The Future of Problem-Based Learning

Lecture by Prof. Wim Gijselaers

[videoembed type=”youtube” ratio=”four_by_three” width=”750″ url=” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=773Vd7H-ASY” autoplay=”yes” id=”video-0″]

OK let’s get started!

My name is Johanna and I´m from Berlin Germany.
I´m in the second year of my bachelor in molecular life sciences at Maastricht University. I really enjoy my life here and hope I can give you a good picture of what studying here could be like.

So first a little something about me:

I grew up in Berlin since I was 6 years old- before that my family and I lived in Boston for 4 years. I play the French horn, I really love music- luckily here in Maastricht I found an opportunity to play in an ensemble for wind instruments- here they call it Harmonie.
In Berlin I used to play field hockey a lot, but I didn´t really want to stuff my agenda so I just do sports at the university. Currently I´m following a course for running and our group will run together at Maastrichts mooiste. (http://www.maastrichtsmooiste.nl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=34)
I live in an apartment in Nazareth ( the appartment´s name is Lotta) and I have the two most funnest awesomest roomates in history! Carmen and Catharina are also from Germany and we all study together. It´s really nice to get to live with people how like the same stuff as you do – we love to eat and drink and watch movies and sitcoms. We order Pizza from Dominos almost every week.
Of course we also like to party or have friends over.
I hope you guys will enjoy my very first blog – So let´s get started!

religious holidays

As far as I can remember I never liked days off whenever they were inspired by religious events. In the beginning this had nothign to do with the fact that it was inspired by religious motives. It was mainly because there was absolutely nothing to do in my birth-town whenever it was for example Easter or Christmas. Everything social was closed, ranging from shops till swimming pools. This meant that everybody in my family was really bored. We never were really religious (even though I was in the beginning) and we therefore did absolutely nothing at all of these days off. Other families used these days to visit relatives or do something with themselves. Conclusion: no friends around and nothing to do. You can imagine that this did not speak in favor of these holidays.

When I became older most sense of ‘faith’ began to leave. I now consider myself agnostic; I will never deny the existence of a greater good, but at this moment proof is lacking. And no I do not consider the holy books as proof. I’m not in favor of stopping the economy for religious purposes. It comes as a shock to most internationals that we do not have 7/11’s  or 24hr shops. Guess it has got something to do with our Christian background. Although it is really weird that almost every person you speak to on the street agrees with the fact that we should change our traditional 9-5 attitude with Sundays off, combined with universal holidays which limit everyone.  I agree with this because we live in a society which stimulates everybody to work. How can people who work at the  same time as the shops are open get their things done? Especially in modern day society where women and men are supposed to work together, because apparently there’s something wrong with women choosing to stay at home for their children. Another reason is the fact that we (as a small country) might have to consider stepping it up in order not to lose our place in the top20 of strongest economies in the world.

Although I dislike religious holidays, last Easter was true heaven. The past weeks have been extremely stressful for a variety of reasons. So the 4 days off came as a true relieve. Al of that spare time made it possible to get everything done I wished to get done, while relaxing and getting Zen again. Maybe it had something to do with the good weather as well, which normally results in my getting less stressed. But I’m still grateful for the days off so I could straighten some things out again. Maybe religion  (and old-school thinking) has got some perks after all..

Enervating week

Last week has been an enervating one. I now officially switched jobs from being a student assistant at the registration office (please don’t be sending hate comments ) to becoming the new student editor of this website. I’m taking over from Laurent, which resulted in the typical new guy day at the office. Meeting some important people, finding out who to stay friends with, getting a shitload of literature, learning the basic principles etc etc.

On top of this it was a week filled with catching up work for uni and for ESN, because of my past weeks of travelling. I thankfully got into the flow very quickly which made the week very efficient. I always love those weeks, because they are kind of rare. Every time I set out to have an efficient week of studying and working something pops by which ruins it (at least to some extend). This may vary from receiving bad news to coming down with something and from sudden visits from close friends to partying a bit too much (yes I know, that’s entirely my own fault). However, this week I did what I set out to do so I could have a relaxing weekend.

on Friday I went to Tilburg to go to the lustrum gala of ESN Tilburg. It was time to borrow a genuine pinguin suite, because  I do not have one on my own for the plain reason that it is just not my thing (read; high ugliness factor).  It was a frantic night with way to many drinks as a result of the open bar. On saturday I mainly slept before going to the Highlander to watch El Classico. I love watching this game in a bar because it will always be packed with Spanish. The stereotyped the living hell out of themselves. Singing and shouting during the entire match. Whenever the opponent made a ‘foul’ they would stand up and raise their hand, while cursing in a manner which is way to fast for a normal human being to follow. I love the passion they put out. Something the Dutch might want to look into a little bit more.

This Sunday i spent most of my time relaxing, working and cleaning. It’s time for summaries of the Dutch football league very soon, followed by watching a movie. I’m gonna need all this chillaxing time, because next week I won’t have a lot of time to do this. The week will be filled with meetings and work. Tomorrow we (ESN) have a big 21st party in the Ipanema, which is open to everyone. So if you want to open your block properly I’m going to see you there tomorrow. Tickets can be gotten at the Student Service Center and Kiwi. Hope to see you there (*scandalous promo/advertisement mood off*)

 

 

humans are bad

So last weekend I spent my time in Germany. I was enjoying a good Paulaner Weizener in Cologne when I received the news that an idiot went to a shopping mall in Alphen aan de Rijn and killed a bunch of people. It has been dominating the Dutch news ever since. This is not that surprising because the news usually is dominated by a lack of positivism. It got me wondering.

Why do we have the tendency to like stuff which basically is wicked? Most boys love to play shooter games (me included) and love action movies starring Jason Statham or Jet li (me included). But why? Does the explanation lie within the realm of the (predominantly) male hormone Testosterone? I don’t think so, because women can behave far from good as well. Most cat-fights are more horrific than a good old bar-brawl between drunken chaps. Women backtalk about other people 3828299292 times more than do men (not scientifically proven, just my own careful observation).

