Posts

Photo: Brian Megens

My Way to Make Money with Yagmur Masmas of aGreenStory

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Brian Megens

Yagmur of a GreenStory

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Summer Internship Kuala Lumpur

Some people travel to the other part of the globe during the summer holiday, some choose to stay at home and work, while others combine both by doing an internship at the other side of the world. Last Summer, Karissa Atienza, our new social media reporter and blogger, did an internship at the Embassy of the Philippines in Kuala Lumpur. We asked her how she experienced her summer working and living in a new country.

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumper Summer Internship 2015

Karissa with the H.E. Philippine Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya.

 

How does an average day looks like?
There was no such thing as an average day! Everyday was different, and that really was part of the charm. I’m always pleasantly surprised about the work the Ambassador gives me, the events I attend, and the people I meet. Normally, my work start at 9 am but I usually arrive earlier as there was always someone who cooks at home, brings in the food and we’d have breakfast together. Mondays are an exception as we start at 8.30 am because of the flag raising ceremony. In general, the mornings start easier, but as the afternoon starts, everyone shifts up a gear and doesn’t go home until work is done. In theory, I finish at 6 pm but my colleagues and I stay for another hour or so and when there are events, we don’t go until it finishes.

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumpur Internship Summer 2015

How do you like Kuala Lumpur?
KL is a great city to live in. As a metropolis, you see all sorts of people from all walks of life from a number of different countries practicing various religions. Malaysia is notorious for the amazing street food! Jalan Alor, a famous food street in KL, is considered touristy but I can assure you that it’s a must if you’re ever in town. Various restaurants serving different cuisines sprawl along Jalan Alor. I especially love Fried Butter Prawn, Kangkong Belacan and Coconut ice-cream. I’d also recommend Chicken Fish, (yes, it’s called chicken fish).
I have to admit that I never really had much idea about domestic Malaysian politics but while working for the Philippines Embassy, I really got an insight into the state of Malaysian politics and the struggles that are going on in the country.

Streets of Kuala Lumpur

What does your function entail?
I worked for the Philippines Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. As a student intern, I was exposed to different sections in the embassy. These are the Political Section, the Economic, Cultural, and Information (ECI) Section, and the Consular section. In the Political Section, I would write reports on what’s happening in Malaysia and how this affects the Philippines politically, or the hundred of thousands of citizens living and/or working in Malaysia. I also attended a number of events, such as when I worked as part of the Philippine delegation to the 48th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and other related meetings, which was attended by a number of Foreign Ministers. In the ECI Section, I attended events such as the Opening Ceremony for the ASEAN Exhibition where I dressed up in traditional Filipino attire called Filipiniana. I also attended briefing sessions on cultural events and drafted reports afterwards. For the Consular Section, I did administrative work like processing passport and visa applications. I also went to Sabah to join the regular consular mission there and to court hearings of convicted Filipinos in Malaysia.

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumper Summer Internship 2015

What do you consider a highlight in your internship?
I consider two highlights of my internship. First is the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. It was definitely a highlight as the event is one of the highest-level of politics in Asia, especially in South East Asia. I also felt proud to be part of the Philippine delegation and assist them in the event where they had bilaterel meetings with countries such as the EU, USA and Russia. It’s quite amazing for me, especially as I’ve been studying about these people in my Bachelor and my participation in MUNs. It’s embarrassing to admit, but there were a number of times where I was starstrucked. I saw the likes of Julie Bishop (she had amazing shoes) the Australian Foreign Minister, and Federica Mogherini, the EU High Commissioner. I even managed to take a personal souvenir of the event; I took a picture of the EU High Commissioner shaking hands with the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Albert del Rosario, at the start of their bilateral meeting.
I also consider the consular mission to Sabah a highlight of my internship. The situation in Sabah is extremely complicated that despite a huge majority of Filipinos living and/or working there, the Philippines is unable to set up a mission to provide for them due to political difficulties. That’s why the Embassy arranges a consular mission every two to three weeks to visit the different parts of Sabah, and once a year or so, Sarawak. Sabah and Sarawak form the two Malaysian states in Borneo. The trip was an eye-opening experience and extremely humbling. We encountered a number of people who had travelled the evening before via bus to reach the mission in Kota Kinabalu in the early morning and were in a hurry to leave in order to reach their home before the curfew had started. There was also a time where a mother of one of our applicants came to the mission stating that her son had been arrested by the police for his lack of proper documentation.

