Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
Julia Schmidtt (23), a second-year student of European Public Health, was born and raised in the Eifel, Germany. She knows this to be a well-known and very popular area among Dutch tourists, but she visits her hometown of Mendig only once in a while. In fluent Dutch: “Not every month. I always go to my favourite hairdresser there. And the doctor, if necessary.”
What do you do when you fall ill in Maastricht?
She laughs: “I never get sick when I’m here.”
Did your parents encourage your move to Maastricht?
“No, at first they didn’t want me to go to another country. Now they think it’s great, they tell everybody about it.”
Why did you want to go abroad?
“I wanted to see another country, another culture. I love it here, it’s super. When I leave for some time I feel homesick for Maastricht. I think I’ll also do my master’s studies at Maastricht University. It’s only a year. It takes a lot of time and work to get to know another country: how do you open a bank account, how strict are the police, where can you find the shops?”
Are you well integrated?
“I think so. My Dutch friends often say: you’re more Dutch than German. I don’t know what they mean by that exactly. I speak the language, but my programme is in English. I followed a course in Germany given by a Dutch teacher just before I came to Maastricht. I was a member of the studentenberaad of our faculty. And I’m president of Eunitas, the study association for European Public Health. I like to be active. We organise a lot and offer our members nice activities, such as a conference for first-year students, and a trip to The Hague. We work together with the faculty. They gave us a lot of support in the first year of our existence, and we think along with staff members about the programme.”
What’s your favourite pub?
“The Meta and the Irish pub John Mullins.”
Isn’t the Meta just drinking and kissing?
“The Meta isn’t that bad – others are worse. I go there to dance to electro music. That’s great.”
“The Dutch speak a lot of languages. They have large vocabularies, especially in English. And the Dutch working culture is less hierarchical. They find solutions to conflicts more easily because everybody – even the boss – is happy to put some water into the wine.”
Do you have a favourite Dutch writer?
“If it had to be a German I would say Goethe, or even better Bertold Brecht. But a Dutch one? I read a book by Abraham de Swaan. No, it wasn’t a novel. I don’t read that many novels.”
At the end of the interview Schmidtt puts on her spine, a protector for her back. “I drive a motorcycle, a BMW f650.”
Never got a fine?
“No. Although the police in Maastricht are more severe than the police in my hometown.”