Study Abroad Pt. 2

I am over the moon to have the opportunity to study abroad again! I loved my first study abroad so much that ever since I returned from Sweden I have been plotting my return to Europe. I didn’t realize I could graduate a quarter earlier than anticipated until the end of last year and I immediately jumped at the thought of doing another semester abroad. Sure, I could just travel to Europe but to be able to spend 3 months living and studying there with other students is a different experience. DU also makes it incredibly easy to go abroad since they handle all of the housing and accommodations. 

While I am very excited and have a whole list of places I want to travel to, I am also aware that my experience will be very different from before. In the fall approximately 400 DU students study abroad in Europe every year and this quarter I will be the only one in Europe. I have no doubt that I will make friends along the way and be able to visit friends I picked up previously but it will be different. I think I am most nervous about traveling on weekend trips alone. Day trips are no problem for me but longer trips like doing Portugal over Easter Break does make me a little nervous plus everything is always better with friends. 

I will be studying at Maastricht University taking Human Resource Management to complete the last two credits of my business degree and Economics of European Integration. Given that I am only doing a quarter or half of a semester I also have to pursue an independent research paper to be a full time student. Maastricht University is known for its problem based learning (PBL) system so we will see how I adapt and like the system. Until I start school, I am spending 10 days in Scotland driving all around the county from Glasgow, Isle of Skye, Inverness, and Edinburgh.


Exploring Maastricht

Today was my 3rd day in Maastricht and the first time I had a chance to explore. Yesterday during orientation, they had given us a brief tour of the city center but I wanted to explore a little further. 

Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands and still has many walls and streets that remain from the Medieval Era. In fact, the ruins of the Medieval walls still stand and the streets are very narrow and were not made for cars. There was also no urban planning so the streets are not planned out in a grid. There is a square in the center of the city that is surrounded by church and rows of little restaurants and cafes. I was out exploring today so getting a little lost or carried away was not a problem for me. 

The first place I stopped at was the Basilica of Saint Servatius. I had passed by the basilica a few times already but not processed how big it was. Apparently it is the largest romanesque church in the Netherlands! The ceilings were very high and the church was built in the gothic architecture style. Above the choir there were very pretty frescos that adorned the ceiling. Towards the back of the church there was a what they call a “Bergportaal” which was essentially a side room that was ornately decorated with biblical figures. It had been added after the original construction of the church by French artisans. 

The second place I visited was another church since churches seem to have the best architecture in Europe. This was the Basilica of Our Lady. Today maybe since it was good Friday, the entire church was dark and very hard to make out much. This church was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. It is crazy to think how long some of the buildings heer have been standing for! 

De Bisschopsmolen, translating to “the Bishop’s Mill”, was a water wheel located in the city center that has powered the flour mill since the seventh century. It still functions today and you can see the mill turning on the Jeker River. Today, it also has been converted to a bakery. 

As I continued to wander I passed Helpoort which is part of the 13th century walls that Maastricht was initially constructed with. As you get closer to the river called the “Meuse”, you get a closer look at the exterior walls that once surrounded the whole town. 

Along my tour of Maastricht today I also had to pick up a bike I had ordered from a shop on the other side of the river. Having a bike would allow me to get around faster and see more of Maastricht. Once I retrieved my bike I went on my first bike ride along the river until I hit Belgium. So today I can say I rode all the way to Belgium!

See the photos here: