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Entries for September 2016

Interdisciplinary on the next level

Interdisciplinary on the next level

The graphic novel is a genre often associated with lighthearted topics, shallow plotlines depicted in garish colors, and dialogue oriented more towards punchlines than introspection. Alison Bechdel subverts all this in her autobiographical novel, Fun Home. Even the title is already a subversion, an act of direct opposition towards the characteristi...

A peaceful place

A peaceful place

Name: Batoul Al Nahhass (23) from Beirut (Lebanon), master Human Decision Science Amount of square meters: “almost twenty” Monthly rent: € 350,- Area: Scharn
I thought to myself: This country will be my home. Now I won’t have to move anymore

I thought to myself: This country will be my home. Now I won’t have to move anymore

This Observant series gives a voice to refugees (and the children of refugees) who work and study at Maastricht University. They talk about leaving their home countries, their lives before and after their flight, the Netherlands, the refugee crisis and the public debate about refugees. This week we meet Deeba Shahidi from Afghanistan: &ld...
No Excuses

No Excuses

Two years ago I was given the opportunity to contribute to the English column of the Observant, and each year for the first column of the academic year I have written about happiness. This year I thought it would be nice to keep the tradition.   In the first column I was mainly insisting on the importance of knowing ourselves and being r...

A note from an Observant distributor

A note from an Observant distributor

You know us: those annoying students blocking the door of your faculty and almost forcing an Observant into your hands. Sorry about that, but most people just don´t seem to know the Observant well enough to let the matter go around on its own. If you don´t want a newspaper, then don´t take it; it´s as simple as that. We c...

Dutch more positive about EU, just one in five back a Nexit

THE NETHERLANDS.The Dutch have become more positive about the European Union, with 46% now thinking membership is ‘a good thing’, according to new research by the government’s social policy advisory unit SCP.

Elsevier: Wageningen takes first place, Maastricht third

MAASTRICHT. In the latest Elsevier survey into the best studies in the Netherlands, Maastricht University takes third place in the category ‘specialist universities’. Wageningen is at the top of the list, followed by Tilburg, while Rotterdam ends up last. Elsevier’s ranking is based on the answers given by students to a single ...

UCM wants to expand its grants programme

MAASTRICHT. The five full scholarships that University College Maastricht awards annually to students from outside the European Union is not going to disappear. In fact, UCM is making plans to expand its grants programme so that students within the EU can benefit from it too.
Student associations stable

Student associations stable

MAASTRICHT. All Maastricht student associations have recruited approximately the same number of new members this year. Just like in previous years, Saurus attracted the largest number of foreign students (23), followed by Koko (18), Tragos (10), and Circumflex (5). Koko and Saurus each registered one more new member than last year, leaving them ...

‘Let’s get wasted’

‘Let’s get wasted’

MAASTRICHT. Rubbish was an item on the agenda at the School of Business and Economics (SBE) council meeting last summer. The following dialogue developed:  “I have heard a rumour that wastepaper baskets are going to disappear from offices and classrooms,” says council member and lecturer Marc van Ekert. “And that we would ...

Clearing the statistics hurdle with orcs and zombies

Clearing the statistics hurdle with orcs and zombies

Statistics. That term alone is enough for most students and alumni to summon up memories of deep-seated traumas. From explanations of the theory that are often too quick to be understood to software that seems to be from another planet and intimidating mathematical formulas. It wasn’t all that difficult for UM alumnus, lecturer and writer Vin...
“Are you into drinking and being rowdy?”

“Are you into drinking and being rowdy?”

It takes a while for Professor Maria Jansen to find her way up to the students of Lux ad Mosam, who live above their clubhouse on the Bogaardenstraat. In the three years the students have lived there, the intercom has never worked. “That’s why we installed a normal bell”, says Nadine de Hoog. The problem is that it’s a black...

Groningen student hospitalised after being hit during initiation ritual

THE NETHERLANDS. A first year student at Groningen University was hospitalised after he was hit on the head during an initiation ritual last month and developed a cerebral oedema, the NRC said on Wednesday.
Counter-culture culture

Counter-culture culture

“Back when I did Feminist Studies up at UCSC it wasn’t even a department yet. It was just run by a collective of women,” says the cashier as I pay for my textbook.  In downtown Santa Cruz, in the bookstore called The Literary Guillotine, I feel myself tipping headfirst into history. This small space is crammed floor to ceilin...

