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Entries for March 2020

It's quiet in Lars van Laar's student house

It's quiet in Lars van Laar's student house

It’s quiet in the student house where Lars van Laar, second-year student of Psychology, lives. “Twelve people usually live here, now there are only four. We buy groceries for each other to reduce unnecessary trips to the supermarket. If the weather is nice, we often spend the afternoon sitting in the garden or watching a film together. ...

Dutch will announce tonight how long to extend the ‘intelligent lockdown’

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch ministers, health experts and other officials are meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss how long the Netherlands will extend what prime minister Mark Rutte has described as an ‘intelligent lockdown’ in the country’s bid to get coronavirus under control.  ​
Technology keeps us connected

Technology keeps us connected

Are you tired of social distancing? Luckily, it is 2020 and technology has got your day's social calendar covered. If you are used to starting the morning off with some exercise but need your local yoga group or exercise buddies to really get going, you can join forces through plenty of streamed classes. And for those interested in going the...

Our flat is too small for two people to live in 24/7

Our flat is too small for two people to live in 24/7

Master’s student of Policy & Human Development Maren Slangen took her final written exam without even knowing it. “I was supposed to take two more, but the programme directors decided to assign us an online oral exam and a take-home assignment instead because of the corona crisis. I prefer written exams – they give you more ti...

“I wish I didn’t have to spend so many hours finding out what my rights are”

“I wish I didn’t have to spend so many hours finding out what my rights are”

With the new threat of the COVID-19 many restaurants and bars have closed leaving many people without a job. But what about the students of Maastricht who support themselves and are on a zero-hour contract? European Studies student Gabriela Štěpková is one of them and she is the first of this series of video interviews to share her story with Obser...
Find the new in the old

Find the new in the old

In times of seeing the other as a threat, A virus carrier from whom I have to hide away, I started overindulging, no longer afraid of getting fat, For, will I not stay inside until I’m old and grey?   I think back to life before quarantine, To sunshine and running to hug friends, Instead of eyeballing them: “Ar...

Coronavirus hospitalisations near 4,000, Dutch death toll hits 864

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of people who are or who have been hospitalised with coronavirus almost hit 4,000 overnight, the public health institute RIVM said in its Monday update.​
Ultra-tight Speedo swimming trunks and an oversized man’s body

Ultra-tight Speedo swimming trunks and an oversized man’s body

Just like my colleague reviewer Mark Vluggen, I am not a fan of streaming services and organisations such as Netflix or Disney Channel. As far as I am concerned, film belongs on a large screen or else on DVD or Blu-ray. But as has been said, necessity (read: Corona) knows no laws. Let’s see what a provider like Film 1 has to offer. What is...

Covid 19: 'Staying in and reaching out'

Covid 19: 'Staying in and reaching out'

The coronavirus has the world in its clutch. Not only does it have its own name (SARS CoV2), and its own disease (Covid-19) but more importantly it has been coined as a Pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The health emergency of the disease has thus been lifted to the highest level. ​The impact of this virus on the way we live, work, lear...

“There is no negotiating on the quality of the diploma”

“There is no negotiating on the quality of the diploma”

MAASTRICHT. You can't replace a multiple-choice exam for 800 students by a take-home exam. Marking would be unfeasible. So, what then? Postpone the exam and hope that it can take place in the Mecc before September after all? Or look for alternatives? The UM Examination Boards are focussing on dilemmas like these and are searching for solutions ...
Meeting up for drinks on Skype

Meeting up for drinks on Skype

Eline van Gorp, second-year student of Medicine, has been assigned a new tutor. Her usual tutor is an infectious disease specialist; she’s too busy working in the lab to lead any online tutorial sessions at the moment. Tutorials are going very well, says Van Gorp. “We have someone leading the session, someone taking notes – i...

