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Entries for February 2016

"Migrants bring more cake"

MAASTRICHT. Migration and violent extremism. A politically sensitive and controversial topic, agreed Khalid Koser, professor in Conflict, Peace and Security at UNU-MERIT/Maastricht School of Governance. Still, he emphasised continuously during his lecture, organised on Monday 22 February by Studium Generale, its importance. “The discussion ab...
Being happy

Being happy

Jasmijn (24): “I have read dozens of self-help books and I even have a subscription to the Happinez magazine. I do what they say, but I am still not happy. What am I doing wrong?” Ingrid: I read on Facebook that happiness is a choice. As long as we are positive and optimistic, life is wonderful. Sheer nonsense. The glossy Happinez se...

NS set to sell off sidelines and focus on running trains

THE NETHERLANDS. State-owned train operator NS plans to sell off its station shops and local bus services to concentrate on its core business of running main line trains, the Telegraaf reports.
Discovering your own voice

Discovering your own voice

She was the first lawyer to win the Spinoza Prize, the most prestigious scientific award in the Netherlands, in 2009. Professor Deirdre Curtin has spunk, has always gone her own way, off the beaten track. That is what makes her an example for Anniek de Ruijter, assistant professor of European Law.
 “He should be around forty, not someone about to retire”

“He should be around forty, not someone about to retire”

Rector magnificus Luc Soete is leaving. His successor will start on 1 September. Who should that be? And what should he/she do most of all? Observant will ask students and members of staff in the next few weeks.
Opinion: lack of critical thought from students during lecture about NATO

Opinion: lack of critical thought from students during lecture about NATO

“On Tuesday, February 16th, I attended the lecture A Changing NATO in a Changing World, organized by Studium Generale. Unfortunately, the loudest thing I heard during this lecture was the silence and a lack of critical thought from students. If nobody speaks up, how can we talk about a change at all? Neither about a changing NATO, let alone a...
“There is more to life than a cum laude”

“There is more to life than a cum laude”

MAASTRICHT. Pressure on students has increased in the past few years, claim Maastricht student advisers and counsellors. The list of possible causes is long: from binding study advice to parents who have (too) high expectations of their children.
The Vagina Monologues at UCM

The Vagina Monologues at UCM

MAASTRICHT. Vagina, vagina, vagina. It wasn’t too long ago that uttering this word in the public sphere could induce sharp rebuke or embarrassment. Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues, doesn’t just say the word - it’s entirely focused on it. The Universalis Society of Feminism (USF) is performing The Vagina Monologues th...

Connecting in the kitchen

Connecting in the kitchen

MAASTRICHT. Arabic music is blaring from the kitchen at the Jan Van Eyck Academy an hour before the doors are to open. Around twenty people from the Maastricht refugee centre (AZC) and a chef from Cato by Cato are manoeuvring their way around the countless pots and saucers and the occasional curious child. It’s Thursday 18 February and the so...

50 (shades of) Cucina

50 (shades of) Cucina

The waiter arrives with a wrinkled menu and awaits our orders. There are so many options I can’t make up my mind immediately. “I am going to bring your drinks first”, he announces with a thick Italian accent. While waiting for our drinks, I look around. I’m sitting in the heart of Wyck in a tiny room with tables squeezed in ...

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

I’ve been flirting with the idea of adopting a new name. For starters, I have to share my present name with about ten million other people. Being called Alison Edwards is like being Jan Jansen in Dutch, or at least the female equivalent thereof. To make matters worse, I don’t even have a middle name. In fairness it’s probably f...

MyShake

MyShake

MyShake Research/data/earthquakes Free Android

Train driver killed in crash with crane

THE NETHERLANDS. The driver of a passenger train was killed on Tuesday morning when he hit a crane at a level crossing at full speed en route from Zwolle to Emmen.