DSW sets the pace with health premium price rise of nearly 10%

THE NETHERLANDS. Health insurance company DSW, traditionally the first to announce the price of a basic policy for the following year, is to raise its premiums by €110 in 2017, or around 10%.

Train conductors suspend ticket checks to protest staff reduction plan

THE NETHERLANDS. Some train conductors are refusing to check tickets on Monday in protest at plans to cut the number of staff on double-decker trains.
2030 starts now

2030 starts now

MAASTRICHT. ‘No poverty’, ‘Quality education’, ‘Affordable and clean energy’, ‘Gender equality’. These are just four out of the seventeen colourful signs held by students last Wednesday at the Peter Debyeplein. About forty students from Health Studies, Global Health, and European Public Health had gro...
Starving and abusing your own body

Starving and abusing your own body

By the end of her study programme Anne Marsman had reached the end of her rope. She was having trouble remembering things and vomiting more and more often. What was going on? Back then she was as closed as an oyster, but now the Maastricht PhD candidate talks frankly about her ordeal, keen to dispel the common prejudices about eating disorders and ...
A Big, Fluffy Blob of Grey

A Big, Fluffy Blob of Grey

“So where do you draw the line between absolutism and not having an opinion at all?” Oh no, no, mate. That’s not what I meant. Look, I was quite happy with the dinner-friendly small-talk we had going on, but I suppose your seemingly –painfully- obvious question calls for one of my favourite rants, even if we’re only on...

 Big Green Taxi

Big Green Taxi

On my last day in Granada before returning to spend the summer in Holland, my taxi driver (28 years, flip flops, a college degree) seems to be hesitating. I look at him questioningly, and, after apparently deciding that not much can be lost because we have almost arrived at our destination anyway, he continues our conversation about differences bet...

Cause of death of Finnish student will not be disclosed

MAASTRICHT. At the request of the parents, the police will not disclose how Jassim Aba Al-Khail, first-year student at the European Law School, died. The police have positively ruled out foul play. The 22-year-old Finn was found dead by his housemates in the student house on the Statensingel on Thursday evening 15 September. His body was released o...

UM scores better but drops in THE ranking

UM scores better but drops in THE ranking

MAASTRICHT. A minor drop this time for Maastricht University in the new annual world wide ranking of universities by Times Higher Education. Place 88 was exchanged for place 94, even though the UM score for various criteria was higher than last year’s. The shift is mainly due to the increase in the number of universities assessed. From 800...

Quality label for student accommodation as of January

Quality label for student accommodation as of January

MAASTRICHT. House owners who want to be able to put the quality label Prettig Wonen in their window have to meet all kinds of conditions, such as having linked smoke detectors, bilingual fire extinguisher signs and pictograms, door frame reinforcers on all external doors and approved tenancy contracts. The first student houses are due to receive th...

More understanding, poorer facilities

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. While lecturers do have more understanding for students with dyslexia, chronic diseases, depression, or other disorders, the information provided about studying with a handicap is still not as it should be. In fact facilities have worsened. This is one of the conclusions in the annual report ‘Studying with a handic...

Higher education: no money for equality of opportunity

Higher education: no money for equality of opportunity

THE NETHERLANDS. The government is failing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to providing equal opportunities for everyone, according to students and educational institutions. The budget for the coming year was presented on Tuesday – it is always announced on Prinsjesdag, the third Tuesday of September – with the new pla...
“The word tricycle comes to mind”

“The word tricycle comes to mind”

Two bicycles under the raised bed, chain wheels and sprockets on the wall and a row of tires under the window. Jesse Raas is obviously a cyclist. His room is the venue for this evening’s dinner with professor of Philosophy Tsjalling Swierstra and three other members of the student mountain bike and cycling association Dutch Mountains. Having ...

Be gezellig, don’t boast and be sure to complain

Be gezellig, don’t boast and be sure to complain

How does one ‘be’ Dutch? Greg Shapiro, self-proclaimed ‘American Netherlander’ and comedian from Boom Chicago, Comedy Central, answers this question meticulously in his book How to be Dutch. Using quiz questions in the style of the official integration exam, Shapiro pokes fun at the reader, himself and especially the Dutch. ...
Talk American To Me

Talk American To Me

‘How’s it going?’ ‘I’m awesome!’ (accompanied by big thumbs up) ‘We should totally meet up sometime. Text me!’ And you never see them again. This is a typical round of American small talk, as acted out by our orientation leader during the ‘Understanding US Culture’ presentation...

