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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

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

© 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

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

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!

Roundtable on Oslo Principles, what are they and what will they mean?

“Cross-border cooperation by nations could be the key to preventing climate disaster”

Climate change, is it a ‘thing’ and how serious is it? The more legal-minded people might have heard or read about the latest ruling in Dutch courts, Urgenda, where a group of academics and private citizens sued the government for non-compliance with its plan to reduce emissions. The court in The Hague gave this organisation the victory, where many had given up hope, and said that the government had to effectuate at least 25% decrease in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2020, against the claimed 40% by Urgenda. Nevertheless, this is a worldwide landmark that is starting a trend where citizens can claim reduction of gasses with legal effect.  

On a related note, not too long ago I attended an interesting event on the ‘Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations’ at The Hague Institute for Global Justice. This institution is an independent organisation established to conduct research overlapping several fields, develop tools by specialists, sharing knowledge between several disciplines. 

The Roundtable event at the Institute for Global Justice was set up to have an hour of presentations by two professors, after which the attendees were invited to pose questions on the Oslo Principles and their obligations towards countries and corporations. In the audience were members of several ministries, international diplomats, company officials and students like myself.

First speaker with an impressive CV: prof. dr. Thomas Pogge who serves as Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs and Director of Global Justice Program at Yale University.

Prof. Pogge (left) during his address

Prof. Pogge (left) during his address

Maximizing bargains or a moral approach?
Prof. Pogge started off by stating that cross-border cooperation by nations could be the key to preventing climate disaster. The only problem with that approach to climate change prevention is that in an economic sense we’re still living in a world of competing entities, where everyone’s trying to maximize their bargains. This eventually leads to the so-called ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ where the negative consequences are felt by all, yet the gain is felt by one. The question here is how to distribute burdens to prevent climate change among states.
The Oslo Principles are therefore a cooperative legal framework, with appeal for moral common sense, instead of focusing on the vulnerability-based bargaining where a country with high CO2-emission would have to contribute more than other countries towards making it “undone” (monetary penalties/cutting the emission). However, this seems highly unfair if you consider that these countries are usually the less developed ones, with a growing economy. Pogge mentioned that the goal is to stay below a 2 degrees Celsius increase, which, if exceeded, would lead to vast negative impacts.
The main points that call for action are the following:

  1. Climate change is making oceans less alkaline, which means that the pH level has gone from 8,2 to 8,1. This might seem like a small alteration, but the impact of this has enormous consequences.
  2. With more CO2 in the atmosphere, the heat of the sun is getting trapped in, causing the global warming.

The problem is that if we would stop today with our polluting activities, the earth will still keep on heating up.
On a general note, that’s not a reassuring thing to hear.

Maastricht University’s honorary professor
One of Maastricht University Faculty of Law’s Honorary Professors, prof. dr. Jaap Spier, who is also Advocate-General at the Dutch Supreme Court spoke next.
Both Pogge and Spier led a group of elite academics in international law, human rights law and environmental law and wrote the ‘Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations’. These principles have been set up to reduce the imminent threat of fatal climate change that is happening right now on a global level.

Read more

Maastricht of… Leo and Rianda Graus of Tribunal

When studying in Maastricht, especially if your faculty is in the city center, you know café Tribunal. Whether it is because you have an occasional coffee or lunch, or because you can relax there after a tough day, it’s the place where you’re sure that you can meet new people and have good service with a smile. And then you see Leo or Rianda, who run Tribunal, their enthusiasm is contagious and makes you smile, however shitty your day may have been.

This couple met 20 years ago (1995) when Leo was working in the café his parents had passed on to him two years prior and Rianda, then working as a stewardess for Lufthansa, was out for a drink with some friends. She thought he probably was one of those guys that carries a lot of baggage and was reluctant to start dating him. However, in 1998, the two married after dating several years.
Though his parents had stopped running the place, they still came for a drink at Tribunal everyday, until it wasn’t possible anymore.

Tribunal is a famous institution in Maastricht, offering so much more than just a drink and good food: providing the theatre students next door with crazy nights (which have a certain reputation of resulting in people dancing on tables), catering to the staff of the law faculty (you can often find the Dean there reading a paper) and accommodating students with their first coffee that day (best coffee in town). We had a talk with the owners and ‘their Maastricht’.

De Tribunal on the inside

Tribunal on the inside

Ashika Baan: What is your favourite bar or restaurant?
Rianda Graus:
As we run our own bar we have some regular spots where we go. I love Il Bacaro, it’s perfect to have a bite, seeing as they have a concept of little dishes, tapas-style, and the quality of the food and drinks are good! In the late hours we like to go to Café Sjiek, which is perfect to have a relaxing drink before going home. Also, in Wyck there’s a new bar called ‘t Wycker Cabinet, which has a nice atmosphere.
Leo Graus adds that Il Bacaro is their go-to place for a nice, light supper and that the concept they offer there is very successful, you don’t feel leaving stuffed, everything is in moderation, plus you can come there quite late and still be served dinner.

AB: Where do you like to go shopping in Maastricht?
Rianda: My style varies a little, but I love the portable line that Scapa provides. You can always find something nice there. Also, Depeche in the Platielstraat is somewhere I like to go when I need something. For classy affairs, Max Mara is ideal, because it’s very chic and you feel very feminine. For jeans I prefer Levi’s, they’re very comfortable and the styles don’t change too much.
Leo: For my clothes I go to Camel Active, it’s simple, classic and not too fussy. As for my shirts there is one place in Maastricht and that is Kölse Tes, in the Maastrichter Smedenstraat, the center. They have beautiful shirts and for shoes of course the well-known Monfrance. I’m pretty easy for clothes actually, he adds, winking.

