in Christchurch.

Tip no. 2 will sound like your mother. Or an accountant. Simply, don’t spend that much. Do you really need to stay in a caravan park for $45 a night? Do you really need to have a take-a-way coffee every day and $3 croissant? You can spend your money in a more sufficient way. Think in the long-term and about practical things. Great that you have 5 different shorts and 3 pair of jeans but how do you want to carry that around? It is better to invest in things you will need on the long run on your journey than buying new stuff all the time. Good hiking shoes or a head light are one of the things you can spend your money on and enjoy them for a long time.

So the conclusion? How to keep on travelling?  First of all: work whenever you have the change. Even if you don’t really have to work but you are still settling down for a few months, you should find a job. You will be grateful in the end as it will keep you on the road for a long strecht.
Second: don’t spend all your earnings on crap you don’t need. In matter of fact, try to safe up as much as possible. Let’s be honest, do you really need to have 6 pairs of shoes? And third: work and travel your own way. I have met many backpackers who either work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, or people who don’t work and be drunk every night. These are 2 complete different examples of how you can travel. Most important is that you do it your way. If you don’t feel comfortable working 7 days a week, than don’t. Keep things fun; it is your journey.

The Australian Kitchen

Chop. Slice. Blend. Stir. Mix. Rinse. Mash. Fry. Pop. Steam. Cook. Boil. Grill. Smoke. Dry. Rest. Bake. Fillet. Season. Drizzle. Mix. Beat. Slimmer. Serve. Eat.

In November 2015, Australia launched a new food channel: The Food Network. Not that this country lacks any cooking show. During prime time you can get inspired by Aussies BBQ Heroes, Jamie Oliver’s Superfood, Chopped, The Spirit of Japan, Inferno Kitchen, UK Bakes, Cabinet’s Kitchen and a dozen of others. Despite the huge range of these programs, it seemed viewers were in the need of something more. Quite funny, in my opinion, as Australia doesn´t really have decent food culture.

Every single European I come across has been complaining about the same thing: Australian food sucks. The bread is too soft, the coffees are too weak, soda’s are incredibly sweet and artifical. Above all: who came up to create Vegemite chocolate?! No, Australia is not a country like France or Italy where you could go to just because of its kitchen. France can be named in one sentence with croissant, crêpe, brie en Boeuf Bourguignon. Italy just breaths pizza and pasta. Perhaps Australia can be described with sausage rolls or pies. Not the chocolate pie or Dutch apple pie, but minced beef pie. It comes with a dash of ketchup and if you’re lucky, it had been made the same day. If not – what most likely the case is – you will probably munch it after a good night out.

The cooking shows are a big puzzle for me, as there is no point in broadcasting them. Why look at them and not use them? Sure, Jamie Oliver can provide you great ideas for dinner and it is quite entertaining but how likely is it you are actually going to put this in practice? Nihil, I assume. It is a real shame, as Australia has many farmers and produces a lot of fresh vegetables, meat and dairy. However, most of the harvest will be exported to other countries and Australia ends up importing more products. For example: the Passionfruit Christmas Pudding has been created in England from imported ingredients and exported to Australia. Same for the Belgian Chocolate Cake, made in Belgium – I guess this is actually a good thing – and the kiwi’s are imported from Italy. You start to wonder if this country keeps anything for themselves and if they are able to cook something more than a mashed avocado toast.

Well, there is one thing Australians are bloody good at doing: the barbecue. It is the French gourmet pan, the Italian pizza oven and the Belium deepfrying pan. All hail, make way for the Australian Barbecue! You cannot live without a barbecue unless you deny that you are in Australia. There are options for vegetarian and vegans so no one will be left behind. Every household owns at least one of these smoking hot grills. Either working on gas or with – flavoured! – coals: char grill, steam, woodfire, spit, portable or smoking. Australia has the answer. There are free electric barbecues in parks if your backgarden is too small. Every day, the council cleans them but on the country side, you might be a bit unlucky. Most rest areas have designed barbecue pits so that you could still light the barbie, if you could not afford a portable on – and also to prevent bushfires.

Knowing this, the only understandable cooking show which makes sense, is Aussie Barbecue Heroes. I wouldn’t be surprised if locals pick something up from this show. Three couples have to face different barbecue challanges such as “create a dish with prawns, sweet chili and basil, within 30 minutes!” or “give me a fushion steak!” It is far more interesting than Australia’s Master Chef with the tension around Sally’s dish and the question if the eggs of her quinea salad are boiled on the point or not.

To wrap up the Australian kitchen, you will need 3 things. Pie – preferable a few days old, reheated – a barbecue – to create excellent steaks – and an ice cold beer – but due to the heat, it is more likely a warm one. I haven’t discussed the matter “beer” but as most students among us know what a beer is, it seemed irrelevant to me to elaborate on that subject. There are no extrodinairy beers here: think about a simple beer and reduce the alcohol to 3.5% and that is your Australian beer. However, you never know what Jamie Oliver comes up with and turns it into a gourmet superfood. This country is full of surprises.

So there you go: pie, barbecue and a beer that goes along with it. Simple and easy, that is Australian food culture. Who needs Passionfruit Christmas Pudding anyway?

1903 Tour de France with Keir Plaice

Keir Plaice, a former semi-professional cyclist and 3rd year Bachelor Arts and Culture student, is embarking on a cycling ride of a lifetime. He is riding the route of the original Tour de France of 1903 and documenting his experience in his Le Grand Tour column in the cycling magazine Soigneur. Read on to find out more about Keir and his project!

Interview and photography: Brian Megens
Interview and text: Karissa Atienza

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Tell us about yourself.
I came to the Netherlands to race bikes for a Dutch cycling team in the summer of 2010. I’d rode for two years before that as a semi-professional cyclist in Canada. I wanted to try and make it to the very top of the sport, ride the Tour de France and the World Tour, but after a couple of years I realised that it wasn’t going to happen. I also met a Dutch girl that bound me to the country.

Why Maastricht?
After my cycling career, I realised that I better go to school and start a future outside of cycling. I’ve always loved reading. I really love literature and arts. I love going to museums and experiencing paintings. I decided that when I go to university I would study something purely out of interest and immerse myself in something I’m really interested in. I wanted to study something to do with art and literature in English. My choice was Maastricht or Groningen. Maastricht is a much more beautiful city than Groningen, especially if you’re a cyclist.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

How do you experience combining your study with your other interests?
When I decided start university, I decided that that would be my first priority. At the same time, whenever I had the free time I would go for a bike ride. I find that they really complement each other. I think lots of people who are very ambitious with school get completely caught up with university. When I go on my bike, I don’t take my phone, I don’t take anything. You just have a couple of hours in the countryside where it completely clears your head and it re-adjusts your priorities. It really helps you when you’re studying cos you’re not stressed about things.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

