Student Testimonials: Maastricht University
Name: Caroline Deng
Highlight of my semester abroad:
Maastricht is a truly international city, and it was so easy to meet people from many different nationalities. Additionally, it is small enough where you begin to recognize friends in pubs/bars, but large enough that you will always meet new people. At the end of the day, no matter how many other European countries that I visited, I truly began to feel that Maastricht is "home." Maastricht is not a city that is very well known outside of Europe, but it is a city that you grow to love. It has so much character—cobblestone roads, cute cafes and restaurants, Limburg culture.
Who I spent most of my time with abroad:
In Maastricht, I actually did not spend my time with many Americans. Most of my friends were from a wide variety of European countries (Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Netherlands, etc). I spent most of my time with other international students or local students. Maastricht University does its best to integrate its exchange students with the regular students, so you can meet many local students from your classes or through parties. In Maastricht, there are actually a lot of German and Belgian students because of its proximity to both of those borders, and many are very open and friendly as long as you show them the same respect.
What would I say to students considering participating in IBEX:
I could not have had a better IBEX experience than the one that I had at Maastricht. Maastricht University treats its exchange students extremely well and makes sure that you can adjust well without feeling too much culture shock. Almost everybody speaks English, and the Guesthouse was a great way to meet people from all over the world.
Contact me about Maastricht University:
Caroline Deng - email@example.com
More Student Insight
- Course Recommendations
- Student Life
- Travel Tips
- Restaurants, Shopping, and Must-See Sites
- Airline ticket to/from IBEX site: $1,200
- Housing: $2,300/semester
- Books: $50/semester
- Food: $30/week
- Local Transportation: $10/week
- Phone: $10/300 Minutes
- Independent Travel: $1,500/semester
- "I mainly withdrew a lot of cash from ATMs, which I probably would have changed. I would have opened an ING Bank account, which is also useful if you want to order group discount tickets for traveling within the Netherlands."
- "I primarily used American Express to pay my rent and withdrew from ATMs with my bank card or credit card. The University had recommended that students open up an account at a local bank and have that bank do an automatic transfer to the residence hall for rent payments. However, there was some problem (the bank changed its policies in allowing foreign students to do this or something like that) and I ended up just using my credit card, which worked out fine. The only thing to note is that you should check if your U.S. bank charges a flat fee or a percentage fee when you withdraw money. If it's a flat fee, you're going to have to withdraw a lot of money at once to avoid paying a lot of fees if you keep withdrawing small amounts. If it's a % fee, then it won't really make a difference. It's a matter of convenience then. The nearest ATM was at a shopping mall, about a 5-minute walk away. If you will use credit cards, I would recommend bringing VISA besides AMEX because VISA may be accepted more widely, particularly in restaurants."
- "Strengths: small, stimulating classes; usually a good choice of textbooks; time spent in class per week is less than that of Stern (about 8 hours in class/week); focusing on 2 courses for 8 weeks and then 2 new courses the second 8 weeks prevents you from being overwhelmed. This structure is also good in that you won't get bored because you finish the 2 classes in less time and start 2 new ones!; enough time is given for holiday; work is manageable enough to allow travel almost every weekend!
- Weaknesses: well, some people don't like having to work so independently (because professors don't really lecture with slides as is the case with Stern); at times, trying to figure theory out on your own can be frustrating, although stimulating at the same time (it makes you think and that can be really rewarding in the end!)"
- "Relative to Stern, the workload was less, not because we covered fewer chapters but because we only had 2 classes to worry about at one time. Grading is on a 10 point scale. A passing grade is usually 5.5. As one tutor put it, “10 is for God, 9 is for the professor” and then you have the students. BUT, grading does differ across departments. There is no “curve.” The final exam can often make up a large part of the final grade, depending on the course. Class participation may be graded more strictly. For some classes, students are allowed a maximum of 2 absences. Other classes allow only 1 or even 0. If a student exceeds the absence quota, the student may face a failing participation grade or perhaps can make up for it by writing a very, very long paper. Generally, grading is tough although Americans have an advantage since English is their native language (all classes are held in English at Maastricht)."Course Registration
- "Course offerings were published online several months earlier, and you are 100% guaranteed to get into the classes that you want, but it is difficult to drop or swap classes afterward. They have a course evaluation database that I looked through to choose the classes that I wanted."
- "My favorite class was Strategic Marketing because the students in the class were intelligent, the groups for facilitations were organized well, and we had an opportunity to mingle with both exchange and non-exchange students. ICT, Organisation, and Income was a lot more Labor Economics focused than Information Systems focused, so I was taken aback in the first few classes. I would say that I would recommend it for Economics concentrations because you get to build your own website, but not for the Information Systems concentration."
- "I really enjoyed my International Marketing Course. It was unique being the “international” student in a foreign country. Being from the US, they wanted to know my perspective on everything in terms of advertising and media. As far as classes, I wouldn't recommend them–the teaching system there is different. You have to teach yourself the course, and a teacher's aid (tutor) facilitates the process. So if you are insecure about a subject matter, definitely be cautious when taking a course because you are pretty much on your own."
- "I chose to live in a studio in a residence hall (the Guesthouse—P building)—which, besides the one room for bed/lounge, had a mini-kitchen and a full bathroom with shower. The room was furnished with IKEA furniture and was quite nice. It included: bed, wardrobe, desk, desk lamp, desk chair, Easy Chair, standing lamp, bookcase, kitchen table with chair, mini-fridge, stovetop (although no oven and no microwave), and a bathroom with shower. I also had an Internet connection (although don't expect to have it working from day 1). Meal plans are not an option. I mostly cooked for myself or ate out. I was generally satisfied, although I learned from regular Maastricht students that the rooms were rather overpriced. But since it would be very difficult for anyone to find a furnished apartment in Maastricht, I don't think students have much of an option. The residence hall itself was good because many students were housed there or nearby. I had originally chosen to live in Statensingel—but when I found out that was an apartment in a regular house on the fourth floor with no stairs and no students nearby—I changed rooms. Living in the Guesthouse (P-building or C-building) is rewarding because it allows you to meet and interact with students from all over the world. Truly, an awesome experience!"
