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© Brian Megens

Soup, Salad and Smoothie Bars of Maastricht: Vers

Maastricht is well known for its historical city centre, shopping, hilly surroundings, and gastronomical cuisine. However, since the foundation of the University of Maastricht, a younger, more international generation has entered the stage. Inevitably, these new inhabitants have an impact on the city as they come from various backgrounds with different lifestyles, preferences and demands. In big cities like London and New York, a plethora of soup, salad, and juice and smoothie bars abound. Gone are the days where healthy living is boring. Like the increasingly cosmopolitan city that Maastricht is, healthy living has caught on. In this new column, we will visit the recent arrivals of soup, salad, and smoothie bars in Maastricht and meet their passionate owners, hear their stories, show their place, and of course, have a taste of what they have to offer! In our first column, we interview Paul van Aubel and Marie-Claire Giessen of Vers. 

What is Vers?
Vers is a soup bar with extras! We make homemade soups, salads and fresh juices and smoothies. We try to make good, healthy food based on the season which you can eat here or take to work, in class or at home.

© Brian Megens

Vers Maastricht

How did you end up starting a business?
Marie-Claire: I always had it with the smoothies and juices. Abroad, you can find it everywhere. It’s so easy to have a fresh juice, but we thought it would be a little too small just to do juices and smoothies.
Paul: We really liked soup bars, but we always had to go to Belgium, in Hasselt or Ghent. We said there’s nothing like a soup bar in Maastricht, so let’s do it. We always said it to ourselves that we wanted to start a business and we thought it would be nice to do it together.
Marie-Claire: We wanted to start something, we wanted a new challenge. We said let’s do it now, otherwise we won’t be able to do it again.

© Brian Megens

Vers Maastricht

What do you aim to bring with Vers?
Marie-Claire: We hope to bring good, healthy food that make people happy. So when people take their juice in the morning, they have a good start to their day or that they can have a good quick healthy lunch, even if they only have half an hour.
Paul: It’s difficult to find healthy fast-served food so I think it’s one of our strong points. You can have a quick lunch or sit down for a cup of coffee.
Marie-Claire: You can also stay longer and work or study here. We have Wi-Fi and we have plugs for your laptops.

© Brian Megens

Vers Maastricht

© Brian Megens

The red lentil soup and the Vietnamese pho bo

What’s your favourite in the menu?
Marie-Claire: We regularly change the menu based on the season, and we also change something every week so it’s not always the same.
Paul: For the soups and salad, we try to focus on the season but it’s a bit more difficult with the fruits, especially in winter. A lot of the vegetables are locally produced, I think it’s very important to have local and seasonal ingredients.
Marie-Claire: For now, I like the mango-raspberry-orange smoothie and the pho (Vietnamese noodle soup with beef).
Paul: We started with a red lentil soup and we still have it in the menu. It’s very popular and I really like it. Even after almost three months, I can still eat it every day!

© Brian Megens

Vers Maastricht

How has the students changed Maastricht?
Paul: In the last couple of years, you see there are more and more students coming to Maastricht. It’s become a student-town. What that brings, especially the international people…
Marie-Claire: …is diversity in the people and of their food. For example, you see it now with the Korean place. It brings new things and I think that’s good for the city.
Paul: In the holidays, we get a lot of tourists from Belgium and Germany. Now that the holidays are over and the students are back in Maastricht, we immediately feel their presence.

© Brian Megens

Vers Maastricht

What do you like most about Maastricht?
Paul: I like Maastricht because it’s diverse. It’s international, it’s not a typical Dutch city. Everyone who comes here say that Maastricht is very different. For the students, just enjoy Maastricht.
Marie-Claire: Explore the little streets and try the local spots. Don’t just go straight to the Vrijthof square, but go outside Maastricht too. For example, the Château Neercanne, you can bike there, or go to the Sint Pieter. The surroundings of Maastricht are very nice.

What are your favourite events in Maastricht?
Marie-Claire: The Food Truck Festival in the summer is really nice (the Stadspark turns into one big outdoor restaurant with dozens of mobile kitchen, live music and theatre performance) and of course, we have the Preuvenemint (the annual food event of Maastricht and the largest food festival in the Netherlands)
Paul: The Bruis (a free multi-day music festival) and JekerJazz (a two-day event with concerts at various venues spread across Maastricht) are good too.

