Why did you choose this program?
I chose the Center for European Studies (CES) at Maastricht University for several reasons:
1) it's in an amazing location for traveling
2) the classes offered were extremely interesting
3) the city seemed lovely and charming. It was all of the above and, honestly, I couldn't have been happier with this location.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program helped me figure out my classes, get a bike, figure out my course plan, took us on immersion trips, told us where best to shop and much more. I have discussed with other students that studied abroad and it seems like the CES program is top-notch with their planning and cultural immersion. The only thing I personally had to figure out was how to use public transit and book hostels for my travels (which is unrelated and was just a personal interest, so I wouldn't hold this against them at all). CES made sure we were extremely comfortable and knowledgeable about the resources available.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Strap in for a crazy semester! Be adventurous, say "yes" as often as you can, and don't get too focused on the academics. Yes, Maastricht has great courses with interesting topics, but you have easy access to students from other cultures and different mindsets. Take advantage of the wonderful resources and people that lie within Maastricht. Some people you meet may remain you friends forever! I still talk rather frequently with my peers from the program!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
My floor at the UM guesthouse was quite special. A regular week consisted of 3-7 days of eating dinners together and sometimes breakfasts as well. I would always go grocery shopping with my hallmates as well. During the week we would attend classes then usually bike around and explore the city/ go to the UM gym. Most students would rush to get all of their work done before the weekend so that we can feel guilt-free when traveling. For the weekends, my hallmates and I would usually travel all around Europe, explore and create some extremely fond memories.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Before Maastricht, I have never lived outside the comforts of Las Vegas. I was nervous about all of the stereotypical first-move-out type of things. I wasn't sure if I'd make friends quickly, if I was able to cook well enough, or if I could handle my money efficiently, etc. These are very common concerns, but when I went out to Maastricht, everything was pleasant and convenient. I quickly found a support system that helped me overcome my nerves and ultimately come out more experienced and mature. I now am not as nervous about making big moves, but rather embrace it.