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Entries for 'Redactie'

Fall break

The editorial office of Observant is closed until Monday 21 October.

Creating opportunities

Creating opportunities

You must be thinking “that’s not possible”, as a student you cannot create opportunities in academia. But let me tell you how you (yes you, not your supervisor) can integrate several opportunities into your education. Looking back, I remember what it was like to be a girl scout. The camps’ main focus was instilling in us ...

Psychology alumnus Sibren Fetter: “As it turned out, I liked neither reading nor writing”

Psychology alumnus Sibren Fetter: “As it turned out, I liked neither reading nor writing”

The Bonnefanten Convent was the domain of the Sisters of the Holy Sepulchre until 1789 and of the Bonnefanten Museum from 1952 to 1979. Maastricht University has owned it for almost forty years now. There’s a bookcase in the attic; the top shelf holds books entitled I can do it and I’ll get through this. The shelves below...

Piecemeal firework bans will not solve New Year problems, police chief says

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch national police chief Erik Akerboom has written to MPs warning of major problems with the introduction of local New Year firework bans – as several cities are bringing in.
Old Town Road to Freiburg

Old Town Road to Freiburg

I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road, I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more. Well, instead of a horse, I had a big car that was so fully-packed that I had to create a small cave for myself to sit in, surrounded by all the stuff that I now doubt whether I'll ever need. And instead of an old town road, I got to cr...

Climate activists arrested for blocking road near Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam

THE NETHERLANDS. Police have begun removing environmental protesters from outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam after they ignored warnings not to block the road.
The Greek vegetarian paradox

The Greek vegetarian paradox

I love meat, but it’s obvious that I will have to reduce my meat consumption. Given the excessive amount of nitrogen produced in the Netherlands, we have to decide whether to build less or to reduce the amount of livestock. Since the number of households is expected to increase by almost one million in the next three decades, and we don&rsquo...

The art of caring

The art of caring

Nowadays, it seems like we have to do so many things. We need to have a healthy lifestyle, good grades, enough internships, perfect skin, tons of friends, go out regularly, visit at least a few dozen countries, update our Instagram stories, read enough books and so on and so on… Time never stops and we feel like not a single minute should...

Putting the brakes on English in higher education

THE NETHERLANDS. Minister of Education Ingrid van Engelshoven has announced plans to introduce more stringent language policies for Dutch higher education. This could mean that a number of programmes currently being taught in English will have to switch back to Dutch. But how likely is that to actually happen?

Observant's 40th anniversary

Because of its 40th anniversary, Observant asked the Maastricht animators Janneke Swinkels and Tim Frijsinger to make a video about the newspaper. The music was especially composed for the video by Tim Coenen.  

Death by Lady Bureaucracy

Death by Lady Bureaucracy

I’ve never been a fan of Kafka’s work. It always seemed too dark, too negative and too whiney. Now, I won’t claim that I’ve grown to like Kafka - I have not and will not attempt to reread his stories any time soon. But I have grown to understand one of his muses - the suffocating Lady Bureaucracy. I had the unlucky privil...

Traffic chaos as farmers drive their tractors to The Hague protest

THE NETHERLANDS. There were record traffic jams on the Dutch roads on Tuesday as thousands of farmers headed for The Hague to take part in a mass demonstration, hundreds of whom are travelling by tractor.

Of course foreign students should learn Dutch, says OECD

THE NETHERLANDS. Great education is more than the right combination of quality and equity, say two researchers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Language and culture also matter.
Cynic’s Love

Cynic’s Love

I never believed in the idea of love presented in movies, songs, and by strangers around me. The idea of “perfect” love is all about exaggerating good parts, minimalizing or even being blind to the bad qualities your loved ones have, and demanding they return the favour. Although ego soothing, that kind of love is deceiving and, simply ...

British nationals in NL dismayed by dual nationality change of plan

THE NETHERLANDS. British nationals in the Netherlands have reacted with dismay to the decision to drop them from draft legislation allowing people caught up in the Brexit chaos to have both Dutch and British nationality.
The student loan system stays – but more money to tackle teacher shortage

The student loan system stays – but more money to tackle teacher shortage

NETHERLANDS. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was clear: the government was not going to start tampering with the student loan system. There might, however, be some money left over to tackle the teacher shortage.
Goodbye lah, you Crazy, Rich, Asian Metropole

Goodbye lah, you Crazy, Rich, Asian Metropole

A long, ocean-blue canal in the middle of a gold-plated shopping centre. Hop on a gondola and enjoy your journey past Dior, Chanel, Prada and anything else your heart desires. Though you don't need to enter to know what is being sold: posters at least ten meters high already show you what it means to be in vogue in Winter 2019. After your da...

It’s getting hot in here

It’s getting hot in here

With the current weather, it’s hard to believe that temperatures in Maastricht rose to an unprecedented 41 degrees in July. Perhaps the fact that temperatures were high during the summer break is for the better. At least for the performance of students, researchers, and Maastricht University staff. That is what you would think right: hot weat...

Love Letter to UCM’s Curriculum Planners

Love Letter to UCM’s Curriculum Planners

My dearest UCM Curriculum Planners, Forgive me, for I have wronged you. For two years, I have failed to acknowledge your love for my academic career and your insufferable effort to allow me to take the courses I desire. At times, I have even cursed you, screaming ‘Why UCM? Why have you given me two 8:30’s - one of which on a Monda...

Former Health student Marjolijne van der Stoep: “How can you promise to love someone forever?”

Former Health student Marjolijne van der Stoep: “How can you promise to love someone forever?”

Having children was not in the cards for her. According to then 23-year-old Marjolijne van der Stoep, now almost forty, people should spend a little more time thinking before deciding to have children. Not everyone, she said, is fit to be a parent – herself included. She thought she’d be a terrible mother, a pushover with no a...

Few homes for international students

THE NETHERLANDS. With an estimated shortfall in the Netherlands of 31,000 rooms, many students still don’t know where they’re sleeping this semester. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on why international students are among the worst affected by the student housing crisis.
Beach Clean-Up: Once upon a time?

Beach Clean-Up: Once upon a time?

They hatched! A hundred hawksbill turtles hatched and crawled their way into the sea at Sentosa’s Tanjong Beach one week ago! I’d like to think that I contributed the most modest of shares to this miracle - after all, once upon a time I joined a beach clean-up only 25 kilometers further along the beach (which in Singaporean terms is ...

Budget leaks: Dutch economy is robust but growth is leveling off

THE NETHERLANDS. Everyone in the Netherlands will be better off next year, and the coalition government expects 2020 will be the seventh in a row in which the economy grows, according to leaked budget documents published by RTL Nieuws at the weekend.

Why isn't anyone talking about the profits generated by foreign students?

THE NETHERLANDS. Amid the wide range of concerns raised about the huge influx of foreign students, one thing can be said for certain: they are a source of public revenue. Shouldn't this knowledge help put the worries to rest?

Foreign students permitted to stay longer in the United Kingdom

UNITED KINGDOM. With Brexit fast approaching, prime minister Boris Johnson is showing a willingness to accommodate international students. As far as the PM is concerned, students may stay in the United Kingdom for up to two years after graduation, allowing them the opportunity to find a job.  
Former student of Law Hans Wassink: “I had a great time, but I ended up losing myself”

Former student of Law Hans Wassink: “I had a great time, but I ended up losing myself”

“I owe my current life to the interview in Observant!” Hans Wassink (37) still has a tendency to exaggerate things. Of all the alumni we interviewed about their dreams for the future, the then 22-year-old fourth-year student of Dutch Law was by far the most outspoken one. His dream for the future was to become a decadent prick. He ...
Obsessive Numerology Disorder

Obsessive Numerology Disorder

Obsessive Numerology Disorder (OND) is spreading through university management. OND is the magic thinking that maintains a mystical connection between a number and some real world event. I suggest we add this to the ever-growing list of disorders included in the authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM, now...

Eclectic eating at Dadawan

Eclectic eating at Dadawan

In Maastricht, students are prepared to wait in long lines for three things: the international student helpdesk at the Student Service Centre, the office of Swapfiets in the first week of the academic year, and restaurant Dadawan. The queues in front of Dadawan are longest and most consistent. This type of popularity is quite an accomplishment for ...

Foreign students may face higher fees, be offered Dutch language lessons

THE NETHERLANDS. Foreign students in the Netherlands will be offered help in learning Dutch, and students from outside the EU may face higher fees, if new proposals on dealing with the internationalisation of the Dutch higher education system come into force.

Foreign students are an asset to the Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS. Foreign students generate substantial revenues for the Dutch treasury, especially university students from outside Europe. However, the scale of this influx may pose a risk to the quality of education.
An opportunity, not a threat

An opportunity, not a threat

I've always prided myself on knowing my languages. Until I went to Penang, Malaysia. While enjoying my delicious banana pancakes one warm morning, Sandra, the (Indian) woman in charge of the restaurant area of the little hotel I was staying at came over and we started chatting casually. The conversation quickly turned to the different ethnic...

Former Arts and Culture student Frouke Verhagen: delivering 265 babies in seven years

Former Arts and Culture student Frouke Verhagen: delivering 265 babies in seven years

She was eighteen years old, a first-year student of Arts and Culture and already quite domestically inclined, by her own account. “A white-picket-fence kind of person.” She wasn’t overly ambitious and she wouldn’t mind becoming a housewife, provided that her husband earned enough money to support their family. Fifteen years ...
On Missed Opportunities

On Missed Opportunities

Last week, I paid a pair of plumbers €140 for a job that took less than an hour and I found myself wondering: Why didn’t I become a plumber? Perhaps it was because in my early years, I mistakenly believed that I wouldn’t amount to anything, if I didn’t graduate from the right university or if I didn’t secure a job of...

Worries about budget shifts and limits on internationalisation

Worries about budget shifts and limits on internationalisation

MAASTRICHT. He is worried, said Maastricht University president Martin Paul, not only in his speech during the opening ceremony of the academic year, but again during the closing session. About the budget shifts that the 'Van Rijn committee' has in mind – more money for sciences at the expense of languages, humanities and the arts &nd...

Labour party does u-turn, says student grants should be brought back

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch Labour party has done a u-turn and is now calling for the return of student grants, which were abolished under a Labour minister in 2015.  

Leiden ‘host’ lashes out at minister

THE NETHERLANDS. Carel Stolker, rector magnificus of Leiden University, believes the relationship between our politicians and our universities is at a low point. He has directed some harsh words towards Minister of Education Van Engelshoven, who he will be receiving as a guest at the university later today.
You’re also still in Singapore, Bob?

You’re also still in Singapore, Bob?

Bob is still in… Singapore? I thought this was going to be a blog about your exchange to Freiburg, Germany? Also, who is Bob? Bob is a lizard - you’ll get to know him later on. And regarding the first question: universities in Germany only start mid-October. Mid-October? Isn’t that our first exam week? Yes, I w...

Student housing market to remain out of balance

Student housing market to remain out of balance

NETHERLANDS. Student cities with severe student housing shortages are planning major construction projects over the next six years. Nevertheless, researchers expect that only half will succeed in restoring balance to their overheated local student housing markets by 2026. In Maastricht there seem no problems.
Superhero movies are evil

Superhero movies are evil

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching superhero movies. Their morality is wonderfully uncomplicated. Good vanquishes evil. Protagonists act selflessly to save kittens or the universe. They always do the right thing, even if it comes at a high personal cost. It’s fun to watch heroic deeds and visual effects defeat the enemy against all odd...

YUFE, Veni's and the Einstein telescope

YUFE, Veni's and the Einstein telescope

Five million for YUFE University alliance YUFE (Young Universities for the Future of Europe), which is led by UM Executive President Martin Paul, is to receive five million euro from the European Commission to set up a ‘European University’. The first YUFE students will start in September 2020. YUFE is one of the seventeen univers...

A cause worth fighting for

A cause worth fighting for

Sometimes, an issue gets under your skin. Whether it's because it’s personal or because you believe it to be the greatest concern of our time. These students have decided to dedicate their free time trying to improve the world in their own way.
Twitter Academia

Twitter Academia

We, academics, like to finish our grant proposals by stating how we will communicate our findings to practitioners, and how, thanks to social media (Twitter), this is so easy to do. But, in most cases, that is a lie. Academics don't believe practitioners’ opinions (not supported with a doi number – an ID of material published online...

Eindhoven University opens academic jobs to women only

Eindhoven University opens academic jobs to women only

THE NETHERLANDS. For the next 18 months, all academic jobs at Eindhoven University of Technology will be open to female candidates only in an effort to improve the balance between men and women on the permanent staff.

Universities must be more strict about who they let in: report

THE NETHERLANDS. Universities are too much alike in the Netherlands and too many students fail at the first hurdle, independent government science and technology advisory body AWTI has said in a report on how to make higher education future proof.
An unseen risk of being a doctor

An unseen risk of being a doctor

When I was an internal medicine resident, a delirious patient kicked me in the gut from his hospital bed. Later in training, I just missed being on shift when a man entered the emergency room with a handgun, taking hostages in an exam room, facing off with police and even firing a few warning shots into the ceiling; he later gave himself up and let...

Foreign students find it difficult to connect

THE NETHERLANDS. International students miss the contact with their Dutch fellow students, shows a survey by three student organisations. They also suffer from stress a lot.

What does the new pension agreement really mean?

THE NETHERLANDS. Agreement on reforming the Dutch pension system has been 10 years in the making, and still needs fleshing out in detail – a process which is likely to take several more years at least.
On Becoming a Father

On Becoming a Father

My dad left when I was four and he has been absent from my life ever since. So growing up and dreaming of one day becoming a father myself, I always imagined that – unlike my father – I would be a loving, caring dad. A dad who was present. But my partner is now 33 weeks pregnant and I find myself struggling to be present as a father (an...

Our favourite restaurant: Rozemarijn

Our favourite restaurant: Rozemarijn

This is my last article about eating in Maastricht this academic year. To celebrate, I’m taking my favourite dining companion to our favourite restaurant. Mrs. Eichholtz and I are having dinner at Rozemarijn (Havenstraat). Rozemarijn is an ideal place for a quick and tasty lunch with a guest lecturer, for example. You’re guaranteed to i...

Education minister withdraws plan to raise interest on student loans

THE NETHERLANDS. The cabinet has abandoned plans to raise interest on student loans after opposition parties indicated the measure would be voted down in the new senate.

Government urged to bridge €873m gap in highway maintenance

THE NETHERLANDS. The government has been urged to invest more in catching up with the maintenance of bridges, tunnels and waterways or risk economically damaging closures.

Outgoing senators back climate change legislation

THE NETHERLANDS. The outgoing senate on Tuesday backed the government’s controversial plans to tackle climate change – with 62 of the 75 senators voting for the new legislation.

Housing corporation agrees to keep Moluccan neighbourhood Moluccan

MAASTRICHT. A Maastricht housing corporation has agreed to keep a small neighbourhood in the southern city as a ‘Moluccan area’, following local anger over plans to rent a home to a family with a different background.
May - week 3

May - week 3

    

Timmermans calls for ‘progressive alliance’ as Greens and liberals make gains in EU

THE NETHERLANDS. European commissioner Frans Timmermans has called for centre-left parties to form a ‘progressive alliance’ in the European Parliament to outflank the conservative EPP group, which won the largest number of seats.
The Dutch should appreciate their freedom more

The Dutch should appreciate their freedom more

What is it like to live and work in the European Union, in freedom and democracy, when you have been used to something different? An interview with the student Ahmed Rifai who fled Syria and lecturer Dorina Baltag from Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, which was weighed down by Soviet repression for years and is still struggling with its own ...
Higher education and populism

Higher education and populism

Many of the democratic candidates lining up to face Trump in 2020 are campaigning with a populist slogan, like For the People. Populism by the democratic left often targets big corporations, but also higher education. Being a much more privatized system, university ends up being much more expensive than it is here in Europe. Not everyone can afford...

"The EU needs strong leaders"

"The EU needs strong leaders"

The European Union has existed for almost 75 years. It started with a handful of member states, but the union now has 28 members, still including the United Kingdom. What threats does the EU face? Do they come from within, what about Brexit, Polish and Hungarian nationalism, or do they come from outside the EU? From China, the US or Russia? Ob...
“Sometimes you have to pull the emergency brake to open people’s eyes”

“Sometimes you have to pull the emergency brake to open people’s eyes”

He’s prepared to threaten Brussels with a Nexit. He’s even prepared to mean it, if the EU spins out of control. Ruud Burlet, political leader of the conservative Eurosceptic party Forum for Democracy (FvD) in Limburg, engages in a debate with EU expert Professor Mathieu Segers. The latter doesn’t like threats. And he certainly doe...
European Union: it’s time to wake up

European Union: it’s time to wake up

Changes need to be made to make the European Union understandable and accessible to all citizens, says Thilo Buchholz, president of the Young European Federalists Maastricht, in this open letter to the EU.

Students call for rethink on loan interest rates, threaten legal action

THE NETHERLANDS. Student organisations say they will take legal action against the government if it presses ahead with plans to increase the interest rate on student loans.

Cities queue up for chance to stage next year’s Eurovision Song Contest

THE NETHERLANDS. The final chords of Duncan Laurence’s victory-lap performance of Arcade had barely fallen silent on Sunday morning as Dutch cities began jostling for the right to stage next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Stop recycling old ways of thinking

Stop recycling old ways of thinking

You may be surprised by what I am about to say, but here goes: humans are not good problem solvers. Now, if there were a film, this would be the point at which the brakes are slammed and the care screeches to a holt, but hear me out. The reason that humans are not good problem solvers is because we have become hardwired to ignore the fact that most...

May - week 2

May - week 2

     

Young people taking longer to find homes, jobs and families

THE NETHERLANDS. People in their twenties are taking longer to reach key milestones such as getting their first job and leaving their parents’ home, according to the statistics agency CBS.
No loser

No loser

I started studying Health Sciences in Maastricht five years ago, full of enthusiasm and positive thoughts. Today, I’m still a bachelor’s student. Unforeseen circumstances have caused quite a delay in my studies. This all started a few years ago, when my mind stopped working the way it should because of some mental illness. I couldn&rsqu...

“Frans Timmermans is like a grandpa to us all”

“Frans Timmermans is like a grandpa to us all”

Five Spitzenkandidaten entered into debate before 750 students at the Theater aan het Vrijthof in Maastricht last week. It was the first large party leader debate for the European elections on 23 May. In the absence - after a cancellation - of the German Christian Democrat Manfred Weber, one of the favourites to take over from President of the Euro...
Adventure with duck

Adventure with duck

Chinese cuisine is so incredibly diverse I could write about it in every Eating with Eichholtz article. To be able to say anything meaningful, I have to limit myself to taste-testing one specific aspect. I’ve chosen duck. Although many different variations and preparation methods exist, the two best-known ones are from Beijing and G...
University Library should have open access for everybody

University Library should have open access for everybody

The University Library’s new access policy - only to UM students and staff - is a mistake, argue Stephanie Blom, Giulia Frinzi and Saskia Stolk from the Law Faculty. They call the policy elitist, unsympathetic and in clear contrast with the historical background and founding principles of Maastricht University.

Hundreds of organic products don’t meet the rules: RTL report

THE NETHERLANDS. Hundreds of products are being sold in Dutch shops as organic but which actually come from farms which have broken the rules on animal welfare, the use of medicines and the environment, RTL Nieuws said on Tuesday.
May - week 1

May - week 1

   

Harassment, scientific sabotage widespread at Dutch universities

THE NETHERLANDS. Intimidation, bullying and ‘scientific sabotage’ are common among staff at Dutch universities and colleges, according to two separate reports, both published on Monday.
New UM Inter-Species Personnel Policy

New UM Inter-Species Personnel Policy

Academic staff involved in a cross-faculty educational programme have been invited to an afternoon workshop at Gaia Zoo in Kerkrade in May in order to improve their leadership and mentoring skills by observing zoo animals. The learning goals include those specified in the next paragraph. Rumour has it that following the successful staff worksho...

Why “warm sweater week” does not work

Why “warm sweater week” does not work

Climate change is not a personal but a political problem, says Martin Unfried, senior researcher at the Institute for Transnational and Euregional Cross border Cooperation and Mobility. Good policies are needed, just raising awareness is not enough. It may not even help at all.
Divest Our Pensions

Divest Our Pensions

Pension fund ABP should stop investing in fossil fuel giants like Shell and ExxonMobil, says PhD researcher Sarah Thin, on behalf of Fossil Free Maastricht, in this opinion article. She asks UM staff to speak up.

More people are pessimistic about the Dutch housing market

THE NETHERLANDS. More people in the Netherlands are pessimistic about the housing market, and the home owners confidence index dipped into negative figures for the first time in 4.5 years in March, according to home owners’ lobby group VEH.
April - week 2

April - week 2

     

“From now on we are operating on an ecological debt”

“From now on we are operating on an ecological debt”

On Sunday 14 April, the organisation Extinction Rebellion together with Students for Climate Maastricht gathered on the Sint Servaasbrug to raise awareness about the Dutch Overshoot Day. From 11h00 to 14h00, these students covered the bridge with flowers and campaigned to stand up for stricter environmental measures. 

More than 100 daycare centres ban non-vaccinated children

THE NETHERLANDS. More than 100 pre-school daycare centres spread all over the Netherlands say their policy is to refuse children who have not been vaccinated, according to broadcaster NOS.
Too much English?

Too much English?

You’ve got to feel a bit bad for Dutch universities. There is a cycle in the public debate on language policy in Dutch higher education that goes like this. First, somebody high-profile laments in a national newspaper that English-language study programmes are a scourge to society. The lecturers' English is worse than Louis van Gaal&rs...

We are scientists, not women in science

We are scientists, not women in science

Trying to promote women in science can have the opposite effect. Katherine Bassil, PhD candidate at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, tells in this opinion article how well-intented efforts to promote gender equality have led her to feel belittled and discriminated against.

Wolves set up home in Dutch national park, opinions are divided

THE NETHERLANDS. Two female wolves have settled in the Hoge Veluwe nature reserve and a male is also thought to be roaming the area, according to woodland rangers.
Exploring Elites

Exploring Elites

There is a serious problem with the future policy-makers. They’re too homogenous. I know because I am - in this very moment - surrounded by them, as I already was in Maastricht. Most of them are at least middle-class. Many of their parents work in related fields – in politics, diplomacy or international business. They may already have l...

Pizza: “Our initial hunger has been satisfied and the four of us are happy”

Pizza: “Our initial hunger has been satisfied and the four of us are happy”

What’s student life without pizza? During exam week or after a long day of tutorials, one craves an affordable, healthy and convenient meal. From there, it’s not much of a leap to Italy’s most popular comfort food. Unfortunately, most of the pizzerias in Maastricht are simply bad. Fake Italian staff, thick crusts, dry edges, way t...

More violence against the police, officials back tougher sentences

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch police were subject to 10% more cases of verbal and physical violence last year than in 2017, according to new police figures.
March - week 4

March - week 4

    

Four in five private landlords have just one house, CBS research shows

THE NETHERLANDS. Four in five private landlords in the Netherlands rent out just one property and see the income as a supplement to their pension, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
The war in my head

The war in my head

It was the fifth time that my application was rejected. I was high-spirited that morning, cycling to school, imagining myself volunteering at a hospice in Maastricht. My hope was torn apart when I received an email rejecting my application, purely because I could not speak Dutch. I mean, there are tons of things that I can help in the hospice other...