© Brian Megens

Vers Maastricht

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

Vers.
Grote Gracht 31
6211 ST Maastricht

Coffee Bars in Maastricht: Bandito Espresso

Maastricht is well known for its historical city centre, shopping and hilly surroundings. However, since the foundation of the University of Maastricht, a younger, more international generation has entered the stage. Inevitably, these new inhabitants have an impact on the city as they come from various backgrounds with different lifestyles, preferences and demands. A necessity for many students is a relaxed environment to study, and enjoy a good cup of coffee accompanied by homemade cake while keeping up-to-date via a WiFi connection. As quite a few international students come from a country wherein coffee is so much more than the traditional Dutch drip coffee, Maastricht’s entrepreneurs saw the opportunity and several coffee bars, where coffee is served with craftmanship and passion, enriched Maastricht. In this new column we will visit the many coffee bars that Maastricht has to offer and we will meet the passionate owners, hear their stories, show their place and of course taste their coffee! This time, we interview Diënne Hoofs and Jeroen Brouwers of Bandito Espresso, the much loved café of FASoS students, for whom going to Bandito is almost a daily routine. In the morning one can see the Bandito staff chopping onions and other condiments for their daily soup and throughout the day, batches of cookies can be found baking in the oven. It is a hidden gem within FASoS which is worth exploring. The Bandito Espresso’s fresh and organic food and drinks are now also available at FPN.

Bandito Espresso FASoS
Jeroen & Diënne

What is Bandito Espresso?
Diënne: We call ourselves an espresso bar with organic specialty and fresh food! Everything we do is organic. We try to be as fair trade as much as possible, but that’s always a challenge because companies often choose one of the two, organic or fair trade.

Bandito Espresso FASoS

How did you end up starting a business in Maastricht?
Diëne: In Landbouw Belang (a social group with cultural and social activities), we had a voluntary dinner café where we had the crappiest coffee. At the same time, I had a friend who’d just moved to Berlin to start a coffee business and taught me about coffee. I really enjoyed it so I convinced everyone to buy a coffee machine.
Jeroen: I was totally against it at the start, like why should we buy an expensive machine? But then when they bought it, I totally got into the machine.
Diëne: Me and Jeroen were always getting into fights on who should be making coffee and we realised to make more coffee, we needed to turn it into a little business. Jeroen went to Berlin and my friend taught him about coffee and the business.
Jeroen: We started as a mobile business here at the Markt on the Wednesday and Friday market. We just had a table and an old Faema. Bandito was born officially on paper and slowly, it evolved to the Bandito Espresso now in FASoS and FPN.

Bandito Espresso FASoS

How did you end up in FASoS? in FPN?
Diëne: At the time, Jeroen and I knew that there were no facilities at all in FASoS and a lot of students were complaining about it. At first, the Director said no. So then we did a coffee assignment here for 4 days, but there wasn’t a reply from the Director. We were almost thinking of moving to Berlin to fuse our business with our friend’s company but all of a sudden, we got a phone call from the Director who asked us if we wanted to open a café within 4 weeks! The week we opened here, they called us asking if we wanted to open another café over at FPN. By that time, the building wasn’t even there. It took us a long time, but in the end we decided to do it.

Bandito Espresso FASoS
Kwinten Hoofs, one of the four owners of Bandito Espresso

Bandito Espresso FASoS

Bandito Espresso FASoS
Sean Hoofs, also part of the founding four.

What do you aim to offer with your business?
Jeroen: We’re trying to do everything as fair trade and organic as possible. Not only from where we buy our groceries, but also until the customer. With the customer, we try to be as fair trade and not as pricy. I want to offer fair food and drinks but also fresh, I don’t want to sell something that comes out of a package. We do it how we do it, and we try to keep this price low. This is our philosophy.
Diëne: We want to give this moment to get together for students to have a nice coffee in a homely situation. It’s important to us for the students to feel that this is your Common Room, it’s your space so we want to accommodate the students as much as possible. 

