September 19, 2010 Leave a Comment
Source: Maastricht Region website
Every September for the past twenty years, our friends in Israel have been sending us a calendar on the occasion of the Jewish New Year. It adorns our kitchen and I find it very useful too, because in many ways the month of September marks the beginning of a new year here as well.
As my children go back to school after the summer holidays, the new social and cultural season opens in Maastricht. For me this means a variety of English-language activities and events to take part in or help organise.
The seventh edition of Pecha Kucha Night Maastricht is just around the corner, since it will take place this coming Monday. We’ll be welcoming no less than 14 speakers – designers, scientists, artists, creative thinkers – who will talk about the projects they’re dreaming about or already involved in. Pecha Kucha Night has become a popular event among foreign residents in Maastricht, not only because it is an inspiring platform but also because it offers them a much appreciated opportunity to be part of the local cultural scene.
Pecha Kucha Night Maastricht
Another event I am looking forward to is the conference on language entitled Euregio/Taalregio (Euroregion/Language region) which will kick off the International Week organised by the City of Maastricht in the first week of October. One of the reasons I most enjoy living in this region is because of its cross border location near Germany and Belgium, and the possibility it offers to learn or practice three languages (German, French, Dutch) and explore four cultures (German, Dutch, Flemish, Walloon). Still, many experience this linguistic and cultural diversity as an obstacle. The aim of the conference is to show how to turn it into an asset.
A few days later, on October 6 and 7, I’ll be attending the two-day forum organised by Maastricht Debates on the theme of regional urban cooperation. This again is an important topic in the Meuse-Rhine euroregion, especially in the light of Maastricht’s bid to become the cultural capital of Europe in 2018.
International Women’s Club South Limburg
In my work as editor of the international webmagazine Crossroads, September is also the month when I most notice the arrival of newcomers in Maastricht – foreign students, professionals – through the email messages I receive in my mailbox:
I’m going to be in Maastricht from January through June 2011 teaching at University of Maastricht on a Fulbright Scholar’s award. In getting ready, I’ve run across your site and it has been the most helpful information I’ve found to date. I know you must get a lot of queries, but if you have some practical advice about things that have to get done when moving to the Netherlands, I would appreciate it.
Dear Ms. Brodin,
I have recently moved with my wife to Maastricht, where she is beginning a Master of Public Policy program at the University of Maastricht. When reading different websites and blogs about Maastricht I have repeatedly come across your site and would like to write as a freelance journalist for Crossroads. Although I am new to Maastricht I am very excited to begin enmeshing myself in the local culture, meeting its people and learning about the area.
I’m a student at Maastricht University and have recently embarked on a Masters course in arts and heritage policy and management. I have come over from the UK and have so far found your site invaluable in sizing up the city! I was delighted therefore, to read that you accept freelance writers. I would be happy to provide reviews for university and cultural events around Maastricht.
More than in previous years, newcomers appear to do most of their research about their new place of residence before their actual move and to try to find as much information as possible about the Maastricht Region through the internet.
Maastricht Region Expat Guide
When they contact me via Crossroads, I am glad this year to be able to refer them to new resources for expats in the area, such as the international service desk at the Maastricht city hall, the Maastricht Region website and the recently published Maastricht Region Expat Guide. Not to forget the excellent glossary for international families compiled by United World College Maastricht.
In my private and professional contact with newcomers, I notice time and again the same primary needs and wishes: to get in touch with fellow expats and also to participate in local activities with the Dutch population.
My friends Mitchy from Japan and Robert from the UK and Italy, whom I met digitally through Twitter a few months ago, express this well in their video portrait, when they say: “We want to mingle with local activities. It’s nice to connect and feel involved.”
Finding a balance in Maastricht
The good thing is that it looks like that local Dutch residents and organisations are also increasingly paying attention and reaching out to the international community. Next week I am meeting with Marieke Senden, who is one of the coordinators of the national Day of Dialogue in Maastricht on November 4. This year’s theme is “Erbij horen” (Belonging) and Marieke would like me to help her spread the message out that the international community and all interested residents from the wider Meuse-Rhine Euroregion are also warmly invited to join the dialogue!
By Sueli Brodin