How did you start journalism?
When I was racing, I started keeping a blog mostly to let friends and family know how the races are going. After a while, I got bored saying the race grew hard after 25 km, I was in the second group, I suffered all day but finished 30th. So then I became more interested in conveying the experience of racing through words. Bike racing is something I was completely in love with and I thought it was a cool exciting, interesting experience but anytime you read anything in the newspaper or magazine, it just states the result. None of the experience is conveyed in the stories you read about it. I found that a real shame.
The cycling magazine Soigneur somehow found my blog and they really liked my writing and got in touch. I’ve been able to do several really interesting projects with them.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Tell us about your project.
The project started early this year when Soigneur asked me for any cool ideas. As a cyclist, of course, the big dream for everybody is riding the Tour de France. It’s the holy grail for every bike racer. It was something I had always wanted to do. It was an idea where I could give a conclusion to my own cycling story, to have my own Tour de France. I’ve always known that the early Tour de France was really interesting. At that time the sport was just beginning
At the same time, I’ve always known that the early Tours were really interesting. Back then, it was completely new. Someone just had an idea of ‘hey, let’s race in France’ and the idea just took off. Now, it’s all very organised and it’s the same every year. The stages of the early Tour de France were also much longer so there was a more adventurous approach towards the sport as opposed to the racing today. It’s impressive what the guys racing in the Tour can do today, but at the same time, every aspect of their lives is completely controlled. Because it’s so competitive and everyone is so good, there’s absolutely no room for error.
So you miss some of those crazy stories of what used to happen where the guys would go for a 120km long breakaways, stopping for ice cream, pull over at a bar on the side of the road because they didn’t have enough water, hiding behind the bushes and let the peloton or whatever was left still think there were someone in front. Because it wasn’t at this super high-end top of the sport, of course, they were still very competitive, they had a lot of freedom.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

What’s the plan?
I will ride the original route of the first Tour de France in 1903. So there are 6 stages, each between 270-470km. In total, it’s about 2500km. It’s basically the same programme as what they rode in 1903. Each of the stages is will be ridden in one shot. I’ll wake up at 4 ‘o clock in the morning and grab my bike and finish it. In between the stages, there are two or three rest days. There is a Maserati car riding with me for food, drinks, repairs and spare parts.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

How did you prepare?
Apart from my regular riding of about 15 hours per week, I made sure to do a few longer drive of 200-250km range. A couple weeks ago I went to Norway to ride a really big race there called the Styrkeprøven. It’s 540km from Trondheim to Oslo. That was twice as far as I’d ever ridden in my life. I surprised myself and finished second place at 14 hours and 10 minutes.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Follow Keir’s journey through France in the Soigneur magazine and the Maserati Cycling youtube channel and relive the first Tour de France! Watch Keir conquer the first stage of the Le Grand Tour from Paris to Lyon:

MUSST with Anouk Pouwelse

The new University Sports Centre officially opened earlier this year boasting more modern and spacious sports facilities, increased study spaces and a chic Sports Café Time Out! One of the first to move in in the new building is the university sports council, MUSST. They have their office right by the main entrance and you’ve most likely met them as they are the ones to greet you and scan your sports card. But do you know who MUSST is and what exactly they do? Read on to find out!

Interview and photography: Brian Megens
Interview and text: Karissa Atienza

MUSST

MUSST

What is MUSST?
MUSST stands for Maastricht University Student Sports Council. We are the coordinating body for all the sports associations. There are 26 associations right now and each has their own board. We act as the umbrella organisation above these 26 boards. Our job is to help the sports associations and the board members in their functions.

UM Sports Gym

UM Sports Gym

What does MUSST do?
Our task ranges from administration work to organisational matters. In terms of administration, we handle the requests for administrative board months as well as helping sports association apply for various subsidies, register for tournaments and so on. We help in setting up new sports associations. For example, earlier this year, we helped the cheerleading team become an official UM sports association and get to know the other associations.

We also take care of the organisational matters for various events like the Batavierenrace (the largest relay race in the world) and the Faculty Fight 2016 (the friendly battle between the six UM faculties) as well as inter-university competitions like the GNSK (Large National Student Championships). In the beginning of the year, we also organise a board weekend for all sports association for everyone to get to know each other and also for them to know that they can come to us for help.

UM Sports

UM Sports

What has changed this year especially with the news sports centre?
It’s really important that we’re now by the entrance of the University Sports Centre. We’re more visible and easier for people to approach so everyone gets to see us and can get to know us. There’s also a lot more promotion for the sports association. Since more sports associations are housed here and more activities are done here in the Sports Centre, the sports association can get more members because they’re more visible to everyone and it’s just more convenient. The number of associations also increased this year which was only possible because of the new building. We’re really happy with the new building!

MUSST

MUSST

For more information on MUSST, check out their website. Would you like to represent 26 student sports association for one year, in the function of president, secretary, treasurer or PR-sponsoring commissioner? Send an e-mail to bestuur@musst.nl before Friday, 24 June!

Would you like to represent 26 student sports association for one year, in the function of president, secretary, treasurer or PR-sponsoring commissioner? Send an e-mail to bestuur@musst.nl before Friday, 24 June!

FASHIONCLASH Festival with Branko Popovic

Every year since 2009, fashionistas descend to Maastricht as the city hosts the FASHIONCLASH Festival. It has attracted more than 900 talents from 50 different countries. This year’s 8th edition is bigger and better, involving more than 150 designers and artists from all over the world who will showcase their work and creations to a diverse international audience. Our Maastricht Students reporters sat down with Branko Popovic, founder of Fashion clash, and Melissa Stoots at Alley Cat Bikes & Coffee the location where it all began for Fashionclash Maastricht. What started as a small scale event grew to one of the main annual attractions of the city.

Interview and photography: Brian Megens
Interview and text: Karissa Atienza

What is FASHIONCLASH?
The whole idea started at the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design. When we graduated, there was no perspective for designers so it meant that most just left. It was quite a shame because there were a lot of good designers and people also weren’t aware of the Art Academy. We thought why don’t we organise a fashion show for local designers and our own work? It’s very difficult for young designers to find an affordable stage. So in 2009, we officially established FASHIONCLASH as a foundation and secured funding from the city and the province. It was also around that time when the city filed for candidacy as a cultural capital so there was a lot of buzz in the air.
For the first edition, we said let’s try something and it just exploded from there! Initially, we targeted local designers but what happened was we had 60 designers from all over BeNeLux. The first edition was a success but we didn’t sell out. We did generate a lot of media attention and people were talking about the event and how great we could do this. So we thought let’s do it again, let’s do it better and use all the things we learned from the first edition. The second edition was a great success! The shows were sold out and we had designers from 11 countries. Then we really realised that whole idea of creating a stage for young designers was not a local problem but an issue everywhere.
When we choose a theme, we always choose a theme that is connected to something topical. For this year’s edition, we have ‘heritage’ as our topic. Since we have designers from all over the world, we wanted to talk about how designers deal with their heritage. Everybody is immigrating everywhere, so how do designers deal with that? It’s what they do, designers translate their life experiences and vision to their work. At the same time, we’ll have some fashion talks and debates where we’ll talk about these things. It sounds simple but it stimulates culture and diversity and most especially, the beauty of it.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Branko & Melissa

What is the aim and goals of FASHIONCLASH?
Ou aim is to provide an affordable stage for young designers to present their work and designs. Fashion week cost thousands of euros just to participate. Initially, we thought it was a local problem because for designers that live in Amsterdam or Berlin there are more possibilities but based on the first edition of FASHIONCLASH, we realised it was a problem for a lot of starting designers.
We are growing every year, developing the concept and the idea, and learn from each edition. We’re trying to contextually develop the idea of showing fashion as an art form which distinguishes us from all the other fashion weeks in the world. It now puts Maastricht in quite a unique place in fashion. Something we want to develop as well in the coming years is to become more of a national institute, meaning that we also do something in other cities like Amsterdam, but the festival will always remain in Maastricht. We’ve been growing more outside the country so we want to develop more nationally. Also, if we want to grow and challenge ourselves, it’s good to collaborate with people from outside the city because we’ve worked with everyone here. It also creates a broader audience.