One of the waitresses serving coffee on the terrace

One of the waitresses serving coffee on the terrace

AB: What is your favourite event in Maastricht?
Rianda: We always go to the TEFAF, the biggest art fair in Europe. The opening night we get tickets for and that night it’s all about people-watching. You see so many interesting people that attend the exclusive opening night, you could write a book about it. We also love the Preuvenemint, the restaurant event in August where approximately 30 restaurants and caterers from the region show their best and provide the public with little amuse-bouche sized bites, while drinking a cocktail and listening to music. The event lasts for several days and the Sunday is always synonymous for the night that the locals come (Maastrichtenaren), so you can find us there.

AB: Where do you go to experience culture and art?
Rianda: Well, the TEFAF, as mentioned before is a great place to enjoy art, there’s more art in one place than 10 different museum exhibitions could house. Of course, we have a close connection to the Theatre Academy next door to Tribunal, so we go to their performances and end-of-year pieces. Also, we both really love the opera, so you can find us once a year in Verona, where we visit the opera. I love Puccini, and my dream is to see Nabucco in Verona, unfortunately this year we’re going to miss it, but it will happen some day!
LG: I love to listen to jazz music, and of course, as Rianda said we love the opera.
But when you pick up our Ipod, you will find all sorts of music. Ranging from Elvis Presley to Maria Callas.

Leo and Rianda

Leo and Rianda

AB: What is a unique experience that makes Maastricht so special?
Rianda: When you wake up early and you see Maastricht is starting to rise, you can see people walking to work, going about their business. Also, something that never ceases to take my breath away is when you stand in Wyck on one side of the river and you look at the other side, Maastricht city center, with the sun shining on it. That is magical.
Leo: I’m a real chauvinist; there is nothing more beautiful than Maastricht to me.

AB: Which person (historical figure, old friend) would you like to show Maastricht to?
Rianda: I think it if Jacques Brel would’ve written a song about Maastricht it would be a song showing you the impossible and doomed choice of staying here and leaving this place. It’s poetic.
Leo: I think I’d show my grandfather around. He would’ve loved to see what Maastricht has become.

AB: Where do you go to relax?
Leo and Rianda: We go home to relax. For us it’s an oasis of peace and quiet. We live outside the city, and in our free time we keep busy in the garden and by cooking. We have a passion for cooking, mostly Italian, but not too long Leo made this amazing Tandoori, marinated and then prepared in our Green Egg (a ceramic barbecue, in the shape of a green egg, obviously). We love to cook with it.

The newly-established terrace

The newly-established terrace

AB: What is the main reason to have a shop or your business in Maastricht?
Leo: You have a chance to grow in Maastricht. We just opened our terrace outside, and it’s something we’ve been busy with for a while. The chance to make more of what you have is a good thing in the entrepreneurial spheres. As a café we don’t want to stand still, we’re always busy with something new, more innovative.
Rianda: It’s true, sometimes I wonder what I would do if we didn’t have Tribunal. I thought about it some time ago and I think I would start a dog kennel, you know, in the style of Cesar Milan, dogs that could run around and be free.
LG: Also, Maastricht is unique in the sense that it offers you top-notch quality in different sectors: fashion, gastronomy etc. Everything that happens here, happens well! The only thing that’s not so good for the region is the blossoming ageing of the population. Since all the jobs are in the North of the Netherlands, in the so-called Randstad, young people move out of Maastricht. We should do more to keep talent here. It’s also a shame because in the summer all the students have gone and we have a very quiet 6 weeks here.

AB: Describe Maastricht in 3 words.
RG: Sjoen, Sjink, Sjeng (literal translation: beautiful, ham, local. Originating from a Maastrichtian song)
LG: delicious, cozy, beautiful.

Some regulars reading the paper

Some regulars reading the paper

Once they’re done with Tribunal, the couple will probably move back to Maastricht, as we can conclude, you can’t live without Maastricht, it’s uniquely fascinating.

Interview conducted by Ashika Baan, photography by Brian Megens. Click here for more pictures.

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

Interview with an INKOM board member: Ella de Vries

You may know the INKOM, either because you participated, or because you’ve helped during this student introduction week of Maastricht.
The INKOM board is already busy with next year’s edition, and guess what, the new theme has been presented.. Curious about what you do in the INKOM board and what the theme for INKOM 2015 is? Read on!

Personal info
Name: Ella de Vries
Age: 23
Study: Medicine, 6th year
Position (Inkom): secretary

Why did you want to help organising the INKOM?

Two years ago I wanted to do something between my bachelor and master studies. Since I started studying when I was 17 years old and I would start with specified ward walking soon, this was the perfect opportunity to do something extracurricular. I looked at the possibilities of such a gap year. At that time I knew two people from the INKOM and seeing as I’m in the independent sorority Ex Aequo, I already knew a bit about this introduction week. I wanted to go in the board of the INKOM. At that point I was still too inexperienced to apply, so I waited a year while being crew-member last year.
As for what I’d like to learn during this year. I want to experience the different aspects of such a board year, learn how to set priorities and become more apt at managing stress.

When do the preparations for the INKOM start?

After the INKOM the board does an evaluation of how it went. Within this month after the INKOM the new board gets appointed and prepares for their year. The old board and Astrid Boeijen, head of the Student Service Center pick a new board. Of course a board has to be able to end their INKOM and be able to see how things went so a new board can take the points that need to be improved and integrate it in their program.

During the interview in the Student Service Center

During the interview in the Student Service Center

How many people does the INKOM team consist of?

