Vivian van Slooten, BA Arts and Culture

“Back when I was in high school, my mother already figured that Maastricht University, with its Problem-Based Learning approach, would be just my thing. But I’m from Heerlen and I didn’t want to go to university so close to home, so I decided to enrol in Communication Sciences in Leuven. It didn’t go well. I wasn’t good at regurgitating eight different courses word for word after thirteen weeks. And the people were very reserved, so I found it hard to make contact with other students. After a year, I decided to come to Maastricht.

I enrolled in the Dutch-language track of Arts and Culture, and clicked with the group right from the start. There are twenty of us, and we use WhatsApp and Facebook to stay in touch. There’s really a sense of ‘we’re all in this together’, which is great. My mother was right after all, of course. Actively engaging with the study material helps me remember it. When I’m studying for an exam, I go around telling everyone I know what I’ve learnt. That way it really stays with you.

I think personal development is an important part of being at university. That’s one of the reasons I signed up for a contest organised by the debating society Retorika, even though I hate debating. I don’t mind presenting, but with debating you have no chance to prepare for what the other people are going to say. Still, I see debating as an important skill for the future.

I also joined the student association Orakel, which I’ll be president of this year. It’s going to be a busy year, but I’m at my best when I’m busy. During high school I worked 16 hours a week at a supermarket as well. At the end of each course period, Orakel organises a study group in which second-year students help first-year students revise. I personally struggled with Kant and Nietzsche in my first year, so the opportunity to ask questions about that was really helpful.

My favourite theme in the first year was Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo is the god of knowledge, Dionysus the god of madness. Ultimately, a good life contains both of those elements. I’m also interested in art. If you analyse Monet’s Olympia, for example, you see it’s more than just a painting of a naked woman. You can deduce from the flower in her hair and the cat at the foot of her bed that she’s a prostitute. And the slave suggests she isn’t poor, so maybe she’s more of an escort.

At Maastricht, it’s important to actively participate in class. If you don’t you lose half a mark off your final grade, and it’s annoying for other students as well. For me switching to UM was definitely the right choice.”

Vivian van Slooten
June 2017