Crowds gather in The Hague ahead of the annual budget presentation

THE NETHERLANDS. Royalty fans are lining the streets of The Hague on Tuesday morning, hoping to get a good view of the king and queen as they travel by horse-drawn coach to officially open the parliamentary year.

Dutch Paralympic team win 62 medals

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch Paralympic team is returning home from the Rio games after finishing in seventh place in the medals table, with 62 medals including 17 golds.
“We did end up bringing him a new pillow, that same night”

“We did end up bringing him a new pillow, that same night”

A year into her PhD programme, Maastricht graduate Karin van der Ven dropped out. She knew what she wanted: to start a student services company. “Deep in my heart I had a vision of Jules.” Back then, in 2009, one of the first services was the bike repair. And it’s still alive. A major growth area is in the management of student ro...
From coal mining to data mining

From coal mining to data mining

Mandela, Einstein, cycling, nature, the physicist Robert Dijkgraaf and finally a shot from space. The intended effect of the promotional film that kicked off the opening programme of the Smart Services Campus in Heerlen may not be immediately obvious, but the link with smart services should become clear soon enough. It is a year since Maastricht...

Student Union denounces student hotels

Student Union denounces student hotels

THE NETHERLANDS. City councils must force student hotels to comply with tenancy law, according to the Dutch Student Union (LSVb). At present, students who rent rooms in such hotels have no tenancy protection and the hotels reserve the right to enter the rooms at any time.
From coal mining to data mining

From coal mining to data mining

MAASTRICHT. Mandela, Einstein, cycling, nature, the physicist Robert Dijkgraaf and finally a shot from space. The intended effect of the promotional film that kicked off the opening programme of the Smart Services Campus in Heerlen may not be immediately obvious, but the link with smart services should become clear soon enough.
“A 15 per cent street quota won’t solve the problem”

“A 15 per cent street quota won’t solve the problem”

MAASTRICHT. The reactions from neighbourhoods to the new rules for room rentals proposed by the Maastricht City Council this summer, vary. After a host of complaints, heated discussion evenings and a call for ‘balance’ – especially from the neighbourhoods of Belfort, Brusselsepoort, and Limmel – there are now measures, of wh...
Three days of PAS

Three days of PAS

Maastricht University, celebrating its fortieth anniversary last week, went all out with an art and science tour, the PAS+ festival, boasting 150 activities. The wonderful weather helped; the performances in the gardens were very popular. As far as the lectures given by scientists were concerned – one spoke of Sjeng Tans’ legacy, anothe...
Half hour-holiday

Half hour-holiday

Favourite spot of: Sjoerd Willen, junior editor at Observant
“Mr Van Schayck, life is no joke”

“Mr Van Schayck, life is no joke”

Tuesday evening, Bogaardenstraat 16. We’re sitting on the first floor of an apartment building where students and Maastricht locals live in harmony together. Most of the time, at least. The police were called in a few weeks ago, says psychology student Elizabeth de Nijs. “Nienke and I were just talking, with a bit of music on in the bac...

Extended BSA definitively scrapped

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT.Universities may not force second-year students with negative binding study advice (BSA) to leave their study programme, confirmed education minister Jet Bussemaker in a letter to parliament. Last academic year, the Maastricht psychology faculty considered introducing a so-called ‘extended’ BSA.

Petten reactor is safe, says minister, but inspectors will talk to staff

THE NETHERLANDS. Environment ministry inspectors are to hold meetings with people working at the Putten nuclear reactor after whistleblowers raised fears that spending cuts were compromising safety.
Milestones

Milestones

Stuck between cultures, I’ve done adulthood all wrong. In Switzerland, where I grew up, drinking beer and wine is legal at sixteen. So for me, drinking was never a rebellious act to gain adult prestige. The big marker of adulthood was eighteen, the age I was allowed to vote and, in theory, drive. But driving held little symbolic value for me ...

Young adults more likely to be financially dependent: CBS

THE NETHERLANDS. Young people are ever more likely to be financially dependent on others, reports Trouw on Friday.
Survival guide for newbies in Maastricht

Survival guide for newbies in Maastricht

Soon I will be moving to Great Britain for a half year, so I want to pass on my tips to those who face the challenge to assimilate to this awkwardly awesome Dutch culture. Dutchies have a difficult language with an ‘I-will-spit-on-you’ kind of sound. Don’t feel miserable, even a Dutch cat will pronounce their ‘g’ be...

