Interested in studying abroad?
It is always difficult to decide what one will do after the Abitur. One very interesting, promising and at the same time challenging way is to study abroad. In this article I would like to elaborate on the alternative of studying in the Netherlands, more specifically at the University of Maastricht.
I first became aware of this alternative when I read the newspaper which wrote about a presentation of the University in Düsseldorf. I then took part in that lecture and got enthusiastic about the possibility of studying abroad. There were several advantages for me as a prospective student. Among these were the facts that the study was completely in English, the Problem Based Learning (PBL) System used at the University of Maastricht and especially the possibility of finishing my studies within three years as a Bachelor or four years as a Master. Additionally, the city of Maastricht is about 75 minutes away from Nettetal, so I would have my independence from home and at the same time would not be too far away. That way I came to the conclusion to take studying abroad as a serious alternative. What more could I ask for than a differentiated study with an internationally recognized degree in a world which has become very competitive concerning jobs and careers. Especially the international aspect of my studies gives me the advantage of choosing a job, which could be anywhere around the globe.
The possible alternatives in Maastricht concerning a Business study are either ‘International Business’ or ‘Economics’. These directions are comparable with “BWL” and “VWL” respectively.
What also needs to be mentioned about studying in Maastricht is that study fees need to be paid. As an EU member around half of the money is paid back, but still books need to be purchased – lots of books.
The lecture in Düsseldorf also mentioned the study being hard and very work intensive, but I like a challenge and after visiting two open days at the faculty itself, I finally decided to become a student in Maastricht.
I had to write a letter of motivation, indicating to the University why they should pick me as a student. This was one way of getting into the study; the other was by being picked due to the right lot, because 200 places were given out via a lottery.
As soon as I knew that I had been picked I started to search for an apartment and found one in Belgium, around five kilometres away from the centre of Maastricht. A few days later I found out that someone else from my “Stufe” got accepted at Maastricht. It was THE coincidence that he actually rented a room in the same house as I did. We needed to have a beer on that, but I must admit that it was helpful for me to already have someone I knew in Maastricht.
Due to the fact that the first one-and-a-half years at Maastricht are filled with obligatory courses, we studied basically the same, even though we never shared the same tutorials. The University of Maastricht uses a PBL system, as mentioned before. That means that there are groups of max. 15 students, each with one tutor, working on a real-life problem. A tutorial takes about two hours and there are mostly one or two tutorials per week. Most of the actual work needs to be done by the students themselves, as the reading and working with the texts takes most of the time. One easily reaches a 40-hour week working for the University, even though it tends to be more, especially in the first semester of the study. With time one develops time-management skills allowing for more efficient and effective working, which was naturally supported by the rapid evolvement of the skills in the English language.
Thereby I finally found the time to join associations like the handball team of the University, a student investment club (www.sigmainvestments.nl), or become the goal keeper of the house’s indoor soccer team.
Furthermore the University offers a variety of language courses, which I decided to join and do a Spanish course starting this February.
The following semester finally consists of courses that I chose myself. I planned to follow a Finance Major and a Minor in Crisis management, the Majors and Minors being comparable to “Leistungs-“and “Grundkurse”. Other Majors offered besides Finance are Marketing, Organisation, Logistics, Strategy, Accounting and Information Management.
After this semester I am planning to take part in an internship programme for about two months, so I will skip my holidays for that, if I find a company that accepts me.
Next year I will study abroad. This is an obligatory part of the study in Maastricht; you have to study one semester in a foreign country. Which country this will be is not certain yet, depending on my grades and what study programmes the Universities have to offer. Even Germany is an option one could choose, though I must say that for example the University of Hong Kong somehow attracts me a lot more.
Furthermore I hope to finish my Bachelor next year, which is followed by the decision whether to make the Master in Maastricht or apply at a different University. With the Master programme one finally specializes in a certain field, which in turn may open opportunities to get a challenging and prosperous job.
To conclude, I hope that I could give you a little insight into the possibility of studying abroad, even though my experience in Maastricht is limited. I hope I was able to contribute a little to the decision process of what to do after the Abitur and add an alternative to your consideration.
Lutz Wernitz, Abiturjahrgang 2002