Another look at STI : Double Degree programme at Maastricht University
Student of Double Degree Programme
When I was enrolled at the “Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation programme”, I have already planned to go for a double degree in the second semester. I ended up choosing the “European Studies on Society, Science and Technology” programme at Maastricht University (UM).
On the one hand - management and economics at HSE, on the other - sociology, history at UM, and all this is spinning around science and innovation. The result is a very broad and deep understanding.
As it is common for the European universities, half or more of the time is devoted to self-study - we had a lot to read. We discussed what we read at the seminars, which I particularly liked because it allowed us to look at the same problems from different angles, especially since my group-mates were from different countries. By the way, the participation in the classes was marked and influenced the evaluation. It seemed to me that the level of discipline for a European university is quite high. Nevertheless, the professors themselves communicate with students on equal terms.
The educational process was divided into 6 modules, 1 module being 1 month. During the module we studied only one subject and at the end of the month we took the exam. Probably the most memorable was the second module when we visited a real science lab. It was MERLN, where scientists work in the field of regenerative medicine. We interviewed the researchers, watched their work process - they were very nice to us.
Anyway, it was alluseful in terms of looking at science from the inside. Within the six months that I spent at the UM, I learned to ask the right questions before looking for the answers; to try to look at the problem from different angles; to take into account the important role of society in scientific development; to be more flexible in dealing with foreigners, and much more.
The biggest challenge was finding housing in this town, it had to be done in advance. Few people want to rent out an apartment for only six months. I was lucky: I found the studio pretty quickly. As a result I settled in a "countryside" at the border of Belgium and the Netherlands.
I have already had experience living in Europe, and although I lived in a delightful region with a wonderful climate and language, it was often the case that I felt out of place. So when I went to the Netherlands, I did not have any high expectations.. Soon after I got there, I realized that I felt comfortable as if I were at home. I liked that in Maastricht it is not a habit to be late, that people are straightforward, they talk honestly and not too much, that everything is done accurately and on time. I think I even learned how to save money.
In the Netherlands almost everyone speaks English. We had a good student group, so I did not suffer from lack of communication.
One day we pooled some money to rant a house in Belgium and we went there for the weekend. We walked, talked, played games, and went on excursion to the nearest brewery. It was like going to a "datcha" with new friends, when you get to know each other as well as new beer brands. Officially, studies are not over yet, so we still chat with the guys. Hopefully, it will stay that way.