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Maastricht University, The Netherlands

To whichever potential exchange student has the pleasure of reading this blog I will try to make this as comprehensive as possible. I am a 4th year law and business student and I am on Exchange in Maastricht which is a student city consisting of roughly 100,000 people of which nearly 40,000 are involved with the University. Maastricht is located at the southernmost point of the Netherlands and is also one of the most central locations in Europe (I can get to 4 different countries in a 2-hour drive) which makes it excellent for travelling.

I am on law exchange so I am doing restricted law electives here so my classes share many similarities to the law subjects covered at UTS. However, the Netherlands and much of the EU have civil jurisdictions and codified law which is different and to a degree exciting. The class options available here are relatively restricted but upon arrival here we were able to re-select classes and I chose classes I am quite interested in. Maastricht also runs a different teaching calendar doing 6 periods a year, so I am on exchange for periods 3, 4 and 5. Each period lasts for roughly 6 weeks. I would leave a note that to anyone coming later that if you want to do a full course load here you have to do period 3 (which is in January) which isn’t an exchange student period so for the first 5 weeks or so there won’t be any other exchange students at Maastricht.

Maastricht also employs what they refer to as a ‘PBL’ (problem-based learning) teaching method. The idea is that students take turns each tutorial teaching the rest of the class in an open discussion and the tutor takes a passive role directing and keeping the conversation on the right path. I wouldn’t let this deter you it is rather interesting and is in my experience not hugely different in practice to the many interactive tutorials we have at UTS. I would however leave a tentative warning that Maastricht is rather renowned in Europe for its business and law faculties and as such definitely requires a heavier workload than I am used to. This is an opinion shared by all exchange students here from every country. However, as most students do not have jobs and courses are only pass / fail the workload is still manageable with weekend travelling and regularly going out.

As for the student life in Maastricht it is frankly amazing. Maastricht is a small city with nearly half the students either Exchange / Erasmus or International. For such a small city there is almost an irresponsibly large number of bars, clubs and pubs. The city itself is very quaint, most of the streets were built over 500 years ago but have been contemporarily renovated giving it a tantalizing mix of old buildings and fashionable new interiors. The welcome events for Autumn exchange students here was crazy, it was 10 days at the start of February with everything from pub crawls, to movie nights to Cantus – which is a dangerous combination of bottomless beer, karaoke and Octoberfest.

I am living in student housing. The main student housing complex is not ‘on campus’ but all within 5 minutes of everything. I am staying in guesthouse C which is the exchange student housing building which is 18 people dorms all sharing a kitchen, common room and bathrooms. It is incredible fun we have such a diverse mix of people from Turkey, Spain, Italy to America. Guesthouse C is just one wing of an old hospital which Maastricht University has turned into its student housing. The other wings are Guesthouse P, M and R (I think) so in the entire old hospital complex there are roughly 1500 students of which nearly all are international.

For all new or potential exchange students I would say don’t stress about language, literally everyone in the Netherlands has better English than you. The teaching quality at Maastricht University is excellent. If you come over for Autumn semester who will get to be here for Carnival which is honestly the craziest party ever – people from all over Europe come to Maastricht for Carnival. Also, don’t be put off by the workload of Maastricht despite being hard it is manageable and you are in the best place in Europe to do as many trips as you want to see as many countries and places as you can.

Murray Smith
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws
Maastricht University
The Netherlands

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au

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