So what other explanations dominate the (self-proclaimed) experts opinions? Let’s blame the media. What do most high-school gunmen have in common? They all played shooters on their consoles. Uh wait, I do that as well. Does this mean I’m a killer in the making. AAAH let’s ban them immediately. Come on, if these people are capable of pulling off a stunt like this they don’t need the influence of a computer game, horror movie or backwards played LP of a hardrock band. Something went drastically wrong in their brains which would have lead them to these sick actions anyway.

So does the explanation lie within the essence of being? Are humans good or bad? This question has been around  for centuries with two philosophers acting as the gladiators in this battle. Thomas Hobbes said humans are bad and civilization could teach humans how to behave properly.Jacques Rousseau said humans are good and civilization causes us to become naughty. Who’s right? I guess that if you are able to answer this question you will reach the same level as god, Allah, Zeus, Woden or whatever you call your divine being. I currently favor the explanation of Hobbes so far as that humans can be taught to behave in a civilized way. However civilization is just not doing a good job.

Does this contradict my previous statement about the influence of the media? No it does not. I think (and believe) that people can be taught whatever is good and bad. Everyone should be able to make the distinction of what you can and can’t do and everyone should be able to see what is reality and what is fiction. However some people just didn’t pay attention enough when they were given the lessons concerning murder, rape, war etc. I sometimes believe some people skipped the entire subject ‘how to behave properly’.

What can we do about it? Let’s ban guns. This will stop all killing sprees. And while we are at it, let’s ban everything that could be used to make a bomb and a shank/shiv. Let’s ban alcohol and drugs.  let’s ban hard rock. Let’s ban games. let’s ban all action/thriller/horror movies. Oh and while we are at it, let’s ban schlager music because that gets me to become aggressive. These simple actions will stop people from becoming mindless murders. Please share other solutions with uf if I forgot about one.

I hate my life at this moment

I’ve had a bit of radio silence for the past week. This was due to the fact that I had to go to Budapest for a big international meeting of ESN. I’m currently there as well, but I found some time to write a little blog. It is our annual general meeting where we decide policy and regulation for the future of ESN. Over 500 representatives from over Europe came here to have meetings, workshops, presentations etc. However, it’s totally in ESN-style, which means we party until late and wake up too early (with a little hangover once in a while). The weather here has been lovely (sun every day, with temperatures ranging from 15 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees. We came two days early so we had the chance to see a bit of the city before we were stuck in meetings all day.

I can honestly state that this has been one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen so many big ass old buildings. The people are really friendly and the food,beer and other stuff is way cheaper than in the Netherlands.

I will give a detailed description of this entire event later on this week. Judging on the below placed picture I can honestly state that I hate my life at this moment

 

Questions, questions.

Have you ever thought demeaning about someone’s job? That you felt better than the other person for various reasons? Because you think you are smarter than them? Have more people knowledge than them? Because you are paid better?

I normally don’t think low about other people’s jobs. My true opinion is that everyone has his or hers own skills. In my opinion, the communistic system is the perfect ideology. I say ideology, because I genuinely think mankind is not deemed fit to live in such a system. We have proven to be too greedy (and stupid) to give every other human being the same means as we have for ourselves. It would be hypocritical when I thought less of someone’s job considering my opinion about this perfect ideology.

Sometimes I catch myself to do this though.

Saturday was such a day. Me and a friend (Gertje) went to Aachen to stock up for a house party, because Germany is way cheaper for getting good alcoholic beverages. Because I didn’t want to make an ass out of myself I decided to withdraw some money at a bank in the Netherlands. Not all cards are accepted in Germany and I didn’t want to come across like a bum. So on the way over there we stopped at a parking so we didn’t block the busy road where the bank is situated on. When we pulled over we saw a traffic warden. I got out and quickly went to the ATM. Gertje remained in the car and was quickly approached by the warden who told him that he had to get a ticket. He didn’t want to get into a fuss and searched in his glove compartment for some cash. Before he knew it the traffic warden was taking pictures of his car and wrote him a ticket.

Absolutely ABSURD. I had been gone for not more than 2 minutes, returning to find a completely raging Gertje to the traffic warden. I asked what was going on and the traffic warden didn’t want to give an explanation. He merely told us ‘you can fight this ticket at the municipality’. We asked for his name and the name of his superior, but he refused to answer. I’m good at keeping my cool in those situations, but my mind was wondering why on earth he would give a ticket to someone who literally pulled over 1 minute ago and was searching for money in his car?

Did his day start out really bad? Did his dog die that day? Do his children refuse to talk to him, causing him to build a grudge to society?  Does his wife refuse to sleep with him, so he decides to spoil the mood of other guys as well?

Maybe he just decides to be an ass because he failed to get into the police academy. Maybe he thinks that getting a lot of fines might be his ticket into more serious ‘crime’-fighting? In my opinion the idea behind a traffic warden is to make sure traffic is going smoothly and safely. He just makes traffic unsafe by getting people angry for no reason.

Did he lose a soccer tournament causing him to lose the respect of his friends? The only respect he had left in this world? Was it an autistic person, who has such a lack of people knowledge to stick to the rules as strict as this?  Is this a direct result from our bureaucracy? Putting incompetent people on spots where they should not be put in? If you relate this to most governmental organizations you might start thinking like this.

Maybe he thought this actually improves the world in a weird way. That this would stop us from ever pulling up to a parking lot without running to the ticket machine, cause mere walking will not get you there within one minute. That this will cause us to become that narrow minded as he is?  Or maybe he is just an ass?

Questions, questions; what do you think?

RAGweek

This week the charity week of Maastricht takes place. Student and study associations join forces with frats, sororities and sport organizations to raise funds for charity. Almost every organization which is being run by students takes part in this event. This year all money raised will go to a local project and SOS child villages.

There are too many events for me to name them all in this blog (mainly because I’m too lazy to copy paste all the events). Fortunately, the RAGweek has its own website (thank god for technology): http://maastricht.ragweek.nl/! Take a look at the site and see if there is an event you want to take part in. The events range from (human auctions) to sport tournaments, from special food offers to parties.

