Charming City, Unconventional Abroad Experience Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/15/2016 to 06/04/2016 with

Maastricht University: Center for European Studies, Semester Programmes

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned the intricacies of travel, and I learned to value local over tourism culture. I also learned quite a bit about budgeting in a slightly pricey European city. It was absolutely worthwhile and I recommend that everybody participates in a semester abroad if it's feasible for them.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Very academically rigorous, expectations and grading system surprisingly different from U.S

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Constant support from friendly CES staff, in-person and over email, excellent orientation program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

-Guesthouse is a literal hospital (rooms are renovated hospital rooms) -Microwaves and ovens are not provided -Security staff appeared to overstep role; created some conflict between students and staff

* Food:

Cheap, nearby grocery stores Great restaurants, many affordable

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Maastricht is a small town, so everything is walkable and "centrally located," something traditional is always happening in one of three market squares. Walking the streets of Maastricht, you almost instantly feel like a local.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never used the program's healthcare but heard it was accessible and affordable.

* Safety:

Maastricht felt very safe, the only prevalent crime in the city is bike theft.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

The city is not as centrally located as was suggested - if you're interested in extensive or frequent travel, I would go study in a more metropolitan area. Of course, the ruralness of Maastricht certainly has sits upsides!


* 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)

While groceries were cheap, eating out and other expenses were not. You can get buy in Maastricht spending 60 euro a week on groceries but the average meal out is about 20.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? see above
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Ask University of Maastricht or UCM students where the best places to eat are - they're definitely on a budget and have a local's knowledge of Maastricht.


* 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

Maastricht is predominantly English-speaking.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? No Dutch prior to abroad
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? It really isn't necessary - even the Dutch learned in CES, Standard Dutch, is completely different from the actual Maastricht dialect. Everyone can speak Standard Dutch, but in my experience, people will respond to you in English even if you try to speak Dutch.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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 coordination/CES staff
  • The city itself
  • Coordinated travel
* What could be improved?
  • Housing/security
  • Academic uniformity
  • Local integration
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The cost of leaving the city (even to get to a low-cost airline, you may have to spend 50 euro for a train ticket) and the lack of centrality.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.