5 board members of the INKOM, depicted in the following order (left to right): Daphne Peters (president), Charlotte Klüter (vice-president), me (secretary), Marenne Hoogenboom (treasurer) and Werner Rijkers (Logistical manager).

werkgroep_inkom_2015

The INKOM board

Where does this year’s theme come from?

The theme of the INKOM this year is ‘Time to Shine’. We came up with the theme during our first week as board, and had to keep it secret for a long time! The idea is that everyone that takes part in the INKOM, as participant, crew-member, student, commercial partners. For all of these people, it’s the time to shine!

To get a better impression on the exact meaning, check the video below.


What did you change for this year’s INKOM?

We took last year’s program and built further on that. In 2013 there was a big change in the set-up of the INKOM, where an extra day was added for instance. Seeing as we have a successful concept that works, we’re using the knowledge of the past few years. What also really helps, is that we ask our contacts and the parties involved to evaluate the cooperation and we use that in our plan on what to improve and what stays good.

What advice did the people organising the INKOM over the past years give you?

To enjoy it! The best advice that I’ve gotten is to make your own INKOM and to enjoy every minute of it. It’s also very important to organize your activities in such a way that if, God forbid, I’m sick during the INKOM, the Central Post can still organize my event, just based on my instructions and preparations.

Student Service Center

Student Service Center

What surprised you in your job?

I used to think it would be easier to organize something. But once you’re in the same position, the task seems more elaborate, also because you’re dependent on other people. As we’re working a whole year for an event of a week, it takes quite a lot of things before you can call the INKOM a done deal! People don’t realize that.

People don’t expect us….

To be busy for a whole year, but you really need it!

What is your personal highlight of the INKOM?

It sounds silly, but the registrations are crucial. All the participants are there. This year we’re improving some logistical points of the registration day. This way there’s a smaller gap between registering and the first activity.

When will you consider the INKOM a success?

That’s a tough question, I think when everyone has a fantastic INKOM. I think that organizing such an event with 5 people is tough. If that works for us without any major hiccups, it will be a success!

Why should prospective students in Maastricht definitely not miss the INKOM?

INKOM is THE week of the year for students new to Maastricht. You get the opportunity to participate in activities, party, do sports, comedy and BBQ, among other things. As you’re getting to know new people, these will become your new friends. It will be the best week of your academic year!

During the interview

During the interview

To follow INKOM on Facebook, click here.

Want to know more about the INKOM and how YOU can help? Check out the poster below and apply for one of the positions!

Want to help during INKOM? Apply now!

Want to help during INKOM? Apply now!

Interview and text by Ashika Baan, photos by Brian Megens

Opening MyMaastricht.com

Opening MyMaastricht

© Brian Megens

Yesterday the website www.mymaastricht.com was officially launched. MyMaastricht.com aims at informing international students about life in Maastricht and the Netherlands. The website contains information varying from when the garbage is to be collected to sports & events. Check it out yourself and find everything you need to know about living in Maastricht!
About the opening, there was champagne and food, so yes it was a success!

Opening MyMaastricht

© Brian Megens

Maastricht of.. Onno Hoes, the mayor of Maastricht

You might have heard of this name: Onno Hoes. Whether have heard about him in positive or negative aspect, this doesn’t justify who he really is.  The mayor of Maastricht, whose private life regrettably played a big part on his term in public office, welcomed us with open arms to do this interview. It gave us an insight to a man, who is sympathetic, and with whom you can hold conversation about a wide range of topics.

We were invited to the City Hall on the Markt on a sunny afternoon. The time for the interview was not that long, but still enough to ask all the questions we had and take some pictures. We hope you enjoy it.

Ashika Baan: What is your favourite bar or restaurant?
Onno Hoes: It really depends on my mood. When I feel like having a drink I might go to Wyck, the neighbourhood in Maastricht that is considered as a young and hip quarter. It has attracted many young entrepreneurs and you can see that when you walk along the Wycker Grachtstraat. Café Zondag and Café Zuid are both nice places to have a drink with a nice atmosphere.
When I want something more traditional, there’s a wide variety of Michelin-star and highly praised restaurants that Maastricht is known for. It’s good to visit when your parents are in town, for instance!
However, on a Friday night you will find me at home after a long week, relaxing from the busy days that I’ve had.

Onno Hoes Interview

AB: What is a leading event in Maastricht that is important to you?
OH: This year I visited Bruis, a free music festival, spread out over 3 days. There were people of all age groups and the festival itself was different from anything I’ve seen before. It was refreshing and definitely worth being an annual tradition for Maastricht.
Of course, the concert that André Rieu gives each year are so typical for Maastricht, something you can’t NOT think of when considering Maastricht.

Onno Hoes Interview

AB: Where do you go to experience culture and art?
OH: I think that with the TEFAF (biggest European art fair in Maastricht) there is a certain expectation that Maastricht is a base for creative arts. This could be increased by opening more galeries, using empty premises and creating pop-up galeries throughout Maastricht. Of course, we have the Bonnefantenmuseum, which has amazing exhibits, definitely worth a visit!

AB: What is Maastricht’s best kept secret?
OH: I think the city wall is a very nice place to go for a walk, and experience the ambiance and history that Maastricht breathes, which you can’t just see when you walk through the shopping streets. When you walk past the University Library you see the remnants of the old, Roman city that Maastricht once was. Very interesting for the international students that come here!

Onno Hoes Interview

AB: What is your best memory of Maastricht?
OH: The first time I came to Maastricht, was when my sister Isa Hoes (actress, screenplay writer) was studying at the theater academy here. I remember walking from Wyck, over the bridge and loving the short distance between two different parts of the city. The modern and old with a connection through the Servaas-bridge. Another memory I have is when I walked with my ex-husband Albert Verlinde through Maastricht in 2002, I fell in love again with the city, which made it easy to be a mayor!

