Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
She’s not in a hurry this Tuesday morning. “It’s not a problem if I’m a little late for my statistics class,” laughs Carolin Hoffmann (22), a second-year student of Molecular Life Sciences a student member of the MLS management team. A few minutes later, we know why: “I studied statistics and chemistry in Germany for one year.”
Why did you come to Maastricht?
“In Germany it’s hard to get into the MLS programme. Almost as difficult as getting into the Medicine programme. I heard about Maastricht at a party in Münster, the city where I was studying. The person I talked to was very enthusiastic about the city, the problem-based learning system, the small groups, the blocks instead of semesters. You don’t have to peak twice a year, but you are studying continuously. In Germany you don’t do anything for four months and then you have to rush because of the exams. This system is much better. In addition, we have far more contact with the professors.”
The oddest thing in Maastricht?
“The music. Pubs like De Twee Heeren an The Clinique are really cosy, but I don’t like Dutch Schlagers. I prefer Dutch rap and hip-hop by Dio and Diggy Dex. They have very funny texts.” They are in Dutch, but that’s no problem for Hoffmann. She speaks it fluently.
Is there a difference between Dutch and German guys?
“Yes, Dutch guys dress more consciously.”
What’s your favourite Dutch meal or sweet?
“I love drop, I’m addicted to it. There are so many varieties. I don’t like all the deep-fried stuff like friet and frikandel that the Dutch eat so much. But the supermarket sells lots of healthy food.”
Are you going to vote this week?
“Yes, I have done the Kieswijzer and the PvdA seems to be the party for me. The last time I voted in Germany, I chose the SPD. Twice I voted for the social democrats. When you live here, and you can vote, then you should vote.”
Do you feel integrated?
“Yes, especially because of the salsa dancing I feel integrated. I meet a lot of Dutch people there. And I’m member of the MLS management team. I know what’s going on.”
Has the stay abroad changed you?
“Yes. It has broadened my view. I have also lived in Australia for eight months. It has changed my opinion about how other people think about Germans. I always thought that they wouldn’t like us. When I think about Germans, I see people who take everything very seriously, who are more or less pessimistic about a lot of things.” Smiling: “Abroad, I have seen that we aren’t as bad as I thought. And I was surprised to hear people making nice remarks about my country and the people who live in it.”
What about the national character of the Dutch?
“They are relaxed. It doesn’t matter if you are a few minutes late. I like that attitude on the one hand, but sometimes it’s also difficult. And the Dutch are very tolerant. Yes I have heard of the right-wing politician Geert Wilders, but in the places where I come, people are still tolerant.”