“We are stuck in Costa Rica”

“We are stuck in Costa Rica”

Communication advisor Caroline Roulaux was looking forward to a quiet touring holiday – “enjoying some nature, taking it easy” – when she and her hubby boarded a plane for Costa Rica on 10 March. Yes, the corona virus was already finding its way to places outside China, but cancel the trip? No, the couple felt that that woul...
"We shouldn’t lose sight of the human side of things"

"We shouldn’t lose sight of the human side of things"

MAASTRICHT. All Maastricht education is to be carried out remotely until the end of the academic year. But what does that mean for staff and students? Tutorial groups work through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard; lecturers are working on online lectures. But what about large-scale exams in the MECC? What are the alternatives?
“This may affect international student intake in particular”

“This may affect international student intake in particular”

Is 2019/2020 a “lost year” because of the crises Maastricht University has had to face? Will all this affect the intake of new students in September? Will students get their tuition fees back? Will UM continue to offer online education in the future? And how much does a crisis like this cost? These are just a few of the questions put to...

Almost all Randwyck research stopped

Almost all Randwyck research stopped

The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences and research institute CAPHRI and have discontinued nearly all their research. CARIM is running a few ‘vital processes’ and are doing their utmost to keep laboratory animals and cells that are being cultivated alive as well as possible. At UNU-MERIT in the city centre, it is largely business a...
Exam at home instead of in the Mecc

Exam at home instead of in the Mecc

“Pretty much all of my friends have left Maastricht”, says Hayden Bunn, a second-year student of the European Law School programme. He also considered going back to the United States, but ultimately decided to stay. “At first, it was unclear how long the university would be closed. I thought it’d be a waste of money to fly h...

“Colleagues now take coffee breaks together on FaceTime”

“Colleagues now take coffee breaks together on FaceTime”

Add structure to your day, find a balance between working, studying and relaxing, keep in touch with others online, and give yourself some time to figure out how to go about all of this. Those were the main takeaways from the webinar 'Dealing with anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic', which was broadcast on YouTube and other soc...
Online exams and sleepless nights

Online exams and sleepless nights

Until two weeks ago, second-year student of International Business Hadia Arab lived in an apartment in Maastricht. "I subrented that place and could arrange something with the main tenants." Now, she is living with her parents in Heerlen again. “The university is closed for the time being. I don’t have to be in Maastricht in t...

Distance academic education until 1 June?

Distance academic education until 1 June?

THE NETHERLANDS. The government has prohibited all gatherings until 1 June because of the corona crisis. But the ministers were non-committal with regard to education.
Nearly all Caphri research suspended

Nearly all Caphri research suspended

MAASTRICHT. Almost all research at the Caphri institute, most of which focusses on public health and care innovation, has been halted. This means that nearly three hundred researchers are now at home, many of whom will face delays. “At the moment, we cannot estimate the financial consequences,” says scientific director Maurice Zeegers. ...
Looking at the flowers in the gardens

Looking at the flowers in the gardens

Not a day seems to pass by anymore without at least three new e-mails updating me about how Corona is affecting my life. By the time I'm writing this, Maastricht University has sent out its 15th Corona update. My current University in Freiburg comes very close to this number too. In Freiburg (as in Maastricht), the Corona outbreak is met wit...

“We had to rush to Schiphol Airport”

“We had to rush to Schiphol Airport”

Sahander Nur Ozdil, a first-year University College Maastricht student, has several suitcases in her room. They belong to her father. “He was here two weeks ago to give me moral support. He had to leave for Turkey in a hurry when the Turkish government announced it was closing its borders. We had to rush to Schiphol so he could catch the last...

“I love Limburg, but I also really wanted to leave”

“I love Limburg, but I also really wanted to leave”

When he was 18 years old, Jean Dohmen wanted to go to university in Groningen or Amsterdam. He liked the idea of being far away from Heerlen, where he grew up. He ended up going to Maastricht, only 25 kilometres away from his hometown. “I never regretted that decision.” Choosing between the busy Randstad and Limburg is a recurring theme...
Corona behaviour: It’s simply human psychology

Corona behaviour: It’s simply human psychology

In the past days, there has been unrest in my neighbourhood. Many people are upset that children are playing outside, people are going for walks, and customers stand too closely at the supermarket. In contrast, many say we’re exaggerating, we should go about our life as much as possible, and didn’t the RIVM say it’s okay for child...