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

How can the students get involved?
Most of our interns and volunteers are actually students and they come from different studies. We have Arts and Culture and European Studies students and also students studying International Business and Commercial Management. It also changes every year. Some years we have more students from the Hogeschool, some years we have more UM students.
For the festival, we build a team and together we organise the festival. There’s around 10 of us in the team but we need more volunteers for the festival itself. We need a lot of volunteers, for example to guide the international press, to seat the guests, help with the exhibitions, etc.  There are a number of students who are models during the show and a lot of students are also doing their graduation research with us, so students are very welcome to engage somehow.

Why should students get involved?
The whole project is a learning curve for everyone. Most get involved because they really like fashion, like fashion lovers who want to get involved with fashion and also students that are doing business but are interested in the fashion business who wants to see what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a very interesting experience! For example, Arts and Culture students who specialise in Media Culture can do a lot. We give student interns real work where they can learn from and skills that they can further develop. It’s also a great way for student volunteers to meet people. You get to meet local and international designers, other people from the city and fellow students.
What do we have for students? It’s a really accessible festival. Just come and watch! Bring your student card and we have student tickets for 5 euros which you can buy at the venue itself. It’s nothing to see designers from all over the world. There are a lot of things for free, for example the exhibition market and events in the city. There’s also a party in the venue. It’s a very nice gathering of young people from all over the world. I would really recommend it!

Would you like to be part of the FASHIONCLASH Festival? Become a volunteer by sending an e-mail to Melissa at volunteers@fashionclash.nl!
The FASHIONCLASH Festival is accessible to everyone. Most of the programme is accessible for free while you can secure your spot at the Fashion Shows by purchasing a ticket. Don’t forget to check out their FB page or their website for more information on the Festival!

Photo by: Brian Megens Photography (www.brianmegens.com)

Rendy Jansen in His Paradise

You may have seen him in Rendy’s Paradise where he talks to students about important information in a much more fun and interesting way, but Rendy has a much more serious role in student affairs. He is the Student Advisor to the School of Business and Economics Faculty Board. In short, he sits at a table with the shakers and movers of SBE, but what exactly does he do? Read on and get inspired!

Interview and text: Karissa Atienza
Photography: Brian Megens

What do you do?
My main task is to be the person between the Faculty and the students. I have a seat at the SBE Faculty Board which is composed of the Dean, Vice-Deans and managing director. The main responsibility of the Board is the general management of the Faculty. My role is to represent the students’ interest, I give advice in all situations concerning the students. I also act as the communicator of the students to the Board, and as the communicator of the Board to the students.
In addition, I work in close cooperation with the other SBE student council members. We have a monthly meeting of the bachelor and master’s Programme Committee representatives and the student Faculty Council members where we talk about our work and our plans. I chair this meeting but I also meet with them often outside the meetings to help them in their work. My third responsibility is my work as the Operations Managers for the International Case Competition Maastricht. Every year about 16 universities from 10 countries from all over the world come here to do a case competition and they compete on real life cases to see who can come up with the best answer in a small amount of time.
It’s a lot but all my work revolve around the students and I love it! It’s a lot of different things but it’s all for the students interest. My spare time is spent on Rendy’s Paradise, which is still connected to students.

SBE Faculty Board meeting

SBE Faculty Board meeting

What’s the idea behind Rendy’s Paradise?
We wanted to improve communications with the students. Most don’t read newsletters, so we wanted to try something new. We shot a pilot, and people supported it.It’s always about something going on at SBE, for example, how to make your decision to go abroad or a chat with the Dean on why do we need a new strategy. I try to cover topics that are interesting for students in SBE in a more interesting way. Another series I’m doing is Geeks 4 You which is where we explain simple technological problems that people have, for example how to attach your calendar to your phone, your timetable etc.

What’s your goal this year?
I hope to improve the student community, especially the SBE community. I think we can do a lot of improvement regarding community, that people feel part of the SBE community and proud to be from SBE.

What surprised you in your position?
How open and innovative the people in SBE are! It’s great to work with these people. Everyone who runs this Faculty has so much energy and people really want to improve. They are very open for suggestions and open for change. It’s a really nice place to work! I was surprised in the modernity. Often universities are very old school. Here, everyone has the spirit that if something can be improved, we’ll do it.

Rendy Jansen

Rendy Jansen

Why did you want to become the Student Advisor?
I was the chairman of Focus (financial study association of Maastricht University) in my last year of Bachelor’s. As a chairman, I was responsible for the communications between the association and the Faculty, so I got to know a lot of the people here and I learned how things are beyond the normal student life. As a student, you only see a little and in my work, I got more informed on what’s going on in the Faculty beyond just my courses. I also worked my predecessor quite often because of my work in Focus and we talked about the role. I found it very interesting and I decided, this is what I want to do!

Why should students in Maastricht become a Student Rep, more specifically a Student Advisor?
It’s about the experience. If you are a person who sees a problem or something can be done better and you feel the need to change it or improve it, then do it! You have the opportunity to learn how to change things. You have the opportunity to practice a lot of skills, such politics, lobbying, and drafting proposals. The best part about it is that you achieve something positive and beneficial at the end. After your work, you walk way knowing you made something a better place!

© Brian Megens

WE Festival with Alexandra Frank

In a few weeks, Maastricht will play host to the vibrant WE Festival. But what is it? This week we met with Alexandra Frank. A third-year Arts and Culture student, she has been involved with the annual WE Festival since her first year and currently leads its programme committee. Read on to hear more about the upcoming WE Festival.

Interview and photography: Brian Megens
Interview and text: Karissa Atienza

© Brian Megens

Alexandra Frank, WE-Festival 2016

What is WE Festival?
It all started in 2010 as a small event organised by students who wanted to connect the squats (people who occupy empty houses to live in them) with the local community. Since then, the festival has grown much bigger, year after year, as well as our organisation team and local partners. What we aim to do is to stimulate local culture by connecting different communities in the city, focusing on sustainability and community building.
There are many different activities organised for the week-long festival centred around 5 categories: arts and culture, food and sustainability, workshops, music, and film. The arts and culture category includes cultural activities and performances like theatre, circus performances and art exhibitions while under food and sustainability, we have workshops, lectures and debates dedicated to create awareness about sustainability as well as daily vegan/vegetarian cooking workshops and walking dinners. Workshops can be for any skills that our volunteers want to share, last year we had belly dancing and woodworking for example. The music category includes the evening parties which features a mix of world-renown and local artists and bands. This year, we are hosting our first dedicated film festival.