Man jailed for killing neighbour during suicide attempt

MAASTRICHT. A man who tried to gas himself, only to kill his upstairs neighbour instead, has been jailed for 10 years by judges in Maastricht.
Key question

Key question

Babs (24): “I am often asked to sit on committees or to act as chairperson. Before I realise it, I am doing yet another thing I don’t really want to do. How can I break this pattern?” Ingrid: “I was recently asked to give a workshop on a subject that I don’t really know much about. Still, I said ‘yes’. I...

What’s that hanging on my bicycle?

What’s that hanging on my bicycle?

MAASTRICHT. You will find them everywhere in the city: yellow handlebar hangers. It's an initiative of Maastricht Bereikbaar (Maastricht Accessible) that wants to know if there are enough bicycle parking spaces in Maastricht. The handlebar hanger – with a text in Dutch – contains a chip with a unique number. This Thursday and ...

Orientation

Orientation

“There you go, Miss, your appointment is tomorrow morning at 10.54.” Having waited for half an hour for all the paperwork to be filled out, I look up from my phone and wonder if I understood that correctly. It’s only my third day in Granada, and my Spanish is rather rusty, so I decide to just repeat what the lady told me. “M...

Maastricht Language – Speaking in tongues

Maastricht Language – Speaking in tongues

Monday night, orchestra rehearsal. We’ve just begun playing the first piece when our instructor motions for us to stop. “This part,” she says, her German accent shimmering through otherwise impeccable English, “try playing it more precisely. Let’s do it again, slowlier this time.” Obediently, we pick up our instr...

A language of our own

A language of our own

Imagine going abroad in a country where people speak their own language, but you are only able to communicate with them in English, a language which is not your mother tongue. Sounds complicated? It gets even worse. Because what you may actually be speaking is Maastricht-English. Repeating phrases like “Hoi, hoi, hoe gaat het met je?”, ...

The unconscious shift

The unconscious shift

I am often slightly embarrassed by my strong British accent; it’s the first thing people notice about me. “You’re from England, right?” To their dismay I have to shake my head and embark on the complicated details of my upbringing. I was born in Germany. “No, that doesn’t make me German.” My dad is Danish a...

The Lingual Maastricht Effect

The Lingual Maastricht Effect

“Amira, yalla! Let’s do some courses.” “Quoi?” “Courses!”  “Mashi, mashi. I’ll be right there – ein Moment.” Living in Maastricht these past four months has got me thinking about an Arabic saying, which I will proceed to butcher here in sloppy translation: ‘He ...

“He dared to go against the prevailing views”

“He dared to go against the prevailing views”

When Jos Perry, historian and researcher at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, took his PhD, his supervisor refused to attend in cap and gown. The three-piece suit that he wore, was already a tremendous step for former communist and member of the Dutch Communist Party CPN, professor Ger Harmsen (1922-2005).

President Martin Paul: “We collaborate with institutions, not governments”

MAASTRICHT. How should Maastricht University deal with ‘bad’ countries where the regimes in power do not exactly share Western humanitarian values? What should UM’s stance be when it comes to cooperating with institutions in Russia, say, or Saudi Arabia – countries that have increasingly been coming under fire in recent mont...
"About time the position went to a woman"

"About time the position went to a woman"

Rector Luc Soete is stepping down. His successor will start 1 September. In the following weeks Observant will ask students and staff: who is supposed to take over? And what should he/she work on most?
Vici grant for neuroscientist Sack

Vici grant for neuroscientist Sack

MAASTRICHT. Alexander Sack, professor of Functional Brain Stimulation and Neurocognitive Psychology, has received a Vici grant worth €1.5 million for his research on brain stimulation. Sack focuses on brain-stimulation techniques for treating memory and attention problems after a stroke or depression. Of the 215 academics who submitted a Vi...

