It's cold but amazing! Week one in the Netherlands
Apart from taking an embarrassingly long time to understand the correct way to look before crossing roads, I’ve had an incredible first week in Maastricht. The week was mostly about learning about Maastricht and its surroundings.
Our adventure started on Thursday the 4th of January, everyone arrived at our Guesthouse excited to be having such a fun and exciting first week of 2018. We are all in Maastricht to study International Environmental Law, but a lot of us are at different stages in our law degrees and are all from different towns and universities. After settling into our rooms and meeting our new roomies, we nervously headed into the common area for Dutch pizza (features a lot of blue cheese??). But there was nothing to be nervous about, everyone here is so nice and all so excited to be on this study tour. We all sat around and got to know each other over some wine to celebrate arriving in Maastricht. A great end to our first day, and exciting start to our 3-week adventure overseas.
[caption id="attachment_10928" align="aligncenter" width="598"] [Pals at a bar in Maastricht][/caption]On Friday was our Opening Ceremony, we were up early to head into town to find the law faculty. After almost getting taken out by a couple of cyclists on the way, we found it! The Law faculty is situated in a beautiful old building- the main lecture room being inside an old chapel, turns out Maastricht University has acquired and restored a lot of historical buildings throughout the city. We were given a very informative presentation about the rich history of Dutch people and their culture, and received a very warm welcome from the faculty.
We headed out to the Grotten Noord Caves, 80 kilometres of man-made limestone tunnels that turned into a bunker for more than 10,000 people during the Second World War. The caves themselves were huge, around 10 metres high and sprawling like a giant maze. It felt like we could make one wrong turn and be lost down there forever. Luckily our tour guide was exceptional! He was very knowledgeable and clearly dedicated to imparting his knowledge on younger generations. We also headed to Apostelhoeve Winery for a little education about how the wine is made and of course a tasting. The view of the city from the winery was incredible, as was the wine!
[caption id="attachment_10931" align="aligncenter" width="600"] [At the entrance to Grotten Noord][/caption][caption id="attachment_10930" align="aligncenter" width="598"] [Inside the Grotten Noord Caves][/caption]On Saturday, we immersed ourselves in the culture and history of Maastricht with a walking tour. We saw Boekhandel Dominicanen, an old church converted into a bookstore, Basilica of Our Lady and the Helpoort Gates, amongst many others. One of the main churches here, Basilica of Saint Servatius, dates back as early as the 10th century! Not to mention it was one of the most beautiful churches I have been inside. We also headed to Maastricht’s Natural History Museum which has the remains of the now extinct Monosaur, that was discovered here in Maastricht. The following two days were dedicated to our pre-course work and classes, we all almost forgot we were here for study and not a holiday! I’ve found our classes incredibly informative and interesting.
[caption id="attachment_10940" align="aligncenter" width="601"] [Exploring Maastricht][/caption][caption id="attachment_10934" align="aligncenter" width="617"] [Park in Maastricht][/caption][caption id="attachment_10937" align="aligncenter" width="450"] [Basilica of Saint Servatius Maastricht][/caption]On Tuesday, we had a free day, so with the great group of pals I made, we decided to jump on a bus to Aachen in Germany. It was so peculiar that we could get on a 50-minute bus and end up in an entirely different country. A commute like that back in Australia would get us to the other side of the City! The city itself was absolutely amazing, and yet again was full of history from the Second World War. We of course couldn’t leave Germany without having some German beer and Bratwurst so sat in a cosy café for some food and drinks. Before we knew it, it was time to catch the bus back to Maastricht.
[caption id="attachment_10932" align="aligncenter" width="601"] [Coin Fountain in Aachen, Germany][/caption][caption id="attachment_10933" align="aligncenter" width="448"] [Town Hall in Aachen, Germany][/caption]Seriously can’t believe we’ve all already been here for one week! Lots to look forward to this weekend, though, we have some site visits in Brussels to the European Parliament and Commission.
Recommended food: Rumours Restaurant, Koestraat 13, Maastricht.
If you’re in town you should definitely head down to this great little restaurant and bar. The bar has heaps of character and has a really great vibe, they serve delicious food and drinks for cheap. We got the lunch special which was Lentil Soup, a Croquette and a Ham and Rocket Sandwich which were all delish!
When in Maastricht:Do: 1. Visit the Basilica of Saint Servatius and stand under the main atrium- it’s awe inspiring. 2. Marvel at the river Maas from the historic Saint Servatius Bridge. 3. Visit one of the great bars and pubs in Market Square for a great night out with the locals.
Don’t: Be a sheep. If there’s something you want to do, ya gotta do it yourself- you’ll be happy you did! Also, don’t forget to look the correct way before you cross the road!
[caption id="attachment_10939" align="aligncenter" width="593"] [View of the Sunrise and Saint Servatius Bridge][/caption]
"I loved getting to learn about the healthcare system in another country in a way that I could visibly see it & hear from people who had first-hand experience. Our discussions in class were also really interesting since people are involved in very different areas of health - people had different opinions but everyone seemed equally passionate. The host stay was also incredible. My family was so accommodating and I loved them to bits, despite the language barrier."
"This program was an amazing experience which offered deep insight into the Human Rights issues present in Argentina. Visits to some of the leading NGO's and human right activist organisations that have assisted with uncovering the truth and pushing for justice in Argentina, and visiting some of the landmark cultural sites where these violations and protests occurred, has offered a unique and unforgettable experience."