In two minds: stay or go back to Moldova?

In two minds: stay or go back to Moldova?

She does the same things every morning: she has a cup of coffee, does her skincare routine, and meditates. This positive way to start the day is helping first-year student of Global Studies Alina Timosenco through the lockdown. Timosenco, who is from Moldova, is facing a dilemma. Will she stay in Maastricht or return to her native country? “Sure, I could stay here, but what’s in it for me right now?”

“Having my own studio apartment is OK, but I prefer being around other people”

“Having my own studio apartment is OK, but I prefer being around other people”

Giovanni Bava can tell that he has grown a lot in the six months that he has been here. His English has improved a lot and he is more disciplined than he thought he was. But not everything is going smoothly: he is having difficulty concentrating. He has already contacted the student psychologists at Maastricht University about it.

"Staying inside all the time makes me feel trapped"

"Staying inside all the time makes me feel trapped"

Meghan Callender, first-year student of Global Studies, is trying to make the best of the current situation. She goes outside as much as possible and regularly meets up with a friend who lives next door. Eating dinner together ­– even just virtually, over FaceTime with her boyfriend in Groningen ­­– is very important to her.

“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”

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. 

“When I’m on the phone with a friend, we talk about anything but COVID”

“When I’m on the phone with a friend, we talk about anything but COVID”

“When was the last time you went outside?” When her mother asked her this, first-year student of Psychology Maike Prenzyna was surprised to realise it had been two weeks. “Weekdays, weekend days, mornings, afternoons, evenings – everything feels the same. I go to sleep when it’s dark outside, but that’s about it.” But it’s not all doom and gloom: she has found a room and a new best friend in Maastricht.

"Everyone listens to my dad, not because we're afraid of him, but out of respect"

"Everyone listens to my dad, not because we're afraid of him, but out of respect"

Towards the end of the interview, first-year student of Health Sciences Hadeel (pronounced
“Adele”) Khawatmy casually reveals that she studies seven (!) days per week. “I get eight hours of sleep, I see my family when we eat, and I spend the rest of the time studying.” This includes evenings and weekends. She doesn’t have time to play sports, play games or watch television.

"My grandfather was a great writer, I'm proud to be related to him"

"My grandfather was a great writer, I'm proud to be related to him"

“I can tell that you’re Dutch from the way you say ‘yes’,” says first-year student Alina Timosenco (19) from Moldova. Although new to Maastricht, she is already becoming quite adept at identifying both international students and Dutch people. “At first, I thought, ‘How will I know whether or not someone is from the Netherlands?’” She doesn’t generally come across many Dutch people. She’s enrolled in Global Studies, an extremely popular programme among international students, and lives in an international house. But she does love this Dutch city. “Maastricht feels like my home.”

“I do get my passion for science from my dad”

“I do get my passion for science from my dad”

American student Meghan Callender was only sixteen years old when she arrived in Nieuwe Pekela for an exchange year. The province of Groningen – as flat as can be, with pastures, cows and water – could not have been more different from Washington State, her homeland full of nature and mountains. But it wasn’t just the surroundings she had to get used to. The culture, the way of life, relationships: everything was new. Looking back, it was an amazing experience, she says. It was so amazing that she returned. First to Groningen, but since September a few hundred kilometres south, in Maastricht.

“Fencing was my oxygen”

“Fencing was my oxygen”

His grandmother died last summer, “the best cook in Italy”. Sad but determined, the Italian Giovanni Bava left his birthplace Asti to come and study Economics and Business Economics in Maastricht. His studio in Maastricht is the second home for him ever to live in.

“I’m three-quarters Polish, but I’ve never been to Poland”

“I’m three-quarters Polish, but I’ve never been to Poland”

When she was in secondary school and her father became seriously ill, she went to therapy. It helped her so much that she decided to study psychology herself. Maike Prenzyna from Germany doesn’t see herself becoming a clinical psychologist, though. “I would care way too much about everything.” She is interested in going into research, but first she would like to find her feet in Maastricht.

“Making a production process more efficient, I get a kick out of that”

“Making a production process more efficient, I get a kick out of that”

When he studies, he always goes for a ten, plays at a high level for football club MVV, and wants to become a member of every club or association. First-year student of Econometrics Cedric Pots, living at home in Maastricht, sometimes has to have his enthusiasm curbed. He agrees that he sets the bar too high every now and again.

“My father said, ‘This is your dream, I trust you, you should go’”

“My father said, ‘This is your dream, I trust you, you should go’”

It was quite a shock for her parents when they heard that their daughter would have to move out in order to study Health Sciences. Nobody does that in Syria: “Everyone lives at home. We certainly don’t let girls live alone.” The rest of her family also told her not to do it over Skype. But on 31 August 2020, Hadeel Khawatmy (pronounced “Adele”) moved to Maastricht. “My father eventually said, ‘This is your dream, I trust you, you’re an independent person, you should go’.”

First-years 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 will follow six new students this academic year. We will interview them several times: the first was time in autumn, now in the winter and, finally, in May/June.