Bandito Espresso FASoS
People queuing to get their coffee, lunch or cookie and then they are off to either to common room or the Bandito garden

Bandito Espresso FASoS
The FASoS Common Room

How do you explain the rise of new coffee bar in the Netherlands and in Maastricht?
Diëne: People nowadays have proper coffee machine at home, so why would you go to a café for coffee that’s worst to what you’re used to at home? People just don’t want to put up with it anymore, luckily. The rise in coffee bars in Maastricht is definitely a good thing. I hope that it will bring up the standard of coffee in every café in Maastricht.
Jeroen: You have cities that lead. It’s not Maastricht, but in the Netherlands it’s Amsterdam. In Europe, Berlin is one of the leaders. They were influenced by a lot of the Australians who came there. Australians who back home used the old way of Italian coffee-making. Over in Italy, I think they’ve lost a bit of the spirit. Coffee bars really exploded in Berlin and then, it came in the Netherlands.

 
Bandito Espresso FASoS

Bandito Espresso FASoS

How important is the student community for the city?
Jeroen: The students are very important, I think without the students Maastricht is nothing. Factories are closing down, yes there’s a tourist sector but that’s probably it.
Diëne: I think the students saved Maastricht. In Maastricht, the vibe is so international. It was the New York Times who called Maastricht the smallest cosmopolitan in the world. That’s exactly what Maastricht is.

 
Bandito Espresso FASoS
Enjoy their soup in the Bandito garden

Bandito and the students:
Diëne: We really like working for and with the students. We get to meet them every day for 3-4 years, so you build this relationship with people. You go through their highs and their lows, being a part of all that is really nice.

 
Bandito Espresso FASoS

The perfect place to relax in Maastricht?
Diëne: I’ve just moved out of the city, but I really like being outside in Maastricht. I like hanging out at the Maas, at the park or at Tuinen van Vaeshartelt where you can grow and pick your own fruit and vegetables.

Maastricht in three words:
Diëne: Cosmopolitan, cosy, (has) potential

Verdict: Great coffee, amazing homemade soup, baguettes and cookies for a student price. The perfect place for your daily coffee or lunch.

Bandito Espresso FASoS

Bandito Espresso FASoS

Text: Karissa Atienza
Photos: Brian Megens

Coffee Bars in Maastricht: Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Maastricht is well known for its historical city centre, shopping and hilly surroundings. However, since the foundation of the University of Maastricht, a younger, more international generation has entered the stage. Inevitably, these new inhabitants have an impact on the city as they come from various backgrounds with different lifestyles, preferences and demands. A necessity for many students is a relaxed environment to study, and enjoy a good cup of coffee accompanied by homemade cake while keeping up-to-date via a WiFi connection. As quite a few international students come from a country wherein coffee is so much more than the traditional Dutch drip coffee, Maastricht’s entrepreneurs saw the opportunity and several coffee bars, where coffee is served with craftmanship and passion, enriched Maastricht. In this new column we will visit the many coffee bars that Maastricht has to offer and we will meet the passionate owners, hear their stories, show their place and of course taste their coffee! We’ll kick off this column with the ‘new kid in town’ Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Located 50 meters away from the market, Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee is a spacious coffee bar where the love for bikes (you can stall it inside) and coffee comes together. Located in the Hoenderstraat (side street of the Markt), the bar is run by the couple Renske Tackenberg and Ruud van Loo together with Jack, their 2-year-old Australian Shepherd. Renske and Ruud both have a background in healthcare and switched careers as they opened Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee on June 6 this year.

How do you explain the rise of new coffee bar in the Netherlands?
Ruud: I think people in general never appreciated coffee the way they do now. They became aware because of the big companies who introduced new home coffee brewing machines that coffee can be in all sorts of tastes and that there is so much more than just the average drip coffee that is traditionally used in the Netherlands. Furthermore, people travel a lot more nowadays and visit countries where coffee is so much more than what they are used to. As people are discovering the diversity of coffee with their new machines at home, the restaurants and bars couldn’t stay behind and stepped (or still need to step up) their game in order to stay in front of the home machines. Just ask around, everyone can remember their first good cup of coffee and we try to offer the best!

