I will love Maastricht for ever Past Review

By (International Relations and Affairs., Tufts University) - abroad from 09/19/2011 to 06/09/2012 with

Maastricht University: Center for European Studies, Semester Programmes

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This experience was entirely worthwhile and it didn't hurt that the backdrop to it all was gorgeous Maastricht. I learned to be more independent and to really find happiness doing the things I wanted and felt I needed to do, even though they ended up being completely different from what I had imagined my study abroad experience to be. When you're going abroad you expect so much and its hard when you feel that you have found so little. However, often times the problem is that you're looking in the wrong place. I learned that the hard way, but its one of the more important lessons I've ever learned.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Maastricht University University College Maastricht
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This is not a study abroad program for people who just want to party and relax abroad.The academics are pretty intense but well worth it plus it is an interesting teaching/learning style that I had never experienced before.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The people at the CES Office are really outstanding. They mean it when they say they want to help you and be a resource. If you need them they will always be available to help you no matter what and they make sure that everything from courses to housing is sorted out for you.That being said, a lot of things like health services or getting around is something you need to take care of on your own and you will have to be a lot more independent than say on a college campus where everything is readily available.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The Guesthouse was really not my cup of tea. It was great for meeting international students but being a year student I wanted something that allowed me to get more in touch with locals and the guesthouse is NOT the place to do that. The rooms are pretty decent but people are generally loud and the walls are thin. The kitchens are disgusting after a few weeks of people not doing their dishes, and because the refrigerators are for common use of the hall don't count on them to leave your food if you want it untouched.

* Food:

Lots of LOVELY cafés and great eats, highly recommend Kiwi, Deli Belge, Something Good, Cafe Sjiek (expensive) and Lure. Not super cheap and not gourmet like say French cuisine but good, hearty and satisfying meals. Also great snacking culture, lots of cheese and fries and foreign food which has become sort of Dutchified.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Dutch are lovely people, incredibly friendly, beautiful and interesting. They also speak very good english. That being said, it can be difficult to make Dutch friends. Dutch people are very set in their ways and can be very particular about things. They also have a large fraternity, sorority, student organization culture, which a lot of students belong to and if you're not a member of these groups it is difficult to really integrate because they already have tight knit clans so to speak. If you want to integrate, meeting Dutch people and trying to speak the language and basically doing as the Dutch do is pretty much the way to go. You have to really make an effort though, but it is appreciated if you do.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was hit by a car to be honest it was a nightmare dealing with my foot after. Health care is one of the things you need to take care of on your own. In a country like the Netherlands you need to go to a house doctor for him/her to approve you to see a specialist (if you want insurance to cover it.) If the house doctor doesn't think you need to then you won't. I had a bad foot injury, which didn't seem bad to my house doctor at the time so I didn't go see a specialist. I had to return a month later because I still had pain in my foot and then got the referral, but it was very late in the game. That was in May and I'm still dealing with foot problems and going to therapy because of it.

* Safety:

Never felt safer in my life. Would walk home at like 4 am and wasn't scared at all, which being a woman is saying a lot. Always be safe though, bad things can happen anywhere.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe 100 a week or more if staying in Maastricht. You're going to go out and travel A LOT, which is basically where most money goes and food.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Not really.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Most people speak English, which is nice for some but for me it was difficult because I really wanted to learn Dutch.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? None
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? When people in stores respond to you in English because they notice you're struggling with the Dutch, ask them to keep speaking Dutch to you or tell them you're trying to practice. They will be happy to help you and delighted too!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The local ESN Crowd and Board
  • The CES staff
  • The Beautiful City
* What could be improved?
  • Contact and interaction with locals
  • There should be a host family option
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You have to make this experience be the best it can be because no one will do that for you. I had a terrible first semester because I just sort of expected all the 'Study Abroad' magic to happen. It dawned on me a bit later that it was my job to do that and I was very glad I had a year to see that through and make the changes I needed to be happy again. I went from having the worst first semester abroad to actually having the most meaningful year of my life.