What did you not expect to do in this work field?
There’s a stereotype of diplomats, that they have easy hours and dinner parties all the time. I experienced that working at an embassy is tough and that yes, there are dinner parties but you always have to be prepared as you’re representing your country. Diplomatic parties and events are actually extras to your work. So to say, they’re on top of whatever normal work you do but it’s a must to attend. As one of my colleagues said, it’s not the event itself but the people you meet.

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumper Summer Internship 2015

What do you like most about your work?
The people, they were supportive and made work fun. It was an honour to work under Ambassador Malaya and the whole KLPE team. There were a lot of laughs. They actually thought I didn’t know how to speak Filipino so they were surprised when they met me and heard me speak Filipino with a strong provincial accent. There was also a lot of Filipino food! Eating all together is very typical in our culture so it felt quite home.

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumpur Internship Summer 2015

What has the hardest thing been in your work?
The work is quite unpredictable, you never know what’s going to happen next or when you’d manage to go home that day but I was quite eager to do as much as I can during my time there, so it wasn’t an issue.

Do you want to pursue work in this field?
It’s on the top of my career list! I find the work tough, it never really stops. There’s no such thing as a strict 9-6 working hours or weekends, but the work is dynamic, interesting, and best of all, fulfilling.

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumper Summer Internship 2015

If so, how is your next study choice affected by it?
The great thing with diplomacy is that you don’t necessarily need to be an expert in one particular field but rather knowledgeable in a number of subjects so there’s no strict academic requirement.

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumper Summer Internship 2015

Embassy Philippines Kuala Lumper Summer Internship 2015

Photography: Brian Megens

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.

America: the Country of Unlimited Portions!

EuroSim 2015, Skidmore College Saratoga Springs NY

Skidmore  College, Saratoga Springs NY, the first American university that I experience first-hand. I am aware of America’s campus-culture which stands in strong contrast with the more loosely organised style of student life at most, if not all European university. However, this observation on American campus-culture is largely based on American Pie movies and media coverage which cannot really be called objective. Therefore, I see my trip to Skidmore College as the perfect opportunity to test this hypothesis. I am in Saratoga Springs to represent FASoS during EuroSim, a simulation of the European Institutions, and stay here for 5 days. Although I’m not sleeping on campus I do have most of my lunches and dinners there, and that’s exactly what strikes me most about the campus-culture: the overload of food. Lunch on the first day of the convention is my first encounter with the cafeteria. I feel like walking in an all-inclusive holiday resort with various different fresh-cooking corners, ice-cream and waffle machines, twelve kinds of cereals, fresh pizza corner, Asian corner, veggie corner, Western dinner and buffet corner etc. I cannot believe that I am in an educational institute. Overenthusiastically, I walk around without realising my plate looks like a bad miniature version of the Eifel tower and I need a second plate to fulfil my demands. In short, as always with the all-you-can-eat concept, I prove the theory of diminishing returns and I feel like never eating again at the end of my lunch.

EuroSim 2015 Skidmore College

EuroSim 2015, Skidmore College Saratoga Springs NY

EuroSim 2015, Skidmore College Saratoga Springs NY

At first sight, the concept seems great: a central place for all students to have their meals with a wide variety to choose from. However, it also makes me think about its disadvantages. First, it is well-known that the Western world, specifically America, has a growing problem with obesity and I don’t think that all-you-can-eat cafeterias in universities help address the problem. Second,  studying in America isn’t cheap to say the least and having a cafeteria that cost each student around $12.000 a year does not help. Third, having unlimited access to put food on your plate increases the amount of food waste. Fourth, students do not learn to cook for themselves. I know that not having to cook or doing groceries save time, and thus can be seen as an advantage. However, I genuinely enjoy my daily walk to the supermarket where I can enjoy free coffee (honestly it isn’t bad in Helmstraat), and start my hunt for the latest offers which save me a lot of money on my monthly grocery budget. Furthermore, I know how much food my body needs on a daily basis and by buying my own groceries I feel less tempted to overload my plate.

