There will be many seniors who will be giving you this piece of advise.
“Don’t go to Maastricht University!! The workload is so heavy! You won’t have time to travel at all”
But oh well I still ended up in Maastricht.
I won’t deny that they are entirely wrong, but apart from all that studying, I definitely had a lot of fun and still travelled quite abit! I managed to visit~25 major cities over the span of 5 months!
Knowing that the workload is going to be heavy, WHY DID I CHOOSE MAASTRICHT?
I wanted to map ACC1006 and MNO2007 and Maastricht (supposedly) offered the equivalent modules. However, after further clarifications, both modules were not “mappable”. Another major consideration was the possibility to complete 4 modules and map the 5th module back as an UE. I think this arrangement is applicable for NUS students only so please check with your faculty staff! Last but not least, Maastricht is extremely accessible via major cities which are served by an international airport (Amsterdam and Brussels).
SO WHERE DOES ALL THE WORKLOAD COME FROM?
The university uses a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach. Basically, it requires students to facilitate the discussion, which translates to a significant amount of work before every lesson. You will have to read up on the topic at hand before the lesson so that you can participate in class. For most modules, class participation is graded and you have to hit a certain level of participation to pass the module. There is an attendance requirement to pass as well and most modules require around 83% attendance (10/12 lessons). But on the bright side, you take 2 modules every period (half a semester) so the workload isn’t really that insane.
HOW DO I GET AROUND THE WORKLOAD?
Play it smart.
- Always check the course manual before the start of every module to find out what is the minimum requirement to pass. Most of the time, you’ll have to pass in all 3 sub components (final exam, participation and attendance) in order to pass the module.
- Map modules with a favourable time table. I had lessons every Tuesdays and Thursdays for the first half of my semester and I spent the rest of my time travelling.
- Study smart. You don’t have to read through the entire chapter to prepare for every lesson. There is a website (studydrive.net) where students will upload summaries for relevant chapters and it is sufficient to read through the summaries to prepare for lessons.
- Don’t be intimated. Just class part like there’s no tomorrow, right or wrong, the local students are very encouraging and no one is going to laugh at you!
Now on the brighter side of things, WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT MAASTRICHT?
- It’s a beautiful city to live in. You’ll get what I mean when you step out of the central station. The cobbled streets coupled with the harry potter lookalike architecture. It’s a small city and amenities are easily accessible. It is not crowded like other major dutch cities (Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Amsterdam)
- It is very safe. I walked back home from the gym a couple of times (which is 45 minutes from my house) at around 12am and I am still alive.
- The lessons are quite chill and the locals are really friendly. Exams are relatively easy and are not meant to kill, unlike in Singapore. I mean, we got 3 hours for a 30 MCQ paper (like whutttt)
NOW, back to some admin stuff.
My advice is to not procrastinate when it comes to visa application. The process is quite lengthy and the visa office is extremely slow when it comes to replies. Ensure that your documents are in order before sending them.
There will come a point in time when you are required to mail in hard copy documents to the Netherlands. Make sure you use registered post so that you can track your parcel or to be safe, use a courier.
- Module Mapping
ACC1006 and MNO2007 cannot be mapped. So what else can be mapped? Here are some modules my peers and I took in Maastricht.
BSP3001 Strategic Management
DSC2006 Operations Management (There is some DSC1007 for this module)
FIN3113 (For fin spec) Financial Statement Analysis
FIN3116 (For fin spec) Options and Futures (I didn’t take this module but it is a challenging module to map in Maastricht)
FIN3120 (For fin spec) Topics in Finance
There are other MNO and DSC mods that you can map. Check the equivalent module master list for other alternative modules. Find the equivalent course code and check the Maastricht course catalogue to see if it offered in the semester of your exchange (https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/education/course-finder)
There are a few options when it comes to housing.
If you want something like a hall life, stay in the guesthouse. There are 3 guestshouse (if I am not wrong), namely P House, C House and M house. They are all situated in one complex around 15 mins away from the School of Business and Economics by foot. The city centre is slightly further away.
I stayed right opposite school (Tongesestraat) in a private apartment with 4 others. It costs around 1835 euros a month, excluding agent fees as well as cleaning fees. It took me less than 30 seconds to get to school so it was really convenient. The city centre is around 10 minutes away by foot.