UM researchers: corona is given high priority

UM researchers: corona is given high priority

MAASTRICHT. The research group led by Peter Peters, professor of Nanobiology, is to set aside some of its regular research, in as far as there are people in the lab, in order to free up time to research the coronavirus. Specimens of the virus will be studied in the lab in the hope of setting the next step in the development of a medicine or vaccine...

Maastricht has cancelled all face-to-face education until summer

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. Maastricht University and Leiden University have cancelled all face-to-face education for the rest of the academic year. Other universities and universities of applied sciences are considering doing the same.
Binding study advice deferred for all Maastricht first-year students

Binding study advice deferred for all Maastricht first-year students

MAASTRICHT. All Maastricht first-year students who find themselves with too few credits at the end of August and therefore do not meet with the requirements of the binding study advice (BSA), will be given respite, the Executive Board has decided.
“Four people my grandpa used to play cards with have died”

“Four people my grandpa used to play cards with have died”

Sara Mazzini, a student in the research master’s programme Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, has nowhere to be, but she is trying to maintain some sort of routine in this time of corona crisis. “I was following a Dutch language course, but the classes got cancelled as of today. I want to dress nicely, take the time to cook and keep e...

COVID-19: A Great Lesson for Global Warming

COVID-19: A Great Lesson for Global Warming

It’s been 7 days since COVID-19 was announced as a global pandemic. It’s been approximately 5 days since a variety of countries have closed their boarders. At the same time: it’s been approximately 7 days since the roads have been almost uninhabited, since the number of flights per day has considerably decreased, since carbon e...

"With the cyberattack we were alone, now it's a worldwide crisis"

"With the cyberattack we were alone, now it's a worldwide crisis"

​After the cyber crisis at the turn of the year, Maastricht University must now face the coronavirus. Again, a crisis management team (CMT) has been set up, and again Vice President of the Executive Board, Nick Bos is its leader. “With the cyberattack we were alone and had to find our own way, now it is a worldwide crisis and we can lean part...
“I’m not showing any symptoms yet”

“I’m not showing any symptoms yet”

Pabita Kister, a second-year UCM student, has been quarantined in her parents’ home in Düsseldorf since last Saturday. “It’s unclear whether I’ve been infected”, she emphasises. “I’m not showing any symptoms yet.” But one of her housemates in Maastricht was very likely infected with the coronavirus. &...

Students help in hospital, GGD and in neighborhood

Students help in hospital, GGD and in neighborhood

MAASTRICHT. Many students want to contribute towards the containment of the corona crisis. Also in Maastricht where here and there sheets of A4 with telephone numbers have been hung up. Professor Christiaan Hoebe, head of Infectious Disease Control Zuid Limburg Health Authority (GGD), is impressed by the help offered, but would like to inform the s...
Tip for faculties: put knowledge clips online

Tip for faculties: put knowledge clips online

All PhD ceremonies have been postponed because of the corona measures, although soon it will most likely be possible to conduct these online. Gwen Noteborn would sign up for that. Also, because it fits in seamlessly with her thesis about IT innovations in education. And it is a topical matter: her American co-supervisor is confronted with a travel ...
Many exchange students leaving Maastricht

Many exchange students leaving Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. As the lecture halls remain empty, the corridors of Guesthouse UM and The Student Hotel are growing quieter and quieter as well. We don’t yet know exactly how many students have left, but last weekend at least a hundred of them checked out of the Guesthouse early. This number is only expected to increase in the days to come, says ...
“My family is very worried about me”

“My family is very worried about me”

Samuele Livraghi, a first-year student enrolled in the Maastricht Science Programme, is from Lombardy in northern Italy. Although no one in his family has yet been infected with the coronavirus, the situation back home is “quite stressful. New cases are diagnosed every day.” Health care in Italy is very good, says Livraghi. “And i...