© Brian Megens

Alexandra Frank, WE-Festival 2016

How can students participate in the WE Festival?
Students can participate in many ways. They can join the WE Festival as a visitor or a volunteer. They can share any skill or hobby for a workshop or an exhibition. It could be skills like pole dancing or cooking, anything or display their artworks during the event. Students can also attend the parties we organised. The bigger parties are during the weekend while in the weekdays, we organise smaller events like a chill music evening. As a visitor, students can also learn new things, go to skills workshops,lectures on sustainability, or watch films. There are a lot of activities organised throughout the week on various things and for different interests.

© Brian Megens

Alexandra Frank, WE-Festival 2016

How is the WE Festival different from last year?
We are getting bigger year by year, both the festival and the organisation team. Last year, we only had 4 categories, this year we added another category – film. The activities within the festival itself also changes year by year. The artists and the workshops are different every year depending on the volunteers and people’s interests.

© Brian Megens

Alexandra Frank, WE-Festival 2016

How did you get involved?
I heard about it from a friend 3 years ago who was involved and asked me if I wanted to join.I joined the organisation because I like the idea of community-building, connecting the students with other Maastricht communities. I was first in the promotion team and then last year, I joined the programme committee. This year, I’m head of the programme committee.

What are you looking forward to the most?
Everything! I’m looking forward to see the whole event happening.

© Brian Megens

Alexandra Frank, WE-Festival 2016

The WE Festival is from 24 April to 1 May at various locations in Maastricht. The festival kicks off with a free Open-air party at the Stadspark on the 24th  and two back-to-back closing parties on the 29th and the 30th. For more updates on the WE Festival’s programme, check their programme page or Facebook event.

© Brian Megens

Amnesty International Maastricht Students (AIMS)

This week we met with two of the Board members, Méabh Branagan and Magali Mattar, of Amnesty International Maastricht Students (AIMS). Together with 4 other Board members, Méabh and Magali lead a group of motivated Maastricht students with a passion for human rights. Méabh, a UCM student, is the PR Person while Magali, an ELS student, is in charge of Fundraising and Promotion. Read on to know more about this organisation and some of the students behind this movement. 

Interview and photography: Brian Megens
Interview and text: Karissa Atienza

How did Amnesty International Maastricht Students start?
We were founded in 1998 because a number of students were disappointed that only a few students joined the Torch Walk for the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In response and to raise awareness of human rights among the student population Maastricht, they decided to start AIMS.

Tell us more about the structure of AIMS…
We have 6 board members and 3 subgroups which are led by 2 board members each. The subgroups meet weekly, and these are where most of the activities are delegated. We have the Actions subgroup which is led by the PR and the President, then we also have the Lectures and Debates subgroup which is headed by the Secretary and Treasurer, and lastly, we have the Promotion and Fundraising subgroup which is what the Fundraising and External Contact Person are in charge of.

© Brian Megens

Magali Mattar

What does AIMS do?
We have a collection week every year in March, so we fundraise in the streets, which we send to the main Amnesty office in the Netherlands. This year, it’s from 13 to 19 March. We have a yearly budget of 10 percent of what we collect. We’re not funded by the University nor do we get administrative months for our work so we’re very independent and without any political affiliation. Everything that we collect from fundraising goes to the main office.

Do you collaborate with any other organisation?
We’ve had collaborations with the HeforShe UN, Justice for Palestine, and the Feminist society (UCM). We also collaborate with the Amnesty Maastricht group during the collection week in March and during the Human Rights week, we have letter-writing marathons. The Amnesty Maastricht group is separate from the Amnesty student organisation. We also collaborate with other student groups for a number of our activities like Movie That Matters. It’s where we screen movies that tackle human rights issues on the first Monday of the month. It’s the only thing that is actually coordinated within the other groups. It’s the same show throughout the Netherlands. There’s a National Student Day where Amnesty student groups get together in one of the cities and it’s a chance to meet up with the other groups and learn about their local activities.

Méabh Branagan

Méabh Branagan

Why did you join Amnesty Maastricht?
Magalie: During high school, the teachers always proposed to us that we should join Amnesty. They themselves were in an Amnesty group and if they need help, they would ask us. The activities were really supervised then. In here, it’s much more independent, so if you’re interested in a particular topic you can organise activities around that theme.
Méabh: I first came across Amnesty during high school. A teacher told us about it. I became one of their members, so we did things like signing petitions. I like that they focus on a full range of human rights rather than specific issues. When I came to Maastricht, I knew I wanted to continue.

Why should Maastricht students join Amnesty?
It’s a great opportunity to learn about human rights and be aware of the different issues in the world, and also to create awareness of these issues.

Show your support and join the Amnesty International Maastricht Students (AIMS) for an exciting Kick-Off Party for their annual Collection Week (13-19 March) this Sunday 13th March (13:00-19:00) at the Markt for an afternoon of dance, music, quiz games and other fun activities!

© Brian Megens

Samina Ansari, a Woman With a Mission

Samina Ansari is a 24-year-old Globalisation & Law Masters student at Maastricht University. Currently, she is in Kabul where she is a legal trainee at The Asia Foundation. Before she left for Afghanistan, we did an interview with her about her life, activities, and interest in women and refugee rights.

© Brian Megens

Samina Ansari

Interview & Text: Karissa Atienza
Interview & Photography: Brian Megens

Who is Samina?
My name is Samina Ansari, I am 24 years old and currently studying the Master Globalisation & Law at Maastricht University. I was born in Afghanistan but my family moved to Pakistan during the Taliban War in 1995. We lived in Peshawar for five years which was, and remains, the largest populated city by Afghan refugees. When the conflict in Afghanistan became much, much worse we realised that the Taliban was there to stay so we migrated to Norway for a better life.

I have a degree in Cyber Security Law from the University of Oslo, Faculty of Law. It’s a very new area but a very valuable one. Technology is always faster than law; law comes often when something has already happened so mixing technology and law is very interesting. After that, I did internships with the UN for a full year and then I came here.

How did you end up in Maastricht?
It was partly by choice, and partly a coincidence. I wanted to study international law, not only focusing on state interaction but also on organisations and corporations and how they interact with each other in a globalised world. They have a very good programme here in Maastricht, the Globalisation Law master. But studying international law is a bit depressing because it’s an instrument without teeth.Then again, international law is about principles and values of fundamental rights given to individuals and states. It is something that is often forgotten by the international community.

Why the interest in human rights?
I come from a family with a number of children. We all care about Afghanistan deeply. Not only because our roots are there, but also because we brought Afghanistan with us to Norway. We often talk about the issues and conflict there. It wasn’t only about state intervention or geopolitics. It’s often rooted back to human right violations. My mother was an amazing role model to all of us. She did her entire schooling all over again in Norway. Working on human rights is often helping the secondary. In Afghanistan and also other parts of the world, women are seen as the secondary. My mother, however, a woman with dignity, had achieved a lot by starting all over again and succeeding in many ways. She manifests human being’s true value, that became my main inspiration. Women are capable of what men are capable of as long as they are given the platform. Sometimes women are capable of even more!

Why refugees?
First of all, I was a refugee myself in Pakistan. In Norway, we became migrants but I could still feel the tension of always being the girl that came from overseas. Norwegians were warm with me and my family but seemed uninformed. Why are you here when you’re born in a different country? I felt that in my first years in Norway. I have this feeling of commonness with refugees, that I have felt it before and know other people might feel as well. Being a refugee is hard enough but sometimes refugees suffer multiple layers of violations, like being a woman or a child suffering from human rights abuses in the process of being a refugee. We have to help these people. From a globalised perspective, I think history has proven that the world is united so either we help them now or we don’t, but suffer with them at a later point. Why hide the cat in the hat and pretend it is not there?