The official opening takes place tonight at Tragos. For those of you who do not have a ticket, you can buy them at the door (7 euro). There are dj’s and a band, so I recommend all of you to go there. Hope to see you either tonight or during one of the other events.

You gotta love a productive weekend

I always set out to do as many work in the weekend, so I have more free-time during the week. Most of my friends leave Maastricht during the weekend or are otherwise occupied, which leaves me basically on my own. I always think it is really smart whenever I get as much work done during these lonely times. However, I often fail to do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I’m just lazy and I just want to spend the weekend in my bed watching sitcoms or movies and playing videogames in combination with a bit of exercising. Some weekends other things pop-up like an unexpected birthday party. Often it also occurs that I have other impulsive unforeseen activities like deciding to completely restructure all files and documents I have in my room and on my PC. It is always shocking to see how much garbage your files hold.

However, some weekends actually are very productive. This weekend was one of those. On Friday I went back to my mother’s place, cause I haven’t been there for about 3 weeks. Did some cooking and took care of a lot of stuff for ESN. On top of this I finished the lay-out for the book me and Sasha are writing, because today (Sunday) is the day we are sending it off to the publisher for the first draft. The only thing still missing are some references and further readings, but because it’s a first draft we decided not to waist anymore time and just give it a go.

A very big moment considering we now actually have our asses on the line. Now reviewers are going to read the first draft and give both useful and shitty comments on how to approve it. We already dealt with the reviewers before we were given the publishing contract. You always have to send in a book proposal in which you explain why and for whom you are writing this book. You always have to include a preview chapter as well on which reviewers can comment. We received a lot of helpful comments, but some of them were just blunt. Not going to get into details though. Overall conclusion: now the nervous waiting can begin. We are very excited and hope the reviewers like the first draft. Normally the book should be done by August or so, so it can hit stores at the end of this year.

Because that’s finished I had some spare time to clean my room again and exercise more. The carnival (and previous weeks) stopped me from working out enough. I’m now planning on exercising at least 4 times a week in order to keep my shape up. Now it’s just time for me to relax and watch one of my new favorite shows ‘sons of anarchy’. A bit of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll in due time, won’t hurt humanity.

 

impression of carnaval

here are two short videos two illustrate how vastelaovendj (carnaval) goes down in Maastricht.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCck2g6IoS8[/youtube]

this a local drumband just in front of the tourist information centre.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNhtxnm-XmQ[/youtube]

This is a short clip of the parade near the train station, where it all starts

Life after carnaval sucks

So last Friday the spectacle we call carnaval began. When we (students) would honour the tradition we should not dress up and party before Sunday. However, we grab every opportunity to party and we therefore already begin on Friday. It just comes down to dressing up and partying the same way we do every night out. You start noticing it actually revolves around a tradition when you go and watch the parade on Sunday.

So after two nights of partying too hard I actually was thinking about skipping the parade in order to sleep (must be my age or something). After some persistent texting, Nina convinced me to join her at her place. I quickly got out of bed and suited up. Took a case of beer and headed towards town. It was beautiful weather and the parade was nice to watch at. Nothing spectacular for me though because I grew up with carnaval. In my hometown (Geleen) there’s a pretty big parade as well, but it was nice to celebrate it with some exchangers as well. After the parade ended we headed towards Vrijthof.

In the little streets you’ll find all the bands of Maastricht playing their music. I’ll add a video of that later on. What happened after that is kind of a blur so I can’t tell you any exciting stories. On Monday i went to the house of an exchanger who lives at the Vrijthof. An extremely chill location to live, I have to say. ESN Tilburg visited Maastricht but we couldn’t invite them to the house because their group was too big for the place. So after a little conversation I headed back to the house to play some games and have some fun.

He lives above a bar and after a while the landlady got a bit frustrated and kicked us out. What happened next is again a blur. I woke up on this morning feeling absolutely horrible and I spend most of the day in bed. I’m typing this there as well and I’m not looking forward to leaving it. I will probably go out to town in a bit to see the ending of carnaval. Here in Maastricht people actually get very sentimental whenever it ends. People literally cry about it. Very weird to see grown-ups cry about it, but it does make sense a bit. People have to get back to their normal day jobs and their normal day life with their normal day responsibilities. They are not allowed to be drunk at 2 o’clock in the afternoon while having their toddlers besides them. They can’t sleep longer then 8 hours anymore. They can’t misbehave and blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-a-alcohol anymore. Life after carnaval just sucks.

weeeeeeeekend

At Friday it was time for yet another national platform for ESN. This is a meeting where all ESN sections from the Netherlands come together and determine national policy. It takes place about 3 times a year and after we organized it last time, Rotterdam had the privilege to organize it this time.So after a morning where I felt a little bit sick, I traveled to Rotterdam with Tessa at 1 o’clock. 3 other board members were already present because the program started at 11 in the morning. We met up with the group in a pooling center, just in time for all the fun activities. We missed a workshop, but I honestly wasn’t that excited for a workshop after all. After a game of pool (I discover that becoming a world champion in pool is going to be difficult for me) we checked in to the hostel. The hostel was situated in the typical cubic-houses of Rotterdam.

We then went to a bar where we played a game in order to get to know other section members better. It was kind of a lame game and I quickly boycotted it with the president of VU Amsterdam. Whent he game was finished we went to a nice club called club VIE. We got a walking dinner there, but becauseI kind of have a HUGE appetite I discovered I was still hungry. Therefore Martijn, Lieuwe and me returned to the hostel to eat bread with mustard and bitterballen. Not exactly the meal of a king, but it did the trick of getting rid of our hunger. We then hurried back to the club, because a catwalk show was about to start for an underwear company called SAPPH. A big happening, because national television was represent at the party.