What do you hope to bring in with your business?
Both: We hope to create a place where people can bring in their bike (Yes you can stall your bike inside!) sit down and relax, work, study or whatever they like to do while enjoying a quality cup of coffee and a nice piece of cake. For the future, we would like to create a community with people who share the same passion for bikes and coffee and organise events like: coffee workshops and bike rides.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Where does the passion for Coffee and Bikes come from?
Ruud: I started cycling when I was a kid, but soon I was more intrigued by the mechanics of cycling than riding itself. The passion for coffee came when I was in New York where I saw the diversity of the several types of coffee. I bought the little red machine and started to explore the world of coffee, what do I like, what type of bean do I need for the perfect espresso, how do I make a good espresso, cappuccino. In short, I started to experiment in order to master the art of coffee as best as I can.
Renske: Ruud dragged me into both and now I am as passionate about coffee and cycling as he is. For example, I never could imagine all the work and dedication that goes in a good cup of coffee and how much variation you can create when making changes to each step. Moreover, I am crazy about cycling as well and love to ride my bike.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Bikes, Coffee and Maastricht:
Both: The south of Limburg is well known as the cycling area in the Netherlands with its hills, attracting not only leisure cyclists but also professionals to this area. Moreover, one of the big cycling classics, Amstel Gold Race, starts in Maastricht on the Markt and brings the cyclists over all the famous hills in the surroundings. This race is also our favourite event that Maastricht has to offer. So one of the reasons to start our business here is that Maastricht is the centre of cycling in the Netherlands. Another is the university which brings a whole new international generation to the city that we hope to serve. Furthermore, Maastricht is well known for its restaurants, shopping and historical city centre, thus attracting tourists from various countries who hopefully feel like dropping by our place as well! As Maastricht is already notorious for its cuisine we feel that we (and some other coffee bars) can contribute by setting the bar on the quality of coffee higher. Furthermore, we also sell bikes to people who are looking not only for a reliable way of transportation but people that want a unique and special bike that they can cherish.

Alley Cat and students:
Renske: We would probably not have settled here when the university wouldn’t be here as it’s the university that brings young ambitious international people to Maastricht that changes the dynamics of the city. For example, last week there was a student from America that told me so much about the country that it almost feels like I’ve been there myself. However, we don’t only aim at students, we hope to become a place where students, locals and tourists mingle and where we can share our passion for coffee and cycling.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee


The perfect place to relax in Maastricht?

Both: After a long day of work, walking along the Maas, sun going down. You see people, sporting, relaxing BBQ-ing, just having a good time.

Maastricht in three words:

Both:  Diverse, cosy, vivid.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Verdict:
The place: as a coffee lover and former cyclist, I absolutely love the fact that both come together in a relaxed environment where you can just come in to study while being around such awesome bikes.
Coffee: I always drink my coffee black and prefer a good strong cup, I’ve tried a doppio (double espresso) and ever since, that is my standard order here.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Photography and text: © Brian Megens
More photos click here

Contact information:
Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee
Hoenderstraat 15-17
6211EL Maastricht

Our next interview in this series will be with KOFFIE by Joost & Maartje, stay tuned!

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Jonathan Holslag ‘The Geopolitical Case for European unity’

Lecture Europe by Prof. Dr. Jonathan Holslag

Euroscepticism was a big factor in the last European Parliament elections. The main question was: ‘do we need more or less European integration in today’s world?’ The issue might seem less topical today with the attention pointed at the crisis in Ukraine and IS, however, the question will definitely pop up in Europe’s near future.

In the light of this dilemma, Maastricht University hosted a lecture with Jonathan Holslag, Professor of International Politics at the Free University Brussels. His lecture titled ‘The Geopolitical Case for European unity’ is based around the idea that Europe does not necessarily need more integration but more effective integration/representation.  He argues that Europe has overcome several crisis in the past but today’s economic crisis is different, and, therefore, needs a different strategy. It is different on four points: the crisis of European politics, the crisis of the pragmatic politician, the crisis of the welfare state and the crisis of the European economy related to the balance of power. Holslag argues that for Europe to stay a global political power, Europe needs to act more unified to the rest of the world. He gives an example of China heavily subsidising the telephone market and these telephones come to Europe causing major disturbance on the market. Europe had planned to set sanctions, however, China pressured Germany, by giving Siemens lucrative contracts in China, to vote against the possible sanctions. Germany obeyed prioritising their short-term self-interest above Europe’s interest.

Thus, in order to stay an important political power Europe does not necessarily need more integration on other areas than economy. Holslag says that the way for Europe to get out of the crisis is to act united on relevant areas and not give the rival economic and political powers the chance to undermine this unity.