What do you do?

Apart from writing blog posts about the refugee crisis, I am also a part of a group of students who are working on opening a refugee law clinic at the Law Faculty. I’m also working closely with a student refugee that has an organisation called Not Just a Number. What he’s focusing on is educating the Dutch people on what it is to be a refugee. I also recently did a fundraising lunch at the Soup Solo. We raised money for women at the Zaatari refugee camp, which is the largest refugee camp in Jordan. It was for the HeforShe campaign. We raised a little bit over €425,- to provide 50 women skills training within the Zaatari camp to fight violence against women inside the camp. It also gives them a reason to get out of their tent and participate in the community.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I think Norway, actually. It’s all about the platform you are a part of. You can still be an individual, but being part of a good platform makes you a stronger individual. Having Norway as a platform can be a great privilege in helping others. I will continue working on women’s empowerment and refugee-related issues. I want to continue reaching out where I can and I believe anyone can reach out, wherever they are, no excuses.

Do you feel Afghan?
I get this question a lot. Even though I have bits and pieces of my heart here and there I don’t belong to any country. I am just Samina.

After the interview:
Samina recently took a trip to Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem where she met with the human rights clinic at Tel-Aviv University to learn from their refugee-related research. One of the issues she learned was that Israeli territories are facing the humanitarian crisis as much as the rest of the world. The refugees they are faced with are Africans fleeing from the Ethiopian and Eritrean conflict. Many of the Eritrean refugees are being deported to a third country that is not their native country. The International Organization for Immigration (IOM) has heavily criticized these deportations, according to the United Nations refugee convention, asylum seekers cannot be sent to any country unless there is an agreement with that country that safeguards their rights and welfare. Currently, Samina is in Kabul, Afghanistan where she is a legal trainee at The Asia Foundation. Working with refugee issues is very close to her heart, and she is seeking a more sustainable solution to this crisis.

“Making the home countries of these refugees safer is the way to go, no one wants to leave their home unless they have to”

She is working on improving the rule of law through legal education in Afghanistan, both areas in the country need more attention.

“I am still a student, and I am learning every day. Afghanistan is a great teacher on many of the issues the international community is faced with today”

© Brian Megens

Interview with the Freediving World Champion Jeanine

How many of us can claim to be a World Champion at our 20s? At 22, Jeanine Grasmeijers is the reigning Freediving World Champion. She set a World Record in 2013 for the Free Immersion discipline with a record depth of 90m. She also holds the National Record for 4 other freediving disciplines. She recently came back from a competition in Mexico, her last for this year’s season, where she had an overall first place.

© Brian Megens

Jeanine Grasmeijer

Personal info
Name: Jeanine Grasmeijers
Age: 22
Study: BSc Medicine graduate, incoming MSc Medicine student

What is freediving?
Freediving is a breathe-holding sport where you try to go as deep or as long as possible with just one breathe. With the latter, it’s either ‘static apnea’ so you hold your breath while lying face down in a pool, or you swim horizontally which is called ‘dynamic apnea’. When you try to go as deep as possible, there’s a floating platform with a weighted rope attached to it that is set to a certain depth. The goal is to reach the end of the rope. In ‘constant weight apnea,’ you dive with fins but you’re not allowed to actively use the rope during the dive, whereas in ‘constant weight apnea without fins’ you do it without fins. ‘Free immersion apnea’ is where you use the rope to pull yourself up and down but you’re not allowed to use fins. Aside from the sport, there’s also a recreative side to it, so you can go diving with sharks or see coral reefs.

How and when did you start freediving?
I’ve been swimming since I was little, but never competitively. I did it for my own enjoyment and because I like the silence and the serenity of it. When I finished high school, I went backpacking in Southeast Asia. I did a regular diving course in Thailand but it wasn’t what I expected, I felt very heavy and restricted. A few months later, I found out about a free diving school so I did a course there and found out that I’m really good at it and I really enjoyed it. So I got into competitions thanks to my instructor who I did my first static breathe hold with, which was 5 mins for the very first time, and he said we can train you for a Dutch record, you’re not very far off!

© Brian Megens

Jeanine Grasmeijer at Maas

How do you train?
I would train for a competition at least 6 weeks in advance where I increase my depth 3-5m at a time. I do pool training where I do dynamic and static dives to train my apneatic ability and to prepapre my body for the depth. Outside deep diving season, I do swimming, running, and just regular exercise. Yoga also goes very well with deep diving. It makes you flexible and has this spiritual side to it and freediving can be spiritual because of the whole underwater meditation.

What is the key to freediving?
Freediving is a very mental sport. We say that it’s 80% mental and 20% physical. If you would tell somebody to go to 10m, he’d probably be afraid because he can’t breathe and there’s all this water above him. Once you’re at 10m, you can’t go back at once, you’ll have to swim up so the tendency is to panic. That’s the hard part, also for us because we don’t go down to just 10m, we go up to 80m! So even we are stressed out because when you’re freediving, you’re really on your own. The key is to be in a meditative state. The brain is the main oxygen user so you have to try to switch it off, kind of. You have to be very efficient with your movements and eliminate stressful thoughts. The challenge is that you’re going to dive at immense depth, but you can’t stress about it!

© Brian Megens

Jeanine Grasmeijer

What do you think of Maastricht?

I like the city, it has a nice atmosphere. It’s not a scary city at all, it’s a very kind city, I think. Maastricht is clean and it looks good. Everything is within 15 mins. It’s cosy!

What’s your favourite places in Maastricht?

I enjoy spending my time at the Geusseltbad (Maastricht’s local swimming pool) and hanging out at the Tramhalte restaurant and bar at Cannerplein. I always recommend the Boekhandel Dominicanen. For me, it’s the most beautiful bookstore in the world. I also like the two-dimensional paintings at the Vrijthof. You can see them best at the top of the Sint Jans Kerk.

Maastricht in three words:
Historical, prosperous, and cosy.

Watch Jeanine talk about freediving at RTL Late Night, the national talkshow in the Netherlands, and be inspired!

Jeanine Grasmeijer

Text: Karissa Atienza
Photography: Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

Interview with the ISN President: Ylva Pisters

© Brian Megens

Ylva Pisters, ISN President

Personal info
Name: Ylva Pisters
Age: 21
Study: Hogeschool Zuyd, Midwifery
Position: International Student Network President (full-time)

How did ISN Maastricht start?
We celebrated our 25th birthday this year in April! So ESN, which is a network throughout Europe, was founded in 1989 and then a year later, ESN Maastricht was born. It was founded for exchange students who after having gone overseas for their exchange and came back to Maastricht wanted to have something over here for exchange students coming in, to have a “homebase,” in order to help exchange students integrate. We changed our name this year to ISN Maastricht. It’s still part of the ESN network but now we’re not only for exchange students but also for international and internationally-minded students.