I discovered that high society partying is not the way I like to party. Nobody danced because they were afraid to make an ass out of themselves. Because this is a hobby of mine (and most other ESN members), we quickly stood out from the crowd. Result: a couple of people kicked out and some of us were not allowed to enter again. This was including myself because I wasn’t able to find the way out of the club and decided to use the door where the VIP’s left. I decided to return to the hostel and encountered Martijn somewhere on the way home. When we arrived in the hostel, the fire alarm set off and thankfully this was the case whenever I was in the stairwell. Everything went in a lock down and I was closed in like pigs on a meat transport. I knew it was drill/false alarm, because there was a lack of hysterically screaming girls and smoke and I therefore decided to wait it out.

After waking up in the morning it was time for the serious part of the national platform. We had a meeting all day where we voted on policy and sponsorship. We had lectures of potentially interesting partners. Two of them I want to point out. The first is

www.studyintentions.com

this site prepares future students for a study abroad. It informs you about your potential new city, of which I know there is a lack of at the moment.

the other one is

http://www.exchangemyroom.com/

where students can exchange rooms in order to prevent you from having double costs. Just check them out, they are very useful.

At 4 o’clock the meeting ended and we returned back to Maastricht. We had big plans to grab some drinks whenever we arrived, but we discovered that we were a bit too beat down. So it was time to head home and enjoy a good (healthy) dinner and watch some comedy before having a good night of sleep. It was an awesome weekend, which was very well organized by ESN Rotterdam. Next stop: national platform III in Amsterdam

Students integration; Maastricht University’s international population: a charade.

There is a big gap in the integration between national students, German students, other international students and the locals. I will try to do a kind of miniseries blog about where the integration between these groups (according to yours truly) actually goes wrong. Every group has its own opinions and ideas about this problem. The university may claim that we have the most international student population of Europe, but it has got no use to have it when everyone avoids each other and stays to what they think is familiar a lot.

This problem occurs in every integration scenario. People have the habit to accept everything which is familiar as being the universal truth, taking everything uncommon or different for granted. I dare you to find one country where integration between different nationalities, races and religions has been a success. You will not find one country on this entire planet. This is a shame, because integration of different people is a key feature to make society work. This is no different in the society we call student life in Maastricht. The university may promote itself as having a warm and welcome international environment, but the truth is that multiple groups live their student life next to each other.

Trainlimbo’s: students who leave near Maastricht and actually travel up and down to Maastricht every day they have to be at uni.

Dutch student organization/fraternity/sorority students: join their own club and remain so locked into their organizations culture that the typical Belgium prison would be jealous of them.

German students: even worse than the Dutchies in integration. Chinatown in New york is nothing compared to the German society they tend to have in Maastricht.

International students: They actually try to learn from and get to know the other cultures best. However, they perform far from perfect as well because they socialize with the above mentioned groups and tent to take over their traditions. I count exchange students to this group.

Lokals: extremely not interested in students and have a dislike against everyone who is not from Limburg (and even from Maastricht as I recently discovered)

Now don’t get me wrong. There are exceptions (as always), but no sane-minded person can ignore the fact that we have multiple groups in Maastricht, who fail to accept or learn from each other. Multiple initiatives which were organized to fade the boundaries between the groups have failed, which I think is (again) a shame. There is so much happening in our small student town and we could do way better. We can lower costs by combining events or organizations, which have the same goal, but vigorously exclude target people from the group because of poor communication. We can improve the atmosphere by working together more. Hmm, I’m starting to sound like a hippie haha.

Don’t start thinking this is a political rally. It isn’t at all, but I sincerely believe that the international population the university states having, is merely a charade to get students to come to Maastricht. And it shouldn’t be. It is possible to create the actual international atmosphere as we all ignorantly believe we have.

Every week or so, I will try to give my view on one of the above mentioned groups. I will do this to point out the limitations of this semi incest incrowd feeling. It will be named: Maastricht University’s international population: a charade. I will try to contact people from the actual groups I’m talking about, so it isn’t a pure monologue of me rattling nonsense to you. Just check up on the blog regularly.

edit 20-10-2011: well the giving updates weekly thing failed miserably. However, i will try to shed my light on this subject throughout the study-year of 2011-2012. Some promising news has reached my ears. Let’s hope I don’t have to put a negative review of them as I did above..

Writing = sex?!

After the first good night of sleep and relaxation in about two weeks, I am starting my week of detox. The arrivalweek was amazing and I thankfully didn’t miss one minute of it. I however can’t deny that partying until 2 or later and waking up early the next morning, kind of destroys you. Last night therefore was like heaven. Just laying on my bed, listening to extremely relax songs, while recapitulating the past week, the upcoming weeks and my life in general. It couldn’t be a more convenient day, because the new season of Chuck began (love that show).

Now normal life begins again. Going back to the office for urgent jobs, deadlines, appointments etc etc. I’m not complaining, because I actually like to be busy. That makes me appreciate the rare chill days even more. The weekly routine involves reading the Metro or Spitsnieuws on Thursday. They then give reviews about new upcoming movies. Nothing which relaxes more than a good psych thriller (Black swan’s a TRUE recommendation) or a good (black) comedy.  On Thursdays the new edition of the ‘Observant’ is being served as well. I never really cared for this magazine until someone pointed out the column page on the back. It features two columns, of which one, annoys the living shit out of me.

It features a secret writer named ‘Truusje Troost’ who writes about her life as an UM employee. Nothing wrong with the idea, because I’m doing a similar thing here. She is however someone whose reasoning I can’t understand at all. She has the role of a guidance counselor/psychologist/trustworthy person or something at the University. It is actually a shame that she writes in Dutch, because the English readers can’t even have a clue of what I’m talking about. Couldn’t keep it from you, because every Thursday she gets me wondering why it appears as if she merely writes so she can deal with her own misery.

People say writing is a good way to understanding your emotions and feelings (no that’s not the same), but I can’t help noticing something. Why do most bloggers/column writers trying to pimp up their work by adding sexually related content/reference to their work. I know sex sells, but you gotta be kidding me if you make it appear like sex is the only thing which occupies your life (besides someone who actually work in the adult entertainment branch)?! Believe me, I’m not being a preut here, but making references to it in an article which has got NOTHING to do about it (and she does it all the time), is just pathetic writing. I hope that her writing will help her to overcome her own (sexual) frustrations, or at least gets her to realize that not everything evolves around intercourse. Maybe she can talk to Hank Moody, about what’s it like to have a midlife crisis.

ps: Shagging  rules. Do you like the blog better now?

one hell of a sleepdeprivation

You will not hear a lot from me the coming week. Say whaaaaaat?