“Do you speak three languages or more?”

“Do you speak three languages or more?”

Did you go to an international school? Do your parents have different nationalities? Are you left- handed? Last Tuesday, around 350 first-year students were sent wandering around Brasserie Tapijn armed with a sheet of nine questions. Their task: to find, among the 60 buddies – also known as ambassadors – and their fellow students people...

Myth: A GP mainly treats common colds and has to refer more complex cases to the hospital

Myth: A GP mainly treats common colds and has to refer more complex cases to the hospital

It is not just the medical students who often see GPs as “middlemen”, says GP and researcher Jochen Cals. Many patients think the same.  Daily practice is completely different. “Research shows that we deal with almost 95 per cent of the complaints ourselves, even the complex cases. It is only the tip of the iceberg that en...

Does Lagakari have many couples, the prof asks

Does Lagakari have many couples, the prof asks

No, Angeniet Helwig didn’t spend hours cleaning her room; she did remove some beer mats with messages of kissing, cuddling and boozing from the wall. Excuse me? Yes, that is a tradition at Lagakari – we’ll come back to the cuddling later. Helwig lives on the Grote Gracht, in a building that houses more than forty students. Perfec...

Both top students and average students to receive more attention

MAASTRICHT. More co-operation across faculty, department and discipline borders, and students being introduced to research from day one. These are the two most striking resolutions from Maastricht University’s 2017-2021 Strategic Programme, presented this week.
Towards empathic health care

Towards empathic health care

MAASTRICHT. More empathy in health care. That is the ultimate aim of medical student Matthijs Bosveld and health sciences student Sjim Romme, who received the Student Award 2016 last Monday. Their project ‘Mens Achter de Patiënt’ (MAP, the Person Behind the Patient) connects fellow-students to patients, who are given the opportunity to ...
Opening of the academic year: drum rolls and fanfare

Opening of the academic year: drum rolls and fanfare

How do you organise an opening of the academic year where the audience doesn’t fall asleep? When students proposed organising this year’s programme themselves, Maastricht University president Martin Paul, never a big fan of these sorts of festivities, jumped at the chance. That would liven things up, he figured. He was right....

An ambitious physicist, a “hard ass”

An ambitious physicist, a “hard ass”

The exclamation ‘Eureka’ would be appropriate, having invented a small, portable tester that can be used to prevent bacterial outbreaks in hospitals. But physicist and assistant professor Bart van Grinsven is more like ‘mmm that’s funny’, as he quotes American writer and biochemist Isaac Asimov. Van Grinsven received t...
“Europe! Practice what you preached!”

“Europe! Practice what you preached!”

Reconciliation and empathy – these were the driving forces behind the unification of Europe. And these are precisely the values that can pull Europe out of  its crisis today, said Professor Mathieu Segers in his speech during the official opening of the academic year.

Technology universities ‘unable to take in more students’ without extra funding

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands’ universities of technology have warned they may have to restrict new admissions to their current level unless the government increases its funding.
Myth: Dutch judges should punish more severely because that would make society safer

Myth: Dutch judges should punish more severely because that would make society safer

The following criminal case dates from a few years ago. While a woman from Venray (Limburg) is sitting on a bench in the park, she is hit hard on the head twice with a stick. The assailant then steals her mobile phone. In the appeal court, the judge sentenced the accused to nine years imprisonment – instead of half of that, as the initial cou...

American Pie

American Pie

During my road trip from San Francisco to New York, it quickly became clear that the United States of America are in fact not as unified as they might appear from a European perspective. This is a political reality that can be mapped with astonishing precision through food. Driving down California State Route 1 we encountered Mexican food that made...

Brexit may cost Dutch taxpayers €750m in extra EU contributions

THE NETHERLANDS. Britain’s departure from the European Union may cost the Netherlands hundreds of millions of euros in extra EU contributions, according to broadcaster NOS.
A Bildungsroman but not your typical one

A Bildungsroman but not your typical one

I know why the caged bird sings – Maya Angelou Recommended for: Arts and Culture (FaSoS)
Media forgets medal winner

Media forgets medal winner

At the Rio Olympics, all eyes in Britain were on Tom Daley. Daley is an English diver who won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the 10 metre platform event. Fit and photogenic, he immediately shot to media stardom, even landing a role on the celebrity diving reality TV show Splash! Yes, that’s a thing that exists. So four ...