The thriller

The thriller

Recently, many people, even my eminent colleagues, jumped from their sofas, grabbed their phones, and started a storm of comments about the documentary “Leaving Neverland”. This is my contribution to the pile of digital signatures of Thriller lovers turned into (alleged) victim-attackers and prosecutors. In my colleagues’ paper, t...

Erasmus exchange programme can be completed in the case of a hard Brexit

THE NETHERLANDS. Students and lecturers – including British ones – who are on an exchange visit with an Erasmus grant, need not worry about their study or work placement in the event of a hard Brexit. They will be allowed to complete it.
The battle for the Maastricht Cup

The battle for the Maastricht Cup

Once a year, the Indonesian Students Association of Maastricht presents the Maastricht Cup, a badminton and table tennis tournament. On Sunday 14 April the 15th edition takes place. Students and other interested people from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are competing in Sporthal De Heeg. There will also be food stalls as well as with some In...

Organic food is getting cheaper, sometimes beats A brands

THE NETHERLANDS. Organic food has gone down in price compared with ordinary foodstuffs and in some cases may be cheaper than A brands, according to new research by the consumers organisation Consumentenbond.
March - week 3

March - week 3

     

Politicians on all sides condemn ‘shoot Baudet’ chants at demonstration

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte has condemned a small group of demonstrators who chanted death threats against Forum for Democracy (FvD) leader Thierry Baudet during an anti-racism protest in Amsterdam at the weekend.
The diversity of doctoring

The diversity of doctoring

What does it mean to be a physician? Providing patient care has long been considered the most noble, intellectual and altruistic aspect of being a doctor. While a nostalgic notion, such a traditional mindset can be divisive. It oversimplifies the complexity of medical practice and the variety of expertise needed to promote and support health. Al...

Flags half mast as the investigation into Utrecht tram shooting continues

THE NETHERLANDS. Three people are in custody in the investigation into Monday’s tram shooting in Utrecht which left three people dead and five people injured, three seriously.
March - week 2

March - week 2

      

Water board charges rise by 9% over four years

THE NETHERLANDS. Taxes to fund the water board have increased by an average of 9% in the last four years, according to the statistics agency CBS.
Marching On for Change

Marching On for Change

Whenever I see sustainability initiatives around our university, it makes me wonder: Is this actually doing something? We replaced garbage bins with recycling stations. We got rid of plastic cups from our coffee machines. We implemented Warm Sweater Days by lowering the temperature of our buildings by 1°C. I see these measures and think, well s...

Open letter to all students and staff: "We need to act"

Open letter to all students and staff: "We need to act"

On March 15th the entire Dutch education sector will go on strike. The chances are that you’ve heard something about this, since the initiative is supported by the Executive Board of our university. However, we can imagine that many of you are thinking: a strike? Is that really relevant to Maastricht University? Is that something I should sup...
March - week 1

March - week 1

    

Provinces set to miss wind power targets as opposition to energy plans heats up

THE NETHERLANDS. Most Dutch provinces are set to miss their target for wind energy by the end of next year as a result of legal delays and resistance by political parties.
Science in the cafe

Science in the cafe

It is around seven in the evening and the Lumiere café is teeming with people who are here to celebrate the launch of the Pint of Science festival, which will take place in May. This was one of the four venues where the events were happening simultaneously in different café’s around Maastricht. The festival started in 2012 by two research sci...

40,000 attend climate march as scepticism about climate change drops sharply

THE NETHERLANDS. Up to 40,000 people packed into Amsterdam in pouring rain on Sunday for what is being described as the biggest pro-climate march ever to take place in the Netherlands.
Laptop and Lattes

Laptop and Lattes

In almost any coffee shop you set foot into, you see someone crammed behind a laptop or stack of papers getting some work done. Why are people choosing to work in cafés these days? Is it just the hip thing to do? Fact is that technology has made the current working generation a lot more mobile. As most jobs don't require much more than a plu...

Two Japanese students at the Friday fish market

Two Japanese students at the Friday fish market

The cornerstone of the Friday market in Maastricht is the fish market. It’s a Catholic tradition to eat in moderation on the day of the week on which Jesus was crucified. In practice, this meant people ate fish on Fridays instead of meat – if they could afford to do so, that is. As a result, the demand for fish in the Catholic south of ...

Britain is sleepwalking towards a no-deal Brexit, says Dutch prime minister

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has renewed his call to Britain to reach agreement on Brexit, describing the current British position as ‘unacceptable’.

Housing agencies are still charging tenants fees, despite court ruling

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 70% of rental housing agencies are still charging new tenants fees even though this is not allowed by law, broadcaster NOS said at the weekend, quoting the Dutch competition authority ACM.
The spark of joy

The spark of joy

Recently there has been a quiet revolution growing, and no, I am not talking about the women’s marches in the US, or the Brexit protests in the UK, or even the rallies against climate change across Europe. No. What I am referring to is the revolution against clutter: the Marie Kondo effect (I did tell you it was a quiet revolution). For those...

With one month to go, the provincial election campaigns kick off

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands goes to the polls in a month’s time to elect 570 new members for the 12 provincial councils and campaigning is now beginning in earnest.
Golden walls and high ceilings

Golden walls and high ceilings

Sophie van Leeuwen (Dutch, 22), student of Interdisciplinary Art, an autonomous programme of the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts, pays 550 Euros for a 35m2 room across the street from SBE on the Tongersestraat.  
Early mornings

Early mornings

It’s quiet when I slowly wake up and carefully open my eyes. The big road that runs behind my house is still peaceful. Thoughts about life, things to do and so much more are racing through my mind. Is it late? Or is it so late that it’s already early again? It takes me a moment or two to completely orient myself. I can’t sleep. My...

School pupil climate protestors to meet prime minister on Tuesday

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte is to meet the initiators of last week’s school pupil climate demonstration on Tuesday afternoon. Economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes will also be at the talks, which are taking place outside school hours, Dutch media reported.

Dutch in top five of most-quoted scientists, says new Dutch study

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands is in the top five countries whose scientists are most often quoted by their peers, Dutch scientific institute Rathenau has found.
Shake, kiss, hug

Shake, kiss, hug

I’ve lived in the Netherlands for almost 20 years, and still struggle with some aspects of Dutch culture. When do you shake hands? The moment of introduction is clear – both parties extend their right hands and shake, with a more or less firm and sweaty palm. But what about your colleagues? Should you shake their hands every time you se...

Becoming more democratic through the Liberal Arts

Becoming more democratic through the Liberal Arts

To prepare students to be good citizens in a democratic society is the central concern of education for Teun Dekker, recently made first professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Europe. Dekker intended his inaugural lecture on Thursday, the 31st of January, to be a “celebration of Liberal Arts education” and hence introduced his idea o...
The best chips in town

The best chips in town

We’re about halfway through the Carnival season, which means beer consumption is increasing by the week. And is there anything better after drinking beer than having a generous serving of chips with a delicious topping? In other words, this is the perfect time for a chips test. It’s a Dutch cliché to eat chips with Belgians, but I&rs...

Cancer cases double in 30 years, skin cancer still on the rise

THE NETHERLANDS. In total, 116,000 people in the Netherlands were diagnosed with cancer last year and the number of skin cancer cases has gone up sharply in the last few years, the Dutch cancer institute IKNL said on Monday.  
A catalogue of failures

A catalogue of failures

It’s a fun fact that the acronym for the ‘Fuckup Nights’ is FUN. But what are the Fuckup Nights, you ask? An event series where entrepreneurs share their stories of professional failure. A global movement akin to the ‘CV of Failures’ published by one Princeton professor: a list of jobs he didn’t get, papers turne...

Cabinet tensions rise ahead of key debate on child refugee amnesty

THE NETHERLANDS. The four coalition parties have still not found a solution for the child refugee amnesty crisis, which is threatening to cause a serious division in the coalition.

Man rescued from under rubble after gas explosion in The Hague

THE NETHERLANDS. A man trapped in the rubble of an apartment building after a gas explosion in The Hague on Sunday afternoon was finally freed by rescue workers shortly before midnight.
Hobbies

Hobbies

Why does my employer care about my hobbies?, was my reaction after doing a CV workshop offered by the university. Apparently, it’s quite common in the Netherlands. In fact, it might be negative if you don’t. Because, as I was explained, employers want to know that you are someone, that you have your edges, a profile, that you are an act...

NS reduces train services due to snow forecast, three centimetres expected

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch railway company NS is running fewer services on Tuesday to head off problems with the forecast snow, even though no more than three centimetres is expected.

Coalition split as CDA, D66, ChristenUnie call for change to child refugee amnesty

THE NETHERLANDS. Three of the four Dutch coalition parties are now in favour of changes to the amnesty for well-rooted child refugees, saying the current situation is ‘untenable’.
Happy New Year - You survived the Dutch “tradition”!

Happy New Year - You survived the Dutch “tradition”!

This was my second New Year in the Netherlands. Last year was a shock, followed by the terror and misbelief that World War III had started. I thought that this time I would be better prepared for the unreasonable, unpredictable, and-- simply put-- ignorant, Dutch celebration. But this year Dutchies brought it to the next level. Paradoxically, as a ...

British students keep their rights after ‘hard’ Brexit

British students keep their rights after ‘hard’ Brexit

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal, British students studying in the Netherlands need not worry. They can continue their studies under the same conditions. Chances of a ‘hard’ Brexit have increased, after a big majority of the British parliament voted against prime minister Theresa May’s proposal on ...

When a revolutionary invention gets in the wrong hands: A CRISPR catastrophe

When a revolutionary invention gets in the wrong hands: A CRISPR catastrophe

Science Fiction. In 2018, the first genome-edited baby will be born. Reality. It’s 2018, the first genome-edited twins were born. In November 2018, the world woke up to the news that the world’s first genome-edited babies were born. The Chinese scientist He Jiankui who lead this work, released the news in the most controversial wa...

More refugee families with children disappear from deportation centres

THE NETHERLANDS. Last year, 360 asylum seekers disappeared from family refugee accommodation in the Netherlands, of whom 210 were children, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.

Election campaign heats up as coalition leaders clash over climate change deal

THE NETHERLANDS. Coalition parties VVD and D66 have clashed over the government’s plans to cut carbon emissions, with both sides warning that they are prepared to bring down the coalition over the issue.
Drawing without borders

Drawing without borders

Last Spring, I participated in a one-hour workshop at a medical humanities conference attended by sociologists, clinicians, researchers, healthcare leaders, or a hybrid thereof. The workshop leader, a nurse and cartoonist, provided crayons and paper, and asked us to bring our creativity and open minds. Our only rule to follow was that there was no ...

The Middle East in Maastricht

The Middle East in Maastricht

For decades now, life in Maastricht has been enriched by butchers, bakers and grocers from the Middle East. First-class lamb meat, Turkish and Lebanese bread and an abundance of herbs have vastly improved the quality of life, or at least my life.

More people switch health insurer in year end transfer window

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 1.1 million people have switched health insurance company during the most recent transfer window, according to preliminary figures from health insurer association ZN.

Fundamentalist Protestants under fire over anti-gay rights statement

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 250 Protestant ministers in the Netherlands have signed a Dutch version of the Nashville Statement – a controversial document originating in the US which has been slammed for promoting homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.

Dutch population to hit 18 million in 10 years, says CBS

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 3.5 million people in the Netherlands are likely to live alone by 2030, a rise of 400,000 on the current total, national statistics agency CBS says in its new population forecasts.

Rutte turns Brexit into ‘parable of the fragile vase’ in pre-election missive

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte has invoked the ‘chaos’ of Brexit as a cautionary tale of what could happen to the Netherlands if it neglects its political traditions of coalitions and compromise.
Making Alcohol-Free Beer Fun

Making Alcohol-Free Beer Fun

I recently gave up drinking, so when I saw the Observant report last week about the Wageningen research claiming that drinking alcohol-free beer is “just as much fun” as imbibing normal beer, I was intrigued (and quite sceptical). The research in question conducted fMRI scans on 21 drinkers and concluded that so long as the participants...

Girls more likely to do better at school than teachers suggest

THE NETHERLANDS. Girls are much more likely than boys to take school leaving exams at a higher level than recommended by their primary school, national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday.

Average energy bill predicted to soar past €2000 mark in 2019

THE NEThERLANDS. The average household energy bill is expected to rise by more than €300 next year, according to an analysis by price comparison sites reported in the Telegraaf.
Women in film: small steps, big dreams

Women in film: small steps, big dreams

“Small steps and big dreams” illustrates perfectly the sentiment that the visitors could feel in  the room  4 of the Lumière Cinema on Saturday afternoon. The discussion regarding the Women in Film Post- #Metoo was part of the Shift Film Festival. This festival happens every year. Throughout conferences, discussion, movie scre...
Trump Jokes

Trump Jokes

When things get tough, sometimes the best way to cope is to find the humor in whatever you are dealing with. A good joke boosts your mood. But more importantly, it can change your perspective and even allow you to look past or live with whatever issue. That other people share this coping strategy is reflected by the current ratings of American t...

“This is not just any project, it takes top priority for me”

“This is not just any project, it takes top priority for me”

MAASTRICHT. Quality above quantity, a clear path for teaching careers, and last but not least, team science instead of the age-old hierarchical structure. If it is up to rector Rianne Letschert, there is about to be a revolution within the world of academia. The assessment of researchers is about to be changed. The toughest hurdle is convincing Eur...
Seven intensive contact hours is pressure point

Seven intensive contact hours is pressure point

Maastricht University will receive millions of euros - money becoming available from the abolishing of the basic grant system - to improve the quality of education. The first faculty plans are on the agenda of next week's University Council meeting. For approval. The plans include items such as small tutorial groups, a mentor programme (lecture...

Dutch showman loses case to become officially 20 years younger

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch showman and motivational guru Emile Ratelband has lost his bid to have his age officially cut from 69 to 49.

Alcohol-free beer is just as much fun to drink, claim researchers

THE NETHERLANDS. Alcohol-free beer has the same effect on the brain’s pleasure centres as the genuine article, researchers at Wageningen University have found.
A Shoe for Every Foot

A Shoe for Every Foot

I have grown up with a very idealised notion of love. I lay part of the blame at Disney’s door. Whilst there was not exactly an abundance (read: none) of gay Disney romances, it does have this tendency to perpetuate the idea that true love is out there and that all you have to do is wait and it will find you (ideally accompanied by a few misc...

Assessment of scientists to change

Assessment of scientists to change

MAASTRICHT. Impact factors, h-indexes, individual subsidies. If it’s up to the universities and research financers in the Netherlands, these aspects will become less important. The assessment and funding systems for researchers must change fundamentally. Maastricht rector Rianne Letschert may be seen as the force behind this. She plead for a ...

"Be present in the moment in a non-judgmental way"

How to successfully juggle all the balls that you have up in the air and how to live your life according to your priotities – these were just two of the many topics discussed in the ‘Bend, don’t break’ workshop on Wednesday 31 October, during the well-being week at Maastricht University. 

"All the spices used come directly from India"

Imagine having various authentic international dishes being cooked by chefs right in front of you. Imagine interacting with the chefs and getting to know more about their culture. With those sentences, the organisers of the International Food Festival 2018 announced the second edition of the event on their Facebook page. The entrance is free and it...

Students fined €95 for drunken high jinks on 50m crane

THE NETHERLANDS. Two students have been fined €95 each after they were rescued from a 50 metre tall crane by the fire service in a drunken prank.

Brexit deal is ‘best we can get’ says Dutch prime minister

THE NETHERLANDS. The deal signed by EU ministers on Sunday which paves the way for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is the ‘best we can get,’ Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said after the meeting.
Randwyck sandwiches

Randwyck sandwiches

It may seem obvious that universities need cafeterias, but it isn’t. An important part of a healthy lifestyle is regular physical activity, and a short walk from the faculty to a nearby eatery fits in perfectly. So while eating in your building is convenient, it’s not necessarily good for you. Admittedly, this applies more to those o...

“This is where my life is”

“This is where my life is”

Louisa Stupp (22, German), master's student European Studies on Society, Science and Technology, pays 295 euro per month for a 16m2 room near Scharneweg
What depression feels like

What depression feels like

My alarm goes off. I don’t feel like going to university today. I don’t feel like chatting with my classmates. I don’t feel like leaving my bed at all. My head feels like it’s full of clouds, my body heavy under my duvet. I try to get up, but the depression wins for a moment. Second attempt. I can barely stand upright, every...

IND overhauls Brexit information, says it will get in touch with all Brits

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch immigration service IND has totally overhauled the Brexit information section of its website, and now tells British nationals the government will provide ‘a decent solution’ even in the case of a no deal.

Amnesty International, MPs call on PM to condemn pro-Piet violence

THE NETHERLANDS. Amnesty International, the national ombudsman and the director of the Centre for Public Order and Security have condemned the way police and local mayors dealt with the violence targeted at this weekend’s anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrations.
"Having my dad to help was a blessing"

"Having my dad to help was a blessing"

Ada Garcia-Gesto Lopez (18, Spanish), first-year European Law, pays €445 per month for a 18m2 room close to Central Station

Translation of rent information in English

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch House of Representatives feels that foreign students should be able to contest high rents more easily. That is why information by the rent tribunal should be partially translated into English.
Discovering pre-industrial Maastricht

Discovering pre-industrial Maastricht

It’s a drizzling Saturday morning on the 10th of November,  when Meet Maastricht offers the L’Art Pour Elkaar// Post-industrial Maastricht Free Tour. The “miezerige” weather adds to the historical atmosphere of the city. About 10 participants from all over the globe, from  North Holland and Italy to Kyrgyzstan and ...
What (not) to wear

What (not) to wear

We like to think that universities are places for freedom of expression, not only of ideas but also of how to dress. Compared with many other workplaces, we have a lot of choice. Some people who work in shops, hospitals or on public transport must wear a uniform. There are rigidly imposed and internalised clothing norms amongst those who work in fi...

Opinion: Maajid Nawaz’s Ode to Despair

Opinion: Maajid Nawaz’s Ode to Despair

Tans lecture speaker Maajid Nawaz needs to get his facts straight, says Lana Sirri, assistant professor at the Centre for Gender and Diversity. In this opinion piece she fact-checks some claims he made during his lecture and warns for the dangers of downplaying Islamophobia.
“Let women speak first and men hold their tongues for a minute”

“Let women speak first and men hold their tongues for a minute”

Female Empowerment, or FEM for short. The name of this new network at Maastricht University – which was launched with a panel discussion and workshops at the Jan van Eyck Academie last Tuesday – is criticized by many in the audience. By women as well as men. While the first say, “it is setting us apart”, the latter feel &ldq...
Opinion: Is America becoming less democratic?

Opinion: Is America becoming less democratic?

After last week’s midterm elections in the United States, the Democrats were able to take back the House of Representatives while the Republicans held on to the Senate. The results of the election further emphasized the divisions in the U.S. electorate, with the country dividing itself up into blue Democratic parts versus red Republican ...

Immigration service pays over €1m in refugee compensation claims

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch immigration service has paid refugees more than €1m in compensation over the past year because officials took too long to make decisions, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.

More low income families in NL, as refugees risk poverty

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of low income households in the Netherlands has gone up for the first time in four years, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
World citizen looking for a home

World citizen looking for a home

Monique Bren (19, Spanish/Dutch), a second year Liberal Arts and Sciences, pays 570 euro per month for an 18 m2 room near the Markt
Open kitchen science

Open kitchen science

It’s that time of year again: grant-writing season! Marie Curie, ERC, NWO, you name it: academics everywhere are labouring feverishly over their applications in the hope of landing a big bag of research dough. Almost all these people will miss out. Many of them will end up feeling disillusioned with academia and their place in it. To them ...

Impossible to walk away without emotion

MAASTRICHT. From 19 October until 11 November, Centre Céramique is hosting the annual World Press Photo exhibition. The competition receives photos from around the world showcasing a variety of news works that emulating depth and creativity, allowing visitors to engage with news events more personally. 

Lawyer for woman acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan flees to NL

THE NETHERLANDS. The lawyer for a Pakistani woman who was acquitted of blasphemy, sparking protests by religions fundamentalists, has fled to the Netherlands.  

Big Dutch banks join forces to develop yellow ATM network

THE NETHERLANDS. The three big Dutch banks are introducing a new, uniform ATM system which will replace current ING, ABN Amro and Rabobank cash machines nationwide.
"In China we invite new friends to our home and cook for them"

"In China we invite new friends to our home and cook for them"

Hu Siqi, but everybody calls him Roy, (22, Chinese), master’s student International Law/ M2: 20/ Rent: 200 euros/ Area : Statenkwartier
Classic Vietnamese cuisine

Classic Vietnamese cuisine

I ate my first ever Vietnamese meal a long time ago in Lomé, the capital of Togo. My friend from secondary school and I were to spend a month mountain biking in West Africa. After a long flight in a rickety Aeroflot Tupolev, Gerard and I were getting our bearings at a guest house run by an older Vietnamese lady, awaiting the arrival of our mountain...

Ignorance

Ignorance

Germany stops exporting arms to Saudi Arabia, due to the murder of regime critic Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey. Instead of relief or happiness, I felt a stitch of bitterness. Why now? Why not after all the other countless human rights violations, why not after Saudi Arabia bombed the only 2.5 per cent of land usable for agr...

Electric wagon maker files for bankruptcy in wake of fatal crash

THE NETHERLANDS. The company which makes the electric wagons used by thousands of childcare groups to move children from place to place has filed for bankruptcy in the wake of last month’s fatal crash.
Getting lost in some of the greatest mysteries of our time

Getting lost in some of the greatest mysteries of our time

Ruben Hanenbergh (22, Dutch), master’s student Human Decision Science/ Rent: 280 euros/ M2: 16/ Area: Heer
Tutorials: Rules of engagement

Tutorials: Rules of engagement

It has been two months since I started teaching much more than I used to before, and I noticed some issues that need to be addressed. Before we begin, no worries, your names were changed. So, let’s start: Tutorial is not a hostage situation. Stop looking at me with those big scared eyes, Lindsay. It’s uncomfortable. Besides, you w...

Change the patent system for medicine

Change the patent system for medicine

The patent system for medicine should be reviewed, so that pharmaceutical companies cannot use loopholes anymore to keep their patent – and therefore their monopoly – on medicine forever, says Universities Allied for Essential Medicine, a student-led global movement for access to medicine, in this opinion article in the light of Access ...

Amsterdam University student denied entry to UK for conference

THE NETHERLANDS. Legal experts have denounced the decision to refuse an Amsterdam University student from Bosnia entry to the UK to attend an academic conference as ‘irrational’ and ‘nonsensical’.

Former prime minister Wim Kok dies: ‘a man of total integrity’

THE NETHERLANDS. Former Dutch prime minister and Labour party leader Wim Kok has died in hospital at the age of 80 after a short illness.
"I don’t miss South Africa as much as I did in the first semester"

"I don’t miss South Africa as much as I did in the first semester"

Emily Burger (21, South African), second-year Arts and Culture Rent/m2: 465 euro, around 18 m2 General Area: Close to FaSoS, central
Why do our healers need to be healed?

