By Milli Ehringhaus
When starting out fresh in a new environment, everything appears harder than it should. Specifically, when moving to Maastricht certain questions arise. Groceries at Jumbo or Albert Heijn? Which side of the bridge appeals as a more beneficial living area (East side vs. West side)? Cool Runnings or Club 69? And the list goes on… Within all the chaos of reality and out of the ordinary “newness,” is it not always more comforting to embark on this journey with someone by your side?
When speaking more precisely about changing environments; from any place in the world to the small city of Maastricht. It seems only fair to admit that the cultural diversity in the capital of Limburg brings about an immediate sense of unity. Nationalities from all over the world unite here, and a prompt connection sparks within the social groups, creating nothing short of a family.
More often than not, social frameworks build up upon similarities. Friends and acquaintances are made through the same faculties, tutorial groups, or nationalities. But what makes this sense of community so enchanting, is the fact that once acquaintances are made, a neighborly and casual bond is created, adding to the warm atmosphere of the Inner City Library or to the alternative Banditos. For if you are lucky, you will meet the person that almost ran you over on his bike, at the after-party of the FASoS Christmas Ball. And if nothing else, you have one more person to awkwardly nod at while climbing the never-ending stairs to the top floor. Of course, random coincidences exist, in which you meet the DJ you saw last night at Take 5 the next day, and an aspiring friendship grows into much more than merely drunk small talk in the outside smoking area.
This aptitude to openness in Maastricht gives a continuous feeling of comfort within the more significant changes of the individual. If you have found yourself in the position of a struggling first year; nervous, overwhelmed, and friendless, especially during the forced introduction circles, you can maybe relate to the relief of meeting someone you connect with. Usually these common interests are discussed in the ten-minute smoking breaks between lectures. And after just a few weeks, these common interests unite you and others in a very strong and lengthy bond. In Maastricht, it seems these are the criteria to becoming family. Not only do you study with your fellow pupils, but because of the city’s size you run into them everywhere, be it at the library, riding by on their bike, or in the line at the fry place after the 2am closing of Il Cavo.
Due to the fact, that most students come from abroad, seeing your family is not an option. Your social framework you build up becomes your family. Your daily chores or tasks turn into something like family traditions. You are bound to run into some part of your crew while passing by the Shamrock on your way home, or on your way to Aldi to buy booze for the nightly pre-drink endeavors. These routinely occasions in which you see people you want to see in “unexpected” places, this is the sense of unity and community created by the marvelous Maastricht.
In reality, we are privileged to be part of such an ever-growing family within the midst of our exam desperations, as well as the fight for a spot in the quiet area of the library, and last resort study sessions in front of the intimidating doors of the MECC. A feeling of ease is spread throughout the entire city because of the comfort of our community.
Let’s be honest, this all sounds like a cliché romantic comedy for the masses. But in the end, is it not always more encouraing throughout the search for a valid GBA, the borderline alcoholism provoked by the student life in Maastricht and the last minute research paper inspirations, to have a framework of people you know and trust?
Here we can find ourselves in Jack Johnson’s famous words, “it’s always better when we’re together.”