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Entries for February 2017

The Ife Head

The Ife Head

Some days ago I happened to read one of the most beautiful considerations I’ve read in the last years. It was by Ben Okri, a Nigerian-born novelist. It was about the sense of tranquility emanating from the Ife Head, a brass statue from Nigeria, dating back to the fifteenth century. The author was talking about how the presence of tranquility ...

HP issue lies with Executive Board again

MAASTRICHT. Can the UM do business with a company that is involved in the violation of human rights? This is one of the questions asked by former student member of the University Council Michael Dijkstra in a letter to the Executive Board.

Match: students sharing their knowledge with the city

MAASTRICHT. Foreign students giving computer lessons to people in Witte Vrouwenveld, while brushing up on their Dutch at the same time. Medical students, members of Taskforce QRS (Qualitative Resuscitation by Students), giving resuscitation lessons at secondary schools. These are just two examples of how Maastricht students serve the community.
Journalist: “Sir, those are not the facts.” Minister: “That’s how I feel it”

Journalist: “Sir, those are not the facts.” Minister: “That’s how I feel it”

“A liar cares, in spite of everything, about the truth. A bullshitter cares only about the effect of his words. And that’s what was going on when Donald Trump mentioned Sweden last Friday. He suggested that something terrible had happened there. Trump doesn’t care about the truth – he’s only interested in the effect.&r...
Busiest spring Bachelor's Open Day ever

Busiest spring Bachelor's Open Day ever

MAASTRICHT. With almost 2,300 prospective students, the Maastricht University’s spring Bachelor's Open Day last Saturday had more visitors than ever before. Especially the Dutch study programmes of Medicine and Health Sciences were popular (both more than four hundred visitors). During the Open Day last autumn, on the other hand, there wa...

Student House of the Year

Student House of the Year

Orleansplein 22B has been voted Student House of the Year, a joint initiative by Maastricht Housing and Observant. “It’s the winning house because of its good atmosphere, as if it is one big family. That is apparent from the road trip to Portugal that they have planned. They also want to put some of the prize money into decorating ...

Ragweek for two regional charities

MAASTRICHT. Ragweek – from 8 to 15 March – will be raising money for two regional charities this year. Normally, the proceeds from the charity week go to one national and one regional charity. The board decided to take a different course this year. “We feel more involved with regional charities,” says PR official Nina Mille....

“Will you come and spin the wheel at De Uni?”

“Will you come and spin the wheel at De Uni?”

“This is the most culinary thing I’ve made in three years”, announces Roos Klomberg, the host of this evening’s dinner. She casts a satisfied eye over the courgette and avocado soup, tagliatelle and salmon. “And right on time: seven pm, everything’s ready.” Eva van de Walle is already on the lookout in case...

Beer price in Dutch cafes nears €2.50

THE NETHERLANDS. The average price for a glass of beer in a Dutch café or bar is approaching €2.50 a glass, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday.
The coins jingle happily along with the hips

The coins jingle happily along with the hips

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Belly dance.

Consumers more confident on economy

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch consumer confidence index hit a 9.5 year high in February, rising 1 point on January’s total to +14. Consumers being more positive about the economy in general and are therefore more likely to spend money, national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

UM board does not want to boycott HP

MAASTRICHT. Is Maastricht University doing more business with Hewlett-Packard than the Executive Board stated to the University Council recently? The matter is a topical one since the Maastricht department of Students for Justice in Palestine called for a UM boycott of HP products because of activities in Israel and the occupied territories. The SJ...
Small Talk

Small Talk

 ‘It’s not a big deal. No reason to freak out!’ I tell myself while this person I barely know is walking towards me. Ignoring me after we both recognized each other notably on the hallway would be rude, I guess. It’s small talk time! Talking for the sake of talking, no goals involved. When you are the type of person th...

On dead mice and the tree huggers of UCM

On dead mice and the tree huggers of UCM

Loosely translated, ex aequo means “on equal terms” – and it gives a good sense of the sorority. “We don’t force new students to fetch drinks for the older students, or give them only one third of a vote when we make decisions”, says Sophie te Boome, waving a knife dangerously back and forth at the kitchen table....

New Tefaf professor: Jan Hoeijmakers

New Tefaf professor: Jan Hoeijmakers

MAASTRICHT. The Rotterdam geneticist Jan Hoeijmakers, in broader circles known as the “ageing professor”, will hold the Tefaf chair for 2017. This annually alternating chair for cancer research, sponsored by art fair Tefaf, comes under research institute GROW.
"What on earth is a Brexit?"