Why do our healers need to be healed?

A recent survey of young physicians in the Netherlands reported that one in five (19%) participants self-reported symptoms of burnout, according to De Jonge Specialist, an association of young physicians. Compared to the U.S., where I trained and worked as a physician, the rates are similar, despite differing medical education systems and financing...

More and more international students leave after graduation

THE NETHERLANDS. Once they have received their diploma, many foreign students leave the Netherlands. But even then thousands remain here.

Dutch to boost presence at 51 diplomatic missions by 2021

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch embassies, consulates and business support offices in 51 countries will be strengthened over the coming three years, foreign minister Stef Blok has told MPs in a briefing.
“I’m bored of trans and other gender issues to be put under feminism”

“I’m bored of trans and other gender issues to be put under feminism”

Erick Jackaman (20, half British, half American), Liberal Arts and Sciences student Size of room: 20m2 Rent: 450 Euros Location: Jekerdal

Alexander Pechtold quits as D66 leader, after 12 years at the top

THE NETHERLANDS. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold is standing down as head of the party and will quit as an MP on Tuesday, he told delegates to the party congress on Saturday.
Viva España

Viva España

My colleague Juan Francisco Palacios Temprano has a large family in Asturias, Northern Spain. This region boasts a rich tradition of making cured meats from a famous Spanish breed of pig. Every winter, when the weather is forecast to be cold and dry, the men in the family slaughter a pig after having spent more than six months raising it with love ...

The Strength Behind the Smile

The Strength Behind the Smile

Albert Mhangami has an infectious, radiating smile. Yet, as a black student living in Maastricht, he is regularly confronted by racism. For example, once as he was cycling home, a group of drunks threw apples at him, calling him a nigger. As his teacher (and as a human being), I am infuriated, but as a minority living in Maastricht myself, I am not...

Paywalls: Taking science backwards

Paywalls: Taking science backwards

It was a Wednesday afternoon, dark skies, cold feet and nothing to postpone tomorrow’s deadline. I was supposed to write a research proposal and give a short presentation about it. Working last minute, as usual, my literature search was going nowhere. Every time I found THE paper that would save me, that would have all the answers to my quest...

Ryanair to close Eindhoven base but says most flights won’t be hit

THE NETHERLANDS. Irish budget airline Ryanair said on Monday it is closing its Eindhoven base, which currently operates four planes, but said ‘most routes to and from Eindhoven will continue on overseas based aircraft’.

Dutch still lax on cyber crime, over half don’t have anti-virus software

THE NETHERLANDS. Despite the increasing prevalence of cyber crime in the Netherlands, 57% of computer users have still not installed anti-virus software and less than one third have made their passwords more complex, according to new research for the justice ministry and counter terrorism unit NCTV.
Eco-friendliness

Eco-friendliness

This summer a friend and I traveled through Norway. Due to our slight lack of planning we resorted to hitchhiking here and there. While doing so the large share of electric cars took us by surprise. Though we never actually managed to ride with one of the many Tesla’s we spotted, we were told that buying an electric car in Norway gets you a 2...

The Netherlands: 70 thousand foreign students by 2023

NETHERLANDS. The number of university students is going to rise considerably in the coming years, says the Ministry of Education in its latest forecasts. The ministry looks ahead as far as the end of 2060

Fewer people are victims of crime, but youngsters top the list

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of people reporting they were victims of a crime has gone down 25% since 2012, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

ING told to bring bond, currency traders back to European mainland

THE NETHERLANDS. The European Central Bank has ordered Dutch banking group ING to reverse part of a recent move of some units to London, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday.
The Battle of the Bakeries

The Battle of the Bakeries

German students in the Netherlands are homesick for two things: Mutti und Brot. The German bread they grew up with has texture, crusts, and distinctive flavours. By comparison, Dutch bread resembles ‘cotton wool' and it all tastes about the same. This is especially true for supermarket bread, but most bakeries don’t fare much better...
(New) Same Year, New Me

(New) Same Year, New Me

I recently found myself being invited to celebrate the Jewish New Year, which continues to be a novelty for me as someone who until very recently could not tell you the difference between schvitzing and kvetching (and if you have not taken the module 1.0 in Yiddish expressions, they refer to sweating and complaining respectively). It was during thi...

Fewer students study Dutch in the Netherlands, but abroad it is popular

THE NETHERLANDS. Just 700 students signed up for a bachelor’s degree in Dutch at a university in the Netherlands last year, but outside the country, an estimated 14,000 students are studying the language and literature, the Volkskrant reported on Monday.

Budget leaks: Economic growth to hit 2.6% next year, Brexit and trade conflicts a risk

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch economy is forecast to grow 2.6% next year, but the finance minister believes Brexit and trade conflicts pose a considerable risk, according to the latest leaked budget documents.
Quadrangular plastic objects

Quadrangular plastic objects

While waiting for a friend, I sit down on a bench in the city centre. Looking around me, I see a lot of people pass by; it’s a busy day. I see a lot of people, but I also see a lot of people staring at their smartphones. They don’t pay attention to the beauty of the city, or to the people around them. They only have eyes for their smart...

Dutch happy with their lot, says new report

THE NETHERLANDS. The economy is up, and so are the Dutch. A new report into social conditions in the Netherlands reveals that Dutch people continue to rate their lives at 7.8 out of 10.

Howick and Lili given last-minute reprieve: ‘Now we hope our mother can join us’

THE NETHERLANDS. Two Armenian children who were given a last-minute reprieve from deportation by junior justice minister Mark Harbers at the weekend say they hope their mother will be allowed to rejoin them in the Netherlands.
Autonomous robots

Autonomous robots

During my holiday, I observed an autonomous vehicle in action. H and I rented part of a lovely house in the Thuringian Forest with a garden. We often sat outside to enjoy the view. The garden was four metres by 12, edged with flower beds, sometimes curved. All edges were marked by small paving stones. Halfway along one side, a squat orange and blac...

Prize puts Dutch scientist in ‘Champions League’ of astronomy

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch astronomer Ewine van Dishoeck has won the prestigious Kavli award for astrophysics for her work on the origin of stars and planets. She will receive the gold medal and €1m prize money from the hands of King Harald V of Norway on Tuesday.
Relax, take it easy

Relax, take it easy

You may have heard on the news that many students feel pressured, stressed or anxious. Are you afraid that will happen to you too? Don’t panic! We have laid out a plan – follow these tips and you will be one relaxed first-year student. 

Parliament resumes after the summer with a packed autumn agenda

THE NETHERLANDS. Parliament will hold its first public session since the recess on Tuesday, as MPs return to a packed agenda in the run up to both the budget and the end of the year.

Psychological pressure on first-year students: minister takes action

THE NETHERLANDS. Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven is to introduce a limit to the amount of ‘points’ universities and colleges can demand first year students to earn in order to proceed to the second year of their course.
The happy news

The happy news

In case you live under a rock and missed all the world-changing things that happened this summer, here’s a brief recap. In politics, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a baby while in office, then turned down her annual pay rise, saying the NZ$ 470,000 she receives is quite enough, thank you, even with nappies to buy. Across the...

Meet the freshmen of 2018

Meet the freshmen of 2018

Why did they come to Maastricht, how did they like the Inkom and was it easy to find a room? Observant wandered around the Inkom and asked the first-years all about it.
Do it yourself!

Do it yourself!

You recently finished high school. The diploma in your hands, you’re ready to tackle your next academic challenge. Or you just came back from your jaw-dropping, horizon-widening volunteering experience in South America. Either way, a new chapter starts. Friends and family are full of well-meant advice on how to make the most of your universit...

Discrimination of MBO trainees: minister announces measures

THE NETHERLANDS. Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (D66) has called on schools, institutions and companies to end the discrimination of MBO vocational school students who apply for traineeships.
No longer a pupil but a student

No longer a pupil but a student

You no longer have a teacher urging you on and without self-discipline an exam is a tough hurdle. What is the biggest difference between secondary school and studying at a university, Observant asked employees and senior students. Read their answers and use them for your benefit.

Nicky Verstappen murder suspect arrested in isolated area in Spain

THE NETHERLANDS. Jos Brech, the man wanted for the murder of 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen over 20 years ago, has been arrested in Spain and will be extradited to the Netherlands.

Student Radio Maastricht

Students talking about their bachelor thesis, travelling or culture in Maastricht - it can be found on Student Radio Maastricht, a podcast platform for interested students from Maastricht University & Zuyd Hogeschool to produce high-quality audio podcasts as easily as possible.
That one topic

That one topic

There’s this one topic I don’t like to talk about. Okay, there are more, but this particular topic seems so boring and unnecessary that I avoid talking about it whenever I can. Except for today. Today I want to talk about that one subject that drives me crazy: the weather. You know those people who constantly tell you, “Oh, loo...

Local man turns himself into Amsterdam police after Pinkpop fatal crash

THE NETHERLANDS. The 34-year-old driver of a van which ploughed into a group of people leaving the Pinkpop music festival in the early hours of Monday, killing one, has turned himself over to the police.

One dead, three injured after white van hits festival goers at Pinkpop

THE NETHERLANDS. One person has been killed and three seriously injured in an incident involving a van at the Pinkpop music festival in Landgraaf.
OPINION: Transgenerational diseases: are you to blame?

OPINION: Transgenerational diseases: are you to blame?

Epigenetics is the study of environmental effects, including lifestyle habits, on an organism’s underlying genomic material or DNA. The underlying epigenetic mechanisms, are modifications to the DNA that dictate whether a certain gene will be turned on or off, carrying its own consequences on health and development. Many diseases such as c...

Being Earnest (and Maybe Happy)

Being Earnest (and Maybe Happy)

“If you’re going to try, go all the way,” Bukowski once wrote. Do so even if it means you alienate yourself from loved ones, lose your mind, and end up in jail because going all the way is “the only good fight there is.” There is indeed a certain sense of idolization awarded to people who are capable of mustering su...

The Netherlands must remain welcoming to migrant workers: employers

THE NETHERLANDS. People from central and eastern Europe filled almost 5% of Dutch jobs in 2016, according to new research carried out for the employment agency umbrella organisation ABU.

Police warn about use of replica weapons following string of incidents

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch police dealt with 350 incidents involving fake weapons in the first five months of this year, the AD said on Monday. This is a ‘slight rise’ compared with last year, according to a police press release.

WANTED: Critical students and employees

The editorial council of Observant is looking for UM employees and students who want to join the council for a minimum of 1 to 2 years.
Can I talk?

Can I talk?

Can a man voice his opinion on the #MeToo movement? How if he could never have experienced the specific sexism that women face daily? And can a person, ethnically belonging to a majority, use cultural items of a minority? Would this not mock the decades of forced assimilationist policies and degradation of this minority culture put forward by major...

Citizenship to have key role in Dutch schools: ‘children are not born democratic’

THE NETHERLANDS. All Dutch schools are to be required by law to give lessons in ‘citizenship’ so that children learn the ‘basic values of the democratic rule of law’.

English at university is fine, says minister, as long as standards don’t suffer

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch higher education system can continue to offer more courses and degrees in English, as long as it leads to an improvement in standards and that Dutch students are not forced out, education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said on Monday.
Should we ban the books?

Should we ban the books?

In a recent issue of Ad Valvas, the Observant equivalent from VU University Amsterdam, there was a piece written by a student, stressing the importance of students getting involved in university governance by taking part in programme committees, faculty councils and university councils. Academic staff need to know what students think, in order to b...

Inkom 2018 artists: Maastricht talent kicks off on the Markt, Partysquad provides the closing act

Inkom 2018 artists: Maastricht talent kicks off on the Markt, Partysquad provides the closing act

MAASTRICHT. It will be 'Helemaal naar de klote' and 'rampeneren' to the beat during the 2018 Inkom. Partysquad will perform as the final act for Inkom 2018 in the MECC. This was announced last Thursday and met with loud applause in the Kruithuis at the School of Business and Economics. Furthermore, Inko...

‘Austere expat ruling damaging to the Netherlands as a knowledge country’

NETHERLANDS. Dutch universities, universities of applied sciences and research institutes are afraid that they may miss out on international talent as a result of restrictions on the so-called ‘expat subsidy’. They think that the Cabinet would do well to reconsider the measure.

Adult wins case to have Dutch birth certificate changed to ‘undetermined gender’

THE NETHERLANDS. A court in Limburg has ruled that an adult who feels neither male or female can be issued a new birth certificate stating that they are of ‘no determined sex’.

The Dutch are more likely to trust each other and Dutch institutions: CBS

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch developed more trust in both institutions and each other over the past year but the church remains bottom of the list, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.  
A visit home

A visit home

A month ago, I took my boyfriend to my home country, Serbia. This was the first time for him to visit, and while he was super excited, I have to admit to being a bit nervous before the trip. As the trip drew closer, I started recalling all the things that I have said over the years about my country, and how, to be honest, they don’t paint a n...

Dutch bike total tops 22.7 million, or 1.3 bikes per person

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch bike fleet is probably over 22.7 million by now – and that means 1.3 bikes for every man, woman and child, roads lobby group Bovag said on Wednesday.

Professor Heringa: lawsuit against the UM for anglicisation “stands no chance”

MAASTRICHT. The lawsuit filed by the association 'Beter Onderwijs Nederland (BON, or Better Education Netherlands)' against the education inspectorate and the universities of Maastricht and Twente, seems to “stand no reasonable chance”, according to Professor of Public Law, Aalt-Willem Heringa. The UM's Executive Board has a...
Culture clash

Culture clash

“Saeed, wake up! We need to go to the hospital quickly. Your uncle is undergoing surgery. We are not sure what the problem is. You could probably explain it better”, said my father to me the very next day after my arrival back home in Saudi Arabia. Great, here we go again! The rumors are true, I have become the unintended family phys...

Higher education wants more foreign students

THE NETHERLANDS. Universities and schools of higher professional education are looking forward to welcoming a lot more students from abroad. But for this they want more money and to be able to select their students better.
“Things get blown up quickly, you always have to keep that in mind”

“Things get blown up quickly, you always have to keep that in mind”

Songs about ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ in Utrecht. First-year students who are made to sleep with rancid fish. A bad Carnival joke by students from Eindhoven: de wil van de vrouw doet er #nietoo (roughly, ‘what women want doesn’t matter’, where #nietoo rhymes with #metoo). And very recently, Vindicat in Groningen...

‘Dutch universities reach deal to limit (foreign) student numbers’

THE NETHERLANDS. The 13 Dutch universities have reached agreement on braking the growth in student numbers, particularly from abroad, the NRC said on Friday.
Smile and pay

Smile and pay

The last time my mom visited we took a longer way back home after dinner. On our stroll we passed by a small corner store not far from the Volksplein. An antique hanging scale and eet meer fruit handwritten on a wooden board caught our eyes. While we were inspecting some old-fashioned Easter eggs and bunnies sitting among fruit boxes in the window,...

Loud people, interesting smells, vivid colors and tasty food

Loud people, interesting smells, vivid colors and tasty food

I have always liked the atmosphere in markets: loud people, interesting smells, vivid colors and tasty food. Quito’s market answers to all these characteristics, but also has some things that make it unique. The first thing that stroke me is the fruit variety. There are so many fruits I had never seen before, with funny shapes and colors. So ...

Rutte does U-turn and pledges to release documents on dividend tax

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte has promised to publish all memos relating to the government’s controversial plan to scrap dividend tax.

Pressure mounts on Rutte to publish memos on scrapping dividend tax

THE NETHERLANDS. The cabinet is coming under pressure to disclose which organisations lobbied for the abolition of dividend tax after it emerged last week that secret memos had been submitted to the parties during last year’s coalition talks.
Guess Who?!

Guess Who?!

Who am I? The great existential question of the times – well actually the great existential question of the times for many people is more likely to be, ‘do I want soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, no milk, in my low-fat-no-fat-all-fat grande macchiato?’ But for those of us more inclined towards introspection, the ‘who am ...

Complicated integration system is failing refugees, says new report

THE NETHERLANDS. The current system of integration courses and lessons for refugees is so complicated that many cannot find their way and the government needs to step in, according to new research by the Verwey-Jonker institute.

Cost of shutting off Groningen gas mounts, minister in dispute with Shell, Exxon

THE NETHERLANDS. Economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes is embroiled in a dispute with Shell and ExxonMobil about the bill for closing the gas taps in Groningen, broadcaster NOS said on Friday.
Groene Loper

Groene Loper

On a cold April Saturday as a sad-eyed woman lets me in to see the flat she is giving up to move back in with her parents, leaving only advertising brochures for baby furniture behind, I spot a metal bridge over my shoulder at the end of the street. It’s doing the everyday things that pedestrian bridges do: holding up a sign announcing Praxis...

Venezuela in Ecuador

Venezuela in Ecuador

A few weeks into my stay in Quito I find myself on a bus ride where a young man is holding a box of chocolate in one hand and in the other a big stack of bills. For every chocolate you buy, he gives you an additional Venezuelan bill of your choice. I choose the nice-looking 100 Bolivares note, which in 2017 has lost 96% of its value. Venezuela i...

Councils may get the power to impose local firework bans, AD says

THE NETHERLANDS. Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus is working plans which would allow local authorities to ban fireworks throughout the area they cover, rather than just bring in firework-free zones.

Dutch councils use algorithms to identify potential social security fraudsters

THE NETHERLANDS. Several Dutch local authorities are using algorithms to predict if welfare benefit claimants are likely to be committing fraud, the NRC reported on Monday.

‘Unethical’ Dutch health insurers invest in expensive pharma firms

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch health insurance companies are investing millions of euros in pharmaceutical companies which charge extremely high prices for their drugs, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.

Finance minister plans tighter rules on bankers’ pay

THE NETHERLANDS. Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra is planning to tighten the rules on bankers’ pay in the wake of the row that blew up over ING’s proposal to raise its chief executive’s salary by 50%.
The Janus face of writing

The Janus face of writing

I'm supposed to be doing laundry, but I can't tear myself from my computer. I should be making the baby’s breakfast, but I'm writing. I ought to be heading out to vote – but I'm writing. For writers, writing is a necessity, like breathing or (in my case) eating double-caramel Magnums. And by writers I don’t mean...

“What would put you on cloud nine when it comes to food at UM?”

“What would put you on cloud nine when it comes to food at UM?”

MAASTRICHT. The contract with Maastricht University’s current caterer  Albron  will expire in 2020. A new tendering process would usually involve project teams and steering groups, but this time Facility Services want to take a different approach. The entire university community will get to have its say during ‘roadshows&rsquo...

Dutch diplomat recalled from Turkey after spying allegations in local press

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch diplomat outed as a spy in Turkish newspapers has been brought back to the Netherlands for his own safety, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.

Cheaper parking for green cars among plans to cut air pollution

THE NETHERLANDS. Parking charges could be cut for drivers of eco-friendly cars as part of the government’s plans to meet pollution targets.
A letter

A letter

Coming home after grocery shopping, I realize I haven’t opened my letterbox in a few days. I’m not expecting much, aside from some adverts, one or two bills maybe. With my groceries under my arms, I slowly open the box. But as I pull out a bunch of papers, I see I got lucky today. I’ve been sent a letter. From a friend, maybe, or ...

Dutch company bike scheme is too complicated, says tax minister

THE NETHERLANDS. The government is to simplify the rules surrounding the use of company bikes – e-bikes in particular – in an effort to make the the corporate perk more attractive.

Patients to get ‘more control’ over health records and who sees what

THE NETHERLANDS. From next year, people will be able to ‘manage’ their own medical records on their computer or mobile phone and decide who should have access to what information, health minister Bruno Bruins has told the Volkskrant.  
About the challenges of a young tutor

About the challenges of a young tutor

Three actors play a short scene for the audience. We see a female student who is waiting for her friend in a pub. In the meantime, a young man offers her a drink. She declines. ‘Ah, don't be like that,’ he says, and before she knows it, a beer has been put in front of her. She takes it without looking at him. She goes onto the dance...
Advocating for Procrastination

Advocating for Procrastination

An old Army buddy of mine once joked that procrastination is like masturbation, it feels good until you realize you just screwed yourself. Rather than postponing things, just get it done. Action – as he would say – is the best cure for anxiety. But then there are those that believe that if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a...

ING withdraws 50% pay rise for CEO after ‘underestimating public response’

THE NETHERLANDS. ING’s supervisory board has withdrawn the proposed 50% pay rise for chief executive Ralph Hamers, saying it had ‘underestimated the public response in the Netherlands on this clearly sensitive matter’.

Cabinet to lobby Brussels to abolish ‘fake news’ watchdog

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch politicians are to call for the EU to take down its website for monitoring ‘fake news’, arguing that government agencies should not police freedom of speech.
One city, two worlds

One city, two worlds

Outside of the majestic walls of our faculties, there is a world that many of my UM peers are not fully aware of – a Maastricht outside Maastricht University. Some have a faint notion that it is out there. For instance, there is Zuyd, the regional university of applied sciences, and its students - a lot of them, around 13.000. Then again you ...

Dutch tax inspectors get powers to go undercover and tap phones

THE NETHERLANDS. New rules giving tax inspectors and special government departments the power to tap phone conversations and carry out undercover operations have been passed in parliament with little fuss, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.

Troubleshooter Stef Blok returns to cabinet following Zijlstra’s fall

THE NETHERLANDS. Five months after quitting politics, Stef Blok has returned to the Dutch cabinet to replace Halbe Zijlstra as foreign affairs minister.  
Having a laugh

Having a laugh

I´ve been teaching since 1980. More than 35 years later, I completed my BKO (basic teaching qualification). That included preparing a personal SWOT analysis – identifying my strengths and weaknesses (in relation to teaching – it´s not a general exercise in personal reflection), and external opportunities and threats affectin...

Heart for language

Heart for language

In 1992, we moved to Spain. To Madrid, to be precise. I had taken a two-week crash course in Spanish at the Language Centre and felt reasonably equipped for a talk with the Spanish landlord and the grocer. They would appreciate my well-intended efforts in Spanish, help me when I stumbled or was lost for words. With hands (and even feet) we would ma...

Genetic editing: The principles of evolution, redefined

Genetic editing: The principles of evolution, redefined

The principle of evolution is a theory that justifies the diversity seen in this world, from unicellular organisms to plants, animals, and even humans. Evolution explains questions like how come apes are our closest relatives? Why do giraffes have long necks? It is true that living things change over time and that is due to several factors includin...

The modern hunt

The modern hunt

As I had a few days off for carnival, I decided to take a trip to the Amazon Forest, which is only four hours by bus from the city of Quito. I arrived at the city of Tena, which is right at the border with the Amazon forest. On the second day there, together with a friend, we decided to take one of the boats that ride you further down the forest, t...

Student funding body to close digital access point for a month for upgrade

THE NETHERLANDS. Students will be unable to access details of their funding online for a month while the service provider upgrades its user portal.

MPs branded ‘traitors’ by Turkish newspaper after genocide vote

THE NETHERLANDS. Turkish newspaper Sabah has accused five members of the Dutch parliament of ‘betrayal’ after they voted to recognise the Armenian genocide of 1915.
Choose your f*cks wisely

Choose your f*cks wisely

Recently, I read a book: The subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson. I strongly recommend it. Manson openly admits that there is no such thing as not giving a f*ck in life. However, in order to truly not give a f*ck about something, we need to give extreme f*ck for something else. And those “f*ck-worthy” things are those that...

