Article written by Augustina Ntow Brisaa

I am on towards the end of my second year of studies and I decided to look back at my first year of university.

So there I was in the middle of August 2015, travelling from the UK to the Netherlands, not knowing what to expect but excited at the same time. I was going to be living alone for the first time.

Moving in
Although my university was in the Netherlands, I ended up staying in Belgium as I did not have the chance to view houses. So in the end this was one of the most reliable and cost efficient student accommodations. It is a complex with 48 studios and rooms with all students from Maastricht University.

I liked my studio, it was self –contained and on the last floor, which allowed me to have a beautiful view on the landscape. I really liked the little town I was living in; it was quiet as opposed to the busy Maastricht. It was always a pleasure to walk around or even bike to school along the river and all the beautiful surroundings. By using bike, it only took me 15 minutes to school; it was mind-blowing to think that I was biking from one state to the other.

A couple of days after I moved in, the Inkom (introductory week) started, I participated along a good number of first year students of the university. There were many activities ranging from treasure hunting to pub-crawls and parties every day of that week. It was intense. By the end of the week, all of us had lost our voices and had some kind of cold. This phenomenon is referred as ‘Fresher’s flu’ in the UK, and here is more of a fresher’s cold (in summer!).

That aside, you get to meet loads of people from all over the world, and it is amazing to learn about so many countries. During the Inkom, we identified each other by the country of origin, it was easier than remembering names. Participating at the inkom is a good way to get to know new people and to learn your way around the city.

Handling university classes in Maastricht
We had an introductory day to our courses a week before we started, so that we could be acquainted with the important aspects including registering for courses, logging on the online portal and the location of the library.

School began the first week of September, we had to prepare in advance for the first tutorial, and we used a Problem Based Learning system (small-scale interactive class where the students lead the discussion),

From the outset, it is important to be prepared to study hard. It was interesting to see how this system helps to formulate thoughts better and allow students to get their message across in a direct way. Being prepared is very important, not only for class, but because we are also bombarded with exams. The first period lasted 7 weeks and at the end of those, on the 8th week, there was exam week. The following week, a new topic starts and there are no weeks in between to study the whole topic.

I had a job as well and, at first, it was quite hard to balance work and school, it became easier when I focused on having discipline in using my time constructively; I do not succeed every time, procrastination catches up with me too, but it is important not to let it go too far. Maastricht has very strict deadline rules and there are only two chances during one year, to submit and pass papers or exams, and other two the following year if you get the necessary credits.

There are also a lot of student associations and activities to join and if you want or consider, you can do all of them. If it is detrimental to your studies, because it is taking up too much of your time, drop them. However, the First year is very important in Maastricht and you should dedicate as much time to studying. But worry not, the associations are going to be there the following year too, but you might not be if you fail your courses.

Now, I moved from Belgium to the Netherlands and I am in Maastricht. The city is busier but still beautiful. I am enjoying my adventure here. If you want to join us here:  do not forget tablets for cold/ flu, book your accommodation early, it is cheaper and you might not end up in Belgium! Study hard at allocated times, and you will be amazed to see how much time you have in a day. See you in Maastricht!