My memories of the first days in Maastricht are a little blurry. I arrived only 9 days before the university started. My plan was to find a room. Despite the worries everyone else seemed to have about this rather naïve project, I was sure this would work out. It had to work! As you can imagine, the days went by very quickly. I was still searching for a room. Was I still positive about this whole plan? Not really, instead, my independency had not really started the way I wanted it to. After one of many housing agency had reached out to all of their vacant apartments, telling me that there is nothing left in my price range, they gave up on me. I was sobbing, exhausted and I wanted to go home.
“Yes, there might be a place available” the women on the other end of the phone told me later on that night, at a time when I had almost given up on me, Maastricht and my plan to study here. Without even having seen the room, I agreed to take it: 12 people, third floor, 13 square meters – you are mine for the next few months.
After this drama, my energy level had dropped; I was tired but happy. On this first day, I even managed to get lost in the city. Clearly, my first impression of the city was good but I was rather confused. Before my train left, I had a few hours to kill so I took a seat in Café Zondag close to the train station. The dim light and the wooden tables attracted me, the large windows invited me to take a seat, take a breath and watch the city from a distance.
Just like any tourist, I wanted to try something that is typical Dutch. Overwhelmed by the Dutch menu, I chose something that sounded familiar and local: bread with Limburgse stinkkaas with appelstroop, which would be the smelliest cheese I have ever tried. I loved it! Within a year, I would find lovely student house just around the corner from here, a place that is even payable, a fact that I would have probably not believed if anyone would have told me back then.
Café Zondag is a place that I still visit regularly. They sell the best gin tonics in town and in case the blood sugar is low, they’ve got brownies; and let me tell you, things couldn’t get any chocolatier. When I asked my friend why we always hang out at Café Zondag, she starts to smile and says: “…to say it in a cheesy way, it is not just for Sunday but for every day” and her laugh tells me that she is secretly thinking about all the cute boys that walk in and out of this place. Due to its convenient location, just behind the old city bridge, it is hard to find a seat during the evening. It can get really busy during the night, there is loud music, and people light up cigarettes in the front. The lively atomsphere that is so inherent to Cafe Zondag is why I came here on my first day and why I just might visit this place on my last day in Maastricht.
This is the last installment in this series.