German and Dutch students don’t mix in Maastricht

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Maastricht1

At Maastricht University in Maastricht, just a few kilometres away from both Belgium and Germany, Trouw claims the Germans keep to themselves and so do the Dutch. The main reason is that stereotypes prevail: the Dutch like to party a lot and are considered lazy, while the Germans actually want to be studying and are too serious. Those are excellent reasons not to hang out together, although not convient for collaborative school projects. The article says the Germans don’t ‘integrate’ and that’s a loaded word to use, they didn’t ‘immigrate’, they just ‘don’t mix’.

Even though there are foreign students in Enschede, Groningen and Nijmegen, half of them are German, which doesn’t give an international allure to any of the establishments. A student council representative explains that it’s easy to mix with international students (non-German), but much less with Germans. No explanation is given and that’s odd.

And then apparently the Dutch “are annoyed at the level of Dutch the Germans speak, as it is not good enough”. Isn’t that usually a given? That’s cold.

Non-German students in Maastricht came for an international atmosphere and have ended up in the middle of a Dutch-German group, forcing them to try and blend in with both. “Maastricht should not make promises it can’t keep: don’t call yourself international when all you have is Dutch and German students,” said one student to the newspaper.

Anyone from Maastricht, expats, students, Germans have anything to add? Don’t mention the war for no reason or make stolen bicycle jokes in the comments please.

(Link: trouw.nl, Photo: a shopping street in Maastricht)

7 Comments »

  1. I’m an American expat living in Maastricht (not a student), so I can’t speak directly to the student situation, but I sometimes feel like the city itself is going through an identity crisis. On one level the “powers that be” really want Maastricht to live up to it’s potential as an international/ crossroads/etc location but that desire doesn’t trickle down into a lot of meaningful action.

    The bid for the EU cultural capital is another example of the struggle to express and exhibit a consistent message (I wrote about the bid and it’s inconsistent message to expats recently on my own blog). The University is influential in the city, so it stands to reason they too are struggling with this.

    With regard to “not mixing”, maybe it’s time the students turned their attention towards themselves and came up with ways to bring the gap.

    Comment by Amanda — July 23, 2010 @ 11:56 am

  2. Well put, thanks :)

    Thanks for all this Amanda. I’ll check out your blog and surely see you on Twitter :)

    Comment by Orangemaster — July 23, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  3. Educators understandably want students to mix rather than self-select to form social groups based on race, ethnic background, nationality and language. There is a lot of learning that happens at a personal level between students from different backgrounds when friendships are formed, including learning about each others cultures and values, which serve to demystifying differences and break down stereotypes.

    Athletic endeavor at the academy, having students from different backgrounds on the same teams, is also a forum in which cross-type friendships can be formed.

    The social science department at the university could make their own student population subjects of studies on the issue as a means of creating dialogue about it. This issue is not unique, universities everywhere face it

    Comment by Neil — July 23, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  4. When I was a student in Utrecht and then in Amsterdam, I did mix with all nationalities except the Dutch. They were far too busy enjoying their cool status (then) with free transportation, state money or too few courses, so the only place we met them is when they were puking in the stairs, super drunk.
    When it comes to learning Dutch, the Germans strike me more as the type that becomes bilingual within two weeks, where as we Latin people need a lot more time. Plus, then, everyone spoke in English to us. But that’s the same old discussion about the Dutch “integration” all over again.

    Comment by Laurent — July 23, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  5. Hey there,
    I’m Brazilian and I’ll be starting to study at Maastricht University this September. I’ve already heard before about this apparent “crisis” that goes on in Maastricht and I think it’s really a pitty. It seems to be such a lovely place and would be incredible if people could make the most of its international character/geographical advantage and enjoy eachother different backgrounds. We Brazilians always find fascinating that in Europe you guys live so near from eachother even though the cultures are so different. That’s what makes the continent so incredibly interesting and culturally rich. I myself would love to have friends from as many different countries as possible. How boring is it to only meet people with the exact same opinions, habits, tastes, etc? Diversity is cool!
    C’mon guys, let’s all be friends and party together :)

    Comment by Juliana — July 23, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

  6. @Laurent: Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your stay in the Netherlands. I should point out, though, that students don’t get free transportation. They have to pay for their transport card,whether they need one or not. As for `state money’, it’s a pittance (and often partially a loan) that you cannot live off, it’s barely enough to pay the education fee (1620 EU this year, in Germany, for example, there’s only a nominal fee). If a student doesn’t pass enough exams in a year, it’s converted into a loan. After 5 years they get no more money, and have to pay higher fees as well. In Germany it’s common to study for 10 years, in the Netherlands that’d be a big red flag on your cv (and a MSc is no guarantee for a job nowadays), so there’s pressure from all sides to finish as fast as possible. Which is hard if you have to work a dayjob just to pay rent and groceries.

    In contrast to foreign students, dutch students generally get no help finding housing. This is a problem, esp in cities like A’Dam, Delft and Utrecht. Even if they find something, they have to pay 450 EU/month for a small room. Some stay with their parents and commute, some even live in campers or containers.

    I’ve worked in academia in several different countries and I’d say dutch students generally don’t have it so easy. Sure, in the UK, for example, students pay a higher fee, but this puts pressure on the lecturers to let everyone pass. I should know, I’ve taught there. This is definitely not the case in the netherlands.

    Comment by Chris — July 27, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

  7. I was myself a student at Maastricht University.

    I’m belgian and we formed a group of Belgians as Germans and Dutch were almost unreachable. The Dutch end up in Fraternity/Sorority and don’t seem to want to meet foreigners. Germans were easier to approach but culturally it didn’t work great.

    This was one of the only disappointment as a student there. Maastricht University claims itself to be international but it’s just more German than anything else in the Business Faculty. We experience similar trends in some belgian faculties full of French people.

    Comment by Harold — December 17, 2015 @ 2:16 pm

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