Welcome to my first blog post. My aspiration for this blog is to encourage more tertiary students to undertake an overseas study experience. Such an experience fosters your independence, enables you to become a globally aware citizen and deepens your passion for learning and travel. Opportunity is ENDLESS and the friendships you make during your time abroad are invaluable.
To start off, it has been two weeks since I arrived at Maastricht University situated in the Netherlands. Learning how to navigate the train system from Amsterdam to Maastricht was a bit daunting, but the locals are extremely friendly and made the journey less nerve-racking. The 30-hour journey from Australia was worth it once I saw the beautiful city of Maastricht. The cobblestone streets, unique architecture, sunshine and vintake restaurants give Maastricht its cosy atmosphere. The city is student-focused, and I always feel safe walking the 25 minutes from the guesthouse to the university.
Day one the group was shown the local grocery store, which is only a short 10-minute walk from the guesthouse. There are also countless restaurants and cafes in Maastricht! Chocolate croissants and coffee ice-cream were a must-have for me.
My first few days in Maastricht were full of activity. As I walked through the city on Saturday morning, different bands were playing music on every corner. It was so beautiful. People were enjoying a meal, applauding instrumentalists and relishing in the sunshine. It was energising and made me feel like dancing along to the melody! It was in that moment that I knew I was going to love this city.
Next, I travelled to Apostelhoeve Winery. This winery was so picturesque and looked like something straight out of a movie. Even though it was a VERY HOT day, I couldn't turn down the chance to try the local wine. After a very jam-packed weekend exploring the city, it was fantastic to settle into a routine of classes and study.
Over the next couple of days, I attended lectures and tutorials for the Forensic Psychology program. The problem-based learning (PBL) approach in the classroom allows the students to guide discussion and develop their own learning goals. It is very collaborative form of learning. The staff at Maastricht University are incredible and extremely passionate about their field of expertise. My favourite topic so far has been 'The Insanity Defence' lecture. Learning about how the insanity defense is applied around the world provided me with an ability to look outside the box and beyond the law of my home country (Australia). I also quite enjoyed my brief overview of psychopharmacology and forensic speech analysis bias, areas I have never previously studied. After two weeks, the program has already exceeded my expectations and I love learning something new every single day. The study-load is manageable and still gives me plenty of time to explore.
Something incredible about Maastricht is how close it is to other countries. I spent the first Sunday of the program in Brussels, which was only a short 2.5-hour train trip from Maastricht. Brussels is a gorgeous city; with the Grand-Place towering over everything. I have never seen such a divine architecture... Brussels will be a place that I remember for a long time.
After attending more classes through the week, it was time for The Hague and Amsterdam. Personally, the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) was the highlight! Learning about how international war crimes are prosecuted was so thought-provoking. This experience also expanded my knowledge of potential career pathways and made me realise how much opportunity exists outside my home town. I absolutely loved it! A visit to the IRMCT is an absolute must for any future student.
The next evening, I was lucky enough to visit the Anne Frank House. The house was eye-opening and maybe even a bit eerie. Seeing Anne's diaries was a once in a lifetime experience and hearing about the history of concentration camps was educational... but horrifying. Next was the neighbourhood of Zaanse Schans, where an amazing collection of historic windmills and houses reside. The iconic country-side was lush and the perfect place to buy beautiful Dutch cheese.
Overall, the highlight of my time abroad has been the remarkable friendships that have formed in such a short period of time! It is fantastic to be experiencing a different culture with such an amazing group of people.
NEXT is Germany... stay tuned!
Hello everyone! My name is Amelia Young. I am a passionate student from the University of Newcastle (UoN) who is currently studying a Combined Bachelor of Laws and Social Science. I have always loved to travel. My favourite place (so far) is undoubtably the beautiful city of San Francisco. Walking across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in the sunshine is one of many priceless travel memories for me. Friends have described me as confident and strong-willed. I am always happy to chat and I love meeting new people. In my downtime, I read true crime novels and watch documentaries concerning crime, psychology and the law (Netflix of course! Haha). Above all, I enjoy spending time with my amazing parents and partner, who have always encouraged my tertiary education. This winter I am lucky to be able to combine my love of travel with my love of education; I will undertake a short academic course at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. I can’t wait to share my experiences and hopefully encourage others to study overseas. Follow me on Instagram for more @ameliab_y