International Environmental Law is only one of three AIM programs running simultaneously at Maastricht University during the 3 week intensive course. The University Guesthouse was therefore inundated with over 100 Australian students picking up their room keys and making their way to either building P (shared rooms) or building C (single rooms).
Roommates quickly got acquainted and everyone settled into their rooming situations quickly, a relief for many who had taken the opportunity to travel beforehand. Within an hour of the scheduled arrival time the groups met down in the foyer again to await further instructions.
'Introductory packs 'were given out as well as deposits paid for our Environmental Law textbooks (30 euro). The pack contained most of the essential information needed in order to have a successful and enjoyable time during the program including items such as Wi-Fi log-ins and maps showing how to get from the Guesthouse to the relevant University buildings.
The groups were given a quick tour of the nearby grocery store and essentials were bought (candy, tea...the usual). Although the grocery stores did not accept MasterCard or Visa luckily ATM's were readily available so many crisis were averted.
The Centre for European Studies (CES) hosted a pizza dinner for AIM participants back at the Guesthouse where all the groups had a good chance to mingle and get to know one another better. The opportunity to become friendly with students from all over Australia was something everyone was clearly taking advantage of.
Luckily for those who had a late night on Saturday, there was no early Sunday morning wake up with our practical city tour not beginning until 11am. CES officer and Maastricht student assistants were kind enough to walk us around Maastricht and introduce us to some of the best places to go in town for students.
As the oldest town in the Netherlands, Maastricht is extremely beautiful and all the groups agreed being shown around town on a quiet Sunday was delightful. People quickly made mental notes of which places to visit and which streets to shop in during our time off.
Monday morning was an early 8:15 start as the groups were walked into town to attend the programs opening ceremony, which was held at the school of business and economics. We were told to enjoy ourselves and take advantage of our time in Maastricht by enjoying what the city has to offer but to also take our studies seriously and to be mindful that we are not only representing Maastricht University, but also our relevant Australian universities and Australia as a whole.
Following this, we were provided with coffee and cake before splitting up into our relevant program groups. Needless to say every student took full advantage of the free food and drink!
Our International Environmental Law group then had our first information meeting again going over what is expected of us during the course, our assessments and what to do if we have any questions.
The rest of the afternoon involved a shared lunch (again, free!) followed by more touristy activities. Firstly, we took a short bus ride to the Maastricht caves. We took part in a guided tour through the man made caves where we were able to see hibernating bats and hear stories of how the production of limestone had resulted in a gradual carving out of over 200kms of tunnels dating back to the 1700s.
After our eyes had adjusted back to daylight and we stepped out into the cold once more we headed to the fun part of Monday's itinerary which everyone had been looking forward to; the wine tasting! Apostelhoeve winery were kind enough to not only show us around the estate and take us through their process for making different wines but also letting us taste three of their most popular wines.
All the groups were reluctant to leave the warm dining hall but as the last glass of wine was drank the groups once again joined the bus to make our way back to the Guesthouse and prepare for the first week of classes!