“No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away.”
– Haruki Murakami
As the title suggests, today I am going to tell you the story of the last place I have studied and spent almost a full year in, aka Maastricht. Before moving to Maastricht, I only knew that the city is situated in the Netherlands and is famous for the 1992 Treaty of the European Union which was signed there. But over the year, it got to be more than just this ‘unknown’ city. Even if I only spent 11 months there, the experiences I went through surely amounted a lot more and made it feel like I have been there for longer. So here is the story of a year full of study and travel.
To begin with, I have actually moved to Maastricht in August, 2013, so the correct description of this experience would be ‘Maastricht 2013-2014’; but I will just go with the catchphrase that will remain history amongst my closest friends from there. Before actually moving to Maastricht, I have visited it once more, and at first sight, it seemed to be a fairytale-ish little city on the river (Maas), with tiny narrow streets and colourful, nicely decorated houses. At second sight, Maastricht gets to be more than it shows, both good sides and bad sides. Amongst the good sides though, being a very international city, home of Maastricht University, a great number of students from all over the world gather up and create a complex atmosphere – I guess this is the charm of the city. Being a student myself in Maastricht meant getting together with very diverse people, having many different backgrounds, letting me see the world through other eyes and other perspectives – and I find this very helpful and entertaining. It is nice to discover other parts of the world through stories and pay attention to what little details each national chooses to depict – I think we all like to portray the really positive and fine aspects of our cities/countries; makes it sound delightful and intriguing.
Secondly, even if the city is full of students and easy to get from one side to the other (by bike, especially), the first few months after I moved there were pretty lonely, as I was still ‘adapting’. Looking back, I noticed that it was actually good to spend some time on my own, walk around the city and discover every little corner. But after a while, too much ‘alone time’ was enough, and I was lucky to bond with a really amazing group of people. In the end, I realised that Maastricht was a nice place both for ‘alone time’ and ‘friends time’, as it has its (sometimes) crowded, entertaining spots, but also its hidden ones. For example, my/our favourite places in Maastricht were the riverside (especially during sunny days or at dawn) or Sint-Pietersberg (a hilly area with a splendid panorama of the city). Besides the nice places Maastricht has to offer and the great people that I got to meet, another really good thing about the city is its location: being at the intersection of three countries (Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium), it is really close to (or really easy and fast to get to) other nice cities (such as Aachen (Germany), Brussels/Brugge/Liege (Belgium) or Vaals (the Netherlands) – the spot where all three borders meet and you can find the highest (322m) peak in the country).
Lastly, the best part about Maastricht for me is the connection I managed to create with the people I met. Having the possibility to meet people from many places of the world and to live with them, or really close to them, helped me adapt to the city and enjoy it even more. While at one point Maastricht seemed little, boring and monotonous, being around these people helped me get over it and make the most out of every small moment. Sometimes even having a bike ride, going for a coffee or a short night out with the group could change the negativity surrounding me. And this was probably because every single person reacts and behaves differently in diverse situations, and being around other people can influence the way we feel – in most of my cases, in a good way. Overall, the friends, the good times and the very many memories from Maastricht will always remain with me and will put a smile on my face.
‘Maastricht – 2014’ now feels as it has been too short, but even so, it allowed me to do many things, travel around and get really close to people, really fast. And this is a good thing; I like to believe that the ‘quick friendships’ last the longest and I surely hope that this will happen as well in this situation. Maastricht opened up various opportunities, broadened my horizons and made me feel more grown up – it might be because of the studies, because of living away from home for so long or because of the people. In any case, the year has been a great experience (which in the beginning didn’t seem so promising) and I would definitely love to go back at one point. ‘GM 13’ is the place I would like to go back to for sure, as it has been my home for half a year. So, if you are living in our house in the following years, we might come and visit you, because we tend to believe that it’s the best house in town/ever, haha. To conclude, wherever you are, go or travel, make sure you connect with people, visit as much as you can and live every moment (again, my friends might giggle now), because even if time passes very fast, memories remain and they’d better be good.
Until next time, open your eyes and your ears to what the world has to tell you!
By:Ioana – Alexandra Tache #TeamSkies