EuroSim 2015 Skidmore College

EuroSim 2015 Skidmore College

Personally I loved my time in the Skidmore College cafeteria but I was more than happy to return to my daily walk to the supermarket. Moreover, summer is coming so my body needs to be beach ready!

All photos © Brian Megens

Changing Economy, Talkshow with Tomáš Sedláček and Joris Luyendijk

Changing Economy, Tomáš Sedláček & Joris Luyendijk, Studium Generale & SCOOP

Tomáš Sedláček (left) and Joris Luyendijk (right) © Brian Megens

Studium Generale and Scope (study association SBE) organised a talk show about the ethics of today’s economy. They invited Tomáš Sedláček and Joris Luyendijk. Tomáš is a chief macroeconomic strategist at ČSOB Banking Group and member of the Narrative of Europe group which is commissioned by Manuel Barroso. Joris is an anthropologist, journalist for the Guardian and writer of the book ‘Dit kan niet waar zijn’ translated ‘This cannot be true’ about the banking sector in London.

Sitting from out my seat in the lecture hall I can see that Tomáš and Joris have done these kind of events more often together as they are playing with the audience and each other by making jokes and telling anecdotes. Tomáš is the leading ‘comedian’ in this way and opens with a cunning joke on the city’s self-confidence and Maastricht passed with flying colours. Another good thing to know is that according to Tomáš, “Nobody hates Europe as much as the Europeans do.”

Changing Economy, Tomáš Sedláček & Joris Luyendijk, Studium Generale & SCOOP

Changing Economy, Tomáš Sedláček & Joris Luyendijk, Studium Generale & SCOOP

After this comic introduction Tomáš gets more serious and asks us to think of the most perfect society. He comes up with where the elves in Lord of the Rings live, but even there they want to move somewhere else. Another example that he gives involves milking a cow, perfect seems to be not perfect enough. We are always looking for more, bigger, better. Another remarkable message of Tomáš: everyone assumes that Karl Marx opposed capitalism, but was he? Tomáš claims that Marx criticizes the human condition of capitalism which is the alienation of people, but not capitalism itself. Tomáš continuous with an example from Christianity the Garden of Eden, it was perfect, however, just not perfect enough. It is unimaginable to have a perfect society. In short, Tomáš message is that we did not set a goal to reach, therefore, in our drive for more, bigger and better, we do not know to stop.

Changing Economy, Tomáš Sedláček & Joris Luyendijk, Studium Generale & SCOOP

Joris Luyendijk spent two years in the heart of the financial sector London to write a book about how the real financial sector actually works. Are all bankers greedy monsters, and if so, why? He tells that people in the UK have an image of the Dutch as kind hearted but stupid. Joris played this role for the two years when he was working on his book. At the beginning he had a hard time to make bankers talk to him as there is a code of silence. However, when he offered anonymity, more and more people were willing to tell their story. His main finding is that it is not bankers themselves who are greedy monsters, it’s the system that turns them into one. Bankers are exposed to immense temptations and no loyalty from their employers as they can be fired and kicked out of the building within 5 minutes. Therefore, why be loyal to your employer? Bankers are tempted to exploit their profits in the short run although this does imply a much bigger risk for the bank in the long term. As there is no guarantee that the banker will be working for the bank at that period of time, the banker does not care.

In a nutshell, the message of both Tomáš Sedláček as Joris Lyendijk was that it’s the economic system that needs revision, not the people.