The new arrivalweek of ESN starts tomorrow and I’ve quite frankly been too busy with learning and prepping  for me to write a new blog. I’ve got loads I want to nag you about, but I just don’t have the time right now.

I will try to give some updates about my week the upcoming days, so keep checking up regularly.

So it’s time for me to say peace out and I hope you all behave:)..

oh and BTW, our final party (8th of February) is an open party at Tragos. We expect about 600 guests so you better get yo behind over there. Hope to see you guys there.. everybody is welcome. more information at www.esn-maastricht.nl

A good old Student Protest

What do you do when you want to upgrade a countries knowledge system to one of the best in the world? You downsize the budget of the Universities which leads to a cut back in quality, even though universities can maintain and improve their quality if they would become more efficient if you ask me. Oh and charge ambitious students who take a bit longer, triple the amount of  the current tuition fees while you are at it.

In order to prevent this from happening students massively went  to the Hague to protest against the ridiculous cutbacks in education our new government is planning. These cutbacks apply to me like a bad breath applies to the morning after Kebab and beer. I therefore set foot to the Hague with Mark to let our voices be heard. We left my place at half past 8 to take the train to the Hague. After arriving in the Hague we had a lunch at the Burger King (we have to eat there every time we are in the Hague, don’t ask me why). We then set out for ‘Malieveld’, the big open field where the student rally was being held.

The crowd was getting bigger and bigger by the minute and before we knew it the whole event was getting started. It looked more like a music festival at first. A dj was playing music and the crowd was dancing and drinking beer. The first sign of this being a political rally was when the leader of the Socialists Party, Emile Roemer, suddenly was standing right beside me, as you can see in the following movie.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3q3OPKhX_s[/youtube]

After a couple more songs, several politicians, leaders of student unions and other important people began giving their own vision on the cutbacks, which are referred to as ‘Halbe-tax’. Halbe Zijlstra is the ‘genius’ who thought of the plan we were protesting against. I acknowledge the fact that we need cutbacks in order to prevent us from destroying our economy.  However, the way they are planning to achieve this is one of the most hypocritical things which exist in the Netherlands. The leaders of the two Parties who run this coalition studies 8 and 10 years and would have been punished for this by their own cutbacks if they would have studied now. Always nice to profit from something and later stating that it was ridiculous, isn’t it? Hindsight man would have been proud.

A couple of students thought of a protest song to the beat of a famous Dutch song, which makes fun of the above mentioned hypocrisy. Too bad the English speaking ones who read this can’t understand the song. You see, learning Dutch CAN be helpful (just kidding)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cPdzbrxVQc[/youtube]

after the song was finished and we all had a good laugh, we all embraced for the grande final. Mr incredible himself, Halbe Zijlstra, made way to the stage. The crowd loved him as you can see for yourself below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Xz18tHCzc[/youtube]

Overall, it was nice to see that over 20.000 students (according to the police) were here to make a statement. This statement however wasn’t enough, while Zijlstra stated that he is not going to change anything about his cutbacks. More (and possible less friendly) actions were announced by the leaders of the student unions. They (and we) are not going to let this happen this easily without a fight. Thankfully, dj Jordy was there to send us home with a blast. After the rally ended, he cranked up the music and the festival feeling was back immediately.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=takCeExnce0[/youtube]

We left the rally when it finished to go to the city center. We tried to reach the ‘Binnenhof’, the place where our government resides. A lot of students managed to get in, but at the time we reached it, the police blocked all the entrances in order to prevent trouble.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCcTNWoE9AM[/youtube]

Because we couldn’t get to the crowd inside the Binnenhof we decided to leave the Hague and return to Maastricht. Apparantly a good call, because I later received news that political activists caused riots and the police made several arrests. Would have been fun to see though.

Most probably there will be more actions and whenever I am able to join them time-wise, I will. Don’t want it to delay my study further though. You never know which ignorant other plans this government is thinking of.

Yo Garfield, not only Mondays are terrible.

Normally I hate people who complain a lot. It’s too cold outside. It’s too humid here. It smells funny over there. The EURO sucks, wish we still had the gulden (old currency). Everything was better in the 90ies. That girls’ jacket is so 2009. I look so ugly today.

‘uh please shut it, you always look rather disappointing’  could be a reaction which then comes to mind. Please stop nagging and get on with it. However, even people who don’t complain a lot can’t fail to notice that some days (or even weeks in this case) truly and utterly suck. So it’s time to turn the hypocrite mode on and nag you with tell you about my week.

The official first week of uni started off ok. I worked and had the regular ESN Monday night meeting. However, for some reason I decided to destroy my liver that night and managed to end up extremely wasted in the Alla. For those of you who are not from Maastricht: the Alla is one of the places you go to, when the other bars close. So after having a good one with my friends, I wanted to go home. That became rather a problem when I noticed my keys were missing. I kind of haven’t found them until this very moment.

I excepted the fact that I was now a semi-homeless person and joyfully went to work. Before arriving at work i received a call that my grandmother was not doing so good. I therefor decided to skip work (the word sounds more rebellious than it actually was) and leave to go and visit the hospital. In the evening I should have been going to a pancake dinner, which I obviously couldn’t make either. Very sucky, because I was really looking forward to it.

On Wednesday I received a call from OCE that the file I send them for a booklet of ESN didn’t have the right lay-out. I therefore had to convert the PDF-file. However, this file was being very rebellious and put up a horrific kamikaze fight. Most way to orthodox, very wacky religion fundamentalists would be proud of it. It knew it would be converted, but it took me two days to actually do it. Another set-back because the booklet was due way before this week anyway.

On Thursday I went to Utrecht for a national meeting. On the way over there I was joking to myself that whenever I left the Province of Limburg for the past 2 years, I couldn’t return hoe without having a delay from over an hour. I leave the rest up to you. You gotta love the railway.

