I've just completed the first week of my Positive Psychology journey and I'm so captivated and inspired. Maastricht is a charming old Dutch city near the borders of Belgium and Germany with 17,000 students and 'more pubs than days of the year' (as I've heard a few locals boast!)
Shortly after arriving at the guesthouse I looked out of the window of our room and saw a light sprinkle of snow falling. I was so excited because I've never experienced snow before, so I'm hoping it might happen again before I leave. On our second day we were guided on some walking tours which helped us orientate ourselves, find the university buildings and introduced us to some beautiful places throughout the city. One of the highlights for me was visiting the old church that has been repurposed into a book store, it was breathtaking. The Christmas decorations are still up throughout the city and it looks like a beautiful medieval fairy tale, especially at night!
The entire group did our first supermarket visit together which was confusing and fun; trying to decipher which products were which was a struggle because it was all written in Dutch. I got a six pack of grapefruit flavoured beer for â‚¬3.79. In such an expensive part of the world that felt like a victory! I'm awful at understanding the language which doesn't matter too much because most people speak English, however I am absolutely loving watching Dutch Spongebob and other cartoons in the mornings.
The program content has left me in awe; I'm captivated by the fusion of both eastern and western approaches to psychology and wellbeing. Our professors are incredibly friendly and so passionate about what they teach and specialize in. So far we have explored mindfulness, gratitude and positive emotions in a series of lectures, workshops and tutorials. We have been guided through meditation practices and various little tasks that have helped us manifest positivity, optimism and present-mindedness. I'm so excited to for next week's classes and to explore positive psychology further.
On Thursday we went on a historical walking tour of Maastricht in the rain, this gave us an understanding of the historical significance of many of the sites around town such as the remnants of the old city wall which was built in the 13th Century. We visited the Maastricht underground/caves also which was fascinating and a littttttle scary! It was like a micro-world was set up in the 80km of caves between Holland and Belgium during WWII; there was even a baker and a barber shop- what more could you need! After that, again in the pouring rain, we had a tour and wine tasting at Apostelhoeve winery which was a perfect way to end a busy, cold day.
I can't believe it's been a week already- two more to go. The only this that could have possibly made this experience any better would be if I brought my dog with me! This weekend we're going to Belguim... keep a look out for part #2
« The highlight was being able to put into practice the french that I had already learnt and equally meeting the people who are like minded. The host family open their homes and provide the perfect environment to develop your communication skills but beyond this is the lifetime friendship that is established. »
"My stay in Austria has been an incredible experience, and one that I will never forget. There is no better way to study cross cultural psychology than to immerse yourself in a foreign city and take in their customs, language and ways of living for yourself. I've learnt so much about myself, and have made new friends for life."