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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

 

 

Leading in bureaucracy: software innovation fail!

The concept ‘leading in learning’, our universities motto, implies that we are pretty good at teaching our students (and employees) new stuff. It implies innovation, outside the box thinking and everything that goes hand in hand with intellectual progress. A rather hypocritic statement if we take a look at decision making in and progress of our university for the past years

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The blessing of being stupid

Do you stress for your exams? Do you worry about your career prospects in times of crisis? Do you wonder if you are ever going to find a significant other? And if so, can your offspring combine with a successful career?  How would your life have been if you hadn’t decided to go to university but to pursue an absolute mediocre life instead? Imagine the peace of not having to worry about the future, just living by routines and enjoying the simple things in life. It would be a mediocre, yet happy life.

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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

Internet and smarthphones: blessing or curse?

Can you remember the days when you received your first cellphone? The memorable Nokia 3310 with Snake that was virtually indestructable? You were so happy you could be reached when you needed to. In case of emergency or when you needed a shoulder to cry on. At least if you topped up enough. The cellphone and phone-plans evolved. People switched from prepaid-phones to more expensive phones that came with a plan. More minutes of calling meant more happiness. It didn’t stop there, because mobile internet became as popular as the Spice Girls in the nineties. Smartphones occupied the market and everybody could be reached via every manner you could think of, at every moment in time. At least if you charge your phone every single (half a) day.

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Was it all just a dream?

I always considered the people talking about this condition to be whiners, but since I now feel it myself, this blog will be about my ‘post Erasmus depression’. Just to wrap up the whole experience.

It is difficult not to reach for clichés like how all the colours seem less vivid and how life seems so dull now. However, I figure I don’t need those clichés anyway because normal life isn’t dull and the winter in Maastricht is actually quite beautiful. The irony is that the PED did not come from a sense of missing Vienna or my friends. It feels like the past half a year was just a great dream, until I woke up in The Netherlands. And that is just the problem.

Because really, wasn’t it anything more than just a dream?

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The Alla

There are many inevitable things that we have to go through in life from the moment we are born: learning how to eat using a fork, learning to use the toilet, saying ‘thank you’, etc. This sequence of proper societal integration continues until we are adults. We always have to adapt to our environment and to the people around us.

If you are a Maastricht University student, there are also many things that you have to learn the moment you arrive, and especially if you are not Dutch, there will be a lot of things around you that seem to be new, and that you have to familiarise with in order to survive living as a student. Amongst those things we have to learn: how to lock our bikes properly in order to protect them for thieves, how to use MyUM and EleUM without having a nervous breakdown, how to find a free spot at the UB, how to use your Albert Heijn bonus card and understand the word ‘bonnetje’, how to recognise a good Snackbar (I still call it Frietkot, Flemish all the way), how to get used to the smell of weed everywhere, how to use “Alstublieft and Dank u Wel” at the right time, how to stop believing in weather forecasts, how to get used to the fact that German is basically one of the official languages, and so on.

But there is one thing that you have to inevitably get used to as a Maastricht Student, and that every single student has to go through while being here, and that is: The Alla.

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Phobia: my biggest fear in life.

Lately a game made me share my biggest fear in life to people. Forget about spiders, the boogyman, clowns or that weird looking dude in the trenchcoat you come across way too often for it to be a coincidence. No, my biggest fear involves seeing and hearing stuff that is not there, while being convinced that what you perceive is reality. This psychopathology is more commonly known as Schizophrena. One of the best movies ever made, a beautiful mind, gave a wonderful glance of what it can do to your life.

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Publishing a book: Birth of my baby

For the past two years, myself and Sasha, have been working on a rather ambitious project. In August 2009 we got into contact with an assistant professor of SBE, Jeanette Hommes (after Sasha took initiative). She wanted to write a compilation of the most important study techniques, so she could use it in her classes. Because we are arrogant pricks with a big ego we told her that we did not want to make a compilation, but write the entire book ourselves. Quite the challenge: writing a study book while you are still an actual student. We didn’t have the faintest idea how much work it would turn out to be.

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Ball der Wirtschaftsuniversität

“You have to leave in half an hour”

“Ghr-urgh?”

I rub my eyes and wonder for an instant where I am until I recognize the room and the girl who just woke me up. She is smiling and holds a grey towel to me.

“I got you a towel so you can shower.”

“Urgh, no need to, got my tuxedo still on anyway.”

“I can make you a cup of coffee if you like.”

“You’re an angel.”