All photos © 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

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/

My Way to Make Money with Aaron Vinnik

Studium Generale Lecture Anti-Semitism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lecture Europe by Prof. Dr. Jonathan Holslag

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

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

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

By Brian Megens

Women on Weights, UMsport training program

Find your strength! © Brian Megens

Find your strength! © Brian Megens


WOW
‘Women ahead in academia’ is the current topic of this academic year. UMsport takes it further and offers a programme called Women on Weights (WOW) to make women familiar with gym and resistance work-outs. This programme is given by Crystal Ceh a fitness instructor at UMSport and a licensed Naturopathic Doctor. Crystal is the embodiment of a strong, fit and feminine woman who immediately debunks the conception that women turn into a ‘Hulk’ from strength training, to the land of the myths. Sounds great, but how does a regular WOW training look like? I thought it was about time to find out myself and attend a training!

During the weeks of the WOW programme, Crystal is busy teaching three evenings a week. As the sign-up was a big success, three classes had to be made. Level 1 is given to class A on Tuesday and to class B on Wednesday, Thursday is reserved for the Level 2 class which consists of women who are a bit more familiar with weight lifting.

The session starts with a meeting in a conference room wherein Crystal explains concepts of training and nutrition, also the homework and possible problems are being discussed. Furthermore, this get together is basically to create a group feeling and make the participants talk about what they experience and obstacles they stumble upon. After this 30 minute talk Crystal announces that it’s enough talk and time to hit the gym!

Crystal explaining concepts of training © Brian Megens

Crystal explaining concepts of training © Brian Megens

The Work-out starts with a warm-up to increase the heart rate and get the blood pumping. After this, the weights need to be lifted by the women. The strength session starts with some squats followed by benching, lunches, dumbbell lateral raise, kettle bell swing and he training ends with some core work on the mat in order to cool down.

Carolina preparing for her squat © Brian Megens

Carolina preparing for her squat © Brian Megens

Karissa squat © Brian Megens

Karissa squat © Brian Megens

Benching © Brian Megens

Benching © Brian Megens

Karissa during lateral dumbbell raise © Brian Megens

Karissa during lateral dumbbell raise © Brian Megens

 

Carolina during lateral cable raise © Brian Megens

Carolina during lateral cable raise © Brian Megens

Dumbbell swing © Brian Megens

Dumbbell swing © Brian Megens

Cooling-down © Brian Megens

Cooling-down © Brian Megens

 

Crystal Ceh on the WOW programme
What is WOW?
CC: WOW, or Women on Weights, is a 1x/week, small group resistance training program, supervised by me along with weekly training “homework”, and runs for 7 weeks. You receive a WOW T-shirt, a UM Sport water bottle, and the weekly workouts all for a very modest price. The classes start off with an educational component, where we bust some common myths associated with women and weight training, followed by a 90-minute resistance training session in the gym. It’s motivational, you improve your strength and conditioning, and it’s a lot of fun!

For who is WOW?
CC: WOW is for women of any age and training experience. I created 2 levels: Level 1 is a great option for women who are new to lifting weights, who are unsure of their movement techniques, and/or have little knowledge of training principles. Level 2 is appropriate for women who have been resistance training regularly for at least 3-6 months, who feel confident with most major lifts (Eg barbell squat), and who have basic knowledge of training principles and want to learn more.

What do you learn in WOW?
CC: In Level 1, you learn how to perform a variety of free weight exercises, such as the barbell back squat, bench press, & dead lift, while also learning basic weight training principles, such as progressive overload, recovery and overtraining. In Level 2, we take the basics from Level 1 and turn it up a notch, by introducing more advanced techniques, such a super sets, split routines, HIIT, and program design.

Why was the WOW programme needed?
CC: WOW was created for women to help them learn proper lifting techniques, principles of training, to help them build knowledge and to improve confidence in themselves. Too many times we as women hold ourselves back, in addition to feeling held back or intimidated by our male counterparts. My favourite part of the entire program is seeing how the women go from shy, sometimes timid individuals in the gym, to women who take over the squat racks and demand mirror real estate when training. It’s super motivating to see more women lifting seriously in our gym!

When is the next WOW and how can people sign-up?
CC: The next 7-week courses will be offered in January 2015, with dates/times TBD. We will be sending a university-wide email letting people know when registration opens. You will be able to register online through the UM Sport web shop, or in-person at UM Sport Randwyck. We will also be having info sessions for those who are interested in learning more about the program or who are unsure of which level to join (dates also TBD)

Great that the work-out looks cool and Crystal is happy, however, it is all about the experience of the participants of the programme. Therefore, I decided to interview Carolina.