On Friday me and Julian had to pick up the clothes for the new treasurer of ESN, of which the printings (of course) weren’t in the right color or lay-out.

*hypocrit mode off*

Did this let me get my spirits down for the weekend. HELL NO. There’s one positive thing about having a shitty week. This always gives you a legit reason to party hardy. And so I did. The week is over, so let’s try to make next week a better one.

the buried life

I’m enjoying this last day of vacation before I actually start a block again. I didn’t have classes last block, so guess I have to get used to going to lectures and classes again. Thankfully I had the past week off, so I could emotionally and intellectually prepare myself for this new beginning. Therefore my week was filled with catching up with friends, working out, spending some time at the office and foremost being lazy in bed while watching tv/sleeping.

While I was in one of these extremely lazy moods, which I was enjoying to the fullest (I must have looked extremely attractive at that moment), I came across a very interesting commercial. Jip, apparently they do exist. It was a promotional video for a show called ‘ the buried life’. In this show, 4 guys decide to make a list of 100 things they have to do before they get to meet the big creator.

I can’t imagine that there is one human being who doesn’t have such a bucket-list. Everyone has dreams and normally people would like to have the stuff they dream about. When you ask most people for 5 things they want to do, they will name very extreme or exclusive activities.  The Barbie’s  amongst us all want to go to a big fashion show, while returning with the latest Prada dress and a male model named ‘ Carlos’. The Ken’s just want to have a pool party with his closets male friends and 30 swimsuit models who serve Long Island Ice tea and beer. A Bear Grill just wants to sky dive into the Australian outback to see how long it takes them to reach civilization. The hopeless romantics want to ride an hot air balloon towards sunset on a summer night with their new loves with John Mayer on the background.

I’m no exception and my bucket list contains activities such as skydiving, to bungeejump and a trip to the arctic circle. However, I’m a student as well and I therefore have some study related things I want to (and have to) accomplish. Every student should have ‘ to graduate’ on the list, because every student joins an education  in order to graduate (except for the amazing Van Wilder). I want to publish at least one thing before I leave Maastricht University. I’m on my way for that one, because I expect to publish a study related book with Sasha Fayek. I want to visit at least one extra-curricular lecture. This doens’t sound very spectacular, but most students only visit recommended or obligatory lectures. Sometimes I come across an interesting lecture, but then I can’t go because I have a time-related problem. I will make time before the end of the year to actually visit one of these lectures. Last but not least, I want to be an INKOM-dad at least once in my life. I’m  not a member of a student association so I will most likely have to participate in the lottery procedure. Getting a group via ESN isn’t hard, but I’m not a board member anymore by then, so I’m dependent of the grace of the new board. So 4 goals, which have to be completed before I finish school (somewhere around next year). Lets see whether my academic life can get unburied:).

But hold on, what do you want to accomplish on an academic level before graduation? I know everyone has those moments in bed where they think they should have done this better. You most likely told yourself that you wanted to change and was willing to do so as from the next morning. Some of you must have had things related to your study as well. Don’t be afraid to come across like a nerd. Everyone has ambitions and you shouldn’t be ashamed of them. Perhaps you will help me and other visitors out by giving a useful suggestion we can add to our bucket-list? A good deed to start your day with…

one down, one to go.

I kind of took a break from the blog for a while. The main reason is because I was a bit too busy to actually write something useful down (as far as you can call this blog useful, but I leave that up to you). Ok quick summary of the past two weeks before moving on to the main topic of the blog.

I had an exam and some writing assignments and I am currently finishing the first manuscript for a book me and a friend (Sasha Fayek) are writing. We have a deadline for the publisher so this kind of destroys a whole lot of time. I’ll tell you about this later on, no worries.  However, the most intriguing event (which is therefore promoted to topic of this blog) was the fact that my first semester as president of ESN is over.

I never could have expected how awesome these past months were. Ok, I admit, my expectations were high. But this is mainly due to the fact that I was active member last year. As an active member you have fairly little responsibility and you can only be judged on your own retardedness.  When becoming a board member you actually have to do more than organize a trip and party your ass of every (ESN) night. Thankfully those responsibilities were nothing compared to the joy it brought me. I’ve met amazing people who experienced their time here as one big adventure. I guess a lot of regular students can learn something from the exchangers. We tend to take our time here for granted. The exchangers enjoy themselves with everything they can get their hands on. I asked myself why I didn’t do the traveling they do. Paris is only 5 hours away, so why not go their more frequent instead of destroying my liver in my local pub multiple times a week. I honestly don’t have a clue.

It is like they’ve got no boundaries. When you talk to students who come back from their period abroad they describe it in a way which comes close to my idea of heaven. Even though they have to study a lot they party like they’ve never partied before. In their 4 months they travel to more places they’ve been to their entire life. They meet more lovers and friends than the last girl on earth would if she was stranded on an island filled with adolescent hormone packed boys. They even enrich their life with other cultures instead of staying in their own protective bubble of accustomed values and beliefs.  Guess I should learn something from this and try to explore the world myself as well. This means that I plan to leave this country as much as my free time permits me too (which actually isn’t as much as I would like to).

So far for my first good intention of the year. I’ve got two more. The first is that I want to become more honest even when this is not the most politically correct way. Speaking the mind lowers my stress and if I should believe all literature on altruism, my stress is the only stress that matters for me (sounds egocentric doesn’t it?). The second one is, how original, that I want to exercise more. Compared to how physically fit I’ve been in the past, I feel like a fat kid who plays videogames all day while having a total resentment towards exercise, because the jocks keep picking on him for his lack of fitting in with the criteria of being ‘cool’.

Thankfully ESN is going to help me with that. Despite the fact that the last semester was awesome, we are going to kick things up a nudge next semester.  More parties, cultural and (yes) sports related activities. People always become competitive whenever nationalities play against each other and this is exactly what we are planning to do. Let’s see whether the Spanish will beat us again in our own special mini world cup. Maybe we can take revenge by kicking their ass in a rowing match? We’ll see. At least this will motivate me to get back into shape again. We become an adult this year and we therefore plan to celebrate our 21st birthday with a big bang.  The good part for all of you regular students?  We have way more ‘open’ parties and events everyone can join (amongst which is the birthday party). I therefore hope to see you guys more in the next semester.

