UQ Program: Master of International Economics & Finance (Adv) 

Maastricht University Testimonial
Having just returned from a year abroad in The Netherlands, I am able to reflect on many different experiences  which I hope will answer some questions you may have with the exchange process. I am a Masters student within the Economics faculty at UQ and decided to complete an exchange as a way of broadening my tertiary education. This was definitely achieved by the exchange program to Maastricht University and I believe the easiest way to share my experiences with you is to illustrate the positives and negatives of exchange study at Maastricht University.

Travelling within Maastricht itself is very easy. 99% of students buy a bike (bought for 50e) which is a great way to get to uni or just around the city itself. The proximity to international airports is also amazing. An short train trip leads you to Eindhoven or Brussels where you can fly cheaply with Ryanair. As other Maastricht testimonials have suggested, living in the Guesthouse is the best way to go as an exchange student. You instantly meet hundreds of students from all around the world and they quickly become your best friends. I feel I am qualified to make this statement as I spent my second semester living with Dutch students, which was fantastic too – but the guesthouse life is amazing, with parties nearly every night and with its closeness to University. When there aren’t parties going on in the Guesthouse the Exchange Student Network (ESN) will organise all your proper social events as well as tours of Belgium, Holland and Germany. Through going on exchange I have made some incredible international friends. As well as having an great time with them in Maastricht I have also visited them in Turkey, Sweden, Finland, Spain, USA & Canada!

The study load at Maastricht was something which shocked me. The intense way in which courses are run means that you have very little room to slacken off throughout the short semesters. The Peer Based Learning system used essentially takes away the role of a lecturer and leaves you with tutorials whereby you must participate in discussions having done the readings, of which there is a lot (4 classes per week, each class requires between 3-5 journal articles (of 30-40 pages) + textbook chapters). If you are not participating in the discussion, the tutor, who often grades individuals’ input with a series of ticks and crosses next to their name on the class list, will put you on the spot or ask you for reasons why you didn’t do the readings. After once missing 2 days of class whilst at a conference in Helsinki, the tutor asked me to email him proof that I actually attended the conference at all. I was also surprised that I had to complete a series of problems before the semester had even started. In addition to the high amount of readings there are many presentations, in class tests and group assignments. As you might imagine there is a high failure rate amongst exchange students (I only know of a few who passed every course) and others just drop courses all together choosing to travel and take it a bit easier (which in turn will prolong the duration of your degree). 40% of the students in 1 of my classes failed the final exam and were forced to do the resit exam, a number which I found abnormally high. There is also no study week before exams (I had a tute on Friday and a 3 hour exam on the Monday) and only a weekend break mid semester. With the high workload a lot of exchangers time was spent in the library (my course load required a number of  12 -16 hour days in the library) and several of my planned trips away had to be cancelled. Due to this high study load and the small size of the inner city library it is often difficult to get a seat and nearly impossible to find a study location close to exams (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nhyfp0MGwA4).

Besides the high workload I also had some bad experiences with ending up in emergency surgery after a dentists’ failed wisdom teeth removal and also being evicted from my apartment after 1 party during the Carnaval week (and in the process was harassed by a series of Dutch lawyers).

Final note: If you want a challenging and different studying experience to UQ whilst being in the centre of Europe I would definitely recommend Maastricht University.

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