Cobble stones 2.0

Cobble stones 2.0

During my first year in Maastricht, I reached a solid average of one bike repair session a month. The ancient cobble stones, leading many from the north to remark that ‘they feel as if they were abroad’, clearly did not do well to my old high school bike. After buying a more robust edition last autumn, I thought the problem was solved. ...

International Students Club: not in 2017, but in 2019

International Students Club: not in 2017, but in 2019

MAASTRICHT. The International Students Club will move into the Timmerfabriek in 2019, not in 2017 as originally planned. Renovation issues are the main cause of the delay, but it also appears that the International Student Network, the main operator of the club, is not yet ripe for the mammoth task that awaits it.
“For the love of my life”

“For the love of my life”

“I actually wanted to send myself one, but I didn’t in the end.” Two students from University College Maastricht are snooping through the handwritten notes on one of the common room’s walls. The cards are attached to heart-shaped cookies – how appropriate on Monday, 15 February, the day after Valentine’s Day. It...

Whatever floats your goat

Whatever floats your goat

Frozen to the bone in the unreasonably cold, rainy weather, my partner and I decided to visit Brasserie Keizer for a warm and cosy lunch. I was curious about this restaurant since the building has changed hands many times over the four years I have been living in Maastricht. Brasserie Keizer inspires a sense of familiarity and warmth the second you...

Romans go home

Romans go home

One year has passed since the occupation of university administration buildings in Amsterdam. Those occupying students won significant victories over their Executive Board, but the wider movement has thus far failed to bring about the dismantling of the Neoliberal Imperialist State.  In Maastricht, the faded red square in Minderbroedersberg pe...

Don’t Say Um!

Don’t Say Um!

Don’t Say Um! Study/Work/Presentation €3.33(Android)/€2.99(iOS) Android, iOS
Dutch taxpayers’ cash funds toilet paper printed with anti-Ukraine in EU info

Dutch taxpayers’ cash funds toilet paper printed with anti-Ukraine in EU info

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost €50,000 of Dutch taxpayers’ money is to be given to a private company which plans to make and distribute toilet rolls printed with arguments against the EU’s treaty with Ukraine.
Smoking costs Dutch society up to €43bn a year: report

Smoking costs Dutch society up to €43bn a year: report

THE NETHERLANDS. Smoking costs Dutch society between €21bn and €43bn a year, or €2,000 per head of the population, a report by the SEO economic research institute has concluded.
Make yourself heard

Make yourself heard

Meike (20): “I daren’t open my mouth during tutorial group meetings. It is not that I stutter or have an accent. I just feel extremely uncertain. I am no good to the group this way and I’m cheesed off with myself. What should I do?” Ingrid: What you think, determines how you feel. When you think ‘oh dear, I am never...

Support UM for threatened academics in Turkey

Support UM for threatened academics in Turkey

MAASTRICHT. Threatened academics in Turkey now also have the support of Maastricht University. Rector Luc Soete has written to European colleagues after Turkish academics turned against their government in the form of a petition and were subsequently threatened with legal action by the same government.
Wanted: intellectual with managerial experience

Wanted: intellectual with managerial experience

MAASTRICHT. The next rector should be “an intellectual” and “a team player who likes to work with others”. This is stated in the profile description for the rector magnificus that was made public by the supervisory board at Observant’s request.
Foucault kept him awake

Foucault kept him awake

Hans Schouwenburg was born a year after French philosopher Michel Foucault died from AIDS in 1984. The PhD graduate from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was drawn into Foucault’s ideas when he was a student. “Things that you took for granted, he brutally discredited. I started to doubt everything. It almost led to an existential...
Tapijn grounds to become an open and hilly park

Tapijn grounds to become an open and hilly park

MAASTRICHT. Open ‘sight lines’, a building partly submerged in the ground with a deck, undulating hills in a sea of green: the reactions to the winning plan for the Tapijn Barracks makeover range from positive to enthusiastic. If all goes according to plan, it will be completed by 2020.
Smoking in Europe

Smoking in Europe

I used to pity the heavy regulations imposed upon the smokers of Australia. Back home smoking is banned, inside, outside, around children. God forbid you smoke around someone’s beloved pet lest you receive a scathing pseudo asthmatic cough pointed directly at you sending you a very clear message: Cough (How). Cough (Dare). Cough (You). I u...

