Siddhesh - Universiteit Maastricht

Bachelor of Engineering/Economics
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

Semesters at UM are broken into two 9 week periods and a non-required skills period of 2 weeks.
In period 4 I took:
•    International Economics
•    International Competition Policy
Period 5:
•    Network Economics
•    Innovation in Business and Economic Growth
Classes at UM are taught in the Problem-Based-Learning system. These classes are 2-hour student driven tutorials with about 10-15 students and 1 tutor. Generally, the tutor only steps in if the class become lost or confused. Be prepared for a lot of readings as they will be required for every class and can be above 60 pages long. Tutorials have a minimum attendance requirement to pass but generally you can miss 2 without failing.
I found the coursework to be pretty easy and not very much work however the exams can have quite high fail rates. The style of teaching did force me to keep up with the class and this made preparing for exams a lot easier as I didn’t have the option of cramming last minute.
If you don’t like a course, the faculty is quite generous to exchange students and will let you change courses quite easily.

Personal experience

Maastricht is a beautiful city on the border with Belgium and close to Germany. Travel to any Dutch or Belgian city make for a wonderful day trip, or if looking for a longer adventure, the flights from the many surrounding airports are quite affordable. 
UM attracts a large number of international students and you will find at least half of your classmates will not be dutch. The ISN is the student association that organises events and trips for international students. The ISN Cantus' is something you should definitely do even if you hate beer.

For those interested in Sport, UMSport was a great place with an affordable gym and great sports clubs. I joined the Fencing club Mas-Incontro and competed in competitions around the Netherlands and Belgium as well as the Dutch championships(NSK) and their version of UniGames (GNSK).

Accommodation

I lived in the C Building of the UM Guesthouse and it was probably the best decision I made. I found myself spending most of my time in the communal kitchen with my flatmates studying, cooking, dancing and watching Netflix. This is probably what prevented any homesickness, since I would almost always find a friend in the kitchen. The communal kitchen and bathrooms were cleaned every morning and I never found cleanliness a problem.
Definitely try to get the C building. It is the easiest place to make friends and where most of the fun is.

Costs

I didnt get a dutch bank account and used my CBA MasterCard and cash. Be warned, they often dont take MasterCard and Visa and instead the debit only, Maestro and VPay. Germany can be even worse with many cash only places.

Accommodation - 3000 Euro but this can get substantially lower even in the Guesthouse.
Food – Prices quite similar to Brisbane and I highly recommend using the farmers market on Fridays in the Markt. Alcohol is very cheap.
Transport – Get an OV-Chipkaart(go card) ASAP, it makes bus travel much cheaper. One way to Amsterdam is about 25 Euro but with a group ticket it goes down to around 7. A bike is about 50 Euro and is the best way to get around.

Professional Development

Exchange was a great character building experience. Having to start fresh and make new friends in a new environment is both challenging and extremely rewarding. Being 10000 miles from home really takes the training wheels off and I found myself coming home with a renewed self-confidence.

Highlight

In early February, the normally quiet town goes absolutely insane with a week long party full of costumes, dancing, music and beer. It is something you definitely shouldn't miss.

Top tips

Plan your timetable well, and make friends to travel with. The best adventures are ones with friends. Also, get a bike.