Learning in a Beautiful City June 10, 2018

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/19/2018 to 06/09/2018 with

Maastricht University: Center for European Studies, Semester Programmes

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about Europe; I had the opportunity to travel between classes and on most weekends and ended up visiting a total of seventeen cities across nine countries. Even locally, there were many students from different European countries that made the whole experience diverse and interesting.

Review Photos

Maastricht University: Center for European Studies, Semester Programs Photo Maastricht University: Center for European Studies, Semester Programs Photo Maastricht University: Center for European Studies, Semester Programs Photo Maastricht University: Center for European Studies, Semester Programs Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

It depends largely on the courses you take; for the first block, I didn't have to try all that hard and did well in each of my classes. For the second block however, I had to study considerably more. I felt like I learned something new for the most part, though it often depends on how much effort you, the student, also want to put into the course.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Program was phenomenally well coordinated. We went on a total of three trips—two outside of the Netherlands—and all of them went very smoothly and included great trips. My coordinator was also very helpful and responded very quickly. They were supportive both before, during, and after the program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing was satisfactory; I lived in a double with a private kitchen. The facilities were good and a considerable amount of what we would need to live from day to day were provided to us. The laundry was free, but the machines were often broken or slightly difficult to work with.

* Food:

I cooked all of my own food. There is a supermarket relatively close, however, and I spent an average of 17 euros a week for a week of food. There are also a number of great restaurants in city center.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt somewhat integrated. I went when there were a lot of celebrations and holidays, so it was great getting to see the parades and other events. The locals and students are also generally very friendly and open people so I didn't feel all that unwelcome.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

N/A; didn't really use healthcare.

* Safety:

For the most part, Maastricht is very safe. It's a city, but a relatively small one. I have been out at 3am and besides the occasional drunk person, I never had a real problem or felt considerably unsafe. I have heard stories of people being harassed, but I have not personally experienced it. Those of Asian descent should note that they will run into individuals who may harass you for your race. I was never physically harassed, but some people have shouted at me or, most commonly, run up to me and said "Ni hao" before running away.

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

CES was a great program that helped with the entire study abroad process. They made both the arrival and departure process incredibly easy and they were very supportive during my time there. I also loved the trips that they had prepared for us. I only wished that I got along better with the students in my program. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that close to a majority of my program, which made me feel somewhat isolated but that's just not something the program can control for. Other than that though, it was a great program in an amazing city.

Finances

* 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)

For groceries each week, I paid about 17 euros. You may have to pay for an OV Chip Card (the public transportation card), but the CES office provides one for a deposit and the average price for a ride from the Guesthouse to the station across the river was 1.30 euros. The most expensive time was the first two weeks or so since that was when I purchased most of my personal care items, but that was before I had learned that there are Facebook groups where students sell or give away items like that and a local student group that more or less gives away donated items.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? approx. 17 euros
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Join Facebook groups and check out the ISN Building! Both of these places have a lot of students who are giving away or selling used items.

Language

* 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

The program itself didn't really encourage me to use Dutch. Many of the Dutch also speak English, so there wasn't a huge need to use the language.

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
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? I took a course on the language, which helped considerably because there was a structure in place that forced me to learn. Though I didn't, a lot of the Dutch students are very friendly and I wish I had reached out to them to practice.

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
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Everything was straightforward and easy, from arrival to departure
  • Maastricht is a great and beautiful city that is easy to get around
* What could be improved?
  • Some of the CES courses were not as academically challenging as I had hoped
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A lot of people say that Maastricht is an easy city to get in and out of but that requires you to know a lot about European transportation first. There are a lot of airports in the area, but they average around an hour away depending on how you choose to get to them. Most airports that people use are Charleroi, Eindhoven, and Düsseldorf which are accessible by NS International, Belgium Train, and bus respectively.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!