AB: Which person (historical figure, old friend) would you like to show Maastricht to?
OH: I think I’d like to show the Count of Artagnan (aka d’Artagnan, yes from the books of Dumas, the musketeers..), who died at the gates of Maastricht. I’d like to show him that Maastricht is free of the French reign.

AB: What is unique about Maastricht and the contact it has with the University?
OH: The collaboration that the Municipality of Maastricht has with the University is a very fruitful one. There is a special agena that the Municipal Council has with the Executive Board of the University. They meet once in a while to discuss the growth of the faculties and to tackle the phenomenon of too little student housing, which has been quite successful!
Something that I’d like to see change is that students come from far and close, but never stay in the region. There is a trend of young people leaving Limburg, when the province needs these young entrepreneurs and people of this generation. In my view more could be done to facilitate that more young people staying here.

Onno Hoes Interview

AB: What do you do to unwind or relax after a long day?
OH: I go home, open a window, hear the church bells and I feel happy.  A lucky person to be able to fulfil the position of mayor here. These moments of silent noise (so to speak) make me appreciate every day even more. Like a sunday morning!

AB: What makes Maastricht stand out?
OH: The fact that people value a high quality of living, is something that can really be felt here in Maastricht. People want quality in their living experience: food, clothes, going out. There is attention for you as a person here, there is room for entrepreneurship, good service and Maastricht provides that, which I think is special!

AB: Can you describe Maastricht in 3 words?
OH: International, young, dynamic.

AB: What would you recommend people that are new in Maastricht to do?
OH: I would tell them to give yourself to the city. In order to experience the city, don’t plan, just go into the center, walk around and see the churches, shopping people, beautiful architecture and history that the city oozes. This will make Maastricht worthwhile 🙂

Interview and text by Ashika Baan, Photgraphy by Brian Megens

 

Pirate Week Maastricht

Did you know that Maastricht was occupied by pirates once? You don’t have to go back that long in history and luckily it weren’t real pirates either. The annual entrepreneurship Pirate Week in Maastricht was held from 24-01 until 30-01 and turned out to be as amazing as promised. Unfortunately university deadlines prevented me from participating myself but luckily I was fortunate enough to drop by now and then to get a taste of it.

Pirate Week Maastricht 2015

The concept of the Pirate Week is to bring young entrepreneurs together and work on their ideas from 9am until very late for seven days in a row. It goes as follows. In total, 30 people participate from which ten have an idea to develop, ten have technical skills and ten people have the creativity and knowledge to market and polish the image of the project. Teams are formed and during the week, these teams are guided by experts in the field. They receive training, workshops, lectures and personal talks. All in order to help them in developing their idea and pitch it at the end of the week for real investors who can provide them with start capital.

Pirate Week Maastricht 2015
Pirate Week Maastricht 2015

I attended the Pirate Week on Tuesday when they received a workshop explaining the business model and how to apply it on the projects. I immediately noticed the passion as teams were taking advantage of every minute to work on their projects. The heavy debates in some groups also showed the involvement of every group member.

Pirate Week Maastricht 2015

After seven days of hard work, it is time to go to Campus Chemelot, located on an industrial park outside Maastricht, to present their ideas in front of ‘real’ business men.

Pirate Week Maastricht 2015

The projects pitched varied from making sure you have the right shoe size when buying online to meeting the right people on events to a robotic arm which helps disabled people. All brilliant ideas and solutions to real problems, however, they did not win the first price. This honour went to Pales. Pales is a project that aims at reducing mortality among horses during birth. The project already won 10.000,- euro start capital at the Local Heroes Award 2014 and is now ready to take off with another 1st price. However, Sfitsy (shoe size solution) and City Quest (aiming to challenge tourists to discover a city interactively) receiving second and third place respectively, can both count on serious interest from the investors and might receive some start capital themselves.

Pirate Week Maastricht 2015
Pirate Week Maastricht 2015
Pirate Week Maastricht 2015

After this week, which felt like a marathon for them, there was a mixture of emotions, there was excitement, happiness, relieve, satisfaction and of course disappointment of not winning the competition. However, as much as people were aiming to win, above all they had a great experience, formed teams with which they started to develop their ideas and only future can tell how successful they are going to be. One thing is for sure this week will last forever in their minds and I was happy that I occasionally be part of it!

Pirate Week Maastricht 2015
Pirate Week Maastricht 2015

More information on the Pirates:
http://maastricht.startuppirates.org/

Maastricht of.. Judith Oostwegel-van Uden

Introduction
It was an absolute pleasure to do this interview with mrs. Oostwegel-van Uden, wife of Camille Oostwegel and together the driving force behind the Camille Oostwegel group, owners of several big restaurant and hotel properties. Mrs. Oostwegel was a perfect hostess and showed us around a lot of the incredible rooms of the Kruisherenhotel, where we met her for the interview.

There is a certain feel within the hotel and the staff that makes you feel at ease and what I thought was so special was that even as the owner of many big hotels, Judith greeted all the staff by their first names and it was very telling for the kind of business she and her husband run. They do a lot of stuff for their employees, by treating them well and making sure that even though the work is serious, everybody is the best version of themselves because of additional education and courses offered by the owners to further them in their career within the business

Judith being interviewed by Ashika

Judith being interviewed by Ashika

 

Ashika Baan: What is your favourite bar or place to have a bite?
Judith Oostwegel: I love sitting in the wine bar of the Kruisheren Hotel. It’s a unique place because of the surrounding architecture and it’s very cozy! For lunch I always recommend Château Neercanne, where a changing menu is set at the price of € 35,-. Museum aan het Vrijthof is also amazing to have a cup of tea and of course the Dominicanenchurch, in which there is a bookstore and a lovely coffeeplace.