Minister wants to discuss internationalisation with lecturers and students

NETHERLANDS. The newspapers are filled with opinions and analyses about foreign students and the use of English in higher education. But education minister Van Engelshoven is taking the time before she puts forward her vision. First of all, some working visits.

Police ‘mole’ who leaked case files to underworld gets five-year jail term

THE NETHERLANDS. A police officer has been given a five-year jail sentence for leaking confidential information to contacts in the criminal underworld.

Netherlands to hire at least 750 extra customs officers for Brexit

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch government is recruiting up to 900 extra customs officers to strengthen border controls after Brexit.
The dying language of the ancestors

The dying language of the ancestors

When a Spanish person wakes up with a hangover, he has la Resaca. But not Ecuadorians, they are Chuchaqui. This is only an example of the many words that make Ecuadorian slang so unique, differentiating it from the Spanish spoken in other Latin American countries. Ecuadorian Spanish is influenced by Quechua, a very old language, which used to be sp...

OPINION: Fashion feminism

OPINION: Fashion feminism

“The future is female” and “Girls run the world” are current statements printed on shirts which are striking my eyes while walking through an H&M store. Songs are shouting that girls are fighters and Hollywood embodies the principle of feminism at its best at the moment: Stars and artists are setting a symbol with the #m...
Missing

Missing

Maastricht University prides itself on its problem-based learning approach in education – a system which has been adopted by almost all Dutch universities and many others around the globe. The edge that Maastricht once had no longer exists. Therefore, the university must remedy the situation. Otherwise, the university might struggle to attrac...

OPINION: Modern Frankenstein fears

OPINION: Modern Frankenstein fears

With the rapid pace of technological and scientific developments, it’s high time to have a thorough, wide-ranging discussion of their ethical consequences, says Katherine Bassil in this opinion article.

Student loan group can access private info about student travel

THE NETHERLANDS. Student loan group Duo can ask for information about the movement of students suspected of committing fraud by pretending to live at home, the highest Dutch administrative court said on Monday.

Ollongren calls on Baudet to debate racism in parliament, not police station

THE NETHERLANDS. Interior minister Kajsa Ollongren has urged Thierry Baudet to air his grievances in a public debate after the Forum voor Democratie (FvD) leader filed a police complaint against her claim that he was failing to tackle racism in his party.
Supermarket Culture

Supermarket Culture

As a Master's student of Health Food Innovation Management, I love going to the grocery store. This love started when I was a kid. A trip to the supermarket often ended with my parents buying me a chocolate chip cookie. I grew up in the U.S. and remember those cookies were literally the size of my face. Cookie dimensions are just one example of...

No evidence of academic brain drain in the Netherlands, says top science body

THE NETHERLANDS. There is no evidence that more top scientific researchers are leaving the Netherlands than arriving here, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) says in a new report.

Scrapping grants has not stopped poorer pupils going to university: CBS

THE NETHERLANDS. The government’s decision to scrap student grants in 2015 has not led to a reduction in the number of children from poorer backgrounds going to college and university but has led to fewer students moving away from home to study, the nationals statistics agency CBS said on Thursday.
Another man’s shoes

Another man’s shoes

Picture the scene: you have arrived to meet your friend in a nearby café, ready to fill them in on the juicy details of your date last night. It is fair to say it was one of the worst dates you’ve been on. They did not look their photo. They had all the charisma of a block of cheese. The music was too loud. They were too quiet. As you enterta...

The local elections are looming – and you may well be able to vote

THE NETHERLANDS. On March 21, voters in the Netherlands will elect the members of some 380 local councils. As well as Dutch nationals, an estimated 450,000 foreigners will also be able to vote – and that could include you.

University challenge: more students squash into Dutch lecture theatres

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of teaching staff at Dutch universities rose by 6% between 2012 and 2016 but the number of students rose 11% over the same period, the Dutch students union LSVB has told the NRC.
Kersenvlaai and carambole

Kersenvlaai and carambole

Months pass. When you are a solitary big-city escapee riding the city’s streets on a rattling Gazelle, you find yourself becoming more patient, more observant. In return, Maastricht starts revealing its mysteries. Their existence, anyway, if not their secrets, like a hand of cards in a complicated old Limburg game. The hidden-in-plain-sigh...

My first bus ride in Ecuador

My first bus ride in Ecuador

Standing in the heat on the side of the road, I kill boredom by observing the other people waiting for the bus that will take us to Quito. Just as I am losing my hopes of ever seeing the bus arrive, there it is! The bus rides with its doors open, and if there are not that many people at the stop, it doesn’t even fully break: people have to ju...

Brits in the Netherlands go to court to fight for European citizenship

THE NETHERLANDS. Several British nationals in the Netherlands are going to court in an effort to keep their European citizenship, despite Britain’s plans to pull out of the EU.

Call for energy drink ban amid concern about impact on teenagers’ health

THE NETHERLANDS. Doctors have called for under-18s to be banned from buying energy drinks amid concerns that they are damaging teenagers’ health.
It’s the flu, actually

It’s the flu, actually

In late December some twelve thousand people in the Netherlands had the flu, two of them under our roof. Our baby son started showing the signs on Christmas Eve, signalling his discomfort as best he could, which is to say with indiscriminate shrieking. We are hoping that by this time next year he will be capable of simply announcing ‘Listen, ...

Amsterdam university rector ‘calls for action on foreign student numbers’

THE NETHERLANDS. The University of Amsterdam is concerned about the rise in the number of foreign students and has asked education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven for help in managing the flow, the Parool reported on Tuesday.

Over 300 reports of quake damage, minister to cut gas production

THE NETHERLANDS. Over 300 official reports of damage have been made following Monday’s earthquake in Groningen province, which centred on the village of Zeerijp, website Nu.nl reported.  

Rising rivers cause widespread flooding but water authorities say no cause for alarm

THE NETHERLANDS. Nearly 200 cows and horses had to be rescued on Monday from meadows that were on the brink of being flooded by rising rivers.
Leçons 15- Il n´est jamais trop tard pour apprendre

Leçons 15- Il n´est jamais trop tard pour apprendre

Grenoble- you have been good. But now it is time to leave behind the breathtaking Alpine scenery and return to my beloved, flat Maastricht which I have learned to appreciate in manners, I did not image I ever would. Four months, to the day, I have lived in Grenoble- a beautiful city in the heart of the Alps. Over the past 16 weeks, I have been a...

British researchers and students keep the same rights after Brexit

EUROPE. It looks as if British students and researchers - for the time being - may continue to participate in European programmes such as Erasmus+ and Horizon2020 after the Brexit.   
Beethoven

Beethoven

Sitting in the train, I listen calmly to the first tones of Beethoven’s 5th symphony: da-da-da-dum! Calm is not quite the right word though. It’s loud and very dramatic. As it should be. This symphony has helped me through the roughest times. I can get lost in the power of the first part, the softness of the second movement, the hope of...

Less crime, more spending power, more jobs: the Netherlands is getting better

THE NETHERLANDS. The quality of life in the Netherlands has shown improvement over the past 25 years, with crime rates falling, life expectancy increasing, people having more money to spend and educational standards improving, according to a major new report.

Primary schools closed nationwide as teachers strike for more pay, less pressure

THE NETHERLANDS. Primary schools across the Netherlands are closed on Tuesday as tens of thousands of teachers go on strike for more pay and improved working conditions.
Leçon 14- repousser vos limites

Leçon 14- repousser vos limites

A concept that is quite unfamiliar to me (and I assume to most other students in Maastricht) is that you receive study credits for participating in a university sports class. While I knew from the onset of my exchange that Maastricht University would not recognize the credits, I nevertheless wanted to make use of this unique offer. Grenoble is s...

More heavy snow likely to cause rush-hour chaos on Monday afternoon

THE NETHERLANDS. Weather forecasters are warning of more disruption on the roads and railways on Monday afternoon as a fresh band of snow sweeps in from the south.
My indecisive decision

My indecisive decision

"Sometimes changes in the lives of others can truly be made behind closed doors, in a lab, on a bench with just a pipet in hand and a revolutionary idea in head." The first decisions one takes when aiming for medical school, begin well before you get a white coat and stethoscope around the neck. For me, my passion developed during high...

Creating a Culture of Service

Creating a Culture of Service

Whenever I draft recommendation letters and offer career advice to students asking for them, I am confronted by a sense of unease. This feeling emerges from the fact that as students prepare for the next stage of their lives (and the uncertainty that comes with it), too many of them fall into the trap of assessing their employability and self-worth...

ROA: even more work for academics

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. Engineers and IT experts are sitting pretty: in the coming years they will easily find employment. But the outlook on the labour market for psychologists and university lecturers has also improved.

ROA: even more work for academics

NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. Engineers and IT experts are sitting pretty: in the coming years they will easily find employment. But the outlook on the labour market for psychologists and university lecturers has also improved.
OPINION: Internationalization: a matter of content rather than numbers

OPINION: Internationalization: a matter of content rather than numbers

Being an international university is not only about the number of foreign students. Research and education at UM need to be steeped in all things international as well. It is time for a viable internationalization strategy, writes Lies Wesseling, Director of the Centre for Gender and Diversity.

Healthcare, IT, engineering and education skill shortages loom

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. Employers in the Netherlands will have a hard time filling vacancies in healthcare, IT, technology and teaching over the next few years, according to a new report on the Dutch labour market by researchers at Maastricht University.
Leçon 13 - vive le vin

Leçon 13 - vive le vin

When I told my friends that I joined Club Oeno - a wine association at Sciences Po Grenoble, I was accused of participating only for good-quality wine. Little did they know that, in reality, I joined for the cheese and the olives that are served with it. Club Oeno is a student association run by students for students. Members, as well as non-mem...

Police union criticised for putting ‘price tag on civil rights’ in wake of Zwarte Piet demo

THE NETHERLANDS. Police union ACP has come under fire for revealing at the weekend that the cost of supervising a demonstration against Zwarte Piet in the Frisian town of Dokkum ran into the hundreds of euros.
A little instability

A little instability

Mutti (Mommy in English) is a common nickname we Germans use for our chancellor. It incorporates this warm, soft feeling of security and that everything will be fine since Mutti knows what she is doing. You might not really understand her reasoning, but you know that she knows what she is doing. Why do we need a Mutti? Well, uncertainty is one o...

Erasmus Prize winner on diversity: “Universities should dare to make a statement”

Erasmus Prize winner on diversity: “Universities should dare to make a statement”

“It's time for more flexibility in PhD and career tracks, taking into account that people have or want to start a family.” Only then can you achieve diversity at the university. This statement comes from Harvard professor Michèle Lamont, who carries out research into diversity in areas such as science. The King presented the Erasmus...

Dutch internet providers told to make speed estimates more realistic

THE NETHERLANDS. Internet providers in the Netherlands have been told they must be more accurate about the speed of internet connections they are selling from January 1 next year.
Leçon 12: Car l'amour est partout

Leçon 12: Car l'amour est partout

One easily earns the impression that we live in a time of hostility, hate and indifference. In the news, we learn about yet another attack here, a violent crime there and overall acts of vulgarity. People are portrayed as egoistic utility maximizers that are indifferent to their surroundings and interpersonal encounters. But that is not true. Becau...

Groningen fraternity member gets community service for initiation ritual violence

THE NETHERLANDS. A 24-year-old member of an undergraduate society in Groningen has been given 240 hours community service for his role in an initiation ceremony that left a fellow student with a serious head injury.
Maastricht’s not-so-dead Poets Society

Maastricht’s not-so-dead Poets Society

As the meek face of morning Peered, winking generously Over the woken earth Came a lonely boat, Slaving to the tide Soothing solemnly by As a sailing thought  Slowly making its way  Across the pallid waters  Of my liquid mind. (Alfie Marsden-Smedley)
Can´t believe we´re still protesting this sh**

Can´t believe we´re still protesting this sh**

The fact that sexual harassment and assault are features of many workplaces hit the headlines again recently. The reports were greeted with surprise, ´how did we not know?´ But it was in the news not so long ago, during the US presidential campaign when the winning candidate boasted about assaulting women and getting away with it. Maybe...

Network to help foreign graduates find a job

THE NETHERLANDS. How to make sure that international alumni don't leave the Netherlands after graduating? The Holland Alumni Network, launched today, aims to help them build up a network. Good for their job opportunities and for the economy. 

Amsterdam wins race to host the European Medicines Agency

THE NETHERLANDS. Amsterdam has succeeded in its bid to host the European Medicines Agency when the organisation leaves London following Brexit.  
Leçon 11: La France- une nation en grève

Leçon 11: La France- une nation en grève

I always thought that Germans liked to go on strike, but being in France has proven me otherwise. Since my arrival in August, I have been victim to the French right to go on strike five times. I kicked my heels when waiting for the bus stop to go to class or did not know how to get home after dinner with friends because the trams simply stopped wor...

English proficiency test puts Dutch first, but is it true? The Volkskrant has doubts

THE NETHERLANDS. Are the Dutch the European champions when it comes to proficiency in English? The Dutch have come first for the second year running in the English Proficiency Index (EPI), a survey by language course provider Education First (EF). The Volkskrant had its doubts and thought it was time to take a closer look.
“Sacrifice one submarine to move forward in regenerative medicine”

“Sacrifice one submarine to move forward in regenerative medicine”

“He is not only an idol, he is my hero!”, were Professor Clemens van Blitterswijk’s words leaving the curious audience tempted to learn about the identity of this mystery man. His talk was one of the many that were given during TEDx Maastricht’s 5th anniversary, which took place this year at the MECC forum. This year’s...
Drugs and Ph.D.

Drugs and Ph.D.

So I went to this talk of Marc Lewis, a now retired psychology professor. It was about why addiction is not a “brain disease”, even though many “healing-oriented” parties passionately claim it is. Their agenda is obvious: the “disease” part is crucial in the selling-a-cure schem. Lewis made some good points in...

Russia is trying to influence Dutch public opinion with fake news: minister

THE NETHERLANDS. The Russian security services are trying to influence public opinion in the Netherlands by spreading fake news, home affairs minister Kasja Ollongren has said in a briefing to MPs.
Leçon 10- Sometimes, you need to take a break from France

Leçon 10- Sometimes, you need to take a break from France

Unlike most of my Erasmus friends, who spent our week off from university in the South of France or Paris, I decided to go north to visit my boyfriend who is currently doing his Erasmus in Helsinki. After all, love takes you places, right? As I have never been further north than Groningen or the North Sea Islands, I was very much looking forward to...

Omtzigt faces calls to quit over ‘fake witness’ who spoke at MH17 meeting

THE NETHERLANDS. Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omtzigt has come under fire over claims that he helped a fake witness to the MH17 disaster over Ukraine infiltrate a briefing attended by victims’ relatives.
The biased shift: from bench to bedside

The biased shift: from bench to bedside

The day I applied for my Research Master at Maastricht University, my hope was to get accepted into the Fundamental Neuroscience track. But what is Fundamental Neurosciences, and why was that the track of my choice amongst the other equally interesting tracks? By definition, fundamental or basic neuroscience is research looking into the underlyi...

Powerless

Powerless

“Please take a seat!” This is how we start the family meeting, my very first one with a doomsday scenario. We need to discuss the treatment options, although we do not foresee recovery; the patient’s health is worsening. The family wants answers that we cannot provide. They are desperate and shattered. Their father came in with a ...

Dutch councils queue up for regulated marijuana project

THE NETHERLANDS. So far 25 of the Netherlands’ 380 local authorities have come forward to say they wish to take part in trials to regulate marijuana production, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.
Leçon 9: Faire la bise – n´est pas si simple comme bonjour

Leçon 9: Faire la bise – n´est pas si simple comme bonjour

Whereas people in Germany (or the Netherlands) shake hands, wave hello or hug (depending on the level of intimacy), French people kiss. La bise is the French way to say hello, to say goodbye, to say thank you. In France, the handshake as a greeting, is seemingly reserved for formal encounters. It comes as no surprise then, that people your age will...

The Netherlands most common couple – two people with degrees

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch couples are now more likely to be made up of two people with a college or university degree, as women overtake men in the graduate stakes, according to new research from national statistics office CBS.
Connecting through mistakes

Connecting through mistakes

Being the new kid in school is often a challenge. At 10 years old, with little to no English vocabulary, I fully came to grips with that challenge when my family moved from Germany to the US. In the first weeks of school I not only had a lot of practice in keeping a straight face amidst a complete lack of understanding, but I also learned most thin...

Amnesty report slams inhuman conditions at Dutch jail terrorist units

THE NETHERLANDS. Conditions in the Netherlands’ high security terrorist TA units at two jails are inhuman and violate human rights, Amnesty International and the Open Society Justice Initiative said in a joint report on Tuesday.
Leçon 8- Le bonheur, c’est une bonne marche au milieu de belles montagnes inconnues

Leçon 8- Le bonheur, c’est une bonne marche au milieu de belles montagnes inconnues

Who doesn´t recognize this feeling of being caught up in our everyday responsibilities? Too often, we are occupied with ticking off our to-do list or busy running from one appointment to another. In the haste of moments like this, we too easily oversee the beauty of life that hides behind the most mundane and quotidian things. I had initia...

New cabinet will ignore Big Brother law referendum result: CDA leader

THE NETHERLANDS. The new government will ignore the results of a referendum on a new law giving greater powers to the security services to tap phone and internet connections, CDA leader Sybrand Buma said at the weekened.
The Members Only Club for Privileged Migrants

The Members Only Club for Privileged Migrants

The other day I found myself correcting a friend of mine who referred to himself as a member of the ‘expat community’ (he has been working in Rwanda for several months). I explained that what he should be saying was ‘migrant community’, but the trouble with this term is it rarely resonates with white Europeans – you on...

Breakfast with Baguettes, Dinner with Wine and University without literature?

Breakfast with Baguettes, Dinner with Wine and University without literature?

The title might already reveal that I am talking about France, the country of red wine, l’amour and enlightenment. For almost five months I am switching Maastricht’s bikes, its hagelslag, and our beloved (irony off) PBL system with Bordeaux’ Tram coordination, its amazing variation of wine and an education system which couldn&rsqu...

Geert Wilders’ appeal against inciting discrimination starts at high security court

THE NETHERLANDS. Geert Wilders’ appeal against his conviction for inciting discrimination kicks off at the high security court at Schiphol airport on Tuesday with a pre-trial hearing.
Leçon 7- Les sept commandements du pain français

Leçon 7- Les sept commandements du pain français

There admittedly exists this stereotype of French people surviving on nothing but baguette, fromage et vin rouge. Baguette has established itself as a symbol of French culture next to the Tour Eiffel. It is quintessentially French and doubtlessly indispensable for the French cusine. After a couple of months in l´Hexagon, I have come to und...

About time

About time

It’s about time. In a new place – and Maastricht is my new place, fresh out of Brexit London – there’s always a fresh awareness of the clock. The four minutes (five in the rain) it takes to get to the SSC for a bakkie koffie. The stomach-rumbling time it takes Delibelge to snap an elastic band on your paper-wrapped broodj...

1,000-euro discount for first-year students

THE NETHERLANDS. In the hot-from-the-press Dutch coalition agreement, political parties have agreed that first-year students will receive a 1,000-euro tuition fee reduction. Will universities have to pick up the tab?
Why we should talk more about the ethics of Neurosciences

Why we should talk more about the ethics of Neurosciences

Neuroscience affects everyone. That is why the long-term ethical questions it raises, should be discussed more broadly, says Neuroscience master student Katherine Bassil.

300,000 back bid for referendum on Big Brother phone tap law

THE NETHERLANDS. Over 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for a referendum on the new Dutch law on telephone tapping, described by its opponents as a charter for Big Brother.
Leçon 6- Arrêtez de procrastiner

Leçon 6- Arrêtez de procrastiner

We all have one, either randomly collected in our head or neatly jotted down in a little notebook. A bucket list- a list of achievements or experiences we hope to accomplish during our lifetime. I belong to category number two. I possess a little book in which I scribble down notes, ideas, poems or things I simply want to remember. And within th...

One day to go, and leaks about the new cabinet’s plans keep on coming

THE NETHERLANDS. One day before the official presentation of the new government’s plans, the Dutch newspapers are again full of leaks about elements of the coalition agreement.
A word of advice

A word of advice

If you're a new student in Maastricht, you'll have received lots of advice already. Some of it contradictory. Focus on your studies. No, enjoy student life – you’ll never have this time again. Knuckle down and finish as soon as you can. No, take the time to explore, find out what you’re really interested in. Most important...

New coalition plans income tax overhaul, boost to middle incomes

THE NETHERLANDS. The new coalition plans to shake up the income tax system by cutting the number of tax bands to two from 2019, according to broadcaster NOS.
Leçon 5: Il n´y a pas de place pour remplacer chez-soi

Leçon 5: Il n´y a pas de place pour remplacer chez-soi

I would lie if I said that my time so far in Grenoble has been a succession of picture-perfect memories and unforgettable days of intercultural exchange. After a couple of weeks in l´Hexagon, I admit that the rose-colored glasses have slipped slightly and reality has found its way into what is supposed to be ‘the semester of a lifetime&...

Primary school teachers press ahead with strike, plan more action

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch primary school teachers are pressing ahead with Thursday’s planned strike, despite the government’s commitment to spending an extra €250m on boosting salaries and reducing the pressure of work.
Being open

Being open

On one of my better days I decided to be open. Open about my vulnerability, my fears, my weaknesses, even my feelings. Because openness is important. As the Dutch foundation Samen Sterk Zonder Stigma says on its website, openheid leidt tot begrip: openness leads to understanding. Easier said than done. Standing in front of your tutorial group, r...

Dutch lorry firm stops UK trips due to refugee smuggling attempts

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch firm Reining Transport has announced it is stopping deliveries to the U.K. as it cannot guarantee driver safety if refugees try to board at Calais.
Leçon 4- Putain : un mot-clé français

Leçon 4- Putain : un mot-clé français

People always say that French is a difficult language. And it surely qualifies as challenging with all its irregular verbs, its exceptions to the rules and its exceptions to the expectations. But there seems to be an unofficial keyword that can be used in (barely) any situation and you are good to go. So, which seemingly magical word am I talkin...

‘A political earth tremor’: Dutch media on Germany’s elections

THE NETHERLANDS. After their largely low-key coverage of Germany’s Parliamentary elections in recent weeks, the Dutch media woke up to the news that the anti-immigrant right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland had won seats in the Bundestag for the first time by claiming 12.6% of the popular vote.
Searching for Lifelines

Searching for Lifelines

“I think about suicide every day.” So read an anonymous post on Spotted: Maastricht University, a popular Facebook group among the students. Unfortunately, posts like this are not uncommon as many students struggle with emotional and psychological issues while studying in Maastricht; and in my humble opinion, there is an alarming lack o...

