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“This is paradise”

“I’m learning Dutch. Ik kan het een beetje verstaan, maar nog niet zo goed spreken.” Renée Meijer – born in the USA and a second-year student at the University College – is half Dutch and half American. “I lived in Russia for eight years and after that ten years in South Korea. We always spoke English at home. But now I’m learning Dutch. It’s important to know the language of my father. And I’m living in Maastricht. You only get to know the culture if you can speak the language. I experienced that in both Russia and South Korea. I never went to an international school; I went to the schools in our neighborhood and because of that I can speak Russian and Korean.”

“At UCM we usually have a nice mix of nationalities. There are a lot of Dutch and Germans but for me personally that’s not a problem. I don’t mind because everybody has international experience. Nobody is narrow-minded.” Her friend Mê-Linh Riemann from Germany, for example, who is sitting next to her in the Student Service Centre as we talk, spent one year abroad. Meijer: “I spent a year at the international Yonsei University in Korea, but there I was surrounded by Koreans. In comparison to that this is paradise.”

The PBL system is sometimes a bit difficult for exchange students from Asia, Meijer knows. “They’re brought up in a system where you have to sit and listen. PBL is completely different.” And some exchange students from the United States are not used to PBL either. “The regular students are trained in the PBL system. We have a feeling for it. When it comes to an intellectual conversation, we’re aware when to speak and when to listen. It has to do with nuances, with a learning culture. It takes time to master this. That’s normal of course.”

 

 

Riki Janssen

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