Whatever the case, do avoid apartments that are across the river (on the side where the train station is). It’s really really far from school.
Check out the following websites for more information. Alternatively, you can drop me an email and I will try my best to help (:
The Netherlands is not an extremely expensive place to live in. it is comparable to other cities in Germany and definitely not as expensive as the Scandinavian countries. The main bulk of the expenditure is usually spent on travelling and it really depends on whether you’re a budget traveller or not. Set aside some cash for your rent and you’re all good!
OK I AM SET ON MAASTRICHT. HOW DO I GET THERE?
The school will send you an email to ask for your expected arrival date. For those doing internships, you might miss the compulsory introduction days. Be sure to inform the exchange office in Maastricht if you’re not able to attend.
I would recommend getting to Maastricht via Amsterdam. There are many flights which fly direct to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from Changi Airport. From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, you can take a train to Maastricht. The train station is conveniently located in the basement of the airport. The typical route from Schiphol is Schiphol-Utrecht Centraal-Maastricht. Check www.ns.nl beforehand for the train timings and connections.
HOW TO LIVE LIKE A LOCAL?
The Dutch are rather fluent in English and language shouldn’t be a problem. It’d still be helpful to learn a couple of words in Dutch.
Always bring your own bags to the supermarket because you’ll have to pay for plastic bags and It’s definitely not worth the extra 25 cents. Ask for a bonus card at the supermarket service counter in Albert Heijn and you will be entitled to bonus discounts!
If you stay in a private apartment, you’ll have to buy special trash bags to dispose your waste and the rubbish trucks will collect them every Wednesday. Leave the trashbags outside and it’ll be taken care of.
Buy a bicycle! The Dutch cycle wherever they go and it’ll be good to get one as well. Do not pay more than 50 euros for a second hand bicycle! I have friends who got their bicycles at 20 euros. Remember to get a good lock as well.
Get a OV Chipkaart as well! It is the equivalent of an Ez-link card. Visit https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/home-1.htm to get your personalized card! If you travel frequently by bus, it is cheaper to get an OV-Chipkaart.
Exploit the intercity train group tickets. You can travel between Dutch cities at only 7 euros and that is inclusive of the return ticket! If you travel in groups of 10, you’re able to get a ticket at a reduced price. The group need not travel together, nor do they need to depart from the same station. You just need to arrive at the same destination! There are many facebook groups (eg: NS Group Tickets Amsterdam) where people come together to try and form groups of 10 to get cheaper tickets for intercity travel. For example, if you want to travel to Amsterdam from Maastricht, find a group who are travelling to Amsterdam on the date of your travel, transfer 7 euros to the person who bought the tickets on behalf of the group, print the tickets and you’re good to go! You can drop me an email for more information!
If you’re travelling to Belgium, download the SCNB Europe app or visit https://www.b-europe.com/Travel. Youths (15-25 years old) get discounted ticket.
Maastricht is served by a couple of neighbouring airports.
- Maastricht Aachen Airport- This is the nearest airport to Maastricht but not many flights fly out of Maastricht and you’ll be better off with Option 2 or 3
- Eindhoven Airport- Eindhoven is 1 hour away from Maastricht by train and the airport is around 20 minutes away from the City Centre. There are flights to most European cities and is served by Vueling, Wizzair and Ryanair. Take note that the airport closes at night and only reopens at 4am, which means you can’t sleep over in the airport if you have an early flight to catch.
- Brussels Charleroi Airport- Charleroi is 3 hours away from Maastricht. To get there, you have to take the belgian trains from Maastricht. There are no direct trains and you have to change at Liege- Guillemins station. There is a bus (TEC Bus A) at Charleroi station which will get you to the airport and you can buy the ticket on the bus (6 euros). It is an extremely inaccessible airport but you can find many cheap flights here so, why not? You can sleep at the airport if you have an early morning flight to catch but the transit area closes at night so you have to sleep In the public area.
- Amsterdam Schiphol- Easyjet and Vueling flies from Schiphol. But it is usually not the cheapest option available.
Maastricht is also served by major bus companies (Flixbus and Megabus). You can find cheap bus tickets to most European cities and the bus departs from the bus station outside the Maastricht train station
I hope you found my guide useful! If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will try to get back to you (:
Stay safe and enjoy exchange!
Dank je Wel! Doei Doei!