UPDATE: UM shifts to online teaching

UPDATE: UM shifts to online teaching

MAASTRICHT. As of Monday 16 March 2020, UM has shifted completely to online teaching. How exactly are faculties going about this? Have they come up with alternatives for large-scale exams that needed to be cancelled? Will exams be postponed to the summer, potentially ruining both lecturers and students’ holiday plans?   ...
Are student houses corona-proof?

Are student houses corona-proof?

NEDERLAND. It’s better not to organise parties, nor is it a good idea for five people to watch a film on a two-seater sofa. Students need to use common sense in this crisis.
Covid-19 measures: how are students reacting?

Covid-19 measures: how are students reacting?

MAASTRICHT. What do the preventative measures that have been taken to curtail the spreading of the coronavirus mean for student associations and organisations? Observant asked the four largest – Koko, Tragos, Circumflex and Saurus – and found out that they immediately closed their doors on Thursday. Initially, Saurus wanted its rowers t...
Dangerous Daughters and their Heavy Travel History

Dangerous Daughters and their Heavy Travel History

When my aunt traveled to Singapore a bit less than three weeks ago, she was met with raised eyebrows from her colleagues. “Is it really wise what you are doing?”, they asked her condescendingly. “Do you really want to go to Asia?" By that point, there weren't any COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands yet, and everyone seemed ...

“The tutorial was maybe even more productive than usual”

“The tutorial was maybe even more productive than usual”

European Law School student Mashid Mojabi attended her first online tutorial session last Monday. She’s happy that her faculty is continuing to provide education via the Internet. “I’m a fourth-year student. I’d like to get my degree.” The switch to online teaching was made quickly, says Mojabi. “I only heard abo...

UPDATE: no PhD defences for time being

UPDATE: no PhD defences for time being

MAASTRICHT. The Executive Board has decided to postpone all academic sessions, at least until April 6.
Observant: only online for the time being, not on paper

Observant: only online for the time being, not on paper

MAASTRICHT. Observant will only be published online for the next few weeks (www.observantonline.nl) and not in printed form. This has to do with the measures taken to curtail further spreading of the coronavirus as much as possible: students are no longer allowed to enter UM buildings, education activities are carried out online, and staff members ...

NWO also on hold

NETHERLANDS. Dutch Research Council and funding organisation NWO is not conducting any interviews with applicants for research grants for the time being. Applicants will most likely have to wait a few anxious months more because of the corona crisis.

UPDATE: University Library closes its doors, all UM buildings closed for students and staff as of 16 March.

UPDATE: University Library closes its doors, all UM buildings closed for students and staff as of 16 March.   MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has closed its doors for students with effect from 16 March. This includes the University Library. All education activities will be online for the time being. Mass exams have been cancelled. Thes...

Only distance education, mass exams cancelled

Only distance education, mass exams cancelled

MAASTRICHT. As of Monday, 16 March, Maastricht University will only provide distance education. Compulsory attendance has been abolished, mass exams – such as those in Mecc – for block period 4 have been cancelled. Employees should work from home as much as possible.
UM still open, but makes preparations for possible (partial) closure

UM still open, but makes preparations for possible (partial) closure

MAASTRICHT. The University of Antwerp has been locked down, Denmark has closed all schools and universities, the university sports centres of Tilburg and Eindhoven will remain closed until at least Monday, 16 March, and the TEFAF art fair was discontinued prematurely last night. The Executive Board of Maastricht University sees no reason ...
Give me some sleep

Give me some sleep

Sleep. Something that most students definitely lack but at the same time desperately want. I, personally, daily struggle with doing all my readings, meeting my friends, making enough food to sustain myself, go outside to have breaks and so many more little tasks that just happen to be due that day AND still get enough sleep. Every task is important...