- "All the exchange students in Maastricht have the option of living in a residence hall called, “The Guesthouse.” Five-hundred students live there. So it truly embodies an exchange student experience. The housing section of their website does a pretty good job explaining it. There are doubles and singles with and without bathrooms. You also have the option of having a room with a mini kitchen, or there are communal kitchens. The halls with communal kitchens create more of a fun atmosphere for that hall. If you have a communal kitchen, then you also have communal bathrooms."
- "Most of my friends were from a wide variety of European countries (Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Netherlands, etc). I spent most of my time with other international students or local students. Maastricht University does its best to integrate its exchange students with the regular students, so you can meet many local students from your classes or through parties. In Maastricht, there are actually a lot of German and Belgian students because of its proximity to both of those borders, and many are very open and friendly as long as you show them the same respect."
- "One student organization that is very popular among international students is ISN (International Student Network), which hosted weekly pub/social events every Tuesday and Thursday, the very popular Dutch Cantus 4x a semester, and some Europe trips like Discover Holland (we visited 5 cities in the northern Netherlands), and Discover Belgium (we visited 3 Belgian cities)."
- "Student life (at least for exchange students) was highly led by the Erasmus Student Network—a student-run social network that threw parties and organized cultural events like a weekend traveling around the Netherlands, a city tour, Maastricht fortifications tour, etc. Of course, students outside of ESN also organized parties (handed out flyers)."
- "Within the Netherlands, you should get a single-day return group-ticket. For example, the regular price to go to Amsterdam is ~€15-20 one way. With the group discount of 10 people, it becomes €7 round trip for a single day, anywhere you would like in the Netherlands. There are Facebook groups online like NS-Group Ticket Amsterdam, NS-Group Ticket Rotterdam, etc. that help you find other people who would like to travel on the same day as you and organize a 10 person group so everyone gets the discount (you do not have to travel together or even meet in person)."
- "I traveled almost every weekend. It is easy to do, but you also have to be determined to do it. For flying to other countries, I went to Belgium's airports—Brussels International Airport to go to Italy and Brussels-Chareloi airport (where RyanAir operates from) to go to Stockholm, Sweden. Generally, trains are not too expensive, depending on the country you choose. Trains in Germany are rather expensive. Italian trains are not too expensive, although they may often be late or delayed. Belgium offers students under the age of 25 the option of buying a GoPass. A GoPass gives you 10 rides (one way of course) on Belgian trains within its network (which is really wide) for about 40 euros. Using a GoPass saves tons of money, but be careful as there are some restrictions in terms of times of travel (e.g. you can't use it to travel before 9 am). As for within the Netherlands, there are “day return” tickets and “weekend return” tickets, both of which are cheaper than regular one-way or 2-way tickets. Day returns mean you must return within the same day. Weekend returns allow you to leave on Friday (evening I think) and return on Sunday night or maybe even until 2 am Monday morning. Always ask about student or youth discounts, just in case."
- Restaurants: Pet Thai, Frituur Reitz (Dutch fries), Pinky's (waffles and ice cream), Müsti (döner kebap + kapsalon), Patty & Bun (burgers), Deli Belge, Piano B Pizza (apparently the best pizza in the Netherlands)
- Cafes: Maastricht has the highest cafe density in the Netherlands. The Livin' Room (wraps, smoothie bowls, rock n roll playlist, etc.), KafeThéa (vegan desserts), Alley Cat Bikes & Coffee (yogurt bowls, matcha lattes), Koffie (desserts), Coffeelovers, Piece of Cake (Viennese inspired, amazing desserts), and Teazone (their rooftop lounge is open during the warmer months) are all good study spots.
- Bars/Pubs: Peter's Irish Pub, Shamrock Irish Pub, Take One (board game bar), Take Five, De Gouverneur (good selection of Belgian beers), De Brandweer (ping pong tournaments on Wednesdays)
- Shopping areas: Markt, Vrijthof. For groceries, from cheapest to most expensive: Lidl, Aldi, Jumbo, Albert Heijn. Amazing Oriental in Markt was the only Asian grocery I found in the city.
- Must-see: Mount Sint Pietersburg, Maastricht caves, Boekhandel Dominicanen, De Bisschopsmolen (bakery that still makes its bread by flour mill), Sint Servaasbrug, Maastricht during its Carnaval season (November 11 and February) and Magisch Maastricht (Maastricht's Christmas market)
- "Walk everywhere around Maastricht! You'll find cute little shops—chocolateries, bakeries, antique stores, clothing stores. Be sure to walk over the bridges—St. Servaasbrug and the newer bridge. The caves of Maastricht were great, although tours are not always run in English (check the times). St. Servaas Church is also really nice and has a crypt of St. Servaas. There are stores near the Markt and Stadhuis with the famous French fries with warm mayonnaise (actually quite good!) and other Dutch goodies. Just walk around and you'll discover it all for yourself!"
- "I did not do much except go to the career counselor once, and I did OCR via Skype. Most companies are willing to interview virtually, but it may get in the way of Super Days, so make sure to take this into account if you decide to go abroad in the fall. I still ended up receiving a post-graduation job offer through OCR, even though I did not interview in person."