Photographer:Fotograaf: Stock Exchange
Annika Lübbert, now a third-year University College student from Germany, came to Maastricht for a bachelor’s in European Studies (ES) in 2009. She soon discovered that ES was a bit “too dry” for her. “For me it was hard to decide what to choose after high school. I liked maths and chemistry, and was also interested in society and culture.”
She made up her mind and switched to the University College Maastricht in February. It was a bull’s eye: “Now I can combine both my interests. I’m studying neuroscience and psychology.”
When it comes to the International Classroom, she sees a big difference between ES and UCM. “In European Studies there were too many Germans. Sometimes the whole tutorial group was German, even the tutor. During the breaks they spoke German and the Dutch spoke Dutch. And besides that, it was often hard to get a discussion going.”
The first thing that struck her at UCM was the greater mix of nationalities. “I’m quite satisfied, not least because we have a lot of exchange students and some native speakers of English. We still have a lot of Germans, but in class we would never speak in German. In breaks it could happen, but we switch immediately if a non-German joins us. I’m a member of the board of studies and we’ve had a discussion about the language. Should you speak English everywhere at UCM? It’s difficult to force it. And not everybody wants to be that strict. A Finnish student said: I like to speak Finnish when I come across a compatriot.”
Lübbert points out that UCM students have a higher level of motivation than she experienced at ES. “There’s more selection, it’s harder to get in and you can choose your own courses.”
“I think it would be good if Maastricht University recruited from more countries. Then you’d get a better mix of nationalities. And it would be great if UM gave us the opportunity to learn Dutch. Then we’d all have something in common. I took a course in Dutch, and I played volleyball, but I’m still not satisfied with my level. I want to speak the language of the country, but the city makes it difficult. I lived in Costa Rica for a year, and after three months I spoke Spanish fluently. You had to.”
This is a series about the International Classroom project, a virtual concept that stands for a community in which students and staff feel at home, regardless of their background. Every week we ask a student for his or her opinion.