AB: Where do you like to shop in Maastricht?
JO: I like going to Kiki Niesten, where they sell a beautifully curated collection. For a sportier outfit, the Scapa Shop here always makes me happy. I feel very at home in their clothes.
What I think is very special for Maastricht, is the Hermès store here. The Martens family really put in a lot of effort to have one here, and it definitely shows people that Maastricht is important.
All in all, Maastricht has shops with beautiful collections, stuff you don’t often find in the rest of the country. The place to shop is Wyck. It’s such a young and energetic neighbourhood with a lot of new entrepreneurs.

Part of the restaurant in the Kruisherenhotel

Part of the restaurant in the Kruisherenhotel

AB: What is your favourite event in Maastricht?
JO: I think the biggest and best event in Maastricht is and has been the TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair), which is basically 10 days of amazing! 10 days of being able to see all the art. It’s also a good location to do some networking.
Another thing that is so unique for Maastricht is that André Rieu has really put a stamp on it by giving his annual concerts in the summer. It’s actually a nice thing to take your parents to (wink wink, students). There are special André Rieu arrangements at the hotels and restaurants, which are nice to take advantage of.

AB: Where do you like to go to experience some culture?
JO: I think the Bonnefantenmuseum has really interesting collections, put together by Stijn Huijts. Of course, the previously mentioned Museum aan het Vrijthof is also really nice. Furthermore, Marres is amazing, diverse place to experience different aspects of art (even food), and Lumière for a good art house movie.

Details of the foyer of the Kruisherenhotel

Details of the foyer of the Kruisherenhotel

AB: What is Maastricht’s “best-kept secret”?
JO: I think the observance place on the Sint Pietersberg is a very good place, probably not so secret, but definitely worth your while.

AB: What is your best memory of Maastricht?
JO: It would have to be when the Kruisheren Hotel opened. There had been years and years of renovating it before this day arrived and when it did, it was magical. There was a mass in the Sint Servaas church, after which everybody came together in Theater aan het Vrijthof, where my husband, Camille Oostwegel, was being honoured for being an entrepreneur for 25 years. As a present he got a beautiful Deux Chevaux Charleston, which was given in cooperation with all the employees. It was an emotional moment, because the Hotel was supposed to be our last project together, but now we’ve already started on another one at Château St. Gerlach, where we’re implementing technology so it runs as much as possible on solar energy. That’s how we try to make our properties as self-supporting as possible.

Judith showing one of the rooms. Beautiful!

Judith showing one of the rooms. Beautiful!

AB: Which person would you like to show Maastricht to?
JO: Azzedine Alaïa, the fashion designer, because of the versatility of Maastricht, with its arty and unique culture and heritage. It’s very modern with the academies present in Maastricht, yet very conserving of the rich history that has passed. I think it would inspire this fashion designer.

AB: What about Maastricht makes it so nice to live and work here?
JO: it’s unique because Maastricht is the gateway to Europe. Within a short moment you’re in Belgium, Germany or even France. Someone living in Brussels can easily work in Maastricht.
And the fact of the matter is that people here speak 3 languages extra (French, German, English). Furthermore, the safety of Maastricht feels like a warm cocoon.

AB: How would you describe Maastricht in 3 words?
JO: Small is beautiful!

Details of a room at Kruisherenhotel

Details of a room at Kruisherenhotel

 

This already ends the interview we did with mrs. Oostwegel. For more, look further on our blog. Enjoy!

Interview and text by Ashika Baan, Photography by Brian Megens

For more photos of the hotel and interview, click here

Say Hello to the Student Project Team

Did you know Maastricht University has a Student Project Team? We didn’t either! We had the pleasure of meeting with the four members of the Student Project Team, who explained what the SPT is and what kind of work they do, also telling us about the projects that they’ve already accomplished.

 

© Brian Megens

The four members of the Student Project Team © Brian Megens

Read more

Ambassador Lecture Series: Robotics UMeet

© Brian Megens

© Brian Megens


The second of this year’s Ambassador Lecture Series titled Robots: The Future of Human Evolution was surprisingly interesting. Except for a few robotic jargons, it was engaging, inquisitive and easy to follow. It certainly helped that my evening started off with a lot of pizza courtesy of the ALS team! Structured around the speeches of the four renowned professors from the different departments of Maastricht University, the group of experts introduced the latest developments in artificial intelligence and the ethical questions concerning the development of robots and its influences in human life most notably health care. It also featured presentations from three of the brightest Maastricht students on their idea on possible future human-robot relations. The lucky winner received a gift from the UM gift shop along with the exclusive chance to dine with the four experts.

The ALS team organising the Robotics lecture © Brian Megens

The ALS team organising the Robotics lecture © Brian Megens

Pizza! © Brian Megens

Pizza! © Brian Megens

Live registration of the lecture © Brian Megens

Live registration of the lecture © Brian Megens

all contestants © Brian Megens

all contestants © Brian Megens

The first lecture Success: Luck or Design? was a tremendous success. Having attracted over 400 students, the seats were filled quickly and even students were sent home. This time around was fairly different but not negatively with still 200 students attending the lecture. The target base for this lecture was more selective unlike Robin Sieger’s first lecture which attracted students with very broad interests. This lecture narrowed down the interest group to students specifically interested in ethics and robotics. But as people started pouring in and filling the Mindersbroedersberg Aula, the team breathed a sigh of relief. There wasn’t the long queue that distinguished the first lecture but there was a certain buzz in the air. The seats filled up and the team was ready to go.

