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Anna Saarinen

things I’ve learned about the Maastricht people

  • So there was a farewell party, there was a long 50kg heavy trip from Helsinki Airport, there was a really fun orientation week and there have been many other things too during this past month. I’ve got to say that I’m quite looking forward to the many other things that are still about to come. I’ve learned a lot already – of the language, of medicine and of the culture here. So here’s a list of things I’ve seen in the people here.


  • People here are extremely helpful and extremely open – we even got 3 possible buyers for an empty Smirnoff bottle (do not ask, but if you do direct your question to the University’s Tennis organisation)
  • People assume we all know how to bike really well and come really close to you with a car, it’s terrifying (not for me, but for their poor cars)
  • People here have the cutest way of saying goodbye; ”Hoi Hoi!”
  • People here speak about 100 languages, it’s no joke that it is a very international town.

  • People here have some personal grudge about Visa – cards and Mastercards (that’s the only reasons I can think of for the whole Netherlands being a no Visa-zone, apart from some lucky exceptions like my closest supermarket)
  • People here actually dance in bars! Yay Dutch! Yay students!

  • People here make delicious Belgian fries
  • … and Belgian waffles

  • People here have a very confusing system for doctoral visits, but I guess I