Car Thorttle

Car Thorttle

Car Throttle Cars/news/fun Free Android (iOS scheduled for the beginning of 2016)
“We live like professional musicians”

“We live like professional musicians”

MAASTRICHT. The students of the Dutch National Student Orchestra rehearse ten hours a day during the days prior to their eleven-day tour ‘Vrij’. Together with pianist Arthur Jussen, the ninety members play pieces by Claude Debussy, Trevor Grahl, Ravel and Béla Bartók in various cities (in Maastricht on 14 February). Second-year Biomedic...
“He was paying €625. Based on the point-score system we came up with €280”

“He was paying €625. Based on the point-score system we came up with €280”

No hot water, a bad smell, a plague of mice, ridiculously high rent, agency fees or a bust-up with a flatmate – whatever their housing question, students can now turn to Maastricht University’s Housing Helpdesk. Established twelve months ago, its six students and coordinator, a law graduate, now have almost two hundred cases on their bo...
Contract or administration fees: a new grey area

Contract or administration fees: a new grey area

MAASTRICHT. Mediation fees should largely be a thing of the past, especially after the Dutch Supreme Court made its verdict concerning agency fees, four months ago. The judge ruled that housing agencies are not allowed to charge mediation fees to both the landlord and the tenant (the only exception is when a tenant asks the housing agency to find a...

“If you see the Prince, give him a hug and a kiss”

“If you see the Prince, give him a hug and a kiss”

Keen to join in during the Maastricht Carnival? Be prepared. But don’t worry – Ad van Iterson, associate professor at the School of Business and Economics and Carnival – goer by birth, is here to help you through these weird three days and nights. “Get over your shyness, but don’t overdo it; don’t be too enthusia...
Uncomfortably tight waistbands

Uncomfortably tight waistbands

I simply love tea, particularly the ritual of afternoon tea. The afternoon tea in Taart, on the corner of the Helmstraat, is all about good taste and the work of designers who have laid out a supremely elegant, yet fairy-like interior. Customers are served with pinkish tea cups, porcelain plates and huge colourful teapots. Choosing one of the whims...

Carnival: to stay or not to stay?

Carnival: to stay or not to stay?

The Maastricht Carnival attracts hundreds of people per year from around the country as well as abroad. To uninitiated foreigners, it might look like a bizarre dream. Others get excited and dress up to enjoy the feast. But what about Maastricht students? The university, its libraries and all academic facilities are closed for several days. Clearly,...
"Now I can really appreciate everything the Natural History Museum has to offer"

"Now I can really appreciate everything the Natural History Museum has to offer"

Favorite spot of: Hugo Maathuis, 20 year-old first year bachelor student in the Maastricht Science Program, Maastricht "When I was a kid I loved learning about plants and animals and I avidly read a magazine I had subscribed to that talked about my favorite subject. But there was an even better way to learn about the things that fascinated ...

Dutch police are training eagles to take out drones

Dutch police are training eagles to take out drones

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch police are involved in training birds of prey to take out drones flown by criminals and terrorists.

Support grows for Ukraine referendum yes campaigners

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of people intending to vote ‘yes’ in April’s referendum on the EU treaty with Ukraine has risen from 38% to 44.5%, according to a new opinion poll.
Allow heartstrings to be slack

Allow heartstrings to be slack

Sanne (21): “My boyfriend regularly has an evening out with his fraternity. We often argue about that. The idea that he meets other women on such an evening drives me mad. Sometimes he stays home for me, but then we don’t have the best of evenings. And when he chooses to go, I also have a horrible evening. How should I deal with this?&r...