It’s been almost five months since I set feet in this new city called Maastricht.
Maastricht is a city located in the crossing of three significant countries; Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany and only a three hour drive from France. Historically Maastricht is the place where “het verdrag van Maastricht” was signed, the foundation of the EU.
It’s an old renewed city. With many beautiful new buildings but at the centre the typical characteristic beauty of old “herenhuizen” or town houses. Something that you find mostly in Europe. There are plenty of little cosy pubs, coffee shops and restaurants. With the Maas crossing in the centre of the city Maastricht doesn’t miss that level of romantisme that you can find only while standing at the top of a bridge looking over the river.
The city has a perfect balance of young and old not only in the buildings but also in the composition of it’s population. While there are many retirement houses for such a small city there are also plenty of universities to balance it out. Because of it’s location the composition of the universities have never been more diverse. There is a great mix of not only students from those three neighbouring countries but also students from all over the world come to study in the so called Masi. In the first month that I arrived I met a Canadian, a Venezuelan, a Hungarian, a German, a French, Belgian, and of course Dutch to name a few.
Being a globetrotter – (that doesn’t sound very sexy to describe someone who travels around the world, we need to find something else for that) I know that moving to a new city can be lonely at times. I remember when I arrived in New York at first, I had to push myself to get out of the house cause I didn’t know anyone and had no clue where to start to make new friends. This settled it’s self of course over time; cause now I’m still connected to the friends I made there 4years ago.
I didn’t have that problem arriving in Maastricht. Maybe I had grown up and have gotten more confident or maybe it’s because I arrived here for work and it was easier to connect with my new colleagues and later on to connect with their friends. Because it’s such a crossroad city. People don’t expect you to belong to a certain group and are therefore more open and accessible. Not only in their actions but also in their speech. Maastricht is a Dutch city but many here speak English effortlessly and make it therefore easier for international students, workers and travellers to express themselves.
Masi is a cosy low pace city, much different then what I’m used to living in London or NY or even Ghent my old home town. The bike is an effective way of transport over here, what no one would consider living in NY or London. While here I see decent business people making their way to work on a bike with their suit and tie on. At first this made me laugh. I’m used to seeing Rangerovers, Audi and other fancy cars standing at the parking lot before taking a plane to our next destination now I was seeing bikes lining up in front of the office buildings. This is not so much a financial thing but more of a choice. Many employees or even directors find it more efficient to take the bike, of course this is all depending on the distance you have to travel.
What about love in the Masi city:
One writer once said the only constant thing in the world is change, I believe the other only constant thing in the world is love. Without it there would be nothing.
Of course love is omnipresent in the Masi city. Being a very international city it is much easier to connect date and marry someone from another country or culture. Having thousands of places and ways to meet people such as salsa parties, local concerts and other events getting a date in the crossroad city is more of a child game. Of course meeting the one is an other game. I didn’t really open myself in meeting someone new in the city as I knew that I was leaving soon but I could see how being in an international city made it easy to connect with others and therefore to build good relationships.