By Brian Megens

My way to make money with Marieke Nass

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.

For this week’s column we approached Marieke Nass, a 21-year-old masters student, who consented to stand at the local municipal elections for the CDA party in the Municipality of Gulpen-Wittem (in the South of Limburg). She was elected as a party chair for the CDA, making her a very young Councillor, not something that many 21-year-olds have done.

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Maastricht of… Carmen Hermans

We start off this series with a very well-known surname: Hermans. You may have heard of ‘Bekkerij Mathieu Hermans’ from locals or fellow students, who told you where to get the best ‘Vlaai’ in Maastricht.
We got the chance to catch up with the woman who keeps the family-owned bakery business running, the face of the company for 7 years now, Carmen Hermans!

As we were invited to sit just outside the shop with a nice coffee, and a waffle (see picture below), we got talking about how she took over the business from her father, who followed in his own father’s footsteps.

SAMSUNG CSC

We were welcomed with this sight. Mmmm! © Brian Megens

According to Carmen, her father was the one that made the bakery a famous concept in Maastricht, offering bread, pastries, and tarts to the people of Maastricht according to the original family recipes. As Carmen tells us about her whole family helping out in the bakery, her face lights up. Her uncles and aunts used to and still work in the bakery, and the bakers still use fresh eggs that come from the chicken of other family members. As we get to know the history bit by bit, it becomes clear that it’s a successful family concept, which makes it very accessible to clients.

When asked how many ‘vlaaien’ the bakery sells a day, Carmen responds with an estimation of between 60-200 per day. When they see that a lot of vlaaien will be sold, the bakers make an additional batch to sell in the afternoon. That way there’s always enough. Carmen further explains that all the fruit used to make their vlaaien are from surrounding farms and orchards, with as a season special the open-plum vlaai.

A strawberry vlaai

A strawberry vlaai. © Brian Megens

As we’re sitting outside of the bakery, which has just been shut due to the summer schedule, a family steps out of a car, walking to the store with anticipation, only to be disappointed in a major way. Apparently they were on their way back from Spain to the North of Holland. They had made a special detour through Maastricht just for the famous vlaai of Bakkerij Mathieu Hermans. This is just a sign of how popular the family-owned bakery is, known throughout the whole of the Netherlands.

The bakery in the morning

The bakery in the morning. © Brian Megens

Ashika Baan: “What are your favourite places in Maastricht to have a drink, a bite and coffee?”
Carmen Hermans: “For coffee I love to go to Museum aan ‘t Vrijthof, where you can sit under a glass ceiling. Not by coincidence, they sell our vlaaien, it’s definitely worth a visit. For drinks and hanging out with friends I recommend Café Zondag, which has a very nice vibe. When going for a nice bite to eat in the evening Café Sjiek is great. With a nice variety of food and drinks you can always relax and enjoy the evening on their terrace or inside.

During the interview outside the bakery

During the interview outside the bakery. © Brian Megens

AB: “What is your favourite shop?
CH: “I don’t have that much time to shop overall, because I’m pretty busy with the bakery, but a shop worth mentioning that I love, is Festen, which is located in the Minckelersstraat. You can have coffee there, but also interior decoration, clothing, stationary and jewellery.”

AB: “What is your favourite event in Maastricht throughout the year?
CH: “Well, something that is quite obvious for me and my business, is the Preuvenemint (28-31 August), a big, annual food and drinks fair, which is located on the Vrijthof. Something lesser-known, but also very nice, with an amazing atmosphere is BBkoe, which is a cooperation of all the restaurant-people in the Koestraat, there’s live music, barbecues and nice drinks throughout the area. This year it takes place on the 24th of August, so definitely worth a visit.

AB: “Where do you go for art and culture?”
CH: -laughs- “My head is practically in the oven, so I don’t have that much time to do this, but I would say the Bonnefantenmuseum is one that you can’t miss. What’s also very nice, is the one-day music festivals that are organised for students and young professionals, much like Piquenique Électronique.

Carmen Hermans outside the bakery

Carmen Hermans outside the bakery. © Brian Megens

AB: “What is Maastricht’s best kept secret?”
CH: “There’s a little square, between the Stokstraat and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein. It’s when you walk past ‘In de Moriaan’. The terrace of restaurant Rozemarijn overlooks this secret square. It’s super serene and somewhat desolate, but it’s very nice to be there and to sit.”