Ironically the apartment in which I woke up that Sunday morning was the same apartment I had ironed my shirt the day before, a necessity because my crumpled shirt didn’t look anything close to complementing the tuxedo I had bought for the upcoming WU ball.
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Open letter to Mr. Captcha

Dear mr. Capcha,

I would like to start this letter with stating that you are doing one hell of a job. You prevent harmless website and blog owners from becoming infected with evil spam villains. You make it possible that simple human beings are able to watch unlimited movies and tv-shows at websites like cuevana.tv in the quality we like it to be. If the spam-gang could have its way we would all be watching video-clips like we are back in 1995. The good old days, where everybody had to use modems that made those retarded noises in order to get on the World Wide Web. Thank god, we somehow managed to invent faster internet.

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Money matters: how to make it to the end of the month (pt.1),

The end of the month; a moment of terror for most students. Those who get study-finance know that around the 20th the bank-account will run dry. They will have to force themselves in social isolation. No more going out to bars. No more eating out. The diet will drastically change from consuming a-brands from Albert Heijn and Jumbo (yes most students live like they are middle-class employers), to eating Euroshopper products or shopping at Aldi (although their quality is good enough to shop there throughout the year as well). No more vedgies and rich dishes, but bread and soup, plain pasta & rice or simple eggs for dinner. We students have a very tough life. Uuuh… Don’t make me laugh.

There are a ton of ways to make enough money to get to the end of the month comfortably. These methods account for every student; the Dutch, the German, the Chinese or whatever special exotic nationality you may have.

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Challenging the status quo: the importance of critical thinking

In the last months I heard complaints from peers students, and did complain myself too, about the study method at UM. I am not talking about the (in)famous PBL approach but rather about courses being too short and the lack of depth of the literature we work on. Read more

Christmas holidays

Whether you’re a Christian or not, Christmas is a holiday you celebrate with your family. But I didn’t. For the first time in my life I had decided to spend Christmas holidays away from home. A bold decision but I reckoned that my time in Vienna was too short to waste days on a travel back home.

This decision proved a bit too bold for my taste. The week before Christmas, after a bunch of goodbye parties, I started to realize that my best friends where leaving Vienna for good even before my last month here had begun. In a short period of time I had to say goodbye to some of my best friends and my semi-roommates, my prospects for a nice Christmas became almost as depressing as the tale of the little match girl.

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Jet Lagged and Back in Europe

Originally, I had my doubts about going all the way back to my small home town in Wisconsin for only a couple weeks over Christmas.  I kept thinking of how many places I could visit in Europe for the same cost of a ticket to the States, and my grandparents’ home in seemingly-close-by Stockholm was calling my way.  Really though, I have to admit that I was afraid being back in Spooner (yes, that is really the name of the town I come from) would make me just a little too comfortable, and that being home would make me remember all of the things I usually seem to have conveniently forgotten.

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Cultural differences: the Netherlands vs. Italy

After spending the past holidays with Suppo, his girlfriend Pia (yes, I was the awkward 3rd wheel), and his family in Sicily, I couldn’t help to notice a couple of differences between Italy (Sicily to be exact) and good old the Netherlands. Little note in advance, this piece covers Sicily and Maastricht, two very distinct parts of both countries. Let the culture clash begin.

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To the meteorology of the Netherlands: a poem

 

Here the wind is a living thing,

like an army pushing me backwards where I came from,

and the wet cobble stones

turn into a pavement of melted butter.

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Wonderous stories: a 2012 art, dance and media project

If there is something really good about being a student at UM it is certainly the opportunity to start a project in a field you really feel passionate about.

Film festivals, online platforms, meetings and debates have been organised in the past year by students and with very good results.

An interesting initiative for the new year is Wonderous Stories: from Xenophobia to Amazement which, although not strictly born in the university environment as a course project, sees the cooperation of Media Culture master’s student Elena Tudorache who is part of the organisation team.

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Radical honesty movement: New Years resolution

About two weeks ago, a good friend of mine called Sasha showed me a an article that will shape the start of my new year. The article discusses a phenomenon known as ‘radical honesty’ and it is just as confronting as the name might suggest. Everybody that commits to this lifestyle is only allowed to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. A good way to practice your skills when you ever get in court (for one reason or the other).

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Animal testing: expansion of the university facility

This Thursday, the Observant wrote a piece about the expansion of the Animal studies facility of the University. A facility that is highly needed for a medical and neuro-psychological faculty to exist. Good news to hear they want to upgrade the facility and make it more efficient.

I always get annoyed by people who state that we should abandon animal testing, because it is not cool for those animals. There will be no sane soul on this walking planet who will state otherwise. Despite a lack of ‘coolness’, it serves a purpose that transcends the ‘oooooooooooooh so sad’-factor.

