The first week of February was my first week of class! Here at Maastricht University they use a teaching style called Problem-Based Learning (PBL). This is very different from traditional college lectures–it is completely discussion-based and led by students in meetings called tutorials (not classes!!!!?!). Every tutorial, the tutor (AKA professor) hands out a task, which is basically an application that exhibits broader topics that we’re supposed to recognize and learn. We then have a pre-discussion, which includes creating a problem statement and coming up with learning goals. The homework is to read some “suggested readings” and find other readings on our own, and create solutions to the learning goals. We reconvene for the next tutorial (there are two tutorials per week) and hold the post-discussion. Here, we discuss what we came up with in response to the learning goals.

This system has definitely been an adjustment, and at times it feels like there isn’t enough structure. However, I feel more comfortable with it with every tutorial that I attend. There are two blocks per semester, and this block I am taking an Introduction to Dutch class (which isn’t PBL!), Philosophy of Language, and Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship. All are very interesting topics, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them.

The weekend after the first week of class my friends and I decided we needed some American breakfast food. We got a recommendation for this WICKED AWESOME place called FAB–Famous American Bistro. It was nice to have some familiar tastes, not to mention how delicious they were!

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After brunch, my friend Amy (who lives in the Netherlands, the one that I stayed with when I first got here!) arrived in Maastricht. She had never been here before, and that weekend was the iconic Carnaval celebration in town. It’s been said that the biggest celebration of Carnaval in Europe takes place in Maastricht–to which I can definitely attest. Carnaval is kind of a giant 3 day party to get all your sins out before Lent start. Everyone dresses up in costumes as if it’s Halloween in the US…I even saw someone dressed up in a scarecrow costume. They really act like it’s Halloween. And the costumes are CRAZY!  There was a beautiful parade with Dutch songs, marching bands, and amazing costumes.

There were so many food trucks around the cobblestone squares, mostly greasy foods covered in nutella (my sister’s dream). And, speaking of food…when Amy and I were walking around, we came across a fountain that was filled with oversized vegetables. Conveniently, Amy speaks Dutch, so she asked someone and he just said “Oh, it’s for the soup.” Ohhhhh of course, the soup (?!!?). We continued to ask around and found out that it is supposed to represent that everyone is welcome in Maastricht, that there is more than enough food for everyone to go around…a beautiful sentiment.

Carnaval was a great experience and it was so fun to experience with my CES friends and Amy!



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