AB: “What is the best memory that you have here in Maastricht?”
CH: “One time a customer wanted to get a vlaai from our bakery, but there was a huge cue. Instead he took one of our vlaai-boxes and put in a vlaai from another shop. When his wife tasted it, she wanted to return it, because she thought it not satisfactory. He had to tell her that it wasn’t actually one of our vlaaien.”

AB: “Which person or historical figure would you like to show Maastricht to?”
CH: “I would like to show my grandfather, the one who started Bakkerij Mathieu Hermans, around the Maastricht of this day. I used to have a good relation with him, so I would take him to Café Sjiek and have a wine. I would also love to show him what the shop looks like now. Compared to former times the bakery has become more versatile. It has more personality, more services and there’s a focus on the clients and keeping the standard high. My dad really shaped the bakery to what it is now. I think my grandfather would be proud.”

AB: “What do you do to unwind after work and relax?”
CH: “After work I go home, my second business is my family.” -laughs-
I also love to take an hour off and to go for a work-out, which I love to do at Zenden Sport, here in Maastricht. I also have a passion for good food, so to relax I can also go with friends and family to a nice restaurant and enjoy the Burgundian lifestyle that Maastricht is known for.

AB: “Describe Maastricht in 3 words.”
CH: “Burgundian, Beautiful, Southern (mentality)

An assortiment of breads

An assortiment of breads.© Brian Megens

After the lovely afternoon we had with Carmen, she showed us through the back of the bakery, with the big, impressive machinery, used to produce the big load of breads and pastries each day to a big number of clients. The following day we return for some good pictures of the bakery in full motion. It’s a sight to see with your own eyes!

To visit the bakery, see the opening hours and what the bakery has to offer, go to the website.

 

 

Interview by Ashika Baan, Photography by Brian Megens.

 

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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Meet our Student Police Officer: Paul Vermin

For all you new and recurring students we organised a little interview with our very own police officer, Paul Vermin. He was happy to answer any of our questions regarding student safety. You may have met him during the INKOM, or during an inauguration of an association, with which mr. Vermin has good contact.
Being the general contact point for all students, this means that in case a students goes to the police to report something stolen, for instance, he will be notified of it, even if another officer helps the student. Having worked for the police in Maastricht for 21 years already, Paul has seen his fair share of stuff happening. Safe to say, bad things also happen to students. That’s why three years ago Paul Vermin went to the police department of Groningen, as the police there already had a special task force that dealt with student-related problems. He looked at how they went about things and asked for advice to be able to do the same in Maastricht. Of course, to start up something like that is pretty hard, however, Paul is well on his way!

by Brian Megens

Ashika and Paul Vermin during the interview.  © Brian Megens

What the police wants is to accommodate students. In order to do that, Paul tells us that you have to create awareness among students, it helps remove part of the problem. Part of this problem is to show (international) students that the police takes them seriously. Among criminality that is student-related, Vermin says that theft, robbery and drugs are among the biggest. To further discuss the latter, Paul names the biggest problem with it. A lot of international students have the idea that doing drugs is allowed in the Netherlands. However, the term “gedoogwet” is not easily translate-able, but it basically means that even though using soft drugs is illegal in the Netherlands, the law in question isn’t enforced. This means that it’s possible to buy soft drugs and to have a certain amount, but it doesn’t mean that all drugs are allowed.
After a lot of coffeeshops closing in Maastricht by the municipality, there has been a rise of street dealers. These dealers often sell drugs that are full of junk, sometimes even containing stuff like rat poison or chlorine. This is something that the new students in Maastricht have no idea of, making it even more dangerous.

by Brian Megens

Paul next to his on-duty vehicle. © Brian Megens

One of the biggest barriers for the police that prevents them from helping students is when a student doesn’t report a crime. After a night out you might discover that someone took your phone in one of the clubs in Maastricht, yet not report it to the police. However, when you don’t report your phone stolen, the police has nothing to go with, and are therefore helpless at helping you, the student! While talking about this, I, Ashika (reporter for Maastricht Students) realise that in my first year, this occurred and while turning red, I explain that I didn’t think the police would be able to do anything.. “As long as you don’t do it again!” Paul tells me. All I have to say now: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Mr. Vermin also said that it’s so easy for people to break into a house, something that can even be done with a bank card. That’s why when he walks through a neighbourhood and sees that a student has left their window open with a laptop in front of it, Paul walks in, sees if anyone is there and tells them to shut their window or close their door or gate properly.

by Brian Megens

Paul Vermin in the courtyard of the police station. © Brian Megens

One of the things that makes this job worth it for Paul Vermin, is of course to be able to prevent criminality, but also to receive positive reactions from the neighbourhood or being able to accompany a victim to the court room, being mental support, and getting thanked afterwards. It’s not about just processing complaints and having to react to emergency calls.