"What on earth is a Brexit?"

In 2015, all hell broke loose when professor Jaap Bos changed the first-year subject Finance. Bos even decided it was better to stay away from the faculty for a few weeks to avoid aggressive students. Emotions don't always run so high, but complaining seems to be in the SBE students’ blood. In the latest edition of the Finance test, it ha...
“Ten complaints are not more important to the faculty than one”

“Ten complaints are not more important to the faculty than one”

The one grumbles among friends (or on Facebook), the other complains to the lecturer – answer key in hand. Sometimes just to get a better grade for themselves, sometimes to improve the education programme. Whatever the reason, complaining is normal for most students. Observant asked 25 students about their experience. The following are a few ...
Threatening e-mail for lecturer after a fail

Threatening e-mail for lecturer after a fail

MAASTRICHT. Students who collectively come to seek redress, parents who protest and call the dean, threatening e-mails and a lot of unpleasant rumblings on Facebook. It all happened to professor Jaap Bos in the past two years. To be more precise, after he adapted his exam for the first-year subject of Finance and 400 students failed.
Heartbreak, anger and existential thoughts

Heartbreak, anger and existential thoughts

MAASTRICHT. You know it’s Stukafest (the student room festival held last Thursday, 9 February) when you’re in a quiet residential street and suddenly a group of Germans on bikes comes to a screeching halt in front of a student building. “What are you going to see?” “Who knows, we just signed up for something, so I gues...

Fury as public transport smart card firm makes €55m in profit

THE NETHERLANDS. The company behind the Dutch public transport smart card has made €55m profit on the plastic cards in five years, the AD said on Tuesday.
Told you so

Told you so

‘Told you so’ is among my most-hated English phrases, since it indicates two things: the other was right (and thus I wasn’t), and, probably even worse: I could’ve known, had I only listened. Before I went to Spain, I refused to believe the scaremongering stories about the level of Spanish university education. Surely, the...

“A piece of cake until those tummy muscles start to protest”

“A piece of cake until those tummy muscles start to protest”

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Omnia.

Health cover pushes Netherlands to top of European insurance league

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch residents spend more on insurance than any other EU citizens – but only because their healthcare is funded by compulsory private cover.
YO!Fest: Who is going to make ideas concrete?

YO!Fest: Who is going to make ideas concrete?

MAASTRICHT. “Let´s youth up Europe!” It is the slogan of this year’s YO!Fest,  the annual political festival which celebrated 25 years of the Maastricht Treaty this year. The eighth edition of the event, held at the Sphinxkwartier, is a festival combining forces of the City of Maastricht, the Province of Limburg and the...

Professors: Study drugs are not a major issue at the UM

MAASTRICHT. Are study drugs used on a large scale at Maastricht University? Surveys held among students over the past few years pointed in that direction: one in four - at the School of Business and Economics nearly one in three – likes to take the odd pill, especially during exam periods. Ritalin, for example, ADHD medication with proven eff...
Beatrix: “Careful” Gauck: “Ja, ja”

Beatrix: “Careful” Gauck: “Ja, ja”

After the ceremony, during the reception in the lobby of the Vrijthof theatre, Professor Nanne de Vries is still panting. Why was he in such a hurry to present the Dissertation Award, the final item on the agenda of the Dies celebration? “I had to do it fast!” he bursts out. “We were already running late and the government people ...

Standing ovation for President Gauck

Standing ovation for President Gauck

MAASTRICHT. A passionate defence to help the ‘European project’ onwards, to not allow Europe to disintegrate, without turning a blind eye to what has gone wrong in the past twenty-five years. German president Joachim Gauck received a standing ovation for his speech last Tuesday during Maastricht University’s foundation day celebra...
On gravitation waves and 500 years of renting history

On gravitation waves and 500 years of renting history

MAASTRICHT. A total of 26 students, from various study programmes, received a prize for their theses last Tuesday. The (17) bachelor’s students did so in the morning in the auditorium on the Minderbroedersberg, the master’s students in the afternoon during the foundation day celebrations in the Vrijthof Theatre. Observant spoke to two o...
Education Prize for Jeannette Hommes

Education Prize for Jeannette Hommes

MAASTRICHT. During the Dies Natalis celebrations on Tuesday 7 February, the Wynand Wijnen Education Prize 2016 was awarded to Jeannette Hommes, assistant professor at the School of Business and Economics. The jury, chaired by Rector Rianne Letschert, praised her contributions to the educational development of the faculty and professionali...

