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Masters programme of Public Policy and Human Development

Student stories 18 March 2006, 15:26

In the welcoming speech at the start of the Masters programme of Public Policy and Human Development at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, Dutch student Mariska van Exel (who has lived abroad almost her entire life) heard that she would only have a weekend off between two blocks.

Better a broad education than too little education. In the welcoming speech at the start of the Masters programme of Public Policy and Human Development at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, Dutch student Mariska van Exel (who has lived abroad almost her entire life) heard that she would only have a weekend off between two blocks.

This would amount to six weekends per year. "I am not stuck with my head in the books every Saturday and Sunday, but you easily spend forty hours a week on this programme." The Masters study is a "challenge, certainly compared to my first Master of European Public Affairs, which I took last year at the Faculty of Arts and Culture. I thought then that I was busy, and I did have to read a lot and give presentations, but now I realise that 'I'd seen nothing yet'. Here every block only lasts for four weeks. You deal very intensively with one subject."

Why did she choose a second Masters study? "I am only 22 and I wanted a broader education." After secondary school, she first completed the Bachelor of European Business study at the University of Portsmouth in England, and just by chance came upon the EPA website: "My curiosity was raised immediately.

I knew practically nothing about the European Union, so I registered. When I had completed that, I thought 'now I know the ins and outs of Business Administration and the EU, but how are policies actually made and implemented?" Her present Masters study should provide the answers to this. Is she not afraid that because of the different studies she is not specialised enough? "No, if the diplomas turn out to be a disadvantage when I apply for a job, I just drop one from my CV. Better a broad education than too little education."

The second half year of her Masters, she will take the specialisation of globalisation, trade and development. "Globalisation cannot be stopped, especially in economic terms. If you want to do business with other countries, you need to know why they make certain choices, based on their cultural backgrounds. I find those differences very exciting. As a child I lived with my parents in several places - Peru, Nigeria, Dubai, Bangladesh, Texas - and thus learned about other cultures."

She also recognises these differences in her study. "Last year there was a Chinese student in the group, who started to come out of his shell after two months. He just had to get used to the idea of giving his opinion. This year I am studying with a number of African students, who are normally quite silent, but have started to loosen up a bit lately. Yesterday one of them gave a presentation for the first time.

I really like seeing those changes. On the other hand it is also nice to be studying with Dutch students after such a long time. Now and again I can speak my own language and I notice that the Dutch are quicker to take the initiative, for example, to go out together."

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