Below is a copy of my blog article for Maastricht University International Relations Office, the original blog can be found on the this link
Hey! My name is Michael and I’m an exchange student from Scotland! I’ve been in Maastricht for over two weeks now and I’m starting to settle in nicely.
When I first got told that I had been selected to go on exchange in Maastricht I knew very little about the town. But the more I researched, the more I felt that it was the perfect place for me to go on exchange.
Situated in the heart of Europe, there would numerous opportunities to travel. The problem based learning approach would also be an extremely different experience from back home, and I was looking forward to meeting other exchange students from around the world.
The first semester flew in and before I knew it I was trying to decide what I needed to bring to Maastricht, praying that I hadn’t forgotten anything. I travelled from Glasgow to London, then after a few hours stopover, to Maastricht Airport. The flights only took about an hour each but I still felt exhausted by the time I arrived so I can’t imagine what the journey was like for those who have come from the other side of the world!
I couldn’t fit my two jackets and a big jumper in my suitcase, and I had no space in my backpack, so I had to wear them going through the airport, drawing more than a few bemused/suspicious glances as I shuffled through security!
I had booked with MaastrichtHousing to stay at the Volksplein, however I couldn’t move in until the Monday after I arrived, so for a week I stayed in the Guesthouse, the main accommodation for exchange students. It was hard to feel settled in the first week because I couldn’t really unpack properly or buy lots of food etc, because I was going to be moving shortly.
I spent most of my time in the first week exploring the town and trying hard not to get lost(or run/cycled over)! The cars and bikes are one the other side of the road in Scotland, so I have to take special care when crossing the roads here. My first impressions were that the city was beautiful and very quaint, the churches in particular are very impressive. I also seem to be the only person without a bike here. I’m only a 10minute walk from the Business Faculty so I’m quite happy to stick to walking (probably for the best given the safety concerns mentioned above).
I got to meet other exchange students from all over the world at some of the activities organised by the ESN Group. Many students said that one of their main reasons for choosing to come to Maastricht was to improve their English. And, believe it or not I think my English will probably improve while I’m here, as I try to speak a “wee” bit more clearly so everyone can understand my Scottish accent!
On the Thursday and Friday of the first week I attended the faculties introduction days. They were extremely well organised and was great way to meet other exchange students. We were given tours of the university and faculty, and given lots of useful information (and free food!!).
The following Monday was my first day of classes, and I was selected to be the discussion leader in my first Economics class which was a little daunting, but I managed to get through it okay (I think). I was also glad to move into my room at the Volksplein and could finally properly unpack my suitcase. I am delighted with my room; it is bright and spacious, and also has a TV and sink. I also got to meet my flatmates who are extremely friendly and are from Australia, Spain and Singapore (Eunice who is also blogging!).
My first two weeks in Maastricht were capped off with a great trip to Brussels last weekend with a couple of other exchange students from Canada and the USA!
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Please feel free to ask me any questions or comment below!