After arriving in Maastricht, the Netherlands, only one short month ago, I already feel like it’s a place I can easily call home. Located 2.5 hours train ride from Amsterdam, this small European city has both small town charm and big city character.
Upon arriving in Maastricht I had already been in Europe for a month and travelled around England, France, Spain and Italy- so by this stage i was so glad to have my own space and somewhere to unload my backpack. I chose to stay in the main guesthouse in a single room. Together with the people in my corridor, who are from all over the world, we share the kitchen and common areas. Sharing with people from such diverse backgrounds has been a great experience and one that has made the tranisition into living in a new country that much easier! However in saying that, since arriving in Maastricht I haven’t spoken anything but English. There is opportunity to speak Dutch (if you know it!) but if not, it is easy to get by with English.
The first two weeks here were both uni introduction weeks and both loads of fun and the perfect opportunity to meet both local and exchange students! There were many day activities including a boat cruise along the river of the city, and bbq lunches, as well as plenty of partying in the night. Parties here always have an exciting theme- we’ve had a neon party, a 90’s party and a traditional dutch party known as Cantus. Cantus is nothing like you would ever see in Australia, it’s basically an excuse for everyone to throw beer and dance on the tables!
Needless to say, the student association here in Maastricht is amazing. They helped me settle in and host so many events that it would be impossible not to meet people and make some great friends. As the semester progresses they also plan weekend trips for the international students- in two weeks time I’llall be heading to my very first Oktoberfest! Mastricht is so centrally located that travel alomost everywhere in Europe is so accessible and perfect for weekend trips.
I’m now in the third week of semester and uni workload is definitely starting to pick up. Much more than I ever would have at home. While I only have 8 contact hours a week, the preparation that is expected for the class is much more than that. Classes are much smaller than UTS and student participation is what drives the class and also contributes to your marks. This has taken me quite awhile to get use to and I am still adjusting to the increased work load, but the benefits should pay off come exam time!
In the 7 weeks since I have left Australia, I have seen some amzing places, had some crazy experiences, eaten some fantatstic food and met the best people. I’m so glad my journey doesn’t end here and I have 4 more months on exchange becasue i can’t wait to see what Maastricht and the rest of Europe still has to offer!
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