by Adam Strobejko
My idea is that it would be somewhat empathic to summarise the most common conditions we suffer from when studying in Maastricht. And there are quite a few of them. Some are logical challenges we face when moving abroad, others are surprisingly creepy and uniquely place-bound. What connects them is their popularity among the students and the rate with which they affect our everyday lives.
Prospective students may take them as a curiosity rather than a warning. You can easily prevent being infected by careful planning and a dose of common sense. Moreover, some of the ‘plagues’ can be pleasant and actually have a positive impact on your life in overall. Never have I thought I would become fascinated by the curiosities of the German culture and here I stand, amazed by its richness, shocked by its diversity, touched by Goethe and as repulsed by the food as I ever was.
1) The Maastricht Syndrome (a.k.a. Maastricht Effect)
This just had to be on the top of the list. Partly because I wanted to buy myself some cheap popularity with the word ‘sex’ in front, partly because everybody knows it. The brave team of the Diplomat already covered the problem (https://maastrichtdiplomat.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/its-not-you-its-maastricht/), so we do not need to elaborate on it any further and I believe it to be quite exaggerated, anyways. However, I also wanted to stress the importance of the scope of the symptoms outside the sphere of sexual life itself. If we follow the reasoning of Freud (he spoke German as well), the level of libido affects our everyday lives in every-way-possible.
And let’s just say the Maastricht Effect is a scientific proof that the level of libido is adversely proportional to the time spent studying or working. This results in decreased energy, problems with sleep, anxiety and stress.
That’s it, we may be a unique phenomenon, a population of self-sterilised youth who sacrificed their fertility for the sake of money education. And what a wonderful feeling it is to contribute your brick to the development of humanity!
Curation: see below.
2) De Alla Affection
An average person would think about legal weed and some techno DJs when asked about the Netherlands. Even I, not being a professional party animal, thought about the myth of a Dionysian utopia to constitute the basis of some form of a distorted reality, where doped people would, for example, dance to the techno music. OK, I did not quite expect, nor would I hope for that. But the reality appears to be even more brutal. There is simply no place where we could hang out with friends after the pubs close. At least no classy one.
There is one spot here that can be distinguished by the primitive sounds and the smell of pheromones in the air. It is called de Alla. Why do students, young talents, potential world leaders, sexual vultures go there? Simply because there is nothing else to do.
Symptoms: pregnancy (?)
3) Constant Guilt Syndrome
And when you actually indulge in any of these doubtfully entertaining activities, your inevitable punishment lies just behind the corner. Actually, it’s in your brain. May I present the most vicious invention of karma’s moodiness : the feeling of guilt!
symptoms: maniacal disorder, obsessive thoughts, feeling of burden.
4) The Societal Digitalisation & Chairness
This point describes probably the most dangerous phenomenon encountered in the city of ours.
When having to deal with the heavy workloads, we choose the place according to our preferences. We pick a chair… and then it happens- we simply sit too much. First of all, our ancestors were hunting nomads. And while our way of living has changed, sitting down remained a way to restore energy and stop vital functions. Research shows that human bodies are not used to this type of functioning on a long-run. Sitting more than two hours may have some devastating effects on our health.
Moreover, when we actually try to study, there are some easy distractions to be found on the internet. Just think about these Facebook groups! Every domain of life has been given a digital equivalent. These can be very helpful indeed, if we just remember to use them in moderation and keep our social life in form. And sometimes this proves to be problematic. That’s more, I have encountered a sort of suspension of time when indulging in any of the above. Time is not flowing at all. And then another year is gone.
Symptoms: the feeling of old-age, the internet addiction, backache.
5) Total Germanization
This one is not connected with any of the above and yet is so much present in our everyday lives that it just could not be ignored when drafting this list. German, it’s everywhere. It may be actually easier to learn this language and culture than going for the locals. The university is said to have decreased the funds for promotion of the institution in the land of Goethe. No wonder- some Germans I know complain that they do not feel as being abroad here at all.
Symptoms, I meant, translation:
Dieses Beispiel ist mit keiner der anderen Krankheiten in Verbindung zu bringen, und doch ist es so präsent in unserem Alltag dass ich es einfach nicht ignorieren konnte als ich diese Liste zusammengestellt habe. Deutsch – es ist einfach überall. Vielleicht wäre es sogar leichter, direkt Deutsch anstelle von Niederländisch zu lernen und einfach die deutsche Kultur zu übernehmen, anstatt die lokale kennenzulernen. Man munkelt, die Universität hätte den Etat für Werbung im Goetheland verkleinert. Kein Wunder – einige der Deutschen, die ich hier kenne, beschweren sich schon, dass sie sich hier gar nicht wie im Ausland fühlen. (Credit for translation goes to Zoë Perry)
For information on student fears go to: https://maastrichtdiplomat.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/5-student-fears-in-maastricht/