OPINION: Mind your words

OPINION: Mind your words

About a month ago a young American, Jennifer Kamorowski, entered this university as PhD researcher at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. She found that, living in the Netherlands, you have to have health insurance. You apply for it, at CZ, and get a letter back. In het Nederlands. Yes, in Dutch. Should immigrants be accommodated?
Staff and students about German elections

Staff and students about German elections

Who are you going to vote for on Sunday? Observant discovered that this is a question that many German students and staff members would prefer not to answer. What you do in the polling booth, is private. But they do definitely have - often a well thought out - opinion about the Chancellor Angela Merkel, SPD leader Martin Schulz, the extreme right A...

Over 40% of work-related illness is due to stress or burn-out

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 40% of people who have job-related health issues are either over-stressed or suffering from a burn-out, according to new figures from the national work-related disease register, compiled by the AMC teaching hospital in Amsterdam.

Budget carrier passenger numbers double in seven years, says CBS

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of people flying on budget airlines has more than doubled over the past seven years, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
Leçon 3 - J´ai trouvé mon bonheur au marché

Leçon 3 - J´ai trouvé mon bonheur au marché

Barrels filled with olives and tapenade- green or black. Cases full of tomatoes- Coeur de Boef, Cherry Tomatoes, Sunrise Bumble Bee, Romanesco or Green Zebra. Savon de Marseille, bags filled with lavender or handmade basketry deftly laid out. Stalls with Camembert, Gouda, Chèvre or Beaufort. Tart au citron and blueberry tartelettes draped next to c...

Some self-care

Some self-care

I meditate daily. I know, it sounds oddly nerdy. My own prejudices towards meditating people were cruel. In my ignorance I thought of them as esoteric freaks. A little bit Buddhism here and an occasional sprinkle of Hinduist terms there – voilá! A new - arguably - revolutionary lifestyle was born. Which is not really accurate. By now companie...

The Netherlands has more millionaires, and one in five is a farmer

THE NETHERLANDS. A new report by the national statistics office CBS sheds light on the lives of Dutch millionaires, who now account for 1.4% of the population but control 44% of the wealth.
Leçon 2- Il y a de la lumière au bout du tunnel!

Leçon 2- Il y a de la lumière au bout du tunnel!

Before starting university in Grenoble, I thought it would be a good idea to discover France´s beauty, get to know the region and meet locals. Where better to go to than the French Riviera, right? Though, I must admit that I would lie if I said that my desire to go there was completely altruistically and solely for the purpose of cultural ...

Dutch king to visit hurricane-hit Sint Maarten as relief effort picks up steam

THE NETHERLANDS. King Willem-Alexander will visit the hurricane-hit Caribbean island of Sint Maarten on Monday as part of a short visit to meet locals and assess the relief effort.
Read The F*** Manual

Read The F*** Manual

It’s the beginning of the academic year, so time for some ‘new year’s resolutions’. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. Students: ‘I will not get angry if my tutors don’t respond to my emails within minutes.’  This could be expanded to resolve not to send emails two hours before a submiss...

Unions and employers fail to reach deal on Dutch labour market reforms

THE NETHERLANDS. Unions and employers have failed to reach agreement on changes to redundancy law and the pension system, dashing hopes that the new coalition government will have substantial reforms in the bag.
Leçon1- Contenance

Leçon1- Contenance

Germany- a country at the heart of Europe which is infamously famous for its affiliation for bureaucracy and (compulsive) orderliness. This is nothing new to me as the need for order is a strand running through my DNA. In case I neglected this “typical German attribute” when on exchange or holiday, locals made sure to remind me of th...

Permanent residency permit? Then you need to take more tests, immigrants told

THE NETHERLANDS. Immigrants who have already passed the state exams (staatsexamen) to qualify for a residency permit are being asked to take more tests when applying for a permanent licence to stay in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant said on Monday.
Guess what? Life triggers

Guess what? Life triggers

Recently my colleague, Isabella Niesten, gave a great talk about political correctness. Originally, this was about limiting hate speech in order to stop homophobes, racists, xenophobes and other lunatics who undermine democratic society. Good, right? However, today, it seems to be about something quite different. For example, in Canada, they now ha...

A series of disappointments

A series of disappointments

I was walking through the hallways of the university, incredibly excited for my first tutorial group. I could not wait to see what would be brought on the table in an international group with different backgrounds and cultures. My first disappointment: my group consisted of ten people. Seven of them were from Saudi Arabia, like me, and the other...

Big Dutch banks, brewers and housing corporations have cannabis cafe interests

THE NETHERLANDS. The four biggest Dutch banks – Rabobank, ING, ABN Amro and the Volksbank (formerly SNS) – have lent cannabis cafe owners some €1.1bn using 170 coffee shops as security, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday.

Dutch food producers agree to stop adding sugar to jars of vegetables

THE NETHERLANDS. Food producers have reached agreement with supermarkets to stop putting sugar in jars of summer vegetables from next year, following pressure from consumer groups.

Off their trolleys? Schiphol brings in ‘light luggage’ queues to speed up security

THE NETHERLANDS. Schiphol airport is to introduce ‘no trolley’ queues at its security gates this summer in a bid to bring down waiting times.
Speaking Dutch

Speaking Dutch

Me: Hi, my name is Saeed Banaama. I am a medical intern at the emergency department. Do you mind if I take your history? Patient: Yes, sure. No problem. You have to learn it too. Me, with a polite smile, in an apologetic tone: Before we start I have to admit that I only recently learned Dutch and as a result, it might come across as odd or no...

58 lectures, thirty music performances and a proper shooting gallery

58 lectures, thirty music performances and a proper shooting gallery

With no fewer than 58 lectures, most of which by Maastricht scientists, there is something for everyone during the PAS (Pleasure, Arts and Science) Festival that will open its doors at the beginning of September. A preview by Observant.

Judges throw out student fraud cases because of unauthorised inspectors

THE NETHERLANDS. At least 200 students who were suspected of claiming too much student funding will not have to pay back the extra money because of an administrative error.

Dutch tv team which traces missing people is kidnapped in Colombia

THE NETHERLANDS. A team from a Dutch television show which tracks down missing people has reportedly been kidnapped in Colombia.

Pressure mounts on reluctant Labour to join Dutch coalition talks

THE NETHERLANDS. Labour party leader Lodewijk Asscher is coming under increasing pressure to get involved in the ongoing coalition talks but has again said that the party ‘is not available’ to join in.
Moments

Moments

A couple of months ago I happened to watch a video clip from 1976 of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. The video was about a street live performance of the song It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock n’ roll), featuring on their second studio album. A great song by the way. The performance starts with only a few people standin...

UM drops to place 200 on the QS World University Ranking

UM drops to place 200 on the QS World University Ranking

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has plummeted 27 places on the QS World University Ranking, which was published today. The UM is now in place 200.

Prime minister ‘very disappointed’ at collapse of talks with GroenLinks

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Tuesday he is ‘very disappointed’ at the failure of talks to form a new government between his party, the Christian Democrats, D66 and GroenLinks.

New attempt to involve GroenLinks in Dutch coalition government fails

THE NETHERLANDS. Talks on forming a new coalition government in the Netherlands collapsed again on Monday evening, when chief negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink said the four parties involved ­­­­­­­had decided not to pursue the alliance.

Many freelancers don’t pay any income tax at all: Volkskrant

THE NETHERLANDS. A large proportion of the Netherlands’ growing pool of freelancers and self-employed workers don’t pay any tax on their income, because of tax breaks, the Volkskrant said at the weekend.
Not so Dutch experience

Not so Dutch experience

Do I live in the Netherlands? Descriptively speaking, I do. My address is in Maastricht; I have a BSN number and bread here is far too soft for my German taste. But leaving the geography and administration aside, do I? Sitting in Banditos, looking around, no single word in Dutch to be heard or seen. It is this famous international student bubble. M...

Wanted: English column writers

Do you enjoy the columns of Asena Baykal, Irena Boskovic or Alison Edwards on page 6 of Observant? Would you like to write yourself, perhaps even better? This is your chance. Observant is looking for students and staff to write 4-5 English columns per year about any topic that’s on their mind. Interested? Send a column (topic free of choic...

Dutch coalition talks to resume, negotiator meets potential fourth partners

THE NETHERLANDS. Formal talks on forming a new Dutch coalition government will resume on Tuesday after the holiday weekend, and chief negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink is expected to kick off by meeting the leaders of GroenLinks and ChristenUnie, RTL news reported.
Exam week: high hopes, despite Schopenhauer

Exam week: high hopes, despite Schopenhauer

‘Life is a constant process of dying’. My classes on Schopenhauer at my exchange university in Spain might not sound like a recipe for a happy morning, but last year I was thoroughly enjoying them. Schopenhauer’s work tells us that we are unfree, because our desires rule our behavior. These desires will never really be satisfied, ...

Edith Schippers hands over cabinet talks to new chief negotiator

THE NETHERLANDS. Efforts to form a new Dutch cabinet took a new turn on Monday when Edith Schippers, who has led the talks so far, said she wanted to hand the job over to a new negotiator.
A friend with a framework

A friend with a framework

MAASTRICHT. Imagine you’re a first-year who is feeling a bit lonely. You’d like to make more friends, but don’t know where to start. This is where the new peer support system that the student guidance team at the Student Service Centre is developing comes in. Student volunteers will be trained to help their peers in various ways, ...
Getting inspired by Frida Kahlo, Dorothee Parker and microscopic slides

Getting inspired by Frida Kahlo, Dorothee Parker and microscopic slides

Name: Catalina Dutta, first year Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience (track Fundamental Neuroscience) Room size: 18 m2 (terrace: 10 m2) Monthly rent: 580 euros

Cyclist Tom Dumoulin is first Dutchman to win Giro D’Italia

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. Former Maastricht university student Tom Dumoulin has won the 100th Giro d’Italia in Milan – becoming the first Dutchman ever to win the round Italy cycle race.

Dutch coalition talks reach stalemate as D66 picks up some of the blame

THE NETHERLANDS. Cabinet negotiator Edith Schippers has to go back to the drawing board in her efforts to form a stable coalition government after a second effort failed to win enough support.
Feeling four years all over again

Feeling four years all over again

Let me tell you, biking in Maastricht is a dangerous venture. One sunny evening, I was on my way to UM Sports. I packed my things and hopped on my bike. Little did I know that the alight would be anything but elegant. I cycled up Tongersestraat, entered the roundabout, enjoyed the sun, observed the people that were driving home from work, hit the b...

Coalition with ChristenUnie is the only option, chief negotiator says

THE NETHERLANDS. MPs from the Liberal democratic party D66 and the minor Christian party ChristenUnie will meet on Tuesday to discuss forming a coalition with the ruling VVD and the Christian Democrats.

The empty promise of social mobility

‘Social mobility’, ‘equality’ and ‘same chances for everyone’ are concepts which we hear quite often in Western Europe today. Everyone can climb the social latter nowadays. Attending a university does not indicate anymore that your parents are necessarily academics as well, or that your family is wealthy. Thes...

Big investors oppose Dutch minister’s 12-month ‘time out’ ahead of a takeover

THE NETHERLANDS. Large investors are rejecting the Dutch caretaker government’s proposal to allow a one-year ‘time out’ period before a takeover is completed.
May nature be on your side

May nature be on your side

I have been sick for a few days now and it just reminded me of all the things I simply hate about the Dutch healthcare system. It is expensive, slow, and not helpful, yet surrounded by white coats who will defend it until the last man standing. Actually, I think that doctors here spent the main part of their training learning how to defend their lo...

Party leaders to meet to discuss next steps after Dutch coalition talks flop

THE NETHERLANDS. MPs from all parties will meet parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the next stage in the cabinet coalition process, following the collapse of talks on Monday evening.

Dutch ministers vote for two-year ban on lobbying their own ministry

THE NETHERLANDS. The caretaker Dutch cabinet has approved new rules to try to stop former ministers taking up new jobs as lobbyists in a similar field.
Slow Academia

Slow Academia

You’ve heard of the Slow Food movement. Now there’s Slow Academia as well. Slow Academia is a response to the university as anxiety machine. To a creeping, aggressive brand of academic capitalism, characterised by rampant managerialism and an insidious audit culture. Resisting the neoliberal university, proponents say, means embracin...

Tackling gender stereotypes at the Maastricht Open debating competition

Tackling gender stereotypes at the Maastricht Open debating competition

MAASTRICHT. “These people have been unemployed for more than 15 years!”, was one of the participants’ motion during the discussion of gender stereotypes in the workplace and measures to break them. This was the topic discussed during the first round of the Maastricht Open, an international debating event organized by the Maastrich...
OPINION: The window is open but the curtains are closed

OPINION: The window is open but the curtains are closed

The University Council is transparent in theory, but a lot could be done on the practical points, says UCM student Sophie Silverstein in this opinion article.

Don’t pose for selfies on railway tracks, Dutch rail operator urges

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch rail company ProRail has launched an urgent appeal to people not to take selfies of themselves posing on or next to railway tracks.

Government awards €113m in subsidies for scientific research

THE NETHERLANDS. Six teams of scientists have been awarded a total of €112.8 million to carry out research into a range of disciplines from quantum computers to ancient Greek and Roman history.
Letter to the Dutchies

Letter to the Dutchies

Every time I talk to my supervisor I feel a bit guilty. It was and still is a struggle to address him on a first-name basis. Back home in Saudi Arabia you are expected to address people formally unless you are very good friends. In fact, if someone is older than you, you would always find an appropriate term for them. Now keep in mind that my super...

Oxford University Press journals behind a paywall

Oxford University Press journals behind a paywall

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. Dutch scientists are soon to lose access to Oxford University Press journals, now that the negotiations with the association of universities VSNU on open access have failed.
Global Challenges: Nuclear Warfare and Extension Cords

Global Challenges: Nuclear Warfare and Extension Cords

MAASTRICHT. It is Friday morning 28 April in Maastricht, and the infamous MECC is buzzing with life. 512 student delegates, sitting in 13 regional, UN, and European simulation bodies are in session at the convention centre for EuroMUN, the annual Model United Nations. This year’s theme: Global Challenges – Pursuing Integration. This yea...

Rabobank posts security guards at ATMs to curb use of explosives

THE NETHERLANDS. Rabobank is posting security guards near some of their ATMs at night to protect them from aggressive thieves who use explosives to break them open. The bank said 79 ATMs were hit by explosives last year, Algemeen Dagblad reported on Wednesday.

Schippers under fire for plan to let police grab medical DNA records

THE NETHERLANDS. Privacy campaigners have attacked departing health minister Edith Schippers for reviving a plan to use DNA samples taken by medical staff in criminal investigations.

Students claim breakthrough with biodegradable car

THE NETHERLANDS. A team of students at Eindhoven’s Technical University have built the world’s first fully biodegradable car using flax fibres.
A light in the storm

A light in the storm

There is a wonderful painting by James Ensor, a Belgian painter who lived across the nineteenth and twentieth century. The painting is called “Christ Calming the Storm”. It represents Jesus calming a storm which caught him and his disciples by surprise, while crossing the Sea of Galilee. The turbulent sea and sky are reproduced with an ...

Opinion: “The French and their penchant for scandal”

Opinion: “The French and their penchant for scandal”

She has a lot of electoral homework to do these days. On the back of the Dutch parliamentary elections, freelance journalist Lisa Dupuy, a graduate of University College Maastricht, is now looking south – to France. Thanks to her dual French nationality, she is eligible to vote in the upcoming elections on 23 April. Who are the candidate...
Europe without the EU? Unthinkable

Europe without the EU? Unthinkable

“We should not begin to speak of Europe first but instead, think of all continents, countries and individuals as standing on equal terms”. In times of Donald Trump and wide-spread populist sentiments it is easy to follow this line of thinking. But it is important remember that being pro-Europe does not mean to be against all others. ...

More students are not paying back their loans

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost 100,000 former students failed to pay back their student loans within the allotted 15 years, according to preliminary figures from the education ministry’s payment agency DUO.

Dijsselbloem stands by controversial ‘drink and women’ comments

THE NETHERLANDS. Caretaker finance minister and Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem has refused to apologise for his ‘drink and women’ comments that prompted angry calls for his resignation.
A Turkish Tragedy

A Turkish Tragedy

Being born in Germany but raised in a pretty Turkish household I look at the approaching constitutional referendum with a feeling of alienation, while being touched on a very personal level. ‘Erdogan’s Turkey’ is the object of frequent and often justified critique. A strong, unnegotiable stance towards the Turkish President is jus...

Maastricht scientist has started a petition to support CEU

Maastricht scientist has started a petition to support CEU

HUNGARY/MAASTRICHT. On Tuesday 4 April, the Hungarian parliament adopted a bill that jeopardises the future of the well-known Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. Maastricht scientist Lutz Krebs has started a petition.

Illiteracy costs Dutch society €1bn a year, 2.5 million can’t read or write well

THE NETHERLANDS. There are 2.5 million people in the Netherlands who cannot read or write well and together they cost society €1bn a year, according to pro-literacy foundation Stichting Lezen & Schrijven.

COC calls for action against rising tide of homophobic attacks

THE NETHERLANDS. The leading gay rights organisation in the Netherlands has called for the next government to take action against the rising frequency of homophobic attacks.
Integration

Integration

Exactly one year ago, I was terrified by what I thought were KKK-soldiers invading my town with burning torches as their only weaponry. Semana Santa (holy week before Eastern) in Granada was not only an exercise in ‘how to effectively find your way through a crowd without being robbed and/or feeling like your private space is violated’,...

Slow information for busy FASoS students

Slow information for busy FASoS students

MAASTRICHT. As of two weeks ago, FASoS students can find not only freshly brewed coffee and carrot cake at Banditos, but also a new shelf on the left dedicated to newspapers. The faculty agreed to pay a total of €1,049 per year for student subscriptions to The New York Times, Die Zeit, The Economist and Le Monde Diplomatique.

Dutch amusement parks, museums to ban smoking while you wait

THE NETHERLANDS. In total, 21 Dutch tourist attractions and amusement parks are to ban visitors from smoking while they queue up, Dutch media reported on Tuesday.

Schippers ‘to stay on to lead coalition talks’

THE NETHERLANDS. Departing health minister Edith Schippers is set to continue in her role co-ordinating talks to form a new Dutch government, sources have told the Telegraaf.
Motherhood: The job not everybody has to apply for

Motherhood: The job not everybody has to apply for

I recently read that great article: “By the way, you do not have to breed”. It addresses the issue of women who choose not to become mothers. In fact, it provides strong support for them. Usually, only childless women themselves understand and support other child-free women. But this fine piece was written by a mother of two! Hey, final...

Myth-busting a myth busting

Myth-busting a myth busting

“Many ME-patients suffer from tremendous exhaustion for days after exercise, the so-called post-exertional malaise, or PEM. There were doubts as to whether the large British PACE trial was correct,” said professor of Internal Medicine and Immunology Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, a couple of weeks ago in the Myth Busters- series of Observan...
“It’s difficult not to envy others”

“It’s difficult not to envy others”

To most students, life feels awash with possibility. The vast array of opportunities and choices leaves many overwhelmed. Confronted with everything on offer, they struggle to choose and commit. But that doesn’t go for all students. “I don’t want to say you’re spoiled, but you are highly privileged.”
"I had to keep repeating: this is really reality"

"I had to keep repeating: this is really reality"

On Friday night, March 17th, all chairs are filled in the InnBetween, in anticipation of hearing Samar Yazbek talk about her two books, Woman in the Crossfire and the Crossing. Yazbek is originally a novelist but her desire to cover the Syrian conflict has lead her two books to hover half-way between journalism and fiction. They cover her experienc...

Discrimination complaints soar, people ‘unaware’ of stereotype impact

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch human rights council College voor de Rechten van de Mens received 3,143 complaints about discrimination last year, a rise of almost 1,000 on 2015
Rutte seeks ‘stable’ coalition of four parties for next cabinet

Rutte seeks ‘stable’ coalition of four parties for next cabinet

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte is looking to put together a ‘stable’ coalition of four parties following last week’s election.
Maastricht, slow it down

Maastricht, slow it down

“We can go out tomorrow?” – “No, sorry, have a deadline the next day, need to work on it.” – “No problem. What about next Monday then?” – “Not possible, my student association meeting is on this day.” – “Alright. But are you joining for the party next Thursday?” &nd...

Act normal

Act normal

Nothing about global politics over the last year has felt ordinary, but that didn’t stop the prime minister, Mark Rutte, from calling for more “normal” a few weeks prior to yesterday’s election. “Sometimes it seems as though nobody behaves normally any more,” he wrote in an open letter to the Dutch people. In ...

VVD wins 33 seats but coalition partner Labour is hammered

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte claimed victory in the Dutch general election on Wednesday night and with 93% of the votes counted, is set to win 33 seats in the 150 seat lower house of parliament.

General election 2017: The Netherlands goes to the polls as Europe watches

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands goes to the polls on Wednesday to elect 150 members for the lower house of parliament and a new government.

Turkey suspends high level contacts with the Netherlands as dispute escalates

THE NETHERLANDS. Turkey has suspended high level contacts with the Netherlands as the diplomatic row between the two countries continues to escalate.

Dutch diplomatic row with Turkey simmers

THE NETHERLANDS. The war of words between the Netherlands and Turkey has deepened as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community to impose sanctions on the Netherlands.
I want to be happy

I want to be happy

What I really want is to be happy. I would love to have a small family of four. A daughter and a son, living somewhere scenic where the children can go play outside safely. Yes, sure I would like to have enough money to be able to enjoy life, but I am definitely not aspiring to be filthy rich. I do not see the point. This is the typical respons...

About birds, dogs, cactuses and cows

About birds, dogs, cactuses and cows

Name: Marion Meyers, first year Knowledge Engineering Room size: around 16 m² Area: city center Monthly rent: 490 euros
“I have a better future than TTIP”

“I have a better future than TTIP”

MAASTRICHT. The Aula at the Minderbroedersberg is filled on Tuesday evening with students on a mission: they are preparing to sound out Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, on the current political climate in a question-and-answer session as part of the Ambassador’s Lecture Series. Minister Koende...
“If you’re not going to vote, you have no right to say anything”

“If you’re not going to vote, you have no right to say anything”

Almost all of the 56 Maastricht students who participated in a survey conducted by Observant were planning on voting in the election on 15 March. A large number had consulted the Stemwijzer and other tools, but haven’t yet decided who to vote for. For many it’s a toss-up between D66 and the VVD. GroenLinks was mentioned frequently as we...

Afghan, Iranian children lead the pack, says study of 1990s refugee wave

THE NETHERLANDS. Children among the 96,000 refugees who came to the Netherlands from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s are well integrated into Dutch society, according to a justice ministry report.

Election steps up a gear as Rutte joins rivals in TV debate

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte entered the debating arena for the first time in the election campaign as eight party leaders went head-to-head in Amsterdam’s Carré Theatre.
The Ife Head

The Ife Head

Some days ago I happened to read one of the most beautiful considerations I’ve read in the last years. It was by Ben Okri, a Nigerian-born novelist. It was about the sense of tranquility emanating from the Ife Head, a brass statue from Nigeria, dating back to the fifteenth century. The author was talking about how the presence of tranquility ...

Student House of the Year

Student House of the Year

Orleansplein 22B has been voted Student House of the Year, a joint initiative by Maastricht Housing and Observant. “It’s the winning house because of its good atmosphere, as if it is one big family. That is apparent from the road trip to Portugal that they have planned. They also want to put some of the prize money into decorating ...

