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Published: January 14th 2013
Well well well. First day of school. It turns out I have classes tuesdays and fridays, with an online class on wednesday. The campus I am taking classes at is the science and medicine complex, which looks a little more industrial than the law campus, which is in the city center inside old beautiful buildings, in between cobble stone alley ways and coffee shops. By bike, it is about 20 minutes to the medical complex, but of course, the bike I was left to use had a flat tire, and I didn't realize this until an hour before my first class. At least I had an hour, or so I thought. I live on the west wide of the river, near the market square. To get to UM (maastricht university), I have to go through the market square, over a bridge, straight across town to the train station. At this point, I head south towards the school. I figured as long as I followed the train tracks I would be fine. I made it to the school in about 45 minutes by foot, but then I had to find the right room, let alone the right building. Well, it turns out,
My new apartment
It is cozy and clean :)
I walked around the entire campus until I found the right building, whereas if I had just kept going straight I would have found it right away.....oh well. I made it to class with about 4 minutes to spare. Did I mention everything was in Dutch????
Anyways, the stream of global health I am in here is called Innovations. We were introduced to the stream through discussion of the gaps between the production of technological and scientific innovations, and the end use of these innovations. While funding today is generally geared towards technological, Universal solutions (an example would be the kinds of projects taken on by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), these solutions are not provided for everyone, in fact, they generally do not reach those most in need. The course work will be based on a 'slower race' to provide health innovations to marginalized populations, through participatory, community-based work. When I heard this, I was ecstatic, as this is exactly why I went into global health to begin with--to learn how to narrow the gap in health disparities between groups of people globally. A major difference I have encountered with the course work thus far is the
use of politically incorrect language. It was pointed out to me that it is very 'Canadian' to use politically correct language, and to tip-toe around on egg shells. Thus, my first cultural shock. I would have been nailed in undergrad for using terms like "pro-poor technology" and "we need to help the poor" as in my eyes (yes, trained by a CANADIAN institution), shying away from top-down approaches starts with the language we use to frame the problem. Perhaps it is also that I have an English prof for a mother? hmmmm.....
At any rate, I got through the first day, yay! It wasn't as gruelling as I expected. I feel like the attitude towards education (at least in my program) is a lot more slack. I only have one course to focus on plus one online course which is based on group work. However, am I complaining? NO. It means I will get to actually travel while I am here. For example, next weekend, three of us are planning to go to Belgium for the weekend, see a little of Brussels, and Bruges. Any suggestions from those of you who have been there?
Today I went to
No need for actual parking lots, we have bike lots here!
Aachen, Germany with three girls from my program. It is only about an hour bus ride from Maastricht, so we thought it would make a good day trip. After exploring the old church that Charlemagne was now buried at, around 1000 years ago, we went to the city hall to see the room where kings were knighted and had feasts. It was like a Cindererella ballroom, and I could imagine a bunch of kings sitting around drinking wine and feasting on, oh I don't know, curried sausage? Speaking of which, for lunch I had Hansbrau beer with my currywurst sausage, alongside kale and potatoes. Delicious! These Germans really know how to eat and drink well! I don't know how many cafes I saw, probably a dozen per block (no joke). The coffee and pastry culture here is craaaazy.
Anyways, after a long day of playing tourist, we hopped back on the bus. Yesterday I played tourist in Maastricht too. I took myself on a bike tour around the city, stopping occasionally for a picture or a cappuccino. Life is good.
I better get back to my readings, as I have class tomorrow. What a strange lifestyle I am living. I keep forgetting I am in school. My classes are almost like rude yet mentally stimulating exercises, which intervene with my travel plans 😊 Just kidding, I really am enjoying myself though.
Love to you all, and more updates soon! xo Kazz
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