by Adam Strobejko
Welcome to Maastricht, young traveler. Well, here starts the fun: it is actually “Mestreech” you were looking for.
When I arrived, it was a Sunday. Honestly, the day of Sun was pretty gloomy. But Dutch people were still singing. Okay, the part with Dutch people singing is exaggerated. The town was dead. Crying out of solitude, I decided to buy some bread as a consolation. I am not joking, I really tried to buy something on Sunday.
Having the internet as my very own Virgil and most loyal companion, the full reconnaissance was only a matter of time. After finding my room (which was not that problematic) I had to take care of the formalities (which was problematic). I had to file my records and my entire life written down on some indifferent, cold sheets of paper. Sad this may seem, the whole process was guided by kind Dutch girls from Student Service Centre. Well, I humbly accept this form of compensation.
The action really started when I demanded independence… I mean, I wanted to start working. I quickly discovered that I need to attend a GBA session (for which you have to wait) in order to obtain BSN number (for which you have to wait even longer). Kafka’s dream, I whispered to myself. As a quite calm and peaceful person, I decided not to start the riot. Instead, I chose to wait patiently, surrounded by tranquillity and cheap wine. Mostly by the latter.
Having fun seems to be the ultimate problem-eraser of every student-being. Lured by stories about the Dutch way of partying, your expectations may subsequently be high – whether they are fulfilled is another matter. I have to warn you, though: Maastricht is proclaimed the City of Chill rather than Mecca for rave-parties’ fanatics. One argument against this, though, is my experience of INKOM (which stands for a synonym of bigness in my personal dictionary), which will definitely stay engraved in my mind for a long time. Moreover, in the tree of Life Experience it belongs to the branch of Good Ones. Meeting people and enjoying myself in the mist of intoxication was really pleasant and created a perfect prologue to my new student life.
Besides that, I focused on finding forms of entertainment in a more intimate setting. The pubs and houses were cosy and inviting; I was frankly astonished by the peacefulness and hospitality of the locals which I encountered. Obviously, if these are only appetizers for you, you can try going to clubs. When you are desperate, drunk or if you enjoy the shine of hair gel (preferably all conditions are fulfilled) de Alla is the place to be!
After some time, here comes my personal impression: bigger parties in the Netherlands are somehow similar to shopping malls in their varying size and focus on impressiveness. Even entering a room at a crowded house party reminds me of waiting in line. As you queue, you can feel the drama of every second lost, because the Police are already on their way!
Despite all its oddities, Maastricht is a lovely place to live in. After successful acclimatization, I can honestly say that I feel attached to this place. An omnipresence of serenity and cordiality are irreplaceable elements of a healthy way of living. And every time I pass the Maas, I wonder at how much my life improved on arrival when it comes to pure aesthetics.
Picture courtesy of Limburg Badminton