Crystal explaining the concept of benching to Carolina © Brian Megens

Crystal explaining the concept of benching to Carolina © Brian Megens

Carolina, 19, International Business student and in the level 1 group:
Why did you sign up for WOW?

I signed up for WOW because I am interested in fitness for quite a while now and I have been going to the gym regular for 1.5 years but I had a 6 months break and needed someone to motivate me again. Therefore, I saw this course and thought it would be a good way to get back to weight Lifting

What did you expect from WOW?
I expected from WOW to help me with my fitness and my nutrition. So I know how to do the exercises properly without risking any injuries.

What did WOW gave you?
WOW gave me a lot more confidence. I have never felt awkward to train “where the guys train” but I do feel more comfortable now because I feel that I now know the basics of training, giving me confidence to start a work-out on my own because I know what, how and why I am doing it.

Would you recommend WOW and why?
I definitely recommend WOW. Crystal did an amazing job. She makes everyone feel comfortable regardless age or level of fitness.

So if you feel like you need to hit the gym after the Christmas holiday, sign-up for the next WOW!
NOTE: a valid gym license is required in addition to purchasing the program

Karissa adding some weights © Brian Megens

Karissa adding some weights © Brian Megens

Push-ups! © Brian Megens

Push-ups! © Brian Megens

group picture! © Brian Megens

group picture! © Brian Megens

 

My way to make money with Maphrida Forichi

1535435_10152161757594814_1895546142_n

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

This week we interview the student with probably the most recognizable face within the university: Maphrida Forichi. Although her job is a non-paid one, albeit compensated, we’re happy to make an exception. She is an executive secretary, reporter and editor at Breaking Maas. Breaking Maas is the well-known news/entertainment show made by students in Maastricht. With each episode getting tons of views on their YouTube channel, Breaking Maas has grown to almost a cult-status. Maphrida is a 21 year old second year Arts & Culture student with broad interests, from theatre to travelling to cooking and getting fit, but everyone who knows her is aware that socialising while doing her other interests is her thing.

A regular day looks like…
In preparation for a report I regularly come up with a report idea, pitch it to my team, brainstorm on creative executions, do background research on the topic or person and prepare questions. On the day of the report, I pick an appropriate outfit, show up with a camera person from the team, be awesome and talk to a bunch of people and make sure I do something funny (or at least, I think I can be funny… sometimes). While filming, it’s very important to have the structure of the final outcome in mind, so you have to have an idea of how you will edit the report already. It makes it so much easier to put it all together in the end!

The thing that makes the job hard…
is being able to satisfy everybody. It is almost impossible actually. Our main target audience are students in Maastricht who naturally have varying tastes and interests, so we try our best to produce shows that are appealing and interesting for everybody. If that was truly possible, we would have 16,000 views for every episode. But we would like to believe that our episodes are entertaining!

I got this job by…
auditioning for the role of reporter. I was SUPER nervous even though I am a very outgoing person. I soon learned how to edit, and I now I edit most of my reports on my own. I feel like this job is exactly what I want to be doing with my spare time in university. Breaking Maas inspires individual creativity and allows you to pursue your interests.

My main reason for choosing this job…
was that it added more value to my studies. I am studying Arts and Culture and plan on majoring in Media Culture in my second year, and Breaking Maas helps me combine the theory from my studies with the practicality of actually researching and producing a show.

I would say I spend…
10 hours on average every week doing stuff for Breaking Maas – from attending meetings every Tuesday to reporting and editing. This academic year, I will definitely spend even more time since I am now in the management board. But hey, I love my job! I never complain about the hours. I do, however, expect it to be quite stressful this year, not going to lie!

I didn’t expect the job to be…
this awesome! Of course I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t expect to love it this much. The Breaking Maas crew is absolutely awesome. Not to mention all the cakes and goodies we usually have at meetings. Yum!