In case you still don’t have a clue what we actually do for our students,here’s a promo video:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoQig0QYqC4[/youtube]

Music that keeps you going..

So it’s exam period. Everyone is stressing their pretty behinds off. Something which always calms me down whenever I am very stressed is listening to some good music. Even though I don’t stress because of exams that easily, I still can use some ways to chill out a bit at the moment. Perhaps I’ll fill you in on the details about the reason for a bit of stress and insecurity another time.

Getting curious? I would hate it whenever I would read something like this without getting know more about it. Guess it fits the way I want to come across: really mysterious and all.

However I’m wondering off like a boy who has to do an exam in a chocolate factory while being surrounded by power rangers, who are battling yet another evil looking big ass monster, which causes the power rangers to call in the help of the white power ranger ,because else they wouldn’t be able to defeat the monster (now THAT’S distracting)

Sooooo, songs which will relieve stress during these times. Due to the fact that I’m into the New CD of Kid Cudi a lot, the list will now be dominated by him. However I’ll leave room for other artists as well.

Kid cudi: the prayer
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grPfVlj7Go4[/youtube]

Kid Cudi: Man on the moon
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKD2EWLKcNU[/youtube]

the Fray – Heartless
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OyN7PM6Uh4[/youtube]

Dan Black: symphonies (with Kid Cudi)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWWG75lLemA[/youtube]
The veils – Vicious traditions (if you haven’t watched the movie Mr brooks: DO IT)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6h_XiJ-CFk[/youtube]
Kid Cudi – Ghost
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TOOEHJckWg[/youtube]

Jason Mraz ft James Morrison – details in the fabric
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdIw6tEjyEg[/youtube]
Paul Kalkbrenner – Sky and sand
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H5loYi6wVc[/youtube]

Snow Patrol – Open your eyes
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk1Q9y6VVy0[/youtube]

John Mayor – Daughters
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjDv94r2n78[/youtube]
Paul kalkbrenner – Aaron
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzdR3zOGVO8[/youtube]

Kid Cudi – All Along
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBtjDwBmYGk[/youtube]

So what songs always get you to calm down? Which song gives you the feeling time slows down and you have time enough to catch a breath?Which song does the trick for you? Let me and all the other stressed out people who read this know…

Life 2.0

Modern day life is being dominated by technology. In every household you’ll come across a variety of gadgets of which people 20 years ago merely dreamed off. Most people even cary a bunch of electrical stuff with them at all times. All of the BB’s, I phones and other smartphones let you get updated on the weather, your facebook or twitter, your agenda etc. etc.

I (thankfully) belong to the category of people who think that these machines make life easier and have a lot of advantages. For example, it makes communication that much easier. I praise the fact that I’m now able to answer emails etc. while I’m waiting for my bus or when I’m sitting in the train. It saves me valuable time, which I then can (and often will) destroy in another matter.

However it does have its bad sides. For example typing a blog while watching the Champions League causes an overload every time the narrator starts raising his voice when he gets excited. His job is to get people into the game, so this happens quite often. Another thing which isn’t a very positive aspect is the hyperactive reaching for the phones while amongst your friends. Be honest: how many times do you check your phone for messages, pings, mails, facebook updates or whatever while you are across your friends, watching a movie or being in a bar? While I have said that, I can turn the hypocrite mode off, because I do this a lot as well. I’m sorry whenever someone spots me doing it. It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s rather a compulsion I do subconsciously.

But, I’m going to try and change. I will go low-tech for the couple of weeks. Not that bad timing, because exams are coming up. So what does this downgrading entail. Well, for starters I will not watch TV during the day anymore. There’s absolutely nothing useful programmed at day-time television besides reruns and telemarketing junk for the extremely dumb naive  people. I will not check Facebook or whatever social platform while I’m supposed to be doing serious stuff. I will not compulsively check my phone anymore while I’m amongst my friends whenever it has got no serious use. I can’t think of anything else right now, so if you have other suggestions they are more than welcome.

Time to say goodbye to my full time life 2.0,while trading it for a part time one with a lot of free time as a result.

Wanna pay a lot of Money for Uni?

The new government decided that students who do not take their study serious have to pay more. Students who study one year longer than the normal period which is determined for that study get to pay 3000 euro on top of the normal tuition fee. This does not only involve new students, but current students as well. On top of this it involves both the Dutch as well as other Nationalities. I totally agree with the idea behind it. Why should the government pay for students who behave like a rock star during Uni?

However, there is one thing this new law doesn’t take into account. Everyone who does extra curricular activities will get punished as well. These activities are here to boost your abilities in both social and educational aspect. I could remember a time when employees liked having students who did stuff next to their study. This law will make it extremely hard to acquire new board members, because serious board functions usually involve a delay in your study due to a lack of time. Most of these boards take care of the social activities which make a university interesting for students. I don’t think the Uni is very willing to pay for fulltime employees who will take care of these things?Besides board or active members of societies, student- and study-associations, the less fortunate in the society will take a bitchslap to the face as well. Believe me, I’m not trying to come across like a hippie who thinks we should all be equally rewarded for our purpose in life. I do however think it will become harder for students who come from a impoverished environment, have a handicap, have sick mothers or fathers etc. to decide they want to go to Uni. Nobody wants to be in a great debt after receiving a degree and not every student can count on daddy to come save the day when they are in trouble.

