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“It felt like they’d rolled out the red carpet for me at MECC Maastricht”

“It felt like they’d rolled out the red carpet for me at MECC Maastricht”

Photographer:Fotograaf:

Joey Roberts

The UM first years of 2020/2021, part 2: first-year Econometrics student Cedric Pots

He hasn’t been to any illegal parties, but he has been attending Business Days. No, first-year student of Econometrics Cedric Pots (18) from Maastricht is not looking for a job yet, but he enjoys taking a look behind the scenes at companies. He has already met quite a lot of students, but he hasn’t made any friends yet. 

While first-year student Cedric Pots was on a walk with his parents at Christmastime, they came across the monastery in Mamelis, near Vaals. “We know a monk there, who spontaneously invited us for a tour. He talked about the austere life he lives. The embellishment is in the simplicity, he said. That really appealed to me, also because we’re all living austere lives at the moment.”

It got him thinking. “It makes you wonder what life is all about, what its essence is. It turns out we can do without all those events we’re usually drowning in. But family ties and friendships are more important than ever, people you can always turn to and talk to.”

Pots has not yet formed those kinds of friendships in the first semester. “I’ve met quite a lot of students, and I hit it off with a few of them, but our contact is limited to WhatsApp conversations because of the circumstances. Although we did sometimes end up having lunch in the park after working on an assignment together on campus.”

That’s about as social as it got. He definitely didn’t go to any illegal parties. “There have been illegal parties, I think, but I personally don’t feel the need to attend them.”

Finest hour

Pots lives at home with his parents (and his younger sister) in Scharn. His father works in banking and his mother was an economics teacher, so Pots’s decision to study Econometrics didn’t come as much of a surprise. 

He enjoyed the first semester, although the mathematics courses are rather difficult compared with what he was taught in secondary school. “It’s very abstract. We’re proving theorems, that kind of stuff. Sometimes I think, ‘What on earth am I doing?’ But it’s also challenging. I scored a 5.4 out of 10 on both of my maths midterms, but it’s not the end of the world, as they only make up 25 per cent of the final course grade. I haven’t received my final exam grades yet.”

Some ten of the eighty first-year Econometrics students have already dropped out of the programme. Pots thinks the level of difficulty might have scared them off. He himself isn’t struggling as much with the economics courses. “I got a 10 in Microeconomics, which is a lot more concrete. Just look at what’s happening in society, all that government spending, growing national debt... For economists, a crisis is kind of like their finest hour.”

He actually tutors secondary-school students in subjects like Microeconomics. “I’m tutoring more than ever. I’m currently tutoring ten students, mostly online. I don’t like doing nothing and it’s a way to still have contact with other people. Besides, teaching runs in the family. Not just my mother, but also my grandfather was a teacher.”

IT issues

Does he feel like a student? “Yes, I do. Even though I’m spending a lot of time at home, sitting at my computer, I do feel like I’m part of the UM community. The lecturers keep making sure to involve us and they make me feel like I matter. That’s important, especially at a time like this. It means I don’t feel like a number, but that’s a lot easier to achieve in a small programme, of course. Some of my friends at other universities are getting all their teaching online, which makes the university feel like an abstract institution to them.”

He was quite impressed by the exams that took place at MECC Maastricht. “I was nervous, of course, but I also enjoyed the grand location with its huge halls. I felt like the red carpet had been rolled out for me. Some of my exams were online. Fortunately, I wasn’t affected by IT issues. I wasn’t one of the students who were thrown out of the system and lost their connection.”

Bored

At the beginning of the semester, his parents sometimes had to slow him down to prevent him from accepting every request and invitation. In his enthusiasm, he had already joined study association Vectum, signed up for student investment club Sigma, and agreed to give a speech at his former secondary school. Is he a member of lots of different committees and associations by now?

“No, I’m not.”

He is, however, one of the few first-year students who has already attended several (online) Business Days. No, he’s not looking for a job yet, he says with a smile. “I enjoy getting to know the organisations that introduce themselves on those days. I now have an idea of organisations like the European Commission, Medtronic and Optiver, a high-frequency trading firm, although I’m sure that’s not what they call themselves. Recruiters are also active at those events, but I haven’t been approached yet.”

For now, he’s most interested in a job in consulting. “It’s interesting and varied work. You advise companies in various industries. It’s not that I get bored easily, but sometimes I do.”

First things first, though: waiting for the results of the first semester to come in.

The first years of 2020

Who are the new first-year students at Maastricht University? What are their dreams, their plans and their expectations? And how are they doing this year? Observant is following six new students this academic year. We spoke to them for the first time in autumn, are checking in with them now and will interview them one last time in May/June.

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