Beer price in Dutch cafes nears €2.50

THE NETHERLANDS. The average price for a glass of beer in a Dutch café or bar is approaching €2.50 a glass, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday.

Consumers more confident on economy

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch consumer confidence index hit a 9.5 year high in February, rising 1 point on January’s total to +14. Consumers being more positive about the economy in general and are therefore more likely to spend money, national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
Small Talk

Small Talk

 ‘It’s not a big deal. No reason to freak out!’ I tell myself while this person I barely know is walking towards me. Ignoring me after we both recognized each other notably on the hallway would be rude, I guess. It’s small talk time! Talking for the sake of talking, no goals involved. When you are the type of person th...

“Ten complaints are not more important to the faculty than one”

“Ten complaints are not more important to the faculty than one”

The one grumbles among friends (or on Facebook), the other complains to the lecturer – answer key in hand. Sometimes just to get a better grade for themselves, sometimes to improve the education programme. Whatever the reason, complaining is normal for most students. Observant asked 25 students about their experience. The following are a few ...
Threatening e-mail for lecturer after a fail

Threatening e-mail for lecturer after a fail

MAASTRICHT. Students who collectively come to seek redress, parents who protest and call the dean, threatening e-mails and a lot of unpleasant rumblings on Facebook. It all happened to professor Jaap Bos in the past two years. To be more precise, after he adapted his exam for the first-year subject of Finance and 400 students failed.
Heartbreak, anger and existential thoughts

Heartbreak, anger and existential thoughts

MAASTRICHT. You know it’s Stukafest (the student room festival held last Thursday, 9 February) when you’re in a quiet residential street and suddenly a group of Germans on bikes comes to a screeching halt in front of a student building. “What are you going to see?” “Who knows, we just signed up for something, so I gues...

Fury as public transport smart card firm makes €55m in profit

THE NETHERLANDS. The company behind the Dutch public transport smart card has made €55m profit on the plastic cards in five years, the AD said on Tuesday.
Told you so

Told you so

‘Told you so’ is among my most-hated English phrases, since it indicates two things: the other was right (and thus I wasn’t), and, probably even worse: I could’ve known, had I only listened. Before I went to Spain, I refused to believe the scaremongering stories about the level of Spanish university education. Surely, the...

Health cover pushes Netherlands to top of European insurance league

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch residents spend more on insurance than any other EU citizens – but only because their healthcare is funded by compulsory private cover.
YO!Fest: Who is going to make ideas concrete?

YO!Fest: Who is going to make ideas concrete?

MAASTRICHT. “Let´s youth up Europe!” It is the slogan of this year’s YO!Fest,  the annual political festival which celebrated 25 years of the Maastricht Treaty this year. The eighth edition of the event, held at the Sphinxkwartier, is a festival combining forces of the City of Maastricht, the Province of Limburg and the...

Dutch air and water quality need improvement, EU report shows

THE NETHERLANDS. The main challenges facing the Netherlands in implementing EU environmental standards concern air and water quality, according to a new report by the European Commission.
Maybe it’s not just me

Maybe it’s not just me

“Stress seems to be a big thing at UCM that people talk about. It occurred to me after a while that maybe it’s not just me who has a hard time getting things done and we should do something about this,” says Amelie Gaetjen, a second year sociology student at UCM. She’s on the academic council and is one of the students behin...

Climate change watchdog to be based in Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS. The institution that will check whether countries are sticking to the promises made in the Paris climate agreement is to be based in the Netherlands.
Anthropology of Brits

Anthropology of Brits

Hollywood puts enormous efforts to present every Brit as subtle, polite, and decent by giving them the role of the butler. Yet, the description of Brits I’ve seen during my stay in the UK is far from Batman’s butler Alfred, and falls closer to any of the “Geordie shore” characters. Yes, Brits drink, and there is nothing s...

I´d take a coffee with my literature

I´d take a coffee with my literature

Today, I spent all day at Koffie. After my friends had continued to enthuse about its comfortable atmosphere, I wanted to check it out myself. According to their stories, the vibrant coffee house has turned into a popular alternative to the static library among students. Actually in search for distraction rather than a place to study- I made my ...

European universities warn against US entry ban

THE NETHERLANDS. European universities are calling on US president Donald Trump to immediately revoke the entry ban on nationals from seven Muslim countries. His executive order could have far-reaching consequences for the academic world.
The Inaugural

The Inaugural

On the 20th of January, Americans around the world sat in grim silence as Donald Trump, now the 45th President of the United States, took his oath of office. Despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million, he stood before that podium, placed his hand on Lincoln’s Bible, and swore an oath that he was in violation of. This charade was soon...

University students more likely to opt for applied sciences

THE NETHERLANDS. Students at Dutch universities are increasingly opting for applied sciences, with technical subjects, natural sciences and agriculture the fastest growing sectors in the last five years.

Iranian families, students hit by US entry ban are waiting at Schiphol

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch airline KLM on Sunday again refused to fly passengers from seven Muslim countries who were heading for the US because of US president Donald Trump’s entry ban.
So how many diseases do you have?

So how many diseases do you have?

The arrival of the film Arrival in movie theatres recently was the biggest event of the year in the linguists’ cinematic calendar, if that's a thing. It's not often linguistics meets Hollywood. In the film, the linguist Dr Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams – who is clearly hot but, thankfully, not too unrealistically hot) is ...

Hire me … please?

Hire me … please?

MSV Incognito’s Business Day, ELSA workshops, SBE’s Maastricht Business Days – the list goes on. Study associations at UM are gearing up in response to a volatile job market with visions of enhancing student employability. But are they actually filling niches left open by the university, wonders Amira Eid. And are their – se...
Only politics can save us

Only politics can save us

In the week of the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Professor Dirk de Schutter delves into Hannah Arendt’s take on the implications for our collective humanity that the Holocaust has left behind. Questions of truth and judgment, evil and responsibility are laid out in relation both to the past and to the present.

Integration process new style a flop, says audit office

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of people passing the compulsory integration test within three years has plunged by 50% since new rules were introduced in 2013, the national audit office said in a damning report on Tuesday.

One in five doctors gives drugs away to poor patients: research

THE NETHERLANDS. One in five family doctors has given medicine away to people who are unable to afford it, the AD said on Monday.
An Ode to White, Blue and Cookies

An Ode to White, Blue and Cookies

“Sorry, I haven’t vacuumed in a week. My mom would probably freak out!” Liza Hazenberg, the present ‘day in the life of’ student room candidate apologetically opens the door to her 18m2 territory. Her mom, she jokingly declares, “can be a real piece of work“ and worries a lot. It is rather unclear why, thou...

Dutchies and their diaries

Dutchies and their diaries

Yesterday, I asked a Dutch friend of mine: “Shall we go to the cinema tomorrow?” “Yes”, he replied enthusiastically. I saw the excitement beaming from his eyes – it was a movie he was keen on watching. But all that zest went down the drain when he said: “Oh wait, I have to check my diary.” I realized we wil...

‘Pure’ web shops outpace those with physical presence

THE NETHERLANDS. Sales at internet web shops without the backing of a brick and mortar presence are growing at a faster clip than web shops which have a physical presence, according to the government statistics office CBS.
The musty smell of sprouts

The musty smell of sprouts

Where is the student perspective in the anniversary book The Maastricht Experiment? That’s what Evelyne de Leeuw who studied and worked in Maastricht between 1981 and 2000, wants to know. It looks like students have been a hindrance rather than a necessity.

The Netherlands joins battle for European medicines agency EMA

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands has decided to join the race to attract the European medicines agency EMA, which will leave London after Britain quits the EU.
Unresolved mysteries

Unresolved mysteries

On my way back to Granada - for the last time - after Christmas holidays at home, I am flying with Vueling, a Spanish airline, which means I’ll be surrounded by Spanish! Right after boarding, however, my excitement quickly dissolves, as I am suddenly reminded of one of the Great Spanish Mysteries my stay in Holland had made me forget about. ...

First Dutch test of ankle bracelet to check drinking bans

THE NETHERLANDS. An ankle bracelet designed to enforce drinking bans imposed by the courts is being tried out in the Netherlands from Monday.
Time for time out

Time for time out

I like Christmas and Christmas holidays, I always have. It’s a magical period which brings some relief from the greyness and cold of winter, and fresh oxygen to start with motivation the new year to come. To me it’s the right moment to slow down, relax, spend time with family, enjoy all the food I normally try to avoid during the year, ...

Most PVV parliamentary candidates have another political job

THE NETHERLANDS. Nearly all the 50 parliamentary hopefuls on the PVV’s election list have another political job, according to research by the Volkskrant.

Pressure mounts on university lecturers as student numbers rise

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost seven in 10 university academic staff say they have to work under a lot of pressure and 70% do at least six hours overtime a week, according to a survey by trade union federation FNV.

Eating out is in as young generation embraces conspicuous consumption

THE NETHERLANDS. Dining out is the latest word in conspicuous consumption, according to a survey that shows spending in cafes and restaurants increased by 4.5% in 2016.
A good cause and music: “It’s magic”

A good cause and music: “It’s magic”

MAASTRICHT. An intimate crowd gathers inside the Innbetween, which is decorated with warm lighting and a traditional Christmas tree, for the Unicef Charity Concert Thursday night. People chat and eat Mexican milk cake before the concert begins, which raises funds for children afflicted by the Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. An array of talented arti...

Looking for a facile pen?

Looking for a facile pen?

Would you like to learn how to be a better writer or get a taste of journalism? Observant is organising four writing workshop in March and April 2017, both in English and Dutch. The workshops can be taken separately and are given by professional journalists. We work in small groups of a maximum of 10 participants (minimum 6). Participants will...

Dutch overestimate size of the Netherlands’ Muslim population

THE NETHERLANDS. Members of the public in the Netherlands and other European states widely overestimate the size of their Muslim populations, according to an Ipsos Mori poll.

Congestion and delays as commuters adjust to new train timetable

THE NETHERLANDS. Rail passengers are getting used to the most wide-ranging overhaul of the national train timetable in nearly 10 years, with 98% of commuters facing a change to their routine.

Dutch to ban cyclists from using mobile phones, apart from hands-free

THE NETHERLANDS. Transport minister Melanie Schultz is to introduce new legislation banning cyclists from using their mobile phones unless they telephone hands-free and using headphones.
The dog days are over?

The dog days are over?

In Serbia, it is generally believed that animals in western countries have more rights than the average Serbian. The well-dressed and happy looking pets I’ve seen in the Netherlands, and the fact that the Dutch even have an animal rights party in the parliament make me think that the Serbian wisdom is true. Statistics show that about 40% o...

Spanish Europe

Spanish Europe

“You guys in Europe are different. You have a different way of seeing the world. I like Europe - everything is very well organized and there are a lot of opportunities.” My Blablacar-driver, just back from visiting his girlfriend in Southern England, surprises me. Not because he talks about the level of organization in other countries -...

How to cope with the workload and find Cato by Cato

How to cope with the workload and find Cato by Cato

MAASTRICHT. “You meet new people and learn more about the university yourself, it’s a win-win situation”, that’s how the buddies of the International Student Ambassador Programme described their time showing new international students around. Last Wednesday, Maastricht University invited them to the Lumière to reward th...

Making the world a little cleaner in Chemelot

Making the world a little cleaner in Chemelot

In a few years’ time you might find yourself sleeping under a blanket of sustainable plastic; plastic so refined and ‘natural’ it can be used to make textiles. Or perhaps your smartphone cover will be plastic made from sugar beets. At the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM), research is underway on the devel...

Access to wireless internet is a basic necessity: Dutch minister

THE NETHERLANDS. Access to wireless internet is a basic necessity for everyone in the Netherlands, according to Dutch economic affairs minister Henk Kamp.

Ministers want more controls on foreign funding of foundations

THE NETHERLANDS. The cabinet wants to bring in new rules about foreign finance for foundations, following concerns about the source of some cash sent to mosques and other Islamic institutions.
We went to the beach

We went to the beach

We did our homework in the sun. We despaired over the rain: “Can I go out in my flip-flops today?” We despaired over the workload. We rejoiced when we got good grades.  We slunk off and got a Gingerbread Latte in the café across from the bookstore for comfort if our grades were not so good.  We wanted to join all the clubs ...

Dutch prime minister says migrant boats should be sent back to Africa

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte has called for migrant boats intercepted off the coast of Italy to be towed back to safe countries in northern Africa.

Dutch foreign minister ‘will argue’ for a freeze on accession talks with Turkey

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders has told parliament he is prepared to argue in favour of temporarily suspending talks with Turkey about EU membership following pressure from MPs.
Anglosplaining jerk

Anglosplaining jerk

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard the term mansplaining being thrown around; a portmanteau of the words man and explaining. It was inspired by a landmark essay by the American writer Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me. In it, she recalls the time a Very Important Man informed her about a book she must re...

Robots to replace lecturers?

Robots to replace lecturers?

MAASTRICHT. You enter the classroom and there is no lecturer in sight. Instead, a robot whizzes around and teaches at the whiteboard. The lectures turn into mass events with thousands of students listening in via a video link-up or some other technological device. Maastricht’s famous PBL sessions diminish slowly and online courses become part...
OPINION: What has the EU ever done for you?

OPINION: What has the EU ever done for you?

Twenty five years have passed since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. What lies ahead for the European Union? Should it break up or become a federal superstate? Neither, says second-year European Studies student Kerstin Spath. It should stay just the way it is.

More threats and violence directed at local politicians due to refugee controversies

THE NETHERLANDS. There has been a ‘worrying’ increase in threats and violence directed at local politicians, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk has told parliament.
I found my professor on Professor Watchlist

I found my professor on Professor Watchlist

A couple years ago, David Horowitz wrote a book called The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. One of my professors at UC Santa Cruz is listed in it because of her attempt to introduce a feminist practice, which attempts to center women instead of men, into her teaching (she teaches in the Feminist Studies department). “At the time&rdquo...

Council of Europe warns Dutch about counter-terrorism plans

THE NETHERLANDS. The Council of Europe is concerned about Dutch draft legislation to stop people traveling to join jihadi movements in Syria and has asked the government to explain its proposals, the NRC said on Tuesday.

The Netherlands is about to become 10 hectares bigger

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands and Belgium will today sign a formal treaty swapping pieces of land along their border at the Maas river.
Prof. X and his colleague

Prof. X and his colleague

“Sorry, what’s your name again?” “Saeed.” “No, I know your first name, I just need your last name.” While I was trying to gather my thoughts to figure out the importance of my last name, the professor managed to read it on my student card. “Oh, I see, Dr Banaama. Is that how you pronounce ...

“Islam did not kill my son, Daesh did”

“Islam did not kill my son, Daesh did”

MAASTRICHT. The SBE lecture hall is full on the evening of Wednesday 23 November. Security is tight, and the mood is sombre. Three speakers have been invited for a discussion that is “perhaps even more important to have now – now that the issue is out of the headlines again”, in the words of one of the organisers, Luca Bucken. The...

Foreign students generate billions of euros for the Dutch economy

THE NETHERLANDS. International students who stay in the Netherlands after completing their studies generate some €1.6bn for the treasury every year, according to research by EP-Nuffic.
“Without truth, there is no justice”

“Without truth, there is no justice”

Police brutality, gender violence and land grabbing are just some of the human rights violations that Kenyan activist Naythan photographs and documents on a daily basis in the Rift Valley area, the place he calls home. Two months ago he set foot in Europe for the very first time when he arrived in Maastricht, where he is being hosted by the Univers...

Pay gap continues to close, young women earn more than men

THE NETHERLANDS. The pay gap between men and women is closing and young women are actually overtaking men in some sectors, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday.
What is a loofole?

What is a loofole?

The other day I had asked a friend of mine to proofread one of my essays. She’s from Spain, so English is not her native language but she has an excellent grasp of it nonetheless. At one point she looks up with a bewildered look on her face: “Sophie, what is a loofole?” I ask her to repeat it, believing I couldn’t possibl...

Wilders to address ‘fewer Moroccans’ trial later this week

THE NETHERLANDS. Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders has said he will attend court for the first time later this week to defend himself against charges of inciting hatred against Moroccans.

Srebrenica: did the UN tell Dutch troops there would be no air support?

THE NETHERLANDS. New research into the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 is likely to cast fresh doubt on whether the Dutch troops guarding the safe area were given adequate cover by the UN.

More dead birds confirmed to have infectious avian flu

THE NETHERLANDS. More dead birds have been found in the Netherlands which were killed by the highly infectious avian flu variant H5N8, the food and product safety board said on Wednesday.

Britain can’t leave EU customs union and trade freely: Dutch finance minister

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has told the BBC that it would be ‘impossible’ for Britain to leave the EU customs union and keep trading freely with Europe.
“Sometimes you’re not smart enough on your own”

“Sometimes you’re not smart enough on your own”

MAASTRICHT. Oats, nanomedicines, and young entrepreneurs – the kick-off event of the annual Maastricht edition of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) leaves participants with a range of new insights into scientific entrepreneurship.
 (Half) a nation grieves

(Half) a nation grieves

Is there anything else I could have written about this week? Walking to class on Wednesday morning, the regular crowd of flip-flop-wearing students carrying binders and water bottles is dotted with black. Many people on campus are treating this day as a day of mourning. The dining hall, usually abuzz and a-clatter with hungry voices and tinkling si...

‘More money needed for cultural sector freelancers’

THE NETHERLANDS. Culture subsidies must be raised if cultural institutions are to pay actors, musicians and other self-employed artists a proper wage, according to Joop Daalmeijer who is stepping down as chairman of the Council for Culture this week.

Nearly 200 arrested in anti-Piet protest, no trouble at Sinterklaas arrival

THE NETHERLANDS. Sinterklaas parades took place all over the Netherlands at the weekend following the official ‘arrival’ of the saint in Maassluis on Saturday, three weeks ahead of the December 5 festivities.
Irish Pubs in Bologna

Irish Pubs in Bologna

And just as I was about to give up, the night bus I was running after stopped in the middle of the Ponte della Libertà and picked me up – drenched and slightly hysterical at 3 AM on a Venice Tuesday. Isn’t that refreshing: a quirky anecdote hinting at my utterly unique experience? Naturally, I’ll play it cool and give a dismis...

Dehumanization can take many forms

Dehumanization can take many forms

The Collector - John Fowles Recommended for: Art, Literature, and Society students (FaSoS) ‘We are such stuff/  As dreams are made on; and our little life/ Is rounded with a sleep.’ – Prospero in The Tempest (Act 4 Scene 1) Frederick, a lonely, uneducated butterfly collector leading an unremarkable existence in the E...

What does Donald Trump’s presidential win mean for the Netherlands?

THE NETHERLANDS. While Dutch politicians and commentators reacted cautiously to Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential race, many of them saw parallels to the situation in the Netherlands, where voters are deserting traditional parties and putting their faith in populist candidates.
Staff and student about Trump’s victory

Staff and student about Trump’s victory

MAASTRICHT. Donald Trump has won the US election. Did he pull of a shock at Maastricht University?  

Dutch Association of Psychologists: ‘Invest more in student guidance’

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. Interstedelijk Studentenoverleg (ISO) and the Dutch Association of Psychologists (Nederlands Instituut van Psychologen, NIP) have concluded that there are too few psychological counsellors for students at a number of Dutch universities and other institutes of higher education. There are long waiting lists especially at u...

Trump will be ‘judged by his deeds’, says Dutch foreign minister

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders has issued the first Dutch government reaction to Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, by saying he will be judged by his actions.
An hour or forty years

An hour or forty years

A Monday in late October, I was taking the tiny bus from my house in the village-like neighborhood of Albaicin to the city centre. As usual on tourist-low hours (early Mondays), I shared it only with locals. Hence, I was, by a wide margin, the youngest passenger. After all, most young Andalusians are not here anymore, having ignored the ubiquitous ...

They just clapped

They just clapped

“Audiences here cheer and whoop and get really excited but when I toured Europe with the San Francisco Youth Orchestra our audiences weren’t as loud. They just clapped, but they would keep clapping for a really long time. In the United States people will get excited about classical music as a novelty but I feel like in Europe it’s...

Schiphol experiments with new scanner to speed up security checks

THE NETHERLANDS. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has begun testing a new form of security scanner which removes the need for passengers to take liquids and laptops out of their luggage.

Labour party leadership contest between two hopefuls: Samsom and Asscher

THE NETHERLANDS. Labour MP Jacques Monasch has accused the party of stopping him from contesting the party leadership because he disagrees with the rules agreed for the vote.
The Trump Effect on U.S. Foreign Policy

The Trump Effect on U.S. Foreign Policy

No matter who wins, the 2016 American presidential election will be defined by its rejection of establishment candidates and the electorate’s embrace of insurgents, who openly waged war on their own parties, argues dr. Roberta Haar, an American national teaching at UCM, whose area of research includes investigating U.S. foreign policy.

Wadden Sea tops most beautiful Dutch nature reserve poll

THE NETHERLANDS. The Wadden nature reserve is the most beautiful nature reserve in the Netherlands, broadcaster NOS  reports.
A “sketchy” drawing session

A “sketchy” drawing session

MAASTRICHT. In a well-hidden corner of the Bonnefanten museum, a group of about thirty people gathers. As they collect their paper and charcoal, pencil or pen, the near-nude models take their places at the front. Hungarian artist Sándor Sinkó will lead tonight’s sketching workshop, organised by the Young Office (YO), a group of volunteers tha...

First Rain (Contains Casual Nudity)

First Rain (Contains Casual Nudity)

People sure get worked up about rain here. I first wanted to illustrate this by writing about how everyone looks out of the window, the way European kids do at the first sign of snow, as soon as rain starts to fall or about how they suddenly panic about what to wear. But then the opportunity for an even better example presented itself – the U...

Government agencies to stop using ‘allochtoon’ to describe immigrants

THE NETHERLANDS. Two major government-funded agencies are to stop using the word allochtoon to describe people with ‘alien’ origins with immediate effect, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday.

Minister puts €87m in extra cash into eradicating inequality in education

THE NETHERLANDS. Education minister Jet Bussemaker has earmarked an extra €87m over three years to be spent on reducing inequality in education.
Are you proud to be an American?

Are you proud to be an American?

When I was about eight years old, I was convinced that I would be the first female president of the United States. In fact, whenever my grandmother called from California (on rare and exciting occasions in the days before Skype) I would invariable answer with: ‘The president speaking.’ When my ballot for the United States presidentia...

Press the button!

Press the button!

My UK visa journey started in Germany, and if history taught us anything, it is that you don’t want to be stuck between these two nations. Yes! History does have a point. I spotted the immigration office easily by a crowd of people in the middle of the sidewalk with their faces clinging the window, as if they are about to reach heaven. The...

Controversial ‘tick’ food label to be replaced by an app

THE NETHERLANDS. The blue and green ticks on food labels are to be replaced by a smart phone app, allowing consumers to access personalised information about products they are thinking of buying, health minister Edith Schippers has told MPs.