I love my job…
because I believe one of the most important university experiences is meeting people. Covering events as a reporter at Breaking Maas has helped me meet people of various ages, cultures and nationalities, from various campuses and occupations. I also like my job because it encompasses both my passion for journalism and production!

Later in life I’ll be…
on CNN, definitely as a reporter though, not an anchor. Or I will have my own talk show but that will just be a side hustle. My main aspiration is to build a Media Empire with my sister Ewa Przybyl. Watch this space for ME Productions!

Ice Bucket Challenge Maastricht Students and BreakingMaas

The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ has gone viral. Celebrities like Bill Gates, Charlie Sheen, and the one and only Justin Bieber, have participated in the challenge creating the publicity that have turned it into a hype.  Your timeline is probably filled with people posting their video and nominations, perhaps you’ve even been challenged yourself. I don’t normally pay attention to hypes where you oblige others to do the same like the notorious neknomination. However, the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ is different; it tries to combine the hype of challenging people via social media with creating awareness and fundraising for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. My main argument is that regardless of how annoying you might think the videos are, the action deserves everyone’s support. However, people participating in the challenge do need to be aware that the main aim is fundraising and publicity for the disease ALS and not the five minutes of fame. The crazier the challenge the better, but it needs to be utilised towards a higher goal. Therefore, I decided to hatch a plan for my own Ice Bucket Challenge. Together with BreakingMaas, we thought it would be a good idea to make a report on it. Ayse Sarah from BreakingMaas was brave enough to join me and take up the challenge. If you’re wondering why I’m only wearing a Speedo, well we don’t have fancy shirts of Maastricht Students like BreakingMaas have. Enough has been said, now it’s time to look at the video yourself!

We have made the donation and as said in the video, we now challenge all UM students to come up with your own original Ice Bucket Challenge and donate money for the ALS foundation!

Donate now!

Brian, Ashika and the BreakingMaas crew.

INKOM day 5: Maastricht Market, Mosae Master and BBQ

The last and final day of INKOM has arrived, you can see the toll of a rough week on the students. At noon, the Maastricht Market kicks off the last day. On this infomarket associations, companies, religions, sport clubs, political parties have their stand and students can go there for information. Free brunch and coffee is provided and lots of stand offer free giveaways and food. As the students partied the day before, it was quite empty until 1pm. However, students are students and will not skip free food, so it eventually got pretty busy as you can see on the pictures!

Overview of the infomarket © Brian Megens

Overview of the infomarket © Brian Megens

BreakingMaas reporting © Brian Megens

BreakingMaas reporting © Brian Megens

Fire department giving a demonstration Ps. nice shorts © Brian Megens

Fire department giving a demonstration  © Brian Megens

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

Paul Vermin (student agent) socialising and informing students © Brian Megens

The Queu for the free brunch © Brian Megens

The Queue for the free brunch © Brian Megens

The Queue for the free Coffee © Brian Megens

The Queue for the free Coffee © Brian Megens

And then everything needs to be consumed © Brian Megens

And then everything needs to be consumed © Brian Megens

At the end of the afternoon... view from a tower ladder from the fire department © Brian Megens

At the end of the afternoon, view from a tower ladder from the fire department © Brian Megens

For the Master students INKOM offered the Mosae Master. An event where the Master students could get together and find information useful for their further career, alcohol in the form of a wine tasting and food served as a tapas buffet were provided.

Mosae Master students © Brian Megens

Mosae Master students © Brian Megens

 

Dinner for the master students, Tapas mmm  © Brian Megens

Dinner for the master students, Tapas mmm © Brian Megens

 

Did I already say that they had tapas? © Brian Megens

Did I already say that they had tapas? © Brian Megens

The weather so far was pretty good keeping in mind that it was raining all day in the rest of the country, however, when it was time for the BBQ it was pooring. Luckily, tents were provided so students could enjoy their food somehow dry.

