Idyllic phrasing of a city

When people back home ask me what it’s like to live in Maastricht I start smiling. There’s enough to tell about the city, its culture, its parks, faculties, diversity in students and activities. It mostly comes down to me telling them it’s like living abroad, and to the real foreigners in Maastricht: it really comes down to that for people ‘from the north’. It’s not at all uncommon to think of Limburg as a holiday destination pur sang. Read more

Exam time

Another day at the library. I’m becoming a piece of furniture between the four high walls of the building at the Grote Looiersstraat. I’m here to prepare for my upcoming exam. The only physical exercise consists of walking up and down the stairs to print, drink coffee, get something to eat or to read. Read more

“Intro” blog

I have been asked to write an “Introduction blog” before I start with the ‘real’ stuff. Some people find it quite easy to talk about themselves; they can tell great stories about their lives, including their pets (usually dogs or cats) and hobbies ( “Oh my god! I loooooove baking cupcakes!”). Read more

Phenomenology of the weather

I will not talk about the weather through stereotipical images: we all know Dutch weather sucks, although I was told that Maastricht is the sunniest city in the Netherlands. Read more

Update. Summer> Maastricht> INKOM

I apologise for not posting any blogs in a while, I have been very busy what with family summer holidays (apparently wifi access is almost impossible to get in the north of Scotland…), student finance applications, working in Maastricht and seeing all my friends and family in Edinburgh.

[Not all of these things however, are unrelated – as you will see in my post ‘Student Study Finance: A Blessay’ there is a lot to be done when applying for student finance.]

Although excuses out of the way, I have posted 3-for-the-price-of-one blogs in one dollop – so there is more than enough blog-ness to be getting on with.

The summer holidays drawing to an end for many, and as I write this there is a raging storm outside which pretty much signals the end to sun, ice-cream and shorts…

Behind me is my family holiday to the Isle of Skye, off the West coast of Scotland (see above re: lack of internet), as are my rounds of family/friends catching up with in Edinburgh. Also behind me are the days of stressing about study finance, my job in Maastricht and moving apartments. It was really nice seeing my friends and family who I have missed massively and now I am back in Maastricht. I have been working in Maastricht for most of August and can’t wait for my uni friends to return! J

Ahead for many a Maastricht student is returning to the city of cobbles, or the settling in for the first time for the many 1st year students arriving this August/September. Therefore it also goes without saying that a large amount of students will be looking forward to the huge introduction party in Maastricht: INKOM.

INKOM (for those who don’t know) is a city-wide introduction festival  for 5 days with parties, info events, parades and lots more! See for details.

I will be covering the various events of INKOM in FULL (or as full as I can make it without collapsing from the awesomeness of it all). So if you want to know what is hot/not/medium/weird/too dutch/not dutch enough/too drunken/too sober/must bring your own umbrella, drink, food, clothes or flying elephant – then this is the place to keep checking up on for INKOM updates! J

Also ahead of many is the beginning of a new academic year – which means new books, new stationary, new friends (optional), new tutors, new courses and lots of other new interesting stuffys and thingys.

With that can also come lots of renewed nerves/anxiety about starting up again. Especially for those starting first year.

I, personally am a little nervy (eg. will my new courses be too difficult?, will I be able to hold down a job on top of this?, will I make new friends or will my pet dragon put people off…. etc etc). So I have been doing lots of relax-y/chill-y things like saunas, face masks, long baths, good movies (and bad ones) as well as a good dose of cola (my latest addiction).

For now I hope you enjoy my two other “informative” blogs and good luck with the start of uni again!

high school graduation

Do you remember that moment you hear you were graduated for High school? It’s flashback time.

*and Bam it’s 2006*.

I’m chilling on my couch. It is Thursday, the day all seniors would get to hear whether they passed or would have to remain in the rud we called high school. I’m fairly confident that I would not receive that call. You have to make sure school could reach you until 17.00 hrs. Because I do not want to jinx it, I made sure I did absolutely nothing but watching reruns during that week.

At about quarter to five disaster strikes, when the phone starts ringing. I’m beginning to get nervous cause I told everyone that calling me is off limits for the entire day. I walk to the phone a bit insecure and I pick it up.

Hallo, met Joep…….
*there’s something wrong with you if you cannot translate that

– Haj jong mit de mam, bis se gebeld? Bis se gesjlaag?
*Haj child it’s you mother, did you receive a call? Did you graduate?

Mam, goeie genade. Ich sjrik mich de ****** in. Ich ken telefoontjes kriegen tot vief oer. Ich goan ophange.
*Mum, dear god. You scared the living **** out of me. I can receive a call till five  o’clock. I’m gonna hang up.

– Ok ich bel sjtraks waal weer. Doei
*Ok I’ll call later on. Bye

Still being a bit off my game I hang up and go back to my couch again. Being relax for the upcoming 15 minutes was nearly impossible. Luckily my hunch was right and I did not receive a call. The unintentional practical joke of the week award goes to my mother.