© Brian Megens

Ylva Pisters, ISN President

What do you do in your position?
I do a lot of different things. I make sure everything is going smoothly. So for example, on a Monday I meet with the ISN Secretary, Tuesday I meet with the Treasurer and so on, and I help them in their function. It’s especially important that I help the Activity Manager since every month there’s a big party at the Timmerfabriek, which is on top of other smaller parties, events, and city trips. I also deal with the administration side. One of the tasks I have is changing the organisation from a foundation to an association, which means we can officially have members, we have to hold mandatory assemblies and so on. One of the biggest responsibilities I have right now is the International Student Club (ISC) project. It’ll be a pub with living room concept which we’re looking at launching in 3 years. It’ll be at the Timmerfabriek and students can meet friends there to have a drink or play pool, so it’ll be a really chill place to hang-out.

© Brian Megens

ISN Maastricht

Why did you join ISN?
I did a bilingual education at secondary school so I had many contact with international students. We had a lot of exchanges, I went to Slovenia, Portugal and Norway. I loved the international atmosphere, but then suddenly it stopped. My study is in Dutch and the people are all Dutch. So I wanted to be involved in an international atmosphere again in Maastricht and that’s why I joined ISN.

Last year, I was an active member, I was part of the Sport and Culture Committee. I really enjoyed organising things, being involved in ISN and I also got into contact with the ISC Project. I was really interested in the project but it was impossible with my studies. So it was either continue with my study and totally stop ISN or take a gap year and continue with ISN. The thought of a gap year in between my studies in combination of contributing more to ISN really appealed to me.

© Brian Megens

Ylva Pisters, ISN President

What do you aim to achieve this year?
We as a Board are aiming on an increased branding in the city, so brand awareness of ISN to students. Before ESN was mainly for exchange students, but now ISN is geared for international and internationally-minded students too. So we’re working on having a broader target group.

What surprised you in your position?
I didn’t realise that the position had so many aspects. I knew a lot before because I was involved before I took over, but before I was still thinking how do you fill in this position full time? I thought I was going to have free time but I was wrong! I have e-mails and phone calls every 5 mins. There’s no stop, it’s not a 9-5 position at all.

What has been your personal highlight?
The arrival week! I love how students are so happy for the organisation of parties, dinners, events so everything sold out quickly. It was really nice when so many people thank you for the work. You get so much satisfaction.

Why should Maastricht students join ISN?
Join us not only to party but also to contribute. Join one of our committees, where students can help other students, to do something that means something. It’s also great for self development.

© Brian Megens

Ylva Pisters, ISN President

Are you interested in becoming a part of ISN? Apply for the board!

Text: Karissa Atienza
Photography: Brian Megens

Photo: Brian Megens

My Way to Make Money with Yagmur Masmas of aGreenStory

As bills don’t pay themselves an income is required, some obtain it by working for a wage, others by starting up their own business and some are so talented that they can make an income out of their hobby. In this column ‘My Way to Make Money’ we interview a student or a university employee about their job or business and ask them questions about how they experience their work. This week we interview Yagmur Masmas, the budding entrepreneur from aGreenStory. Although a UCM student, she is currently doing her minor at Wageningen University. She has been fortunate and talented enough to make a living out of her passion and establishing her own company. Yagmur has featured in a number of competitions in Maastricht and beyond, and has talked about aGreenStory on a number of platforms. 

My company is…
A supplier of sustainable office stationery and supplies and other accessories such laptop bags. People also use our products as promotion gifts for their company so we also do custom made orders for organisations. We sell our products online through our webshop and we deliver them to the customers via our pick-up services at university campuses, but we also join various fairs and markets.

My job is…
I’m in charge of customer service. My number and e-mail are on the website and I reply to people’s inquiries, like for example, students asking about the pick-up service or a company asking a quotation on a bulk order. I do part of the website, but this part is something my co-founder and I do together. I keep the website updates, take pictures of the products, write the text and deal with the SEO (search engine optimisation). For a long time, I did social media but now some interns have temporarily taken over that. I also coordinate the pick-up points, making sure everything goes well.

I also analyse in which ways our products are sustainable, so before we launch a new article, I do the research into the sustainability aspects. Sometimes you can find some of these details online like part of it is made of recycled materials, but then some information is missing, for example how much water is used. Quite often, the producers only state the good things and not the others and that counts. It’s a tough thing to do so it’s important to develop a personal relationship with the suppliers.

My company started…
Officially, last February when Sander (my co-founder) and I decided to work on it together, but the idea already started when I was in high school. I was looking for exercise books, but sustainable ones, and I could only find really expensive products. I thought that was ridiculous so I searched a bit further. In the end, I ended up doing a pilot in my high school with a little shop. We were fantasising it with friends on whether we could sell it in the whole of the Netherlands, but back then I didn’t have the knowledge and skills to make it happen yet.

Photo: Brian Megens

Yagmur of a GreenStory

A regular day at work looks like…
Me working everywhere. I travel a lot so I often work in trains or buses. My work is not structured so even during class, I’d be replying to e-mails. I would say I spend half of my time studying and the other half for aGreenStory, taking into account that during holidays I work full-time.

The thing that makes the job hard is…
That it’s very difficult to plan my time.

The main reason for choosing this job is…
Firstly because I thought it was missing in the Dutch market, and I’m in the position to fill it in. I’m also intrinsically motivated to contribute to sustainability and I like talking about it in different events. It helps that the work is flexible, so during exam weeks, I can devote my time to studying.

I didn’t expect..
For long distance collaboration to work. At first, I wasn’t sure about working with people from far away but for us, it works. Also, I didn’t expect how because we are a sustainable company, people are more critical of our practices. So for example, the delivery of our products are not 100% sustainable, but we’re working on it.

My goal for the next years…
Is to work on it full-time. Over the next few years, I hope to have an aGreenStory line so our own products designed by us in stores and to have a number of regular company customers who have integrated the practices of refilling pens and so on, instead of buying new articles. I’m also working on having the whole business process 100% sustainable, from the products itself to the delivery. We’re launching a new website in 2016 so I’m really excited about that too.

I love my job because…
Of the team, it’s a great and motivated team! I’m very happy to be doing something positive to make the world a little bit better. It’s also a nice feeling when you get positive feedbacks from the customers, that feeling of satisfaction.

 

Interview with a UM Cheerleader: Julia Kotamäki

In between her busy schedule preparing for the biggest tournament of the year, the Euromasters 2015, the UM Cheerleading Team Captain Julia Kotamäki met with Maastricht Students. She maybe be the smallest in the team but she is one of the strongest. Read on to know more about the team and Julia herself!

Interview and text: Karissa Atienza
Photography: Brian Megens

UM Cheerleading
Julia Kotamäki

Personal info
Name: Julia Kotamäki
Age: 20
Study: European Law, 3rd year
Position (UM Cheerleading Team): Captain

How did the UM Cheerleading Team start?
We started as a group of SBE students. Janneke Geven, last year’s captain, changed the composition of the team so now we have students from all faculties of the University and two from the Hogeschool. I was actually one of the first to join who was not an SBE student! It started as a group of friends who wanted to set up a team to go to this university competition. They needed a cheerleading team that competes in all sports. Before it was mostly dancing, but now we’ve progressed to more advanced cheerleading routines like throwing girls in the air (stunting) and flips (tumbling).