Anti-gay leaflets spread around Amsterdam

THE NETHERLANDS. Police in Amsterdam say they have received over 20 complaints about an anti-gay leaflet which has been distributed door to door in western parts of the city.
See-Food Diet

See-Food Diet

“Back home, I barely use any oil at all, but here the food is so greasy!”, says one of my roommates. She remembers that when she first started going to UC Santa Cruz, adapting to the food in the dining halls was one of the hardest parts simply because of the sheer amount of heavy food. Even though the cooks make a stab at diversity, at ...

Don’t call them Spanish

Don’t call them Spanish

We know history has many purposes. It might offer us consolation, great movie plots, a sense of identity, lessons for the future, and, in many cases, tourism and jobs. Spain is one of those countries that counts with such a large amount of historical heritage that one might lose oversight - not necessarily a problem, in most cases, but an opportun...

Recorded crime drops by 25% in nine years; all types show a decline

THE NETHERLANDS. There has been a 25% drop in the number of recorded crimes over the past nine years, national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
On being an indy scholar

On being an indy scholar

Now and then people ask me, ‘Do you miss academia?’ The question always surprises me, because to my mind, I never left. I’m not affiliated with a university; not since I left Cambridge two years ago. But I never stopped doing and publishing research. I call myself an independent scholar. When I tell people this, they look at me...

Ministers back assisted suicide for people who feel their life has been completed

THE NETHERLANDS. People who feel their ‘life has been completed’ should get the legal right to die with the help of a specialist care worker, health minister Edith Schippers and justice minister Ard van de Steur have told MPs in a briefing.

Stealing student: “It was a joke”

MAASTRICHT. A certain ‘Na Cho’ put a photo on Facebook, in which he – we only see an arm and a hand, which appear to be male – is helping himself to tea bags and sugar while announcing that he is stealing the stuff, in the Randwijck library. Albron caterers say that they have no idea how great the company’s losses are ...
OPINION: “I can´t vote for someone I don´t believe in”

OPINION: “I can´t vote for someone I don´t believe in”

Why are many young Americans so disappointed in the presidential elections that they even consider not voting at all? Cydney Contreras (19) from southern California, who is an exchange student in political science at UCM, explains her considerations.

Finance ministry takes back control of the tax office

THE NETHERLANDS. Junior finance minister Eric Wiebes has placed the tax office under direct ministerial control and plans to replace the organisation’s board with a senior civil servant reporting directly to him.

Amsterdam professor is most influential Dutch woman in latest Opzij ranking

THE NETHERLANDS. Jose van Dijck, an Amsterdam University professor and head of the Dutch scientific academy KNAW, has been chosen as most influential woman of 2016 by feminist magazine Opzij.
I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle

“Does anyone recognize these markings?” The bicycling instructor indicates a symbol that is a simple line drawing of a bike with two pointy brackets pointing upwards above it. It’s Friday night, and fifteen students are attending the Bicycle Safety Class that is mandatory for participants in the Bike Library, a program to encourag...

Commuters hit by changes to off-peak travel rules

THE NETHERLANDS. Rail users have been hit by changes to the rules for using the NS off-peak discount card that prevent them splitting their journey between full-price and discounted travel.
An awkward silence - or not

An awkward silence - or not

More than a year after the attack on Paris, months after that in Brussels and not long after the so-called Islamic State attack on Nice, my family arrived in Europe. Tension is on the rise. Politics is shifting to the right and the conservatives are gaining in popularity in most countries. Everyone is scared and afraid as uncertainty unfolds. I ...

Nobel chemistry prize sparks delight from mini-motor maker

Nobel chemistry prize sparks delight from mini-motor maker

THE NETHERLANDS. Sparks of delight flew as Dutch scientist Ben Feringa jointly won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for his work in creating miniscule motors.
“You need someone to bake a cake? I can!”

“You need someone to bake a cake? I can!”

What’s it like to be a home chef, to share your dishes with fellow Maastricht residents? Observant visited a Russian and an Indian student who present their creations on the online platform HomeHandi.
From South to North: Granada - Madrid

From South to North: Granada - Madrid

“We are uncultured people”, concludes Manu, with a face that is darker than last week’s Andalusian rain storm. While I’m working my way around eating my green beans with garlic - being a vegetarian here is a challenge sometimes, especially on the deserted highway that leads from the nothingness of central Spain to the greatn...

Criminal investigation into Vindicat initiation rite

THE NETHERLANDS. A criminal investigation has begun into an initiation rite at Groningen student university society Vindicat that left a young man in hospital with a severe head injury, reports the Volkskrant.

Three Amsterdam students hospitalised after initiation rituals

THE NETHERLANDS. Three first year students in Amsterdam were hospitalised last month after taking part in initiation rituals to join a student society, broadcaster NOS reports.
Would you like a violin with that privilege?

Would you like a violin with that privilege?

I have a violin! After regretting not bringing my violin from Maastricht I enquired in the music department about renting one. Rent? They were having none of that. After my audition on a friend’s violin I was whisked into a locked room full of instruments on hold for just such an occasion and presented with my (temporarily) very own violin fr...

Police chief: ethnic profiling in stop-checks ‘undermines trust’

THE NETHERLANDS. More than half of people stopped during police roadside checks have an ethnic minority background, a new study has found.
Interdisciplinary on the next level

Interdisciplinary on the next level

The graphic novel is a genre often associated with lighthearted topics, shallow plotlines depicted in garish colors, and dialogue oriented more towards punchlines than introspection. Alison Bechdel subverts all this in her autobiographical novel, Fun Home. Even the title is already a subversion, an act of direct opposition towards the characteristi...

No Excuses

No Excuses

Two years ago I was given the opportunity to contribute to the English column of the Observant, and each year for the first column of the academic year I have written about happiness. This year I thought it would be nice to keep the tradition.   In the first column I was mainly insisting on the importance of knowing ourselves and being r...

A note from an Observant distributor

A note from an Observant distributor

You know us: those annoying students blocking the door of your faculty and almost forcing an Observant into your hands. Sorry about that, but most people just don´t seem to know the Observant well enough to let the matter go around on its own. If you don´t want a newspaper, then don´t take it; it´s as simple as that. We c...

Dutch more positive about EU, just one in five back a Nexit

THE NETHERLANDS.The Dutch have become more positive about the European Union, with 46% now thinking membership is ‘a good thing’, according to new research by the government’s social policy advisory unit SCP.

Groningen student hospitalised after being hit during initiation ritual

THE NETHERLANDS. A first year student at Groningen University was hospitalised after he was hit on the head during an initiation ritual last month and developed a cerebral oedema, the NRC said on Wednesday.
Counter-culture culture

Counter-culture culture

“Back when I did Feminist Studies up at UCSC it wasn’t even a department yet. It was just run by a collective of women,” says the cashier as I pay for my textbook.  In downtown Santa Cruz, in the bookstore called The Literary Guillotine, I feel myself tipping headfirst into history. This small space is crammed floor to ceilin...

DSW sets the pace with health premium price rise of nearly 10%

THE NETHERLANDS. Health insurance company DSW, traditionally the first to announce the price of a basic policy for the following year, is to raise its premiums by €110 in 2017, or around 10%.

Train conductors suspend ticket checks to protest staff reduction plan

THE NETHERLANDS. Some train conductors are refusing to check tickets on Monday in protest at plans to cut the number of staff on double-decker trains.
A Big, Fluffy Blob of Grey

A Big, Fluffy Blob of Grey

“So where do you draw the line between absolutism and not having an opinion at all?” Oh no, no, mate. That’s not what I meant. Look, I was quite happy with the dinner-friendly small-talk we had going on, but I suppose your seemingly –painfully- obvious question calls for one of my favourite rants, even if we’re only on...

 Big Green Taxi

Big Green Taxi

On my last day in Granada before returning to spend the summer in Holland, my taxi driver (28 years, flip flops, a college degree) seems to be hesitating. I look at him questioningly, and, after apparently deciding that not much can be lost because we have almost arrived at our destination anyway, he continues our conversation about differences bet...

More understanding, poorer facilities

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. While lecturers do have more understanding for students with dyslexia, chronic diseases, depression, or other disorders, the information provided about studying with a handicap is still not as it should be. In fact facilities have worsened. This is one of the conclusions in the annual report ‘Studying with a handic...

Higher education: no money for equality of opportunity

Higher education: no money for equality of opportunity

THE NETHERLANDS. The government is failing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to providing equal opportunities for everyone, according to students and educational institutions. The budget for the coming year was presented on Tuesday – it is always announced on Prinsjesdag, the third Tuesday of September – with the new pla...
Talk American To Me

Talk American To Me

‘How’s it going?’ ‘I’m awesome!’ (accompanied by big thumbs up) ‘We should totally meet up sometime. Text me!’ And you never see them again. This is a typical round of American small talk, as acted out by our orientation leader during the ‘Understanding US Culture’ presentation...

Crowds gather in The Hague ahead of the annual budget presentation

THE NETHERLANDS. Royalty fans are lining the streets of The Hague on Tuesday morning, hoping to get a good view of the king and queen as they travel by horse-drawn coach to officially open the parliamentary year.

Dutch Paralympic team win 62 medals

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch Paralympic team is returning home from the Rio games after finishing in seventh place in the medals table, with 62 medals including 17 golds.
From coal mining to data mining

From coal mining to data mining

MAASTRICHT. Mandela, Einstein, cycling, nature, the physicist Robert Dijkgraaf and finally a shot from space. The intended effect of the promotional film that kicked off the opening programme of the Smart Services Campus in Heerlen may not be immediately obvious, but the link with smart services should become clear soon enough.
“A 15 per cent street quota won’t solve the problem”

“A 15 per cent street quota won’t solve the problem”

MAASTRICHT. The reactions from neighbourhoods to the new rules for room rentals proposed by the Maastricht City Council this summer, vary. After a host of complaints, heated discussion evenings and a call for ‘balance’ – especially from the neighbourhoods of Belfort, Brusselsepoort, and Limmel – there are now measures, of wh...
Three days of PAS

Three days of PAS

Maastricht University, celebrating its fortieth anniversary last week, went all out with an art and science tour, the PAS+ festival, boasting 150 activities. The wonderful weather helped; the performances in the gardens were very popular. As far as the lectures given by scientists were concerned – one spoke of Sjeng Tans’ legacy, anothe...

Extended BSA definitively scrapped

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT.Universities may not force second-year students with negative binding study advice (BSA) to leave their study programme, confirmed education minister Jet Bussemaker in a letter to parliament. Last academic year, the Maastricht psychology faculty considered introducing a so-called ‘extended’ BSA.

Petten reactor is safe, says minister, but inspectors will talk to staff

THE NETHERLANDS. Environment ministry inspectors are to hold meetings with people working at the Putten nuclear reactor after whistleblowers raised fears that spending cuts were compromising safety.
Milestones

Milestones

Stuck between cultures, I’ve done adulthood all wrong. In Switzerland, where I grew up, drinking beer and wine is legal at sixteen. So for me, drinking was never a rebellious act to gain adult prestige. The big marker of adulthood was eighteen, the age I was allowed to vote and, in theory, drive. But driving held little symbolic value for me ...

Young adults more likely to be financially dependent: CBS

THE NETHERLANDS. Young people are ever more likely to be financially dependent on others, reports Trouw on Friday.
Survival guide for newbies in Maastricht

Survival guide for newbies in Maastricht

Soon I will be moving to Great Britain for a half year, so I want to pass on my tips to those who face the challenge to assimilate to this awkwardly awesome Dutch culture. Dutchies have a difficult language with an ‘I-will-spit-on-you’ kind of sound. Don’t feel miserable, even a Dutch cat will pronounce their ‘g’ be...

Technology universities ‘unable to take in more students’ without extra funding

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands’ universities of technology have warned they may have to restrict new admissions to their current level unless the government increases its funding.
American Pie

American Pie

During my road trip from San Francisco to New York, it quickly became clear that the United States of America are in fact not as unified as they might appear from a European perspective. This is a political reality that can be mapped with astonishing precision through food. Driving down California State Route 1 we encountered Mexican food that made...

Brexit may cost Dutch taxpayers €750m in extra EU contributions

THE NETHERLANDS. Britain’s departure from the European Union may cost the Netherlands hundreds of millions of euros in extra EU contributions, according to broadcaster NOS.
A Bildungsroman but not your typical one

A Bildungsroman but not your typical one

I know why the caged bird sings – Maya Angelou Recommended for: Arts and Culture (FaSoS)
Media forgets medal winner

Media forgets medal winner

At the Rio Olympics, all eyes in Britain were on Tom Daley. Daley is an English diver who won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the 10 metre platform event. Fit and photogenic, he immediately shot to media stardom, even landing a role on the celebrity diving reality TV show Splash! Yes, that’s a thing that exists. So four ...

Attempted Adulthood

Attempted Adulthood

August 2015 “And that’s my rental contract.” At this point I’m pretty sure the bank teller can see me sweating through my pressed shirt. I’m good at cost-benefit analyses, but apparently not so much at ‘likelihood of sweat-stains to professional attire’ ratios. It’s too hot for what I’m weari...

Return to the mothership

Return to the mothership

‘They’ve all come to look for America’ sing Simon and Garfunkel wistfully. This is a feeling I could definitely get on board with, in this case even literally as I climbed the steps of the airplane bound for San Francisco. This summer I wanted to understand this country that supposedly makes up half my origin. Armed with my Americ...

Small things

Small things

It´s one of those ever-returning clichés that are (hopefully) about to reach their expiration date: it’s the small things in life that count/make you happy/matter the most/fill out any other positive phrase. The other day, having only just stepped foot on Dutch soil, a friend asked me the Million Dollar Question of All Semesters Abroad:...

"Maastricht is cheaper than Scotland"

"Maastricht is cheaper than Scotland"

Name: Stefan Konichev (24) Nationality: Bulgarian Study: master work and organisation psychology Time&place: Monday 15.30hrs, Stadspark
Made in Holland

Made in Holland

A while back I spent the weekend in Seville: according to many, the most beautiful city of Spain. According to many others, also the place that host the least friendly people in all of Spain. People from Seville never leave their city (because it’s the most beautiful one), speak with a very strong accent. Like torturing bulls, so I’ve h...

“Burger lovers – listen up, Greek burger rose above its crisis”

“Burger lovers – listen up, Greek burger rose above its crisis”

Looking back at a year of visiting restaurants and sipping cocktails, drinking wines or eating salads, and listening to the magic ‘click’ – or not – on the crème brûlée, Kate’s weekly Maastricht culinary experiences for her column ‘Work like a slave, eat like a king’ were memorable. To be honest, some exper...
Maastricht hares and Rotterdam snails

Maastricht hares and Rotterdam snails

MAASTRICHT. Master’s students at the UM graduate much quicker than students at other universities. New figures show that the differences are enormous. “Maybe our master’s programmes select students more strictly,” says rector Luc Soete.
Reality Check: First-Year Reflections

Reality Check: First-Year Reflections

Living off of pasta, experiencing frat parties, and joining oddly specific fan clubs are just a few of the college clichés that Hollywood and the book industry have fed generations of students. Yet every first-year UM student arrives on campus – if you will – with his or her own expectations about university life. Which results in a rea...
Real experiences

Real experiences

Sometimes people ask me where do I get hints or ideas for a column from. It’s actually a good question. I think I get inspired by all people I run into and everything happening around me. I have always liked to listen and talk to people, and to observe the way people live their lives. There is so much we can learn from each other, just by pay...

EasyJet pilots strike in Amsterdam, but most flights unaffected

THE NETHERLANDS. EasyJet pilots who are based at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport went on strike on Tuesday in support of their demands for better working conditions.
Eros and Philia

Eros and Philia

Anonymous (25): “I have feelings for a colleague. However, he is married and I am also in a relationship, which by the way is good. What should I do with my butterflies?” Ingrid: Practically everyone wants to share his or her life. In our culture it is customary to choose one person to do so. That is what we consider normal. When we ...

Amsterdam university’s supervisory board resigns amid disagreements

THE NETHERLANDS. All the members of Amsterdam university’s supervisory board resigned on Friday, blaming the difficult working relationship between the representative advisory bodies and the supervisory board.
Overrated

Overrated

Aaaaww, the Provence. The Provence as so beautifully described in the stories and poems of my childhood’s heroes Alphonse Daudet, Marcel Pagnol and Frédéric Mistral. The Provence of smells, apricots, peaches, figs, rice, of dramatic love stories and ancestral disputes between families. The sunny and dry Provence of my grand-parents. Look at ...

Netherlands need not give foreign students public transport pass

Netherlands need not give foreign students public transport pass

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands is not guilty of unfair treatment. It has the right to only provide its own students with a public transport pass and need not give students from other European member states a similar pass.
Culinary talents performing wonders in Talentino

Culinary talents performing wonders in Talentino

Talentino is just one of many restaurants in Maastricht serving delicious lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. However, there is a difference – what sets this restaurant apart is its mission to provide real-world job experience and long-term employment options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The staff are extremely we...

Dutch students speed up their studies and are less likely to drop out

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost seven in 10 Dutch students now pass a bachelor’s degree within four years, compared with just 56% four years ago, according to new figures from the university association VSNU.
Slow down

Slow down

Romy (22): “I am thinking about doing a second mater’s to increase my chances on the labour market. For the same reason, I am on the board of an association. I finance my study by working. I am exhausted and I wonder how long I can keep this up. Do I have a choice?” Ingrid: “Slow down,” Douwe Bob sings. The singer-s...

Support for anti-Islam PVV continues to fall, poll of poll shows

THE NETHERLANDS. The anti-immigration PVV remains the biggest party in the latest Peilingwijzer poll of polls but its support is down 3.3%, or five seats, on its January record high.
“Maybe there’s just nothing wrong here”

“Maybe there’s just nothing wrong here”

Last week, Maastricht University held the 2016/17 elections for its Faculty and University Councils. But standing for election (or simply voting, for that matter) are not the only ways to get involved in student politics. Maastricht boasts a whole range of political activities, if you know where to look. But do students know where to look? And, mor...
Every pancake has the right to a fair trial

Every pancake has the right to a fair trial

If you’re up for a challenge and want to compete with your friends over who can eat more fluffy pancakes, you might want to consider visiting Brasserie Pannenkoeken & Meer. Right in the heart of the Markt, this restaurant guarantees you the widest choice of pancakes with both sweet and salty toppings. Head over to the Brasserie on Monday,...

The Netherlands, in 40 questions

The Netherlands, in 40 questions

Two years after I graduated from Cambridge, I find myself filling in an application form for a job at Albert Heijn. Education level?, asks the form. “PhD”, I write. What section would you like to work in? This is a tough one. Baked goods is the obvious choice, but then what about the cheese counter? I decide to come back to this. ...

Utrecht students say ‘dare to be grey’ to combat extremism

THE NETHERLANDS. A group of students from Utrecht University are through to the last six of an international competition launched by the US government and Facebook to counteract extremism.
Sharing

Sharing

Bram (23): “I am not feeling so great and that is why I spend more time alone these days. My friends are looking for my attention and that bothers me. I find it difficult to keep saying 'no'. What should I do?” Ingrid: At the beginning of the nineteen-nineties the 22-year-old recently graduated American Chris McCandless leave...

‘Legal cannabis cultivation would boost human rights’ – study

THE NETHERLANDS. Legalising cannabis production would have benefits for public health and human rights, according to a study commissioned by Dutch local authorities.
Graduation stress: Three students on what to do next

Graduation stress: Three students on what to do next

Maximiliane Kolb, 23, Bachelor in International Business, Class of 2015 “The biggest struggle for me was that I didn’t know where to go and what to do. Of course Maastricht University offers things like the Business Days, which help you orientate yourself to some extent, but what I was missing was a career centre where you could go a...

Dead hours

Dead hours

“Where are you going?” “Meeting a friend.” My housemate cannot believe it – why on earth would anyone decide to hang out with a friend at 7 PM? Shocked, she tells me that those “are not times, they are not times (to meet)”: 7 PM is, apparently, a ‘dead hour’: at 7, you’re not suppose...

Perfect pizza starts with the crust – and Bancale 61 nails it

Perfect pizza starts with the crust – and Bancale 61 nails it

When it comes to pizza, everyone has an opinion. And with all those different preferences, discussions about pizza require the same level of delicacy as debates on politics or religion. Bancale 61, which opened recently in Scharn, not far from the Albert Heijn XXL, serves incredible pizzas: visually arresting and baked in a shallow-domed, wood-fire...

Freelancers less likely to suffer from burnout; are happier at work

THE NETHERLANDS. Freelancers are less likely to suffer from burnouts than people who work for a boss, even though they often do physically more difficult work, according to a new report by the national statistics office CBS and TNO research institute.

Billions of euros needed to boost mobility, government is told

THE NETHERLANDS. Billions of euros needs investing in Dutch roads and transport to stop the Netherlands grinding to a halt, the government was told on Monday.
Monkey

Monkey

Milan (26): “I worry about everything. About how I should tackle matters, but also about the way in which I have done things. I get tired from all that thinking. How can I create peace and quiet in my head?” Ingrid: I’m on my bicycle heading into the city centre. I have cycled this route along the Maas many times, but never bef...

Hollandays

Hollandays

As this is my last column I thought I’d share a few lessons that I have learnt while living here these past nine months. Firstly, cycling is not just popular in the Netherlands it’s a way of life for the Dutch. I have seen a cyclist ride while carrying groceries and texting at the same time, 4 year olds out of training wheels ride withi...

Teazone: adventure within your comfort zone

Teazone: adventure within your comfort zone

Fine teas. Foreign cakes. Oriental design. Calming and attentive staff – visiting Teazone is an adventure in itself. Sit back and relax in one of the comfortable chairs or couches with your favourite tea, espresso or English scones with homemade jam and cream. Teazone is one of my favourite places in the tiny streets of the city centre of Maa...

“Whoops, sorry for that kick”

“Whoops, sorry for that kick”

They had to conquer obstacles, run, raft and race, but eventually the School of Business and Economics (SBE) successfully defended its title and won the Faculty Fight 2016. This interfaculty sports competition is organised for every fifth anniversary of Maastricht University. Last Thursday, it was held for the second time.

Eleven percent more students apply for Dutch university

THE NETHERLANDS. Applications to Dutch universities for the year starting in September have risen by 11%, according to new figures from the VSNU higher education body.
Go with the flow

Go with the flow

Laura (24): “I have a problem when things don’t go according to plan. If the train is delayed, if I have a flat tyre, or it rains when I have to cycle, I get into a bad mood. How can I deal with these things better?” Ingrid: Since the arrival of the precipitation radar, we cycle and walk in the rain less often and because of ou...

Luddites and academics

Luddites and academics

"The first two industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban". This statement of indisputable fact from the Economist underlines why the third industrial revolution is not only desirable but long overdue: what the world needs is more wealth and more urbanism, and it is hard to imagine a social ill that could not be solved by th...

B*kantine: spot on food but service is not on fire

B*kantine: spot on food but service is not on fire

The Brandweerkantine is exactly what Maastricht had been missing for some time before this quirky and ‘instagrammable’ restaurant opened in the old fire station. This alternative location - very close to the city centre – is a great hangout place for eating out with friends or casual meetings. Walking through the large space, you ...