XIOR disputes rent tribunal judgment

MAASTRICHT. Student housing company XIOR, owner of the Carré building on the Tongersestraat and other property, is going to court to appeal against two decisions taken by the rent tribunal. The tribunal, which is an independent organisation that formally settles conflicts between tenants and property owners, recently ruled in favour of two tenants ...
Corona: Students launch petition ‘Shut down Maastricht University’

Corona: Students launch petition ‘Shut down Maastricht University’

MAASTRICHT. Last Tuesday, three Italian students launched a petition in which they urge Maastricht University to close its doors because of the coronavirus. Within twenty hours, it was signed more than a thousand times. But for the time being, closure is not on the cards. Students in Randwyck are already noticing the effects of the stricter me...
“Does everybody understand the message of the RIVM?”

“Does everybody understand the message of the RIVM?”

The amount of coronavirus infections is increasing in the Netherlands, but according to the government we are still in the ‘containment stage’. Rigorous decisions have therefore not yet been taken. What do Maastricht scientists think of the actions of the National Institute for Health and the Environment (RIVM)? According to the book? O...
“More than ever before, I’ve found my place”

“More than ever before, I’ve found my place”

Somewhere deep down inside, Lieke van den Krommenacker (39) always knew what she wanted to do with her life. But more than once, she let herself be swayed by… well, by what, exactly? Following other people’s dreams and expectations? Making the kinds of decisions she thought an adult should make? The point is: more than once, she went d...
MUMC cancels events; no more interns in operating theatres

MUMC cancels events; no more interns in operating theatres

MAASTRICHT. While Maastricht University is not cancelling any education activities, exams or events yet because of the coronavirus, MUMC steps up measures by calling off all meetings and receptions until 1 April. In addition, students who are doing internships are not allowed inside the operating theatre for the time being. Nor are they given any o...
Giving money is not done, offering help is

Giving money is not done, offering help is

You want to interview refugees and migrants on their journey, but they must – as is good scientific practice – first give permission and sign a form. Many refugees however, will never put their signature on anything. How do you deal with that? Also, what if a participant asks for money? Can you always refuse?
Fewer evening patrols by city law enforcement units

Fewer evening patrols by city law enforcement units

MAASTRICHT. The city of  Maastricht is facing a budget deficit of 12 million and needs to economise. Part of the measures presented by the Mayor and Aldermen last week, is reducing the number of evenings on which law enforcement units patrol. This has caused great disappointment in the Buurtbalans residents’ platform.
“I’m not afraid to show my femininity now”

“I’m not afraid to show my femininity now”

Céline Kleckner (20, German), third-year student of Psychology, describes her style as “classic and daring”. 
International Women’s Day: much more than just women’s rights

International Women’s Day: much more than just women’s rights

“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no.” “Hey-hey, ho-ho, homophobia has got to go.” It’s Sunday afternoon, 8 March, International Women’s Day. Quite a large group has assembled on the Vrijthof. A flag saying “Women of the World Unite!” has been attached to the iron railing o...

Staff member has tested positively for the coronavirus

Staff member has tested positively for the coronavirus

MAASTRICHT. A member of staff from Maastricht University’s department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering has tested positively for the coronavirus. This was confirmed by the South Limburg Health Authority on Thursday, 5 March. The person concerned lives in Aachen and has stayed at home by way of precaution, having probably contracted t...

Elsevier reports women gaining ground in research

THE NETHERLANDS.  Worldwide, women in research continue to trail far behind men. But the gap is narrowing, science publisher Elsevier reports ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Coronavirus closes schools, most Dutch infections traced to northern Italy

THE NETHERLANDS. As the death toll from coronavirus in the Netherlands hits three and the number of confirmed cases was put at 264, Dutch health officials say there is as yet no reason to take further precautions or increase the rate of testing.
’S klane Glücksspiel

’S klane Glücksspiel

Sun - smiles - semester break I long debated how to brag about my deadline-free horizon. And then decided that I won’t. Instead, I will give you a taste of a Freiburgian semester break. And what better way to do that than by giving you the ultimate Freiburg playlist? Thus, I hereby present you with Freiburgian Mukke - 7 songs that the musi...

