6 alumni, 11 years of friendship, 1 tradition
Some friendships are temporary, but the friendship of UM alumni Iris, Jolein, Liva, Renate, Jana and Sarah is definitely not. They have been good friends since the first week of their bachelor's programme in Arts and Culture at Maastricht University. In this article, Sarah discusses Maastricht, memories from their studies and the secret behind close friendship.
We’re getting right down to it: what’s the secret of your bond?
Sarah: “What makes us a close-knit group is a combination of personalities that fit well together, shared interests and, above all, a good dose of self-deprecation and wearing our hearts on our sleeve. Add to that shared memories and voilà - an ideal and sustainable mix. I don't think there's a secret. But we don’t blame each other if we have less time to meet. After all, it isn’t always possible due to circumstances in our work and/or private life. Also, everything is open for discussion. That’s sometimes confrontational, but at the same time reassuring.”
What characterises your friendship?
“When we’re together, it is as always: talking over each other, not completing any story, telling each other about antics in our daily lives and at work, recalling our university days ... But we also regularly attend a lecture - preferably with the six of us, though that’s not always possible. For example, we go to the UM Star Lectures every year. It’s because the developments and concepts from our education are dynamic that our hunger for knowledge and desire to keep current is still strong. It’s therefore a solution that our Alma Mater offers the UM Star Lectures.”
A nice tradition. What makes the UM Star Lectures so special?
“The UM Star Lectures are very interesting lectures, which cover our areas of interest and allow us to meet up with fellow alumni. The variety of subjects makes it interesting for alumni from every UM faculty to come and listen. And, of course, it’s great to get to know fellow alumni! It’s nice to still be involved this way with UM and its unique atmosphere. The fact that the ‘lectures’ are also spread throughout Europe makes it even more special for us, because we combine it with a fun city trip - which means more quality time together!”
What do you remember about UM?
“We’ve always had inspiring lecturers and professors, including De Roder, Gabriëls, Koenis, Spruyt, Stoffers and Goossens, who mainly let us look further than we were used to - each with their own, honest style. We still attend lectures whenever possible, for example through Studium Generale. After all, it’s still great to hear these people speak! The synergy in tutorial groups is also something to cherish - searching together for the right problem, discussing, doing literature studies and then coming together again to share opinions and insights ... wonderful times. Sometimes it could get heated, but it never became bitter or uncomfortable. We always reached a consensus ... or something similar to that.”
Do you all also have special memories of Maastricht?
“We will certainly remember the hours we spent in the library - take, for example, the cursing if we couldn’t find a book or if it was on loan, sitting on the floor waiting for a copier to be free, discussing the approach together ... and of course reading, reading, reading. Another thing we won’t forget: all of the times spent studying and chilling at Limburg Travel, the travel agency connected to a coffee and sandwich bar opposite our faculty [the travel agency Limburg Travel still exists, but not the bar]. We were served with a big smile and, when necessary, a sense of perspective by Debbie, our ‘Maastricht mama’. We continued to relax over drinks somewhere like the Muziekgieterij or D’n Hiemel. And, of course, during the legendary house parties and a lot of coffee-lover times.”
“In short, we had a fantastic time at UM and in Maastricht. During alumni gatherings, we once again feel like part of that wonderful community, of which we’re very proud!”
Iris Biesmans, Jolein Martens, Liva Kuipers, Renate Neven, Jana Smeets and Sarah Tertyschnikow all studied Arts & Culture at Maastricht University (UM). Jolein, Liva, Renate and Sarah then continued their studies at UM with the master’s programme in Politics and Society. Iris followed up with the bachelor's programme in Management Assistant/Human Resources Management and Jana the master's programme in Communication Sciences: Media & Culture.
They are now employed in various positions. For example, Iris is a marketing officer and Jolein is coordinator at the agency responsible for integration and citizenship education and alderman for Culture, Personnel, Sports, Education and Festivities in Lanaken. Liva works as an HR consultant, Renate is responsible for campaigns & projects and Jana works as a radio producer/editor. Sarah works as a recruitment officer. The ladies all live in Flanders.