UM Cheerleading
Janneke and Julia watching the last training before Euromasters 2015

There’s no traditional cheerleading culture in the Netherlands, do you feel that this is changing?
It’s definitely contributing to it. Cheerleading is predominantly American but it’s becoming more and more popular in Germany and Finland. Now, it’s slowly coming to the Netherlands. There’s actually a Dutch cheerleading association. There are two competitive cheerleading teams in the Netherlands, and we’re hoping to become another one.

UM Cheerleading

UM Cheerleading

Why did you want to become a cheerleader?
One of the girls in my high school wanted to start a team. We were still a very beginner team but we still competed and it was a really good experience. When I moved here, I wanted to join a sports team but I’m not talented in other sports! I’ve always been interested in dancing and cheer has a lot of dance to it.

Entertainment or sport?
It depends on who you ask, I’d like to think it’s a sport. For girls who are bases (those who lift other girls), like myself, it does take a lot of muscle power. Cheerleading routines are also really fast so you have to have a lot of endurance otherwise you die!

UM Cheerleading

What’s the weekly schedule of a cheerleader?
It depends if you’re a girl or a boy, girls train more than the boys. We have 1 choreography practice a week at the MAC gym and 1 jump training. Cheer jumps are quite specific and you really need to learn the technique for them to look good. There’s also a stunt practice (a group lifting a girl) once a week. Some girls are also involved in partner stunts (a boy lifting a girl). It’s an additional practice so it also depends on what you do in the team. Two weekends before a competition, we practice from 10am to 5pm.

UM Cheerleading

UM Cheerleading

What do you aim to achieve this year?
We’ve come a long way skill-wise and motivation-wise. We’re coming to the end of the season this weekend where we’re competing for the Euromasters (6-7 November). It’s our biggest competition and we’ve been going there for the longest. We won it last year. It’s a big deal because we train for it for a whole year. That’s why our season ends in November, and starts at the end of November/early December so we recruit then in order to train the members for next year’s competition. We used to be a team that focused on our dancing but we’ve really developed our stunting skills. Now we’re one of the best teams in the competition.
The biggest goal that I have this year is to increase recognition in Maastricht. I think we’ve done pretty well on that. Our next goal is to become a Dutch competitive team. To become one, we need to compete at Dutch competitions. We’re not quite there yet because we still haven’t officially become a UM Sports team, but we will be in January.

UM Cheerleading

How hard is it to recruit guys to join the team?
In the beginning before we became skilled in stunting, it was really hard. The way the team started was by recruiting friends. Their job was just to lift a girl, so they didn’t have to dance at all. Now that we’ve become much better at stunting, there are some boys who are eager to join because they see other guys lifting a girl with just one hand. To some boys, it is an appealing image to be able to do that.

UM Cheerleading

What surprised you in your position?
How hard it is to keep the attention and instruct 30 people at once, the amount of authority you need to have to be an effective captain. I developed my yelling skills!

What is your personal highlight in your position?
I love the whole thing. The team is my baby!

UM Cheerleading

People don’t expect us….
From the movies, there’s a stereotype that cheerleaders are not that bright. Half of the team studies accounting while I’m a law student! There are people on the team who are really good at their studies. They’re really motivated, dedicated people who want to get involved in something that lets them experience the satisfaction you get when you improve and achieve something.

UM Cheerleading

Why should prospective students in Maastricht join the UM Cheerleading Team?
It’s a great way to make friends, because you spend so much time with the team. Everyone is really motivated and friendly. You work together to build performances and routine that brings you huge joy when you win.
UM Cheerleading

Did Julia convince you to join the Cheerleading team? Click here to know more about joining the team!

UM Cheerleading

FIRE AWAY! Questions you had, we asked the lifesavers of Maastricht..

On a sunny March day Brian and I biked to the fire department of Maastricht to conduct an interview with the officer of duty and specialist in fire prevention and risk management, Jos Loijens. We had met him at one of the ‘Get Involved’ fairs at the Student Service Center, where a playfully informative video was being shown (A Different Night Out, watch here). When he told us that reaching students was considerably tough for them, we offered to do this article.

As we entered the fire department, it seemed like a very gloomy building, but that was just the first perception. Once we stood on the roof terrace with its rooftop pond, complete with little ducks and plants, we appreciated this very unique building and its architecture.

Oase of peace, comes to mind..

Oasis of peace, comes to mind..

As we sipped our coffee in the sun, Jos told us that the pond on the roof was initially meant as a water reserve for the fire trucks. However after a while it became clear that with whole duck families settling down and using the pond, the water wasn’t clean enough. But that wasn’t a problem, as the firemen on duty started feeding the ducks, very adorable!

As to what Jos had to say about student safety and fire prevention in student houses. He explained that when students come to Maastricht and live away from their parents for the first time, they tend to enjoy themselves a lot. That’s something that Brian and I could definitely agree to. The freedom and beauty of a new city, with new friends and (seemingly) no rules are what make student life so wonderful and liberating!

The thick costumes the firemen have to wear are pretty heavy..!

The thick costumes the firemen have to wear are pretty heavy..!

However, the other side of the coin is somewhat less amazing… Reduced safety in student houses, stolen property, robberies and other incidents that all of us would rather avoid, are what can occur. Especially when you live with many housemates, the risk of any of the aforementioned taking place only increases.
What to do?

Jos told us a story of a student house in the Rechtstraat, where a fire started in the kitchen. Of course there were several apartments on the floors above, forcing the students to crawl into the gutter on the roof until the firemen came to save them. Why didn’t these students know that a fire had started in time to put it out? Because there was no smoke alarm!
I know, I know, smoke alarms are annoying. We’ve all been irritated endlessly by an alarm with nearly empty batteries, making the torture techniques used by secret agencies look tame. However, Jos told us that FIRE ALARMS SAVE LIVES! It’s not something to be taken lightly, as he also told us that too many casualties happen due to lack of this essential household friend.

Rooftop interview!

Rooftop interview pt. 2

The firemen in Maastricht work closely with the student police officer, Paul Vermin, because fire prevention and burglary deterrence go hand in hand. Within one of the taskforces, a behavioral scientist was added, to provide more insight in how students go about their own safety.
Of course, students aren’t the only ones that can do more to promote a safe student life. The owners of the student houses, our landlords, can do more than they usually do. When more than 5 people live in the same house, there are certain municipal rules that the landlords have to abide by.
However, we all know that some landlords are less willing to make sure that their tenants’ safety is secure.
In the scenario where your landlord isn’t making sure that your house is safe, open a dialogue with the other tenants to positively encourage your landlord to start making the house in order. This is the first advice that Jos wants to give to students! However, when that attempt proves to be futile, go to the competent authority: the municipality!

Hazmat suits, as the name already gives away, these are to protect the courageous men from hazardous materials.

Hazmat suits, as the name already gives away, these are to protect the courageous men from hazardous materials.

If you have questions about your safety and what you can do to improve it, don’t hesitate to contact the local fire department via the following email-address: info@brwzl.nl

For a checklist of things you can improve AS YOU READ THIS:

  • Fire alarms?
  • Order and tidiness of your room?
  • Too many extension cables?
  • Ash trays?
  • Kitchen, and especially gas?