Concerns about work pressure because of mentor programmes

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Law is appointing about seventy lecturers next academic year, as mentors to supervise all first-year students (roughly seven hundred). This plan is the result of the quality agreements, the funds that became available after the abolishment of the basic grant and that universities and universities of applied sciences inves...
Rotterdam noise

Rotterdam noise

It's been a month since I moved to Rotterdam, the windy city. So, I replaced my bike with an OV chip card and I usually take a bus or a tram wherever I go. This traffic opportunity, in return, creates a lot of noise in the city.
No corona virus diagnosis at UM, but some students have reported sick

No corona virus diagnosis at UM, but some students have reported sick

MAASTRICHT. So far, 25 students from Maastricht University have reported sick for education activities. They will stay at home because they are sneezing or coughing or have a fever in combination with having recently returned from a high-risk area for the corona virus, such as Northern Italy. In such cases, the UM advises to remain at home for two ...
Tapijn carré buildings opened

Tapijn carré buildings opened

MAASTRICHT. There is still a big excavator in the yard and some builders are still walking around here and there through the building, but last Monday the first batch of UM moved into the carré buildings on the Prins Bisschopsingel. This included the University Library and SBE.
“I want us to present ourselves clearly as a joint Health Campus”

“I want us to present ourselves clearly as a joint Health Campus”

She is proud of Maastricht University, MUMC+, and the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, and dearly wants to make her contribution. Still, Annemie Schols, the new dean of FHML per 1 June, thought long and hard before she sent off her job application letter. “A new step should suit who you are. I think for me it was the logical nex...
“I’m straightforward, I’m Austrian”

“I’m straightforward, I’m Austrian”

MAASTRICHT. Christine Neuhold, professor of EU Democratic Governance and director of UM Campus Brussels, will be the new dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. She will succeed Professor Sophie Vanhoonacker as from 1 September 2020.

Chinese academia now also rejecting pressure to publish

CHINA. Chinese universities are to end their fixation on publication scores in leading journals, China’s government has announced. It plans to steer a new course.
Tutorial and council at the same time: that results in punishment

Tutorial and council at the same time: that results in punishment

MAASTRICHT. Tutorial and council meeting at the same time? Whatever one you skip as a student, your absence will be penalised. This must be stopped, feels the student fraction of the University Council.
Making minced meat of a thesis

Making minced meat of a thesis

You are on an assessment committee as a professor and you feel that the quality of the thesis concerned is below standard. At the same time, the five articles meet the required scientific standard, because they have all been published. Do you make a point of it or not?
“I only got four hours of sleep, which may affect the quality of my answers”

“I only got four hours of sleep, which may affect the quality of my answers”

We’re walking through Utrecht Science Park, hunched into our coats to protect ourselves from the fierce wind whipping around the dreary buildings. One of the massive concrete structures is covered in green scaffold netting, not because it’s under construction but to prevent debris from falling down and killing people. It’s not exa...

Corona in the Netherlands; classes continue

THE NETHERLANDS. Wash your hands, sneeze in your sleeve and use paper tissues. Beyond that, says the Dutch government, there’s little students and schools can do to stop the coronavirus.
“I purchase the same shoes again and again”

“I purchase the same shoes again and again”

Harriot Grinnell-Moore (22, British), second-year UCM student, describes her style as “quite classic, not too bold”.
Ich packe meinen Koffer

Ich packe meinen Koffer

We’ve all played it as kids: I'm going on a trip and I'm taking with me [fill in the blank]. And now here I am, standing in front of my suitcase, staring around the room, and whispering “Ich packe meinen Koffer und nehme mit…” like a mantra. The windows are wide open as I try to get the blue sky and fluffy clouds...

The posters say it all

The posters say it all

Carly Sunol (19, Barcelona), studies Biology and Philosophy at UCM, pays 470 Euros for a 15m2 room in Daalhof, where she lives with two housemates.