Before the course even starts, the first part of the trip is the travelling part, and travelling by yourself, landing in different countries, and struggling through customs can be an exhaustive exercise. Sydney to Dubai is 15 hours, and then Dubai to Amsterdam is another 6 hours, and then Amsterdam to Maastricht is a few hours on top of that.

Now try to do all that by yourself!

Ultimately, it's not difficult - make friends with the stewards and stewardesses, they make great conversation and can give some fantastic tips as well. Talk to other passengers, you may be able to get some advice from them about the city (thank you Dutch citizen). Don't be afraid to ask questions from the staff at the airport or at any reception, because even if you feel silly, its better to be silly and lost!

My biggest tip though is try to find people from your cohort - I was very lucky to find two people from the Positive Psychology course, as well as another from International Relations and travelled together, including getting lost (multiple times), and having a nice cold dinner, surrounded by Dutch and English travellers, laughing and getting to know each other.

Not only do you have to do a lot of coursework, part of the course is visiting different aspects of the city you are staying in. The International Relations team had the luck of being the first group with Environment Law to visit the Maastricht Caves, which were a supplementary system below the city to evacuate Jewish and other minorities during World War II. Not only that it is seriously big (being a few kilometres long), it comes fully equipped with a bakery, bar, and even a Church where to this day, the Guides are allowed to be married in.

Maastricht is truly a university city, akin to how the University of Wollongong is, but in similar and dissimilar ways - even though a fair percentage of the city is only students, with Maastricht University housing a population of 14,497 students. What makes Maastricht a true University city is that there is no true campus, with the Library, and the Faculties spreading from one end of the city to the other - The School of Business may be near the city centre of Vritjoth, but another faculty may be on the opposite side of the city across the River Maas.

Week 1 Blog Photo 2 - Guesthouse

The main part of Maastricht University sits in a converted Church, with one of the lecture halls pictured below. This is where we were introduced to the various coordinators, and the Director of the Centre for European Studies, as well as the history of the University itself, only being established in 1976, but was still awarded the "Distinctive Quality Feature for Internationalisation", and coming 6 in the "Top 50 Under 50 in 2014" as well.

Week 1 Blog Photo 3 - Streets of Maastricht

In our classes we studied the integration of the European Union, the history, the interactions between International Law, EU Law, domestic law, decision making, the variety of institutions all starting with "Europe" or "Council", the Judicial Protections afforded in the EU,  basic economics, the freedoms of the EU, and a case study on the Asylum Seeker crisis currently in the European Union. The course has certainly captured its title of "Intensive Short Course" because we have covered 8 different subject matters in the space of a week, with two more weeks to go.

On the weekend the International Relations and the Environmental Law cohort met up in the darkness of the morning to catch the bus out of The Netherlands and proceeded into the Chocolate Haven known as Belgium, also known for two very important European institutions - the European Parliament, and the Commission of the European Union, both doing two different but important functions, and directly related to our course.

The European Parliament was the first stop, which is the institution which looks after the the interests of the European Union, and is represented by direct election. It is a very formal and structural, with members taking turns to talk, and each speech, document, and conversation taking place translated into 20+ languages every day in session and out of session.

Week 1 Blog Photo 6 - The EU Parliament

The second stop was the European Commission, another institution which looks after the interests of the European Union, but manages the implementation of rules, and always present in the legislative process, making the regulations and directives which bind all 28 Member-States of the European Union. The Commission itself is selected from the entire EU, and there are roughly 19,000 members who directly deal with the management of the European Union.

Week 1 Blog Photo 5 - EU Member States

We also went to the Delirium Café, a wonderful establishment that houses over 2,000 different beers from around the world, making the variety almost crushing. Brewery De Konick was a stopover in Antewerp before travelling back to Maastricht, tasting the delicacies of one of the oldest breweries (and the last standing) in that city.

Week 1 is complete, and this blog must finish - a midterm on Wednesday is hurtling closer and study needs to be done. Stay tuned for next week's blog!