 

A warm welcome by our hostesses © Brian Megens

A warm welcome by our hostesses © Brian Megens

The people came well prepared, bringing their laptops © Brian Megens

The people came well prepared, bringing their laptops © Brian Megens

The host for the night was Prof. Dr. Gerhard Weiss. The Chair of the Department of Knowledge Engineering discussed the historical evolution of robotics. Prof. Weiss showed robotics in its infancy stage in the form of mechanical machines to sensor-motoric capabilities leading to cognitive aptitudes and robots eventually reaching autonomy. Prof. Weiss also touched upon the most intriguing questions of all. Will robots eventually take over? Are they our friend or our enemies? He concluded that robots are already everywhere in all facets of human life. The application of robotics is growing as robots’ cognitive abilities and autonomy increases.

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Weiss © Brian Megens

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Weiss © Brian Megens

 

© Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

As Prof. Dr. Luc de Witte took over, we met Paro and the cuddly harp seal quickly stole our attention with its big black eyes, long black whiskers and furry white body. This companion robot is changing the culture of care for elderly people suffering with dementia. The expert from the Department of Health Services Research of Maastricht University states that in his field of work they start with a problem in care and then identify a solution in order to help. He asserted that robotics must solve real life problems in health care not evolve for the sake of evolving.

 

Prof. Dr. Luc de Witte © Brian Megens

Prof. Dr. Luc de Witte © Brian Megens

 

© Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

Paro the robot-seal © Brian Megens

Paro the robot-seal © Brian Megens

Prof. Dr. Tsjalling Swierstra followed this by predicting that we will not be able to predict the future. Why? Because he believes that the future depends on the choices we make. The chair of the Department of Philosophy then presented us a number of scenarios. A robot presented as a child, would this child pornography be considered acceptable as there is technically no harm done? A robot used as a partner in sexual intercourse, would this constitute as rape? If the robot’s memory can be reset and wiped off, is there no harm done? The Chair of the Department of Philosophy & Director for the Ethics and Politics of Emerging Technologies asked some very intriguing and sensitive ethical and moral questions. How should we treat robots? Is there such a thing as mistreating robots? We want them to look like us, be similar to us but different enough so we can order them around to do our biding without feeling guilty. We design them to be “just like real people but not really people.”

 

Prof. Dr. Tsjalling Swierstra  © Brian Megens

Prof. Dr. Tsjalling Swierstra © Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

Prof. Dr.Rico Möckel of SwarmLab meanwhile stresses the need for the artificial evolution of robots. He compares the natural evolution in nature, how changes is not planned and yet nature still out performs robots. He states that artificial evolution is needed as it allows the creation of robotic systems allowing the autonomous creation of robust systems behind the imagination of engineers. He gives an example of evolving swarm robots for disaster management or for assistive living. Will robots feature in our future? Prof. Möckel ultimately answers that our present life would be impossible without the already existing robots.

 

Prof. Dr.Rico Möckel © Brian Megens

Prof. Dr.Rico Möckel © Brian Megens

After the four speeches by the University’s expert panel, we move on to the student competition. We started with a presentation from Mark Fingerhuth, a 20 year old Science Programme student. He states that there is an exponential growth in technology further predicting that one day robots will take over our job. He notes this as a positive change. He believes that by passing on all the work to the robots we would not have to work anymore and this will lead to the obsolescence of Monday thus, resulting to the downfall of capitalism. What would he have us do instead? Nothing. From his perspective, we would not have do anything in the future. All of our time will be devoted to entertainment. We would read books and spend our idle time doing whatever we please. One of the four professors quips, the how would we relate to the people in the books? If we don’t have jobs and responsibilities, how can we sympathise with the people we’re reading? We then move on to David Natarajan, a Malaysian second year Department of Knowledge Engineering student. David also predicts that in the future robots will take over our jobs and that we are near this point. By taking over our jobs, society would be better off. He took for example the jury. By replacing human jury members, we take away the emotions on the trials leaving only known facts. He declares that this will lead to a real fair trial. He further predicts that in the future robots will look, act and communicate like humans. But the difference is that they will not have medical problems. The future of robots will not only lie in helping us humans but also our society. The last contestant, Elgianni Boersma, is a Filipino-Dutch second year DKE student as well. Elgianni states that robotics is like toddlers at this point in time. We need to teach them and take control as they are only autonomous in so far. They are good at straightforward task but for the more difficult tasks like driving in Mars, robots still need human direct commands. He asks what do we do when they are fully intelligible? Do we treated them as slaves or do we accept them as one of us? As the population is increasing exponentially, by the time we reach full artificial capacity who can afford them he asked. It would create an even bigger disparity. It was a tough call for the panel of experts but ultimately Mark Fingerhuth won the chance to dine with the four experts on the field.

 

Mark Fingerhuth © Brian Megens

Mark Fingerhuth © Brian Megens

David Natarajan © Brian Megens

David Natarajan © Brian Megens

Elgianni Boersma © Brian Megens

Elgianni Boersma © Brian Megens

It is not whether the future of human evolution features robots but how and in what capacity. They already present in all facets of human life. The question is how much robots are going to be involved in our daily human life. Will they really eventually take over our jobs? I guess that’s to debate for another lecture.

Guest reporter:
Karissa May Atienza

Karissa May Atienza, our guest reporter © Brian Megens

Karissa May Atienza, our guest reporter © 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.

