UQ Program: Bachelors of Economics

Studying abroad at Maastricht University was a phenomenal experience! I always knew that going on exchange was something that I really wanted to do but what I didn’t realize was that it was something that I needed to do (at the risk of sounding cliché!). I learnt so much about the world and different cultures and myself – it is a priceless experience!

I’m in my third and final year of my Economics degree at UQ and took subjects in the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht Uni. Maastricht University has a VERY unique method of teaching called Problem Based Learning (PBL). Basically it involves 2 tutorials a week per class of about 14 students and a tutor. The Uni relies HEAVILY on group work and there are either only one or no lectures.  It took a bit of getting used to and although I still prefer UQ’s Lecture style education, the PBL system does have its merits – especially when it comes to improving communication skills.

One of the greatest things about studying in the Netherlands is how central the country is in relation to the rest of Europe. During my semester I travelled to France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, England and Slovakia! I did a little bit of travelling within the Netherlands but not nearly enough – I would recommend that anyone going on exchange carefully allocate travel time to their host country because it can easily be forgotten when there’s heaps of cheap Ryan Air (super cheap airline) flights all over Europe.

I did spend quite a bit of money on exchange but it was worth every cent. Save up us much as you can and be careful with your spending and it will be fine. I spent approx 40 Euros a week on food but other expenses always seemed to crop up so I was probably spending about 100 Euros a week (more on weeks when I travelled though). Also, Eastern Europe is SUPER CHEAP and really beautiful so definitely go there (wizzair.com) and beware of London, it is REALLY expensive. Don’t bother with a Dutch bank account if you’re only here for one semester. I arranged a travel money card with my bank in Australia that I loaded Euros onto which helped me avoid fees from using an Australian card with Aussie dollars. I would recommend you look into something like this.

Top 5 tips:

1. Try Dutch ‘Frites’ – Yummy fries with a special type of mayonnaise all over them! 

2. Try to arrange a timetable where you have Friday/Monday’s off so that you can travel long weekends every weekend!

3. Photocopy the textbooks in the library to save money.

4. Book train and plane tickets in advance. Prices peak in the fortnight before so last minute decisions to travel can be very expensive.

5. Try not to stress in the weeks or months leading up to exchange even if it all seems overwhelming!

I have come to love the Dutch people and the Netherlands! They are warm and welcoming people and unsurprisingly there’s so much more to them than the ‘clogs, cheese and weed’ stereotype! Also, Maastricht is relatively small at least compared to a big city like Amsterdam. I think this enriched my experience because at no time did I feel lost or disconnected as I might have done in a big city. Rather, Maastricht immediately felt like a home away from home and I am incredibly glad I chose it.

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