BBQ at de Griend © Brian Megens

BBQ at de Griend © Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

Students still smiling despite the weather © Brian Megens

Students still smiling despite the weather © Brian Megens

Lovely poncho © Brian Megens

Lovely poncho © Brian Megens

 

Enough food was provided! © Brian Megens

Enough food was provided! © Brian Megens

Keep on smiling Jeroen! © Brian Megens

Keep on smiling Jeroen! © Brian Megens

Unfortunately, tonight is the last party of INKOM 2014. For us it was a blast and we want to thank the organisation for making this event possible! We wish all the new students a great start of their academic adventure!

Ashika & Brian

Science in contemporary life

I sat beside a woman. She just told me about her personal past, her life until now and didn’t fail to leave out the pain life had caused her. I asked if she still could find pleasure in life. I asked whether she considered life in itself beautiful and if she had dreams for the future. She told me she wanted to become part of the animal rescue team, to take care of all those bunnies, cats and dogs in need. Read more

Changes ahead

Last week I had my last examination week of my Bachelor. After living like a nun (read; not answering the doorbell, phone calls or any other contact related actions. Except Facebook), I was dying to leave my room for something more important than grocery shopping. At least then I had a reason to dress properly, presentable and approachable, because lets be honest; your pyjamas are not that flattering. And lucky me, I got the chance! Last Wednesday I needed to get out of the house to present my thesis to the company of which I’ll write about. I got up in time, dressed properly, presentable and looked approachable. Read more

A Brit Abroad…

Hi!

My name is Phoebe and I’m a first year Bachelor’s student, studying Arts & Culture. I moved to Maastricht in late August from London, England where I was born and raised. After graduating secondary school (high school) I took a year out to earn some money so I could travel around Europe by train – which I did in the spring. I had an amazing time, and meeting other travellers only made me realize how much more there was to see. Next on my list are Budapest, Barcelona and Krakow! 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 http://www.inkom.nl/?lang=en 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!

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.

 

What is the Point of Uni?

The Point?

Asked internally of many a University student is the eternal question: What is the point?
For one, there are the rising standards of education. More and more young people are choosing to go to university and therefore:

BA, BSc, BAE, BArch, BDiv, BFA, LLB

Could soon mean as much as:

AIu, Ghb, JAo, YAb, Czk, MHN.

A degree used to mean getting a job, it is not a guarantee anymore.

University, a universal qualification

A large proportion of the population have a degree and therefore to outdo the ‘norm’ of bachelor degrees there is a need for a Masters degree, and then everybody will have one of those…

It has become the expected thing to do for young people with a certain level of  educational background. It is simply the ‘done thing’ to go to university. Many will go for the party, many for the shrinking job prospects, many because their parents said so, and – in my experience – only some for a real passion for their subject. It has been a well known saying that if you don’t know what to do- do law.

However underlying this, there is the assumption that you have to go to uni, you have to choose something. Is that right though? Should this be the case? Is the point of university not to educate those who truly love their subject and wish to study it for three or four years? Not social pressure. As far as job prospects are concerned, is it really right that you need a Masters in Catalan Identity to work the computers in a bank? I suspect many of those at University do not intend on pursuing a career in academia.

Side note: I have a mini rant to impart on you.
It has to do with the university’s APA policy. I have found that almost everybody going into university have not done their previous education in the style of the American Psychological Association (APA). Most students have to part with their footnote-making ways and learn how to cite in text (O’Sullivan, 2011). This, although difficult to adapt to, would be something I saw point in – had it not been for the fact that all my friends attending other universities do not seem to be enduring such (seemingly pointless) rigorous lessons on how to write in a particular style. They are told to stick to footnotes or citing in text – or whatever you prefer, as long as it is consistent and academic.

I do appreciate that UCM (I am not sure that I can speak for the university as a whole) attempts to introduce the students to not only the subjects but also the way we write about them. However, I feel that the strict pedantry that is employed to enforce these APA rules in a strict manner (in many cases affecting your grade significantly) where the formatting style is equally capable of docking marks as the content – is not acceptable. If UCM wants to be taken seriously by the ‘big’ universities in the UK, and I think it does (many students do Masters in the UK, although this point also goes for many universities the world over, with exception perhaps to the US) – then we have to adopt either a footnote system or a ‘consistency’ policy. The APA style, although incredibly credible, is laughable for many in the UK.