A month or so ago we received an email from the university. They were inquiring whether students thought paying extra for their education was a good idea. They motivated this with the statement that these additional costs where necessary for maintaining and improving the educational level. let me say that I am fully against this idea. First off all because they motivated it with the fact that several University Colleges around the Netherlands did this as well. Because University Colleges want to keep a special status within Universities (don’t ask me why), they may have the privilege to ask more money from their students, but don’t go and ask this from the normal not so special programmes. Secondly, I think 1672 euro per year is a bunch of money which could adequately cover the costs if the bureaucracy would disappear, but I’ll come back to that later. Thirdly, because 1672 euro is enough for the resources, educational material and services we receive from my faculties (Psychology and Health Sciences). Students constantly complained about the organization and the (old) curriculum. I can’t judge the reformed curricula from both faculties, because I never was apart from it (they redesigned the curriculum this year). I therefore will leave this up to the freshmen who started studying this year. Finally, the services for students who study two bachelors at the same time could improve thirty fold. I myself studied two bachelors at the same time for the past two years. It demands creativity to try and fit everything into your schedule and this therefore didn’t work out every time. Result: delay in study.

You may now get why I am fully against the idea. It involves myself and friends and this causes me to get extra pissed about it. I would be against it anyways, but you may imagine that the motivation originated from the fact that I’m in a lot of trouble when they go through with this kind of law. It is my true opinion that if the government wants to keep the intellectual level of the Netherlands at least as high (or low) as it is right now they should take other measures to cut back in costs. Maybe they should try to influence the universities to create a more effective organization. There is way too much bureaucracy and lack of transparency. Guess this counts for every governmental institution. Maybe Rutte and Verhage should first try to cut back on their own institutions before ruining our educational system?

If they do decide to go through with this ridiculous law, I guess they will further damage our educational level instead of improving it. Talented students who wish to do more than just one study, do extra curricular activities and keep the University booming are punished, as well as the less fortunate. These students will immigrate to other countries in either Europe or beyond. Ah well at least they won’t cost you, the taxpayer, any money. We will be gone forever… or at least me.

Please sign the petition on www.minimaalnominaal.nl in order to let your voice be heard. paying 3000 euro on top of the normal tuition fee is ridiculous in case you have a good reason.

alaaf

International Meeting in Groningen

Last Thursday I faced one of the biggest disadvantages of being a board member in an international organization. We had to visit a 4 day long international meeting filled with plenary sessions, meetings and workshops. On top of this we had to eat free dinner, see comedy acts, have a eurodinner with free food and drinks, have a Cantus and have multiple parties. My life is a total hell.

So we set off by train to Groningen and arrived there after 4.5 hours. We immediately checked in to the hostel and joined a city tour. A good time to catch up with ESN members from other cities. After the city tour we went to dinner and a comedy act. Afterwards we had a Neon party were we were supposed to come to in NEON shizzle. Uhm, Epic fail. We therefore had to destroy every body part which was visible (and invisible) with neon-paint in order to fit in with the crowd.

When we woke up the next day we were facing a day filled with meetings and workshops. We arrived too late and therefore missed the speech of the rector Magnificus. This apparently was the highlight of the day. Bummer. After finishing the meetings we had a model UN workshop where I ferociously had to defend the rights of Lithuania. After this battle, we went out to eat before going to a Cantus. The Southern cities normally dominate in giving a good old Cantus and we therefore were curious as to what to expect from it. The Cantus was good, except for the fact that we had to pay an extra amount of money in the middle of it. Why didn’t they just charge us more at the beginning? After the Cantus we explored the city life of Groningen in a pub crawl.

After a small National meeting to discuss some politics concerning our national students we could join the eurodinner. Every country is supposed to bring drinks and food from their own country so that all other nationalities can have a taste. This always comes down to way to many alcohol in comparison to food and this night was no exception. However, the previous nights killed a lot of peoples appetite towards alcohol, including mine. I felt like midgets were playing rugby in my stomach and drinking alcohol seemed to make the little critters more active. I therefore took it easy and only drank responsibly. The government would be proud of me. However, most other people didn’t and it was a pure joy to see people the way people normally see me when I’m out.

The next morning we went to the meetings and joined lunch, before heading towards Maastricht. I didn’t want to take the gamble of never arriving in Maastricht due to the horrific fire in Utrecht. This fire kind of took out all possibilities to travel to Utrecht, which is semi necessary in order to arrive in Maastricht within 5 hours. Luckily, all trains drove normally and we arrived in Maastricht on time. We were a little bit battered but survived this awesome weekend in Groningen.

Update: the final movie is included. Youtube was extremely polite with not blocking the sound for a while. However ze Germans are not able to watch it in Germany, because they blocked it over there. I’m very sorry for this (in case I have German followers). I’ve got a solution for this: you are able to move to the Netherlands :).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odkvAVVk55Y[/youtube]

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what is uppa?

hmmm what is going on here…?

sa

writing

Foto0061

Open Day

Nowadays people have different possibilities to search for their future university. You can find all of them on Facebook, Hyves, Twitter, you name it. However, one way to explore your future education has been around for decades by now; the open day.  At this day the university does everything to promote itself as being one of the best in the world. You have to feel right at home. Every single person you will meet at the university this day will put on their happy face to show you how awesome Maastricht is. That’s where I come in.

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Will you come to our party?

when: 11th of November.
time: 11:11 hrs
where: Vrijthof
why: the opening of Carnival 2010.
dresscode: anything goes as long as you are dressed up

I guess a lot of you are a bit confused with this date as being the start of carnival. Isn’t Carnival that week of madness around Februari? Well first of all, in Limburg Carnival is known as Vasteloavend and I will therefore use this term throughout the rest of this article. Vasteloavend officially starts three days prior to the catholic special day of ‘lent’. A lot of people here in Maastricht stick to these three days. However, most of the people who celebrate it already start at Friday or Saturday, including me.
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kick start

Laten we maar beginnen met het clichématige introductie praatje voor nieuwe blogs. De naam is Joep en je hebt het ‘privilege’ om in mijn leven mee te kunnen kijken.  Dit allemaal om een glimp opvangen van het leven van een student, zonder dat hier promo voor de universiteit aan ten gronde ligt. Je hoeft van mij dan ook geen gruwelijk rooskleurige berichten over de universiteit te verwachten die doordrenkt zijn met propaganda. Ik zal proberen een zo eerlijk mogelijk beeld te schetsen van het leven als een student in Maastricht.
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