“You’re Italian? And here we are making pasta!”

“You’re Italian? And here we are making pasta!”

“Where do you want the prof? On the stool or a folding chair?” Tessa Geraedts holds up the options for Sara Salassa, who is hosting this evening’s dinner in her studio. The folding chair it is. The ladies are putting the finishing touches on the three-course menu: courgette soup with mint oil, pasta with vegetables and beef, and l...

Dissertation Award: Even maps are political

Dissertation Award: Even maps are political

MAASTRICHT. How Israelis and Palestinians make maps – it’s not the most obvious of research topics. Surprising, too, is the proposition that your physical place in the world, with all its historical and political baggage, largely determines what you see and thus also how you are likely to draw a map. Yet this is the core of the PhD rese...

Dutch air and water quality need improvement, EU report shows

THE NETHERLANDS. The main challenges facing the Netherlands in implementing EU environmental standards concern air and water quality, according to a new report by the European Commission.
“The most difficult thing is letting go of your own inhibitions”

“The most difficult thing is letting go of your own inhibitions”

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Zumba.
Maybe it’s not just me

Maybe it’s not just me

“Stress seems to be a big thing at UCM that people talk about. It occurred to me after a while that maybe it’s not just me who has a hard time getting things done and we should do something about this,” says Amelie Gaetjen, a second year sociology student at UCM. She’s on the academic council and is one of the students behin...

Welcome in Maastricht

Welcome in Maastricht

A city walk, a traditional Dutch cookie (stroopwafel), drinks, a lot of tips and friendly words. Last Sunday the newly arrived international students were welcomed. About 120 students attended the ISAP Welcome Day.

Climate change watchdog to be based in Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS. The institution that will check whether countries are sticking to the promises made in the Paris climate agreement is to be based in the Netherlands.
Anthropology of Brits

Anthropology of Brits

Hollywood puts enormous efforts to present every Brit as subtle, polite, and decent by giving them the role of the butler. Yet, the description of Brits I’ve seen during my stay in the UK is far from Batman’s butler Alfred, and falls closer to any of the “Geordie shore” characters. Yes, Brits drink, and there is nothing s...

I´d take a coffee with my literature

I´d take a coffee with my literature

Today, I spent all day at Koffie. After my friends had continued to enthuse about its comfortable atmosphere, I wanted to check it out myself. According to their stories, the vibrant coffee house has turned into a popular alternative to the static library among students. Actually in search for distraction rather than a place to study- I made my ...

Myth: older people work less hard

Myth: older people work less hard

You can't expect too much from older employees. Young ones are faster, more creative, and more intelligent. At least, that is the widespread idea. And with an ageing population and a retirement age that is constantly being pushed back, employers are the ones who will be left with the mess. “It is ridiculous to think that older people are...

First-year student sings in student rooms

First-year student sings in student rooms

MAASTRICHT. When he was 16, singer-songwriter Joshua Oudendijk (19), first-year student of European Studies, performed in the Rockhal in the city of Luxemburg, one of the most important pop podiums there. A year later, he was at the Luxemburg festival Sonic Visions, where bands like The Lumineers and Alex Vargas also played. “That is the a...

Songs about Maastricht at Stukafest

MAASTRICHT. There will be many musical performances again at this year’s edition of Stukafest, the student room festival that will take place on Thursday 9 February. “It is difficult to find drama, cabaret or poetry in English,” says Kirsten Kramer, one of the organisers. To serve the international student community as well as pos...

“Germans of my generation saw how hatred was turned into state policy”

“Germans of my generation saw how hatred was turned into state policy”

There are worse nicknames than the ‘German Nelson Mandela’ or ‘Grandpa Obama’. The man set to receive an honorary doctorate from Maastricht University on Tuesday 7 February, German president Joachim Gauck, is so popular than many will be sad to see his term come to an end. But not everyone.
“We go through two hundred litres every Wednesday. Write that down”

“We go through two hundred litres every Wednesday. Write that down”

“Haven’t you lit that crackling log fire yet? Guys, come on.” Halfway through the evening, with the steaks already sizzling in the pan, Marc van Gastel – known as ‘Otto’ – makes his entrance. Dressed in gym clothes, he looks a little peaky. He’s too ill to eat: “My hands are still shaking a bit....

European universities warn against US entry ban

THE NETHERLANDS. European universities are calling on US president Donald Trump to immediately revoke the entry ban on nationals from seven Muslim countries. His executive order could have far-reaching consequences for the academic world.