Read more

My way to make money with Nina le Grand

Foto 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 we interviewed 23-year-old student Nina le Grand, who is in the last year of her European Law School bachelor and currently working as manager of Mix & Mingle, which is a recurring event organised by Maastricht University. Next to her studies and her job, Nina loves to dance jazz, ballet and modern. More of her favourite activities include travelling, sports and catching up with friends. Read more

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

Ambassador Lecture Series: An Introduction

If you study in Maastricht, you have probably heard of the ‘Ambassador Lecture Series’. Once in a while you will see the event pop by on Facebook or the posters in the library. We at Maastricht Students want to introduce you to the team behind the events and show you what your fellow students are doing next to studying.

An impression of one of our lectures last academic year.

An impression of one of the lectures last academic year.

Maastricht Students: Who are part of the organisation of the Ambassador Lecture Series (ALS)?
Rosalin Süld: My name is Rosalin Süld and together with my team I organise the Ambassador Lecture Series (ALS) at Maastricht University.
With each lecture we compose a core team of 4-5 people who will be responsible for the main organisational tasks, such as promotion, press releases, news articles, audiovisual media etc.
The current team consists of Lilly Graf, Maret Ansperi and Benni Martin. I am very glad to have them since they have done such a great job.  We have a great team spirit and we have managed to keep it up even during the most stressful periods.

MS: How old are you?
RS: I’m 23 years old.

MS: What do you study?
RS: I just graduated my bachelors in European Law and this year I started my masters in corporate and commercial law.

MS: How did you get the idea to organise the ALS?
RS: I actually joined the ALS team when it already had been set up , but it was still a very new project at that time. My friend and I volunteered with an idea for a lecture – we invited the former Prime Minister of Russia Mr. Kasyanov- and the event was a huge success. I helped with another lecture after which I was offered a more permanent position.

MS: What is the Ambassador Lecture Series?
RS: The ALS is an exclusive project of Maastricht University, which is supervised by the Marketing Director where the lectures that are organised by students for students. It offers an opportunity to meet experts from different academic fields and engage in a discussion. Even though the title of the lecture includes the word ‘ambassador’ it shouldn’t be taken in its traditional meaning- we always aim at a wide range of speakers.

MS: How did the ALS develop?
RS: The Series has developed step-by-step. It has always been an event, which is initiated by UM students who have expressed their interest in a particular topic or a speaker and have volunteered to help with the organisation of the event.
Over the past year we have also worked on the branding and promotion of the Series. We have created our own FB page (see below) and we have our own logo for the Ambassador Lecture Series.

We are very glad to have the support of Maastricht School of Management with the upcoming motivational lecture. They have shown much interest in it and for us it has been a pleasure working with them. Next to that, we are always looking for companies to work with.

MS: Why is it important for students to visit these lectures?
RS: With each lecture we try to create an environment of lively discussion. Students can express themselves on the topic and get feedback from experts. We also aim to invite only high profile guest speakers whose speech will be of extra value to students and will create certain emotions.

MS: Do you only organise lectures or also other kinds of events?
RS: We are only involved with the usual ALS lectures, but we are also open to debate-oriented events.

MS: If people are interested in joining, what are you looking for?
RS: People are always welcome to join our ambitious team. We are looking for enthusiastic, passionate students with big ideas. They should be able to work in a team and they should be communicative and responsible.

MS: Can people suggest new speakers to the team?
RS: Absolutely! We consider all the suggestions, but only the very best ones will survive 🙂

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An impression of when Mr László Andor, the EU Commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, took part in the Series last academic year.

To follow the latest news of the Ambassador Lecture Series on Facebook, click here

A good example of one of our events is our very next lecture with Robin Sieger, who is a world-class expert on motivation and success. For more information check: https://www.facebook.com/events/543178915811114/

 

 

INKOM: day 3, Sports event and Picnic

Today marked the day that the sports event and the picnic took place. We went to the Griend in the early afternoon to see what kind of sports activities were taking place. Below you can see a few impressions of the day.

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The scene at the Griend. © Brian Megens

 

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The terrain. © Brian Megens

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A game of volleyball, anyone? © Brian Megens

Some more volleyball. © Brian Megens

Some more volleyball. © Brian Megens

 

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Climbing that wall. © Brian Megens

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From the Wilhelminabrug. © Brian Megens

In the evening we enjoyed seeing all the groups sitting and having dinner with their mommies and daddies. We hoped you guys had fun. Save some energy for the party on Friday! 😉

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The picnic at the old wall. © Brian Megens

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New students enjoying dinner with their group. © Brian Megens

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People getting food at the stand. © Brian Megens

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The scene. © Brian Megens

We hope you enjoyed it, see you on Friday!

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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Homeless

Originally, I wanted to write about being homesick and how fortunate Dutch students are with having their “home” – whatever you want to call it – nearby. Yes, on Friday afternoon, the NS has to deal with the thousands of students who are making their way home – meaning; their home city or parent’s place. Although it is maybe a 3 hour journey, other (international) students don’t even have the ability to go home or need to travel maybe double the time. That makes the lazy days at your parent’s place not worth going and staying “home” in Maastricht might be the only other option.

Either way, everyone has something what you can call “home”, either your student flat or your parent’s place.

And then there are the people who don’t have a “home”. In with “home”, I mean a roof above your head or a warm shelter with at least 4 walls and a front door. When you think of homeless people, you might think of beggars in India or Brazil.However, in the current Western society, homeless people do exist. Some of them try to collect some money by selling newspapers; others can’t be bothered and just lay on the street, hoping for some spare change. Each and one of them has his/her own story about how they became homeless. Quite recently, I spoke to a guy in Auckland who went bankrupt and got divorced at the same time. His (ex)wife and the bank came knocking on his door for money and that is how he lost everything. Even more striking was that his family didn’t want to help him which is why he ended up on the streets.

