Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
“In Germany it’s pretty hard to get into a medical programme. You have to be in the top 5 or 3 percent. I wasn’t good enough, so I applied in Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands”, says Leonard Föhr, a 22-year-old first-year student of medicine. “I was lucky in the medicine lottery. All the international students who want to do medicine have 50 percent chance of getting a place. Dutch students with high grades have an even bigger chance.”
Best day in Maastricht?
“My happiest day was when I got the letter from the IB-Groep that I had a spot at the Maastricht faculty. It was in July and I was doing the summer course in Dutch. I’m really happy, I love it here. It couldn’t be better.”
What makes you so happy?
“This programme is quite different from the medical programmes in Germany. We have PBL, the different course blocks. We have patient contact in our first year. In Germany the first two or three years you don’t see any patients. In Maastricht you see why and what you’re learning. It’s cool and very motivating. I probably work harder now than I would do in my own country.”
Are you integrated?
“Yes. We have 340 first-year students, and only four of them are German. It’s easy to integrate, it’s happens very fast. I speak Dutch, have met some great friends – German and Dutch – I’m an active member of our study association Pulse and I play lacrosse. And I like Maastricht; it has flair, it gives me a feeling of wellbeing.”
What do you think is typically Dutch?
“In their first year Dutch students are pretty busy with their vereniging. They’ll be sitting in the PBL classes, but they aren’t really there because they had to drink the night before.” The bitterbal is a typical Dutch snack, Föhr knows. “But I don’t like the stuff inside.”
So you’ll never be a real Dutchman?
He laughs. “I’ll be a mixture. You always get different influences. I was 16 when I went to America for one year. When I came back I realised what typical German is: they complain a lot, about everything. Their cars, the high insurance premiums, and so on.” Smiling: “It’s not the worst and poorest country in the world, is it? You don’t ever see that kind of behaviour in America. I think the Dutch are more American than the Germans.”
Your favourite Dutch writer?
That’s a difficult question, Föhr says. After a short silence: “During the Dutch language course I read Sjakie en de chocoladefabriek. It’s a book for children; I liked it a lot. Is that written by a Dutch writer?”
Actually, it was Roald Dahl – an Englishman.