*poefff back to the present again*

This year it is up to one of younger brothers (yes my mother and father liked having a go at it) to become the third of my brothers to go to graduate and hence end up at university. He shared my attitude that it would all come along fine and that he was done for sure. I was thinking about doing the same as my mother did. However now everyone receives a call, instead of only those who flunked badly. This dramatically destroys the funny factor so I decided not even to take the effort.

Thankfully he graduated and last Friday I went with my mother, uncle and aunt to his graduation ceremony. I wanted to see how other High school do this, cause mine was just boring. Nothing like those big High School graduations you see on tv. The ceremony of my brother started about as it possibly could.  They all entered under the sound of eye of the tiger, which caused me to laugh and expect the worse.


After some speeches it actually started to become funny. 4 Teachers were asked to say something about all of the students and one of them wasn’t afraid to say political incorrect stuff. This physics teacher liked the art of dark humor and sarcasm, something I’m a huge fan of myself. Unfortunately, my brother didn’t end up with this epic boss saying something about him. A small downside on the entire evening. Luckily the event ended in a drink for all the guests. How can you prepare your students better for their academic life, than introduce one of their popular methods to build up a good network; an unlimited social drink?


21 Tips to Survive UCM (For UK Students)

So, after a semester at UCM, what I can say is this: a few words of warning/experience/advice/recommendation for future UCM students, especially those coming from the UK:

– UCM is tough. It is a higher work load than many other Universities. You will hear of your friends at uni in the UK doing far less work  with longer holidays. But this is the price we pay for doing so many different disciplines.

– Don’t do Contemporary World History in your first period (or Philosophy of Science). They are killers.

– A 7 is fine. UCM works on the 1 – 10 grading basis (not A, B, C)  10 is the best and 5.5 is a pass. However, I made the mistake of thinking that therefore a 7 is not really that good, where, in reality nobody ever really gets a 10. A 9 is almost unheard of. An 8 is pretty awesome. 7 is above average I would say. 6 is more than passing, and probably what most people are getting in their first semester. 5.5 is  a pass and passing at UCM means that in fact you are doing really well.

– Don’t feel guilty about what some of my friends call the ‘Native-English -guilt’. Generally UCM-ers speak more than one language, and it is not unusual to meet those enviable people who speak English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Urdu, Swahili and Ancient Greek. Oh, and they are learning Norwegian- just on the side. Don’t feel bad about this, as many UK students have simply not had as much opportunity to learn other languages in such depth. You get the opportunity to go to the language centre as part of UCM and many of your fellow students can help teach you.

–  Don’t underestimate the level of English. You may think that UCM is full of Germans and Dutch using English as a second or third language and therefore as a UK student, of course you would have a higher standard of English. But don’t be fooled, the standard set is high and I get the impression that UK students are not let off lightly.

– UCM is APA. APA is the American Psychological Association form of formatting essays. It is probably different from the footnote-ing style you may be used to with Highers/A-Levels etc. This takes time to get used to and UCM is very strict about the implementation of APA.

– You will have to specialise. You have an academic advisor and you have to plan out your  curriculum rigorously so there is not really a lot of room for trying too many different things out.

– Apartments in Maastricht are very different from halls in the UK. Be warned though, I would recommend getting into an international student house as the Dutch student houses can be a bit cliquey and often they do not have a ‘community’ feel, rather just individual rooms. This didn’t really suit me as I like to talk to people, especially if they are living one metre away. The Guesthouse is often full of exchange students and is a little pricey. Living in Belgium is an option, but then you cannot get the studyfinance. Also it is really quite far away.

– Germans are everywhere. Just saying.

–  You sometimes get asked questions in lectures. They notice if you fall asleep… not that I have ever done that….

– Bring some 50 cent coins for the coffee/hot choc machine on the first days, it helps you get through the day and the closest cash machine is at the Business faculty.

– Work Hard, Party Harder. Pretty self-explanatory.

– Referring to the point above, I would say that the Alla is to be avoided at all times unless completely drunk and reckless. If this is the case then I encourage you to enjoy the Alla with all your drunken might.

– Jobs are tricky-ish to get, but once you start to get to know people they become more and more easy to find out about. But having a job and UCM is also a challenge.

– Brits often drop out of UCM. (I blame the UK education system and the fact that not many UK students study abroad)

– Join Universalis. You get discounts. On everything.(It’s really easy to join on the Intro Days)

– Get an Albert Heijn Bonus Card.

– Speak up in PBL

– Join clubs and stuff, it can be lonely when you are not on a campus/in halls

– Choose Euroshopper

– Get a bike, you’re in the Netherlands now… Should cost about 50 to 80 euros.

And that’s just about all I can say so far…hope it helps for some of you who are hopefully starting at UCM in August. After just a semester I have to say that UCM is one of the best places to be, although tricky at first.