In the donut city of Christchurch, I spoke to Richard. Richard is 39 years old, born and grown up in the city. Since the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, he lives in his car since he has no home left. According to him, the council is too slow with providing and renovating houses. And if they provide them, they are often without hot water or electricity – these are his words. So when the rebuilding started, he stored al his possessions in a safe garage – furniture, his MTB collection – and moved to his van. He drove to the suburb called New Brighton, pulled over at the parking lot and didn’t leave that spot ever since. In fact, he is too afraid that his car won’t be able to drive. I’ve talked to Richard for hours – and hours – and he basically is homeless. He has no address, no work, no family, only a van and government support in the form of money. On his roof, there are solar panels to run his laptop. I’m pretty sure he won’t move his car for the rest of his life.

At the moment, I feel quite similar like Richard. Although Auckland CBD is not like Christchurch and we do have a job, we are still living in a car with no fixed postal address. Surviving on the streets changes your way of thinking. Instead of just buying whatever you like, you have to consider the amount of space you got left. Or the fridge, which we aren’t able to run due to the low capacity of the battery. Furthermore, you have to walk 200 m to the toilet and back; but also to brush your teeth, to clean yourself, to do dishes or to fill up your water tank. Showers are a 10 minute walk and paid ($2,5). The first proper WiFi connection is available at the library, half an hour walk. Laundry is only doable at launderettes, which are coin operating and don’t always supply a dryer. However, I’m not complaining because we have the best free camping spot, with great view on the Skytower.

In other words, not having a roof above your head is a challenge. Knowing that we HAVE a home, an the other side of the world sets our mind at rest. If everything may fail, we can always go home.

A Running Commentary

For whatever reason, when I arrived in Maastricht, I expected “running” to be a foreign concept. Perhaps this is because I had only previously run in the U.S. Perhaps my stereotype of a European involved more bicycle wheels than it did Nike shorts. In a way, I felt I was going to be smuggling the concept of “running” over the Atlantic Ocean and into the Netherlands. This, of course, is a ridiculous notion; however when I set out on my first exploratory jog, I expected numerous odd looks and stares. To my surprise and amusement, no one took notice. A few days later, on an early morning run, I even spotted a few other joggers.

Though completely the same activity here as it is back home, running in Maastricht has proven to be a unique experience. The brisk temperatures leave my legs icy, but shivering for longer distances. I get lost almost every time I set out with my tennis shoes amidst the uneven cobblestones and the winding roads. I feel a strange camaraderie with the bikes flying down the street. I’ve discovered anything from random giraffe statues and bridges to abandoned castles and dirt roads. Every running-related experience has proven to be an adventure.

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Running has become several things for me while in Maastricht.

Running is a familiar activity… something that hasn’t changed from my “normal” life across the pond.

Running is a stress reliever when due dates and computer screens need to be left behind.

Running is an adventure and a way to explore this new city I now call my home.

 

Kelsey YanduraAbout the author:

My name is Kelsey Yandura, and I’ve been infused with a wanderlust that can’t be suppressed. I have basic facts like everyone else (21 years old / English major / Baylor University / Texas, USA / likes peanut butter). I’m in Maastricht from February-April, and I hope to soak up as much as I can. Forgive my ramblings.

The fabulous world of the rich and famous: TEFAF 2012

The 25th edition of the annual TEFAF art and antiques fair has just ended, marking the silver jubilee of one of the world’s most prestigious events in the field.

Did you wonder why the air traffic above the lovely city of Maastricht had suddenly increased over the past week? TEFAF is the answer.

According to De Ster (yes that free newspaper colonizing your mail box every week), the tiny Maastricht-Aachen airport has been invaded by over 200 private jets, delivering a load of rich and famous potential art buyers.

From the skies to the ground, Maastricht did undergo quite a change during the past TEFAF week: groups of elderly tourists accompanied by willing tour guides were happily spotted walking across the city centre, bars and restaurants were full, probably also due to the beautiful springtime, and a series of events ranging from dance, theatrical performances and exhibitions were offered as part of the During TEFAF Festival.

No place for students…unless you are from European Studies

Probably most of us students did not even consider paying a visit to the exhibition at MECC, and how to blame you, the entrance fee was 55 euros, equal to the money an average student spends in a week (to be generous).

However, if in the future you have the chance to sneak into TEFAF, and you are an art lover, you will not be disappointed as long as you consider the experience the same as a visit to an art gallery or a museum. Of course the items on display are for sale, but I am sure none of us will ever come close to earning a salary that would allow you to even start considering such a purchase.

Let’s leave the business to the world’s rich and just enjoy art for art’s sake.

Picasso, Klimt, Schiele, Fontana and all masters of art and design will be there to welcome you, without distinction of class, race or gender.

Oh, and maybe you are lucky enough to cross paths with Queen Beatrix too at the next edition of TEFAF. Better than nothing, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look who came to say hello: Queen Beatrix visiting the 25th edition of TEFAF

 

 

Students debate: Are we active enough in and for the city of Maastricht?

You take two different views on the following topic:

“Maastricht students should be more involved in the city of Maastricht”.

One side filled with ‘important’ people of Maastricht, the other filled with representatives for all sides of student life.

The goal: to come up with solutions to make student life and local life become closer.

Because the debate panel was filled with key players around this topic, you could expect some good solutions and directions to work with for the near future. I got my hopes up too much.

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Maastricht Cultural Capital 2018: what the future (maybe) holds

We students of Maastricht University live in the very heart of Europe, at the crossroads with Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands (the Europe that counts), the powerhouse of the glorious European Union, for the joy of the many European Studies students in town.  Read more