Exam time…

Firstly, I feel like I have to apologise for my lack activity. The last two weeks have been INSANE! This leads me on to my topic, the one which everyone has been waiting for, what the learning system is like over here.

Ok, so you have two periods in a semester and a total of four subjects (obviously two subjects per period). These are done over seven or eight weeks, depending on the subject, and two classes per subject a week. It sounds easy to focus on two subjects at a time, but the speed which you have to learn doubles and it takes a lot of self-control to keep up with the content (party, travel or study…hmmm?).

The Problem-Based Learning System is not without its benefits – for example, you know how you’re in a tutorial and you might never talk to someone or interact with the tutor? Well that definitely wouldn’t happen here. The classes during the week are all tutorials which require you to put forward your opinions and to politely criticise other student’s assumptions. For people who know me, I always have an opinion, however in this situation it is a little intimidating to open your mouth unless you have a solid argument about your position. The way I write it makes it sound horrible, but I think I have learnt more from these discussions than I have from the required readings.

Maastricht is definitely not a place for slackers, you must be diligent in your readings and have the motivation to learn. I admit, I struggled for the first few weeks to understand what is required of me but the student community is so strong and we all do our best to help each other through the tough workloads. Plus, the international office is super friendly and will go to lengths to provide support.

I have an exam in 45 minutes which I am going to completely own (confidence is key) based on consumer behaviour and statistics (which Mr Paltridge, our International Director, kindly guided me through before my departure), so I’ll need to leave it here. Until next time!


OFII Time is T-Shirt Time

It’s early October and for all the international students in France this means one thing – it’s OFII time!

My appointment at l’Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) was last Friday and I am happy to report that it went very smoothly. In less than an hour I had my two medical x-rays, presented all my paperwork to the official, answered a couple of questions with my very basic French skills and was sent on my way with a special stamp in my passport that allows me to stay in France for a full year and multiple entries to the Schengen area.

You receive a lot of information from OFII  before your appointment but there is one thing they do not mention in their letters that is of great importance. It is not a secret that you will have a chest x-ray during your interview. What they do not mention is that they do not provide medical gowns or any sort of cover.

I cannot emphasise this enough for the ladies: unless you are comfortable with the (male) doctor and (male) radiographer seeing you stripped to the waist, wear a t-shirt to your OFII appointment. The doctor will let you keep your t-shirt on provided you remove your bra. I was fortunate enough to be wearing a t-shirt anyway, but one of my American friends was not. She does have waist-length hair, however, and told me she walked into the x-ray room with her hair artfully arranged to cover what she could.

I asked her if she had felt at all uncomfortable during the x-ray. “No,” was her simple reply. “The doctor and radiographer were total professionals and anyway, they’re French. There are, like, topless women on the cover of fashion magazines so by the time they walk past a newsagency on the way to work they’ve probably already seen, like, five pairs so one more couldn’t hurt.”

I couldn’t really argue with her logic but for those of us who are a little more shy or have shorter hair, OFII time is also t-shirt time.