Period 1 at Maastricht University – summary

Going to school and passing exams is what full time student does. Period 1 including the exams is over and therefore it's ideal time for evaluation. How were my courses and how did I enjoy the first part of the autumn semester?

Lecture room at Maastricht UniversityLecture room at Maastricht University, source: my picture

For three years I started my winter semester at the beginning of October. It's normal in the Czech republic, but the system is different in Netherlands. After Master's Introduction day we had weekend to get prepared for the lectures and tutorials starting the week after that. The first period at SBE took place from 5th September till 21st October followed by the exam week from 24th till 28th October. Obviously everything happens pretty fast so you are expected to be prepared even for the first class. It's your responsibility to check the EleEUM, where the tutors post material and information about the course. Maastricht University has problem based learning (PBL) approach and therefore students are required to read a lot and be really prepared for each class. No excuses like "I'm Erasmus" works here. Team assignments are common practice and therefore for most of the students, one of the university library becomes a second home. Get ready for that.

My period 1 courses

Picking up the courses for my exchange semester at Maastricht university was not easy. I browsed through the Course database and together with the courses evaluation. There are plenty of interesting courses provided, but I also need to stick to my curriculum in Prague where I study master programme with major in Finance, financial markets and banking. As our Institute of economic studies is small, the offer of te courses cannot be compared to much larger School of Business and Economics here in Maastricht. Based on the recommendation of my friend Rado, who is finishing his master at Maastricht University, former fellow student and Maastricht's ex-Erasmus student, I decided to enrol myself for EBC4061 – Microeconomics (Master level) and EBC4075 – Information Products, information markets and information systems, as I got interested in Infonomics master programme because sometimes I am more technically and IT than economic oriented person.

Microeconomics (Master level)

I already had 2 (actually three) semesters of Microeconomics and Microeconomics was also one of my bachelor final exam subjects, therefore I had a solid background. I also didn't want to get out of the train of economic theory with some mathematics as I also need to pass master level microeconomics in Prague. Dr. Martin Strobel is a very nice guy and I enjoyed the lectures. It could have been harder as we really did the basics which was not enough for solving given exercises that we had to solve for tutorials. On the other hand, difficulties we had with exercises put us together so we regularly met to solve the given problems together. I am not sure if I really learned something new, most of the stuff was just repetition of my bachelor microeconomics. Sometimes we did a bit detailed proof or slightly different approach, but the theoretical stuff was mostly the same. It may sound that I was disappointed, which is partly true. I missed more advanced microeconomics and that we didn't managed to do more from the book (topics that would be new to me). On the other hand as I had to recollect details about the topics we did and solutions of new exercises resulted in much better understanding of microeconomics than I had before.

We had oral exam counting of 50% of the grade and tutorials counting the same amount. I was a bit nervous and had a small blackout about easy stuff. It happens, but I was a bit angry about myself, because I could really do better. I went to Martin later to discuss my performance and he exactly pointed out the mistakes I was aware of. Well, at least I didn't screw up that much. Everybody passed the exam which is great, because as much as it can sound this is not in an easy course.

Information Products, information markets and information systems

I was not sure what I should expect of this course, totally different direction than the courses I have ever taken. We had only tutorials, but one or two were used as lectures for introductions to a new topic. As this is mandatory Infonomics master course, we were only 5 people there. Nice number for discussion and getting known each other, on the other hand no free riding is possible at all. We had to read quite a lot as we were discussing different topics every tutorial. Sometimes I had some background about it so it was easier to follow and possible not to read the given articles. But than a question from one such a paper was in the exam. Damn it. Nevertheless I got to see that PBL can be great approach for studying and I widened my knowledge quite a lot. Mostly not that deeply as I am used to, but as this course should be kind of introduction to the area of information and economics the content was fine. Maybe more economic theory would be fine Smiley :) Because when we touched that kind of topics, than PBL failed and stronger background was needed. The course should be changed since next year so I hope they will reflect my proposal from the evaluation form.

Final exam was written and it was harder than I expected. I also had a feeling that I have learned something completely different focused to much on the first part of the course. The final evaluation was also based on presentations and team projects. I think "team" is better word than "group" for 2 or 3 people working on an assignment Smiley :D. As the project was tightly connected to the course content I found that really good at the end. It took us quite a lot of time to put it together and I was still not satisfied with the result, but working on it helped me understand what the aim of the Infonomics is.

My Timetable of period 1

Day of week Time Course Tutor
Tuesday 8:30 – 10:30 Microeconomics (Master level)
EBC4061, lecture
M. Strobel
Tuesday 11:00 – 13:30 Info Products info markets info systems
EBC4075, tutorial
GB. Furneaux
Wednesday 13:30 – 15:30 Microeconomics (Master level)
EBC4061, tutorial
C. Gutekunst
Friday 8:30 – 10:30 Microeconomics (Master level)
EBC4061, lecture
M. Strobel
Friday 11:00 – 13:30 Info Products info markets info systems
EBC4075, tutorial
GB. Furneaux

Getting know the study environment and people

Erasmus students in UM clothesErasmus students in UM clothes, source: my picture

To summarize it, I got used to the different system and as I had interesting courses my motivation rose and I was happy to be at school with my new friends. I also got used to the fact that even here at modern school Wifi connection is something that you cannot rely on – there are places at school where you can never connect, than there are places where you can connect to the network but you cannot access the internet. The only verified spot for working internet over Wifi is near the entrance but the small tables near couches are not made for longer work. On the other hand, computers at SBE are working fine and quite fast as they have real OS and do not serve only as a terminal with remote desktop. Thumbs up Smiley :) I got lucky as library is not my second home because as there are a lot of people, during rush hours the Wifi connection is collapsing and library becomes a place where you should really go to read books. If you want to work on a computer, than try one in the computer rooms, they are ok.

My luck with the course selection also includes the fellow students. I met great and friendly people in both of them and as result I have more friends between regular students than between exchange as I know only a few and I do not see them very often. Positive fact about this is that the English knowledge level among regular masters is quite high and this is definitely not the case among exchange students especially from the south (no offence, exceptions exists Smiley :) ) .

Article last edited 16. 1. 2012, viewed: 3045-times.
Total 1304 words.
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