Council scheme exposed jobless to toxic paint, almost 600 affected

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost 600 jobless people from Tilburg who worked for the city council’s reintegration company removing paint from old trains may have been exposed to the toxin Chromium 6, Dutch media said on Tuesday.
Memory failure

Memory failure

My last diary entry dates back from Monday the 11th of April. I cannot really decipher what I did on that day thanks to my hasty handwriting, but it does include the word ‘siesta’ scribbled into a corner. In February, on Schiphol Airport, I had bought myself a little red notebook as a goodbye gift – sometimes, one has to spoil her...

Righting reflex

Righting reflex

Chantal (19): “My best friend’s mother is sick and has not long to live. Of course my friend is very sad and I don’t know how to deal with that. What can I do to cheer her up?” Ingrid: When someone we love is sad or in mourning, we want to do something to make that feeling smaller, less intense. Of course, the suffering i...

Dutch innovation policy scattered between valleys, deltas and campuses

THE NETHERLANDS. There are over 220 different initiatives under way to put either the Netherlands or a specific region on the map as an innovation hot spot, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday.
A bread from God

A bread from God

‘Are you sure you still want to learn Spanish?’ my Argentinean friend asks me jokingly. After having gotten used to her outspokenly Argentinean accent, in which every j-sound transforms into the hissing of a snake, I felt I had come to the point where I could understand practically everything in Spanish as long as I paid attention. Howe...

To celebrate your heritage or not – that is the question

To celebrate your heritage or not – that is the question

King’s Day is coming up. On the 27th of April, the Dutch celebrate King Willem-Alexander’s birthday by selling their old belongings on flea markets, going to festivals set up in all big cities, drinking beer and of course dressing in orange. Do international students in Maastricht celebrate their heritage? And do they take pride in what...
Royals Cup 2016: “Actually, the matches are secondary”

Royals Cup 2016: “Actually, the matches are secondary”

MAASTRICHT. A trophy hung with black and white ribbons stands amongst sliced sandwich buns and a drone in the ‘Board Only’ room at the Sporthal Geusselt on the East side of the Maas on Friday 15 April. It is here that business students from all over Europe shed the confines of button-up shirts for jerseys and/or pompoms in Maastricht fo...

Sipping a first-class coffee with a bike by your side

Sipping a first-class coffee with a bike by your side

Maastricht has been changing inevitably over the years due to different lifestyles, cultures and habits of international students coming here to study. To keep up motivation and excel at university, most students need to unwind in a relaxed environment with a cup of delicious coffee, homemade cake and uninterrupted Wi-Fi connection. Since both my p...

Moving house

Moving house

Recently we had some minor renovations at our home, for which we had to pack some items into boxes. It has been some months later and a couple of my boxes are still sitting unpacked, and my ability to remember their content is increasingly vanishing. This should probably not surprise me as the same thing has happened every time I moved house. I hav...

Fewer students from poor homes since Dutch scrapped grants

THE NETHERLANDS. Fewer students from poorer homes have started university and college degrees since grants were abolished last year, according to education ministry figures.

Dutch MPs want to scrap law banning insults to a ‘friendly head of state’

THE NETHERLANDS. MPs from the two Dutch liberal parties VVD and D66 have called on the government to scrap a law making it a criminal offence to insult a ‘friendly’ head of state, broadcaster Nos reported at the weekend.
Pretending

Pretending

Wessel (21): “I am the chairman of an association. Everything is going well, but it doesn’t feel like I am really the chairman. I play a role. Should I continue or would I be better off quitting?” Ingrid: A yoga weekend in Zeeland. I am twisting my sweaty body into the dog, cat and cobra position. Time and again. “Don&rsq...

Vacancy junior journalist

Observant is looking for a junior journalist for a period of ten months (22 August 2016 - 22 June 2017)
“We even had to resort to YouTube at times while teaching ourselves”

“We even had to resort to YouTube at times while teaching ourselves”

They are the reigning champions of Euromasters, the largest university sports tournament in Europe. And just two weeks ago they secured a place in the finals at the Dutch Nationals in June. Cheerleading might not be a well-known sport in the Netherlands, but the UM Cheerleading team is quickly gaining a reputation for being a talented group with bi...
“I would find it interesting to see a physicist appointed"

“I would find it interesting to see a physicist appointed"

Rector magnificus Luc Soete is leaving. On 1 September, his successor will take over. Who should that be? And what should he/she do especially? Observant will ask students and staff this question in the coming weeks.
Freedom of choice

Freedom of choice

Since my last meeting with my coach (yep, I have a life coach J. Trendy, ain’t it? And useful as well, let me tell you!) - I’ve been thinking about freedom of choice and pondering. Ron, so is the name of this great guy who’s been in my life for the last 10 years or so, tells me we humans always have freedom of choice. Sometimes &...

‘T Wycker Cabinet: ideal for day and night

‘T Wycker Cabinet: ideal for day and night

My day in ‘T Wycker Cabinet was one of utter perfection. And believe it or not, it had nothing to do with my mood or the sunny weather; instead it was the nice atmosphere, pleasant staff and delicious food served all day long. On the recommendation of some friends I decided to pay a visit to this classic bistro/bar in the heart of Wyck, sandw...

Travel firms to brief holidaymakers on their trip’s environmental footprint

Travel firms to brief holidaymakers on their trip’s environmental footprint

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch travel firms are to start informing holidaymakers how much environmental damage their trip is doing by listing ‘holiday footprints’ in brochures and on websites, travel sector organisation ANVR says in Tuesday’s Volkskrant.

ABN Amro helps clients hide assets in tax havens, Dutch media claim

THE NETHERLANDS. ABN Amro is helping clients keep their assets hidden in tax havens via nominee shareholdership schemes, the Financieele Dagblad and Trouw say on Monday.
The same cup

The same cup

Fabiënne (22): “My new boyfriend and I are enough for each other. That is why I have put contact with friends and family on the back burner. They do not agree with this and are pulling at me. What should I do?” Ingrid: In the novel Jij zegt het (Those are your words) Dutch writer Connie Palmen describes the relationship between the f...

Heads up!

Heads up!

I was lining my pencils up in preparation for sharpening when the phone rang. It was Pauw, from the talk show. That morning the NRC newspaper had run a small piece on my research on ‘Dutch English’. Would I be willing to come on the show and discuss it? ‘I could, I suppose’, I said. I’ve always been underwhelmed ...

“She should be aware of the tremendous dissatisfaction among academic staff”

“She should be aware of the tremendous dissatisfaction among academic staff”

Rector magnificus Luc Soete is leaving. On 1 September, his successor will take over. Who should that be? And what should he/she do especially? Observant will ask students and staff this question in the coming weeks.
Things no one told me before writing my thesis

Things no one told me before writing my thesis

Writing a thesis: don’t let it be your Waterloo! Take a few breaths and read these tips from people who have already walked that path and carried on.
A spring let-down at La Colombe

A spring let-down at La Colombe

“Was your meal okay?” asks the waitress as she sends a text message on her phone. “To be honest, the meat was just too fatty”, I reply politely. “As you can see.” Nodding, the waitress admits: “Yes, I know.” It’s sad when even your wait staff can only agree with the customers. So what&r...

Ukraine referendum not about Europe, just over half of voters say

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost half of Dutch voters are convinced the EU’s treaty of association with Ukraine paves the way for membership of the European Union, according to an Ipsos poll on Tuesday.
Travelling

Travelling

Jeffrey (23): “I have a growing aversion to the shackles forced on me by my study and society. That is why I am considering giving it all up and going backpacking. Is that a good plan?” Ingrid: In the Dutch television programme Ik vertrek (I’m leaving), we see people going abroad to find fortune. Paula and Peter, for example, s...

Holy smoke, what a week!

Holy smoke, what a week!

Call me naive (you wouldn’t be the first one to do so), but I had no idea that Semana Santa (the Holy Week) is such a big deal here in Andalucía. It all began one cold night at the end of February, when I thought I was dreaming a very loud dream: one in which a bunch of men were shouting at each other whilst trying to lift a very heavy tomb-l...

“After the explosion, there were screams everywhere”

“After the explosion, there were screams everywhere”

German master student Ediz Rehberg, doing a Master’s degree in European Public Affairs at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, was in Brussels last Tuesday. He slipped into the metro at 9:01 just before the doors closed. At Maelbeek station, he witnessed the explosion of the carriage in front of him, about 20-25 meters distance. In a...
Sushi Centre: The devil is in the details

Sushi Centre: The devil is in the details

It’s all about details. Sushi is like the Pointillism of food – the effect achieved by making fine movements and closely following painstaking, precise steps. Running a sushi restaurant is a tricky business; the food is so simple that the difference could be measured in tiny percentage points. But what matters most are the ingredients. ...

Incentivise This!

Incentivise This!

Critical thinking made a big splash in 2015.  Originally an obscure idea from the liberal arts, it is spreading like marmalade through all the major faculties of Maastricht.  Political science students are now encouraged to think critically about the law curriculum; economics students are told they must be very critical about Marxism and ...

Security stepped up across the Netherlands following Brussels explosions

THE NETHERLANDS. Security has been stepped up at Dutch airports following the bomb blasts in Brussels on Tuesday which killed several people, Dutch counter-terrorism chief Dick Schoof has said.

17 millionth Dutch resident likely to be a migrant

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands welcomed its 17 millionth inhabitant on Monday and for the first time the new arrival is more likely to be an immigrant than a baby, according to the government statistics service CBS.
Turn it around

Turn it around

Patricia (23): “My mother doesn’t show much interest in me. Instead of just talking about herself, she should pay more attention to me. How could I achieve this?” Ingrid: I once read somewhere that there are only two problems. Either there is something that you don’t want, or you want something that isn’t there. Of ...

"No one of deans, who know each other so well that chances of new ideas are slim"

"No one of deans, who know each other so well that chances of new ideas are slim"

Rector magnificus Luc Soete is leaving. On 1 September his successor will take over. Who should that be? And what should he/she do especially? Observant will ask students and staff this question in the coming weeks.
Ginger’s fresh and tasty food will boost your energy

Ginger’s fresh and tasty food will boost your energy

Not just serving tasty food, but also raising customers’ energy levels by using fresh and healthy ingredients: this is the mission statement of a tiny restaurant in the heart of Maastricht, between the law and business faculties. Ginger also has a story: a young, enthusiastic Chinese woman teamed up with her brother to share her culinary secr...

The million dollar question: how to overcome the hatred?

The million dollar question: how to overcome the hatred?

MAASTRICHT. “Think of Europe 70 years ago,” says Haim Divon, Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, in his introductory talk. “Who believed then that France, Germany and England would now live so peacefully together? In other words, anything is possible. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solvable too, in my opinion. Other...
It’s been a hard day’s night

It’s been a hard day’s night

MAASTRICHT. “A social life?!?” Snorting, laughter and amazement follow the suggestion that students have plenty of leisure time. There might not be too many contact hours, but the workload at Maastricht University is much higher than at other universities, claim exchange students and other internationals. “Excellent”, says E...
No-bro zone

No-bro zone

It’s late in the afternoon and I step into the gym. The sound of weights clang and cardio-machines hum in the background. I’ve only been here a month but already I am familiar with much of the exercise equipment present. This is unusual for me. Usually I’ll only stick to the three I know: leg-press, tricep extension and leg extens...

The battle of the sexes

The battle of the sexes

You thought UCM was alternative or ‘hippie’? Me too. After a couple of weeks at a Spanish university, however, I have come to realize that everything is a question of perspective (very postmodern, you say? Yes, I know, thank you). Sometimes, I’ve noticed, non-UCM students in Maastricht associate our faculty with naïve idealism, ge...

Uber paid €450,000 in Dutch fines last year

Uber paid €450,000 in Dutch fines last year

THE NETHERLANDS. Online taxi platform Uber paid a total of €450,000 in fines last year for breaking taxi regulations with its Uberpop service.
What you see is who you are

What you see is who you are

Stan (22): “People who put themselves in the spotlights irritate me immensely. Those who do most of the talking in the tutorial group meeting and who are also chairperson of an association. What should I do with my irritation?” Ingrid: “A person is a person because of other people,” declared archbishop Desmond Tutu. It&rs...

‘No’ vote makes gains ahead of Dutch Ukraine referendum

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 57% of the Dutch who are planning to vote on next month’s referendum on the EU’s treaty with Ukraine will vote ‘no’, according to a poll of 2,500 people for the Volkskrant.

Collecting Support for Amnesty International

MAASTRICHT. 1.59 million euros. That is what Amnesty International Netherlands gathered during Collection Week in 2015. This year, Collection Week will be held from Sunday the 13th until Saturday the 19th of March. The student group of Amnesty International Maastricht has set up a variety of channels that will enable students as well as the...

“Hildegard Schneider is good, but I don’t want to lose her as dean”

“Hildegard Schneider is good, but I don’t want to lose her as dean”

Rector magnificus Luc Soete is leaving. On 1 September his successor will take over. Who should that be? And what should he/she do especially? Observant will ask students and staff this question in the coming weeks.
The cow died twice: once in the slaughterhouse, once in the kitchen

The cow died twice: once in the slaughterhouse, once in the kitchen

On the one hand, cooking a steak is tricky because you can’t see the inside when you serve it. It takes time, experience and knowledge. On the other hand, preparing French fries is easy: use the right potatoes, run them through the hot oil until they turn golden and taste a couple for good measure. What a pity that Grand Café De Perroen faile...

Cabinet ‘failing to close gap’ between full-time and flexible workers

THE NETHERLANDS. Nearly three-quarters of people on temporary contracts would prefer a full-time job, but barely a quarter of self-employed workers feel the same, according to a survey by Maurice de Hond reported in the Telegraaf.

€12m allocated to researching gender differences in healthcare

THE NETHERLANDS. The health ministry has allocated €12m to a study into how men and women with the same illness display different symptoms and respond differently to treatment.
Comparative quality study

Comparative quality study

Sandy (21): “When I look around the pub, I see people who are better looking than I am. My physical fitness is less than the other rowers in my club and my fellow students have a way with words that I don’t have. I always come off worst.” Ingrid: A mindful summer weekend. A colleague and friend of mine and I make course partici...

Cats and dogs

Cats and dogs

It’s been raining non-stop for the past two weeks in Granada, Southern Spain, and I decide to take refuge in one of the many breakfast-bars the locals start their days in. Savoring my small Spanish breakfast (a toast and an espresso), I detect a strange odor. There’s no way around it: someone stepped into a pile of dog shit. Reflecting ...

“Combine faculty introduction with INKOM”

“Combine faculty introduction with INKOM”

The number of people taking part in INKOM is decreasing. First-year students prefer the faculty introduction. The solution is simple, says Bob Meijer, chairman of student rowing association Saurus, combine the two introductions in one week.
Belgian terrorism

Belgian terrorism

I live across the border, 6 km into Belgian territory. Careful though! Not just ANY part of Belgian territory. French-Speaking Belgium, Walloon country… The village I live in houses so many Dutch people it hardly qualifies as Walloon country any more. In most neighbourhoods of Eben-Emael, just outside Kanne, order and neat front yards rul...

Shaken, not stirred

Shaken, not stirred

Shaken, not stirred; the classic recipe for style and good taste. The challenge for most cocktail bars is to recreate the classy atmosphere of a James Bond movie. This week I investigate whether Beez succeeds. Leaving behind the bright lights and gleaming white cobblestones of the tiny street next to the Bijenkorf, I find myself in the newly refur...

The beer was horrible, but the place is perfect”

The beer was horrible, but the place is perfect”

Favourite spot of: Massimo Beckers, third-year Arts and Culture student. “My favourite spot in Maastricht is a square between two churches. I believe it’s called the Henric van Veldekeplein, named after, well, Henric van Veldeke. “I have been living in Maastricht for a while, but I discovered –so to say- that plein onl...

Eight Dutch jihadis executed after dispute with IS: report

THE NETHERLANDS. A Syrian activist group is reporting that eight Dutch jihadis have been executed after 60 were taken prisoner following a dispute with IS forces in the city of Raqqa.

"Migrants bring more cake"

MAASTRICHT. Migration and violent extremism. A politically sensitive and controversial topic, agreed Khalid Koser, professor in Conflict, Peace and Security at UNU-MERIT/Maastricht School of Governance. Still, he emphasised continuously during his lecture, organised on Monday 22 February by Studium Generale, its importance. “The discussion ab...
Being happy

Being happy

Jasmijn (24): “I have read dozens of self-help books and I even have a subscription to the Happinez magazine. I do what they say, but I am still not happy. What am I doing wrong?” Ingrid: I read on Facebook that happiness is a choice. As long as we are positive and optimistic, life is wonderful. Sheer nonsense. The glossy Happinez se...

NS set to sell off sidelines and focus on running trains

THE NETHERLANDS. State-owned train operator NS plans to sell off its station shops and local bus services to concentrate on its core business of running main line trains, the Telegraaf reports.
 “He should be around forty, not someone about to retire”

“He should be around forty, not someone about to retire”

Rector magnificus Luc Soete is leaving. His successor will start on 1 September. Who should that be? And what should he/she do most of all? Observant will ask students and members of staff in the next few weeks.
Opinion: lack of critical thought from students during lecture about NATO

Opinion: lack of critical thought from students during lecture about NATO

“On Tuesday, February 16th, I attended the lecture A Changing NATO in a Changing World, organized by Studium Generale. Unfortunately, the loudest thing I heard during this lecture was the silence and a lack of critical thought from students. If nobody speaks up, how can we talk about a change at all? Neither about a changing NATO, let alone a...
The Vagina Monologues at UCM

The Vagina Monologues at UCM

MAASTRICHT. Vagina, vagina, vagina. It wasn’t too long ago that uttering this word in the public sphere could induce sharp rebuke or embarrassment. Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues, doesn’t just say the word - it’s entirely focused on it. The Universalis Society of Feminism (USF) is performing The Vagina Monologues th...

Connecting in the kitchen

Connecting in the kitchen

MAASTRICHT. Arabic music is blaring from the kitchen at the Jan Van Eyck Academy an hour before the doors are to open. Around twenty people from the Maastricht refugee centre (AZC) and a chef from Cato by Cato are manoeuvring their way around the countless pots and saucers and the occasional curious child. It’s Thursday 18 February and the so...

50 (shades of) Cucina

50 (shades of) Cucina

The waiter arrives with a wrinkled menu and awaits our orders. There are so many options I can’t make up my mind immediately. “I am going to bring your drinks first”, he announces with a thick Italian accent. While waiting for our drinks, I look around. I’m sitting in the heart of Wyck in a tiny room with tables squeezed in ...

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

I’ve been flirting with the idea of adopting a new name. For starters, I have to share my present name with about ten million other people. Being called Alison Edwards is like being Jan Jansen in Dutch, or at least the female equivalent thereof. To make matters worse, I don’t even have a middle name. In fairness it’s probably f...

Train driver killed in crash with crane

THE NETHERLANDS. The driver of a passenger train was killed on Tuesday morning when he hit a crane at a level crossing at full speed en route from Zwolle to Emmen.

Man jailed for killing neighbour during suicide attempt

MAASTRICHT. A man who tried to gas himself, only to kill his upstairs neighbour instead, has been jailed for 10 years by judges in Maastricht.
Key question

Key question

Babs (24): “I am often asked to sit on committees or to act as chairperson. Before I realise it, I am doing yet another thing I don’t really want to do. How can I break this pattern?” Ingrid: “I was recently asked to give a workshop on a subject that I don’t really know much about. Still, I said ‘yes’. I...

Orientation

Orientation

“There you go, Miss, your appointment is tomorrow morning at 10.54.” Having waited for half an hour for all the paperwork to be filled out, I look up from my phone and wonder if I understood that correctly. It’s only my third day in Granada, and my Spanish is rather rusty, so I decide to just repeat what the lady told me. “M...

Maastricht Language – Speaking in tongues

Maastricht Language – Speaking in tongues

Monday night, orchestra rehearsal. We’ve just begun playing the first piece when our instructor motions for us to stop. “This part,” she says, her German accent shimmering through otherwise impeccable English, “try playing it more precisely. Let’s do it again, slowlier this time.” Obediently, we pick up our instr...

A language of our own

A language of our own

Imagine going abroad in a country where people speak their own language, but you are only able to communicate with them in English, a language which is not your mother tongue. Sounds complicated? It gets even worse. Because what you may actually be speaking is Maastricht-English. Repeating phrases like “Hoi, hoi, hoe gaat het met je?”, ...

The Lingual Maastricht Effect

The Lingual Maastricht Effect

“Amira, yalla! Let’s do some courses.” “Quoi?” “Courses!”  “Mashi, mashi. I’ll be right there – ein Moment.” Living in Maastricht these past four months has got me thinking about an Arabic saying, which I will proceed to butcher here in sloppy translation: ‘He ...

"About time the position went to a woman"

"About time the position went to a woman"

Rector Luc Soete is stepping down. His successor will start 1 September. In the following weeks Observant will ask students and staff: who is supposed to take over? And what should he/she work on most?
Vici grant for neuroscientist Sack

Vici grant for neuroscientist Sack

MAASTRICHT. Alexander Sack, professor of Functional Brain Stimulation and Neurocognitive Psychology, has received a Vici grant worth €1.5 million for his research on brain stimulation. Sack focuses on brain-stimulation techniques for treating memory and attention problems after a stroke or depression. Of the 215 academics who submitted a Vi...

Cobble stones 2.0

Cobble stones 2.0

During my first year in Maastricht, I reached a solid average of one bike repair session a month. The ancient cobble stones, leading many from the north to remark that ‘they feel as if they were abroad’, clearly did not do well to my old high school bike. After buying a more robust edition last autumn, I thought the problem was solved. ...

Whatever floats your goat

Whatever floats your goat

Frozen to the bone in the unreasonably cold, rainy weather, my partner and I decided to visit Brasserie Keizer for a warm and cosy lunch. I was curious about this restaurant since the building has changed hands many times over the four years I have been living in Maastricht. Brasserie Keizer inspires a sense of familiarity and warmth the second you...

Romans go home

Romans go home

One year has passed since the occupation of university administration buildings in Amsterdam. Those occupying students won significant victories over their Executive Board, but the wider movement has thus far failed to bring about the dismantling of the Neoliberal Imperialist State.  In Maastricht, the faded red square in Minderbroedersberg pe...

Dutch taxpayers’ cash funds toilet paper printed with anti-Ukraine in EU info

Dutch taxpayers’ cash funds toilet paper printed with anti-Ukraine in EU info

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost €50,000 of Dutch taxpayers’ money is to be given to a private company which plans to make and distribute toilet rolls printed with arguments against the EU’s treaty with Ukraine.
Smoking costs Dutch society up to €43bn a year: report

Smoking costs Dutch society up to €43bn a year: report

THE NETHERLANDS. Smoking costs Dutch society between €21bn and €43bn a year, or €2,000 per head of the population, a report by the SEO economic research institute has concluded.
Make yourself heard

Make yourself heard

Meike (20): “I daren’t open my mouth during tutorial group meetings. It is not that I stutter or have an accent. I just feel extremely uncertain. I am no good to the group this way and I’m cheesed off with myself. What should I do?” Ingrid: What you think, determines how you feel. When you think ‘oh dear, I am never...

Tapijn grounds to become an open and hilly park

Tapijn grounds to become an open and hilly park

MAASTRICHT. Open ‘sight lines’