While you are deciding where to go for your semester or two abroad, there are plenty of things to consider. On top of this, you’ll also have a lot of planning to do. If you’re thinking about relocating to the Netherlands, there are numerous exciting cities that boast well-known universities.
Each city has its own unique vibe, full of interesting things to see and do in your spare time. Maastricht is an excellent choice, becoming more and more popular with international students with each semester. Plus, there are several nice neighborhoods where you can find student accommodation in Maastricht.
This guide will help you with all of the choices that you will need to make before moving abroad, as well as the options that you’ll have while studying at Maastricht’s universities.
Located in the south of the Netherlands, Maastricht is a beautiful, welcoming city, whether for a weekend getaway, a shopping trip or the new home for your international studies. And if you love a good meal, you’re definitely in the right place! This is truly a culinary city, with a host of delicious restaurants, whether it be a lively pub or fine dining.
Across the river, there’s also a trendy neighborhood called Wyck, full of hip designer shops. You’ll also find dozens of tasty restaurants to choose from.
The official language spoken in the Netherlands is Dutch. However, the residents typically also speak English, and they have no problem switching to that language when in conversation. Plus, with a large number of international students coming into Maastricht each year, English is becoming more and more prevalent, especially in the areas near the universities.
In the Netherlands, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. In fact, it may change several times within the very same day! However, you can generally expect the sky to be gray and overcast, so it’s best to always carry an umbrella, just in case.
In the winter, be prepared for temperatures that usually range between -5° C and 12° C, right into the middle of March. When you’re packing for your move, definitely throw a couple of thick sweaters and a pair of warm boots into your suitcase!
Spring can really catch you off guard, with Easter sometimes being just as cold as Christmas! And be ready for the wind, along with plenty of rain. Yet, April begins to bring warmer weather.
Yes, the Netherlands actually has a summer season! By May, you should be able to have drinks with your classmates on an outdoor terrace. Temperatures range from 18 °C to sometimes over 25 °C, so it can get warm on a nice day in Maastricht, but chances are that it will also be humid.
In the fall, the warm weather can sometimes stick around through the end of September. Cool winds come with October, and you might even think winter has come early. While Maastricht can be warmer in the summer than other places in the Netherlands, it can also get colder in the fall and winter!
The Netherlands celebrates quite a few public holidays, when businesses, shops and the banks will be closed. Here are a few of the most popular.
New Year's Day, January 1st - You’ll see that the entire city pretty much closes down while they recuperate from New Year’s Eve. This is also a big day for city-wide cleanups from the previous night’s celebrations.
Easter - During Easter, many people get together with their families for meals. If you can spend this holiday with a Dutch family, a gigantic grill is put on the table, and everyone cooks their own meats for the large meal.
Kingsday, April 27th - Kingsday is one of the most popular days in the Netherlands when everyone dresses up in the color orange and parties in the street! There are huge markets, where you can find secondhand books, clothes and even furniture for your new place. Many also head over to Amsterdam, where residents and visitors even rent boats to ride up and down the canals.
Sinterklaas (Sint Niklas), December 5th - Sinterklaas is basically the same as his American counterpart, Santa Claus. Between mid-November and 6 December, this bishop from Spain brings treats and gifts to the children in the Netherlands. The students and other adults celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas with games or setting up a “secret friend,” where everyone draws names and gets a gift from an anonymous giver.
This is also the time of the year to buy kruidnoten and pepernoten. You can only buy these tasty treats between September and December, so you may want to stock up for the rest of the year.
Christmas, December 25-26th - Christmas in the Netherlands is experienced in the traditional day, except that it’s actually on TWO days! The 25th and the 26th are both national holidays, where family and friends get together to exchange gifts, and they feast on meats such as deer, ostrich and grilled steaks.
Other holidays include:
Friday - March 30 - Good Friday - The day before Easter Sunday
Monday - April 2 - Easter Monday - The day after Easter
Friday - April 27 - The King’s Birthday - Birthday of the King of the Netherlands
Thursday - May 10 - Ascension Day - Held 40 days after Easter
Monday - May 21 - Whit Monday - Often known as Pentecost Monday, the 7th day after Easter
The Treaty on the European Union, also called the Maastricht Treaty, was signed in Maastricht on 7 February, 1992. The treaty’s main purpose was for a union between the states, particularly to utilize the currency of the euro.
Maastricht was the very first settlement in the Netherlands, but as that it didn’t achieve its Roman rights, some dispute its claim. Some consider Nijmegen to be the oldest Dutch city in the Netherlands since it was the first to have Roman city rights.
Maastricht is known for its many statues and monuments, which are located all throughout the city. They illustrate the area’s culture, as well as the spirit of Maastricht’s inhabitants.
Along with many of the different settlements that make up the Low Countries, Maastricht, along with Limburg, once were actually part of the country of Spain. In fact, Maastricht was ruled by Spain for well over 50 years, beginning with the Siege of Maastricht in 1579 and on through the Capture of Maastricht in 1632. There are still traces of Spain everywhere you look. For example, the previous Spanish Government building in the main square is now the area history museum.
Additionally, France actually ruled over Maastricht during three different time periods: from 1673-1678 after a siege, in 1748 during the War of Austrian Succession, and then from 1794-1814, under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte.
French was even once the language used for all education in Maastricht, and sometimes, you can even detect French annunciation in Maastricht’s Dutch language, even today.