Did you ever think about the origin of all the medical techniques we have this day? Where do you think the Alzheimer-drugs that help your granny come from? How did you think they can improve chemo-therapy that will cure one of the ugliest diseases out there? Let me explain how the development of a drug normally looks like.
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An ode to Glühwein

You are the Austrian/ German hot mulled wine that makes the cold cold Austrian winter much more bearable. Your delicious sweet spiced flavours cheer me up every time I drink You and the warm glow (where Your name is derived from, obviously) You leave in my body makes me forget not just the cold but all minor inconveniences bothering me, such as studying. Good thing they sell You at the entrance of the WU for just one euro and only two euros for a turbo turbo You (with the double shot of Stroh 80% rum in You), especially great since you can just finish one such a turbo turbo in a fifteen minute break from class. You make my life complete. When I drank the first hot sip of You standing under the beautifully lit trees in the park next to the Christkindlmarkt I felt pure joy, like a child I felt, and at that moment I realised that if there existed such a place called heaven You would be in it.
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The Maastricht Christmas Market – We are lucky

The weird tension arising from the upcoming exams is increasing. The cold days and strange hailstorms have had their effect: we know we need to start studying for finals, and soon.

Yesterday, amongst all the pressure gathered in the Inner City Library where all the stressed out students gather around to study, I decided to join some friends at the Vrijthof in order to go to the Christmas Market for the first time.

I know, you have probably seen a lot better and lot bigger markets, especially if you are German or Belgian, but I
have to be honest, Maastricht offers a really nice and cosy Christmas Market, it has kind of a “home” feeling to it.
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Of tataholics, hairy men and French poetry- International Comedy Night@Kumulus Theater

There were a Brit, a Canadian and a Frenchman…sounds like the beginning of a joke and in some way it was.

We are talking about the International Comedy Night organised by Studium Generale as:

“An express delivery straight from the UK carrying three comedians, each of them infamous for his own type of good old British humor” Read more

Pure agony: using the internet at university computers

Using a pc at our university for me is the same as going to one of those family dinners; a lot of awkward silences when you wait until something happens and frustration because not everybody is up to date with how everything works these days.  Why this analogy? It’s not because the computers are that much out of date, because the wi-fi connection sucks or because the library services are too limited. No, it’s due to the failure to upgrade to and , better yet, the use of a proper browser. Every time I need to do something that surpasses 2008 and actually needs secure software , like editing this blog, I get several warnings that indicate that I should upgrade to a newer browser.

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How green are you really?

 In ancient times people built funerary monuments, palaces and artworks
meant to last forever. Just think of the Pyramids or the Coliseum and then ask yourself what are the things our society will leave behind, what would
archeologists find of us in thousands of years? The answer is bitter: garbage. Plastic bottles will float and collect for centuries in our oceans,
tinfoil and other non-biodegradable materials will bear witness to our
lifestyle for hundreds of years to come, eventually revealing the true essence of a society based on careless consumption, waste and lack of responsibility towards the environment it inhabits.  While our bones will rot away and forever delete the memory of what we were, tons of plastic are here to stay. Read more

Trip to Liege: rather the surprise

Last Thursday I had to go to Liege for 5 days for an international conference of ESN. I left our beloved city with mixed feelings. At one side I knew that this event would become crazy and I would get to learn a lot. On the other side I thought I would go to a city I wouldn’t want to be found dead in. The city had the appeal of  road-kill after I once had to take a city tour due to construction at the railways. Once I arrived at sincerely the most beautiful trainstation I have ever seen in my life, a bus straight out of 1967 took me through neighbourhoods I can only refer to as looking like genuine Communist ghetto’s. After this visit, I have to admit that my view of the city has slightly changed to moderately ok.

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Studying in Vienna

People who complain the University Library in Maastricht is overcrowded are probably right but they have never been to the WU library.

My current university, Wirtschaftsuniversität (WU) Wien, is situated in a 1970’s building which was built to accommodate a student population of about 15.000 students, currently there are 35.000 students attending classes at the WU and the university is by Austrian law obliged to give every new applicant an equal chance of studying, a lottery such as in Maastricht for some studies is out of the question.

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The Hippies of Maastricht

Being the over-enthusiastic, easily influenced person that I am, it didn’t take much more than a week of my Sustainable Development course for me to be convinced that I should become a vegan.

I’ll spare you all of the persuasive facts about tons of water needed per kilogram of beef, and the amount of grain we could save by just eating it ourselves instead of feeding to to livestock.  And I definitely won’t get started on the amount of pollution produced resulting from the animal-product industry…

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The Maastricht Triangle Theory: True or False?

About a hundred years ago, Russian dramatist Anton Checkhov said: “The University brings out all our abilities, including our incapability”.

 

I was at the library the other day, and I overheard a couple of Spanish girls talking about how cool their exchange year is going, however, they were complaining about the amount of work they had and how difficult it was to make time for parties and/or sleeping.

So then, the typical theory that you may have heard before, popped in my head, and it can be named “The Maastricht Triangle”

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