Being very active on Twitter already (follow @POL_Vermin), Paul says that the next step in order to be more present for students is to have a Facebook page. This will come in the future, so keep your eyes peeled! After asking for some tips he might have for students, he sums up a few pointers. (Some of these are self-evident and well-known, however, still need to be done)

  • Don’t walk home alone late at night
  • If your friend is drunk or under the influence, don’t let them walk home alone
  • Don’t let yourself be offended easily, people do it to get a rise out of you. Don’t give it to them 😉

To take a look at the nation-wide campaign against theft, click here for our blogpost about it.

Paul Vermin the student agent socialising and informing students © Brian Megens

Paul Vermin with some students during the INKOM © Brian Megens

 

If you have a problem, that you want to communicate to Paul Vermin, you can contact him at paul.vermin@limburg-zuid.politie.nl or call the general police number 0900-8844. In case of emergency call: 1-1-2!

Here is a video of Breaking Maas about student safety that was made in cooperation with the police and the fire department.

 

“A different night out.” A movie made in co-operations with the police and fire dep. of Maastricht to raise awareness. from BreakingMaas on Vimeo.

So, to all you Maastricht Students, stay safe!

Blogpost by Ashika Baan, photography by Brian Megens

My Way to Make Money with Rasa Kuisytė

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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 Rasa Kuisyte a 20 year old Lithuanian 2nd year European Studies student who is a supervisor in the Talk2Students team which is part of the marketing and communication department of the University.

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INKOM: day 2, Day at the Faculty

Today, we visited the “Day at the Faculty” of the INKOM. After a successful opening day of the introduction week on Monday (to read more about it, click here), this was a more serious day where all the faculty associations of different faculties could present themselves to the new students.

Inside the SBE. © Brian Megens

Inside the SBE. © Brian Megens

The atmosphere at the School of Business and Economics on the Tongersestraat was relaxed, as students were walking around the information market. As there is a difference between student associations and study associations, it’s perhaps a good idea to quickly explain.

 

A student association is one where students can join to participate in fun activities outside of university. Examples of these associations are: MSV Tragos, Circumflex, SV Koko and Saurus. There are also a lot of independent sororities and fraternities.
A study association is usually closely connected to the faculty that it belongs to. For instance, the law faculty has JFV Ouranos, School of Business and Economics has SCOPE and so on. To see more what kind of associations are situated in Maastricht, click here.

© Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

As students were enjoying a nice lunch throughout the building, the excitement for Tuesday night’s MECC-party was very much there, so to everyone who’s there, HAVE FUN!

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The team responsible for handing out the lunch. © Brian Megens

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The lunch package. © Brian Megens

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Students enjoying their Lunch. © Brian Megens

See you tomorrow at the Picnic!

Blogpost by Ashika Baan, Photography by Brian Megens.

 

INKOM: day 1, Registration and Opening

The first day of an introduction week like the INKOM, marks a special moment for all the new students of Maastricht University and Zuyd Hogeschool. It’s with a lot of good memories of past years that we, Ashika and Brian, stood at the registration point of this wonderful week this morning. The big-eyed, tiny bit intimidated first-year students looked at us as we were snapping pictures for the blog and for Facebook.

Signs are clear.. This is where the magic happens ;)

Signs are clear.. This is where the magic happens. © Brian Megens

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INKOM: Interview with the President of the Work Group

On the 18th of August new students will be welcomed in Maastricht with the annual INKOM. For those attending INKOM 2014, continue the tradition of living INKOM to its fullest!  We interviewed the president of the INKOM organisation Elsemieke Hoet, a 22-year-old student at the law faculty. We were curious about the plans that Elsemieke and her colleagues have for this year’s edition.

 

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