Other things that the firemen of Maastricht have dealt with are not fire-related:

  • A few students decided to have a party in their student house. The rooms were situated on the first floor. A lot of people attended, which made the rooms overcrowded. Not only was this not safe with regard to a possible fire, but the weight of the students combined made the floor collapse. Suddenly a bunch of students had entered the downstairs neighbor’s apartment in a very unpleasant way.
  • A few students lived near the Heugemerweg in a house with a furnace. This heating device is known for its unsafe properties. The students were hanging their clothes on a wire connected to this heater. After a while the lever on the furnace broke and a big amount of carbon monoxide was released in the house. The students had to be taken to hospital, after which they decided to get a CO-monitor, a safe decision!

After the interview Jos showed us the rest of the fire department, complete with garage and training places of the firemen. Very interesting and inspiring to see!
The practice horse you see on one of these pictures is the first one in the Netherlands. Jos, a horse lover, made sure that one would come so the firemen could practice for a case when a horse would be stuck under a heavy object, it happens more often than you think!

Rooftop interview pt. 2

Rooftop interview pt. 2

We hope you enjoyed this article. To see more pictures that were made during this day, click here.

To watch the informative video that was made for YOU about not only fire hazards, but also other possibilities of not being safe, click this link!

Interview and article by Ashika Baan, Photos by Brian Megens

My Way to Make Money with Aaron Vinnik

Studium Generale Lecture Anti-Semitism

As bills don’t pay themselves an income is required, some obtain it by working for a wage, others by starting up their own business and some are so talented that they can make an income out of their hobby. In the Weekly column ‘My Way to Make Money’ we interview a student or a university employee about their job or business and ask them questions about how they experience their work. This week we interview Aaron Vinnik who is employed by the university as a teaching assistant in the history department. Before graduating his masters at the Maastricht University in European Studies with a Cum Laude, he obtained his bachelor degree in History & Political Science at Culver-Stockton College in Missouri. In his spare time he likes to travel and experience new cultures. Aaron has a preference for outdoor sports and is in love with his new race bike which takes him to the beautiful surroundings of Maastricht.

My job
As a teaching assistant in the History department, I am employed to dedicate my time teaching meaning I have no time for research. Normally, I teach one course at the same time. I teach at FaSos, however, Arts & Culture takes only 20% of my time while 80% of my time I end up teaching European Studies students.

A regular day at work looks like…
On days when I teach, which is 2 to 3 times a week, I usually have around 2 to 3 classes a day. Most of the time the students have lectures in the morning followed by the first tutorial at 11am until 1pm, the second class is from 1.30pm until 3.30pm with the last tutorial at 4pm and ends at 6pm. Although it’s the same teaching you do, each class is different and that gives the class new dynamics. If students are well prepared, you can give them more space for discussions while some groups need more guidance. On days where I do not teach, I’m either doing some readings to prepare for classes later in the week, or I am making/grading exams or revising bachelor papers.

I like my job because
It’s dynamic, I’m not teaching the same thing for a long period of time. Over the year, I teach a number of courses, so if you teach something that’s not your cup of tea you’re not stuck to it for the rest of the year. Working with students and helping them understand the material is a fulfilling job. As a teaching assistant, I have more experience with academic materials and therefore I can help them better than if they do it on their own. Another point why I like my job is the working environment in FaSos. The tutors get along with each other and the senior staff is really supportive of us, something you don’t see everywhere I think.

The thing that makes the job hard is
Students who are not paying attention. It’s amazing because sometimes even after multiple attempts via email or announcement in class they still don’t absorb the information. You try to be helpful to students but often they disregard it and can even backfire on you. This is most especially first year students in their first 6 months. They are struggle because they’re not used to the PBL system and/or university. Another factor in making the job sometimes difficult is the third class at the end of the day. This can be tough because you want to give every group the best you have. You want to be as alert as you were in the in the first group. I notice that also some students are struggling with this, from 4-6pm they’re not the most motivated and alert which is understandable because it’s also their end of the day. The challenge as a tutor is to give each class the same benefit from the experience, regardless of the time, participants or material.

I got this job by
applying for it. In my masters I was a research assistant for the head of the history department. He made me aware of the position and advised me to apply because he thought it would suit my abilities. After the interview, I was offered the position which was 2 years ago. I started my job in the summer of 2012.

The main reason for choosing this job is
that I knew I would enjoy teaching because I have done it before so it wasn’t far outside of my comfort zone. It was the first job offered to me after university and nothing else was playing, therefore it made sense to start working for the university. Another reason is that Maastricht as a city appeals to me. It’s a good place to live especially as a student. As a student you’re surrounded by students who you can socialise with. Working is a bit different because people have more obligations and responsibilities. As I’m interested in doing a PhD, being able to do a job where I can develop skills that will become useful when I want to apply for a PhD is perfect. In my job I get feedback from experienced and skilled people from the university.

The time I spent in doing my job is..
Irregular. We have a certain amount of teaching hours. In some periods we’ll be working more than others. The reading and teaching within a course is pretty consistent but the time it costs changes from course to course.  Also the amount of work depends on the specific task I have to do. For example, assisting and grading papers takes more time, with all the meetings necessary, than grading exams. However, in the end all tutors have a maximum amount of hours.

I didn’t expect the job to be..
As interesting as it is. Everyone jokes that the Germans have invaded Maastricht. However, you’ll be astonished by the diversity you have in class. You’ll have Brits, Dutch, Germans, Belgians, Spanish, Italians and so on. This diversity makes it interesting especially because in European studies you try to teach about Europe and its diversity, seeing a mixture in your own class on where you teach about makes it a far more dynamic experience.

My goal for the next years
is to start and finish a PhD in security studies or a related field. Hopefully, I’ll be working in that field. It can be for the government, an industry or a think-tank. I want to apply my knowledge from my PhD in a related field outside of academia for a while before returning to teach.

I love my job because
Over the years my teaching schedule change, and this pushes your own boundaries.  Teaching something new demands refocus year in year out. I get satisfaction from teaching, helping students finding their way in the academic world. Maastricht is a nice place to live, although in a couple of years I want to live in a bigger city. However, Maastricht is close enough to a number of big cities which allows me to travel and explore the areas around me. This provides me with new knowledge for myself and to pass along to my students.

My way to make money with Philippe Hezer

 

Philippe Hezer

Philippe Hezer

As bills don’t pay themselves an income is required, some obtain it by working for a wage, others by starting up their own business and some are so talented that they can make an income out of their hobby. In the Weekly column My way to make money we interview a student or a university employee about their job or business and ask them questions about how they experience their work.

This week we interviewed Philippe Hezer, a 22-year old masters student, who founded Ius Mosae, a legal weblog affiliated with the Maastricht University Faculty of Law. After the big success of the blog, which focuses on legal issues and persons, as well as touching upon lifestyle features, Philippe became part of the advisory board of the blog, which has since been passed on to PhD-candidates.

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May way to make money with Cecila Cotero Torrecillas

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As bills don’t pay themselves an income is required, some obtain it by working for a wage, others by starting up their own business and some are so talented that they can make an income out of their hobby. In the Weekly column ‘My way to make money’ we interview a student or a university employee about their job or business and ask them questions about how they experience their work.

This week we interview 28-year-old Spanish Cecila Cotero Torrecillas, a second year European Studies student and a freelance viola player. Besides her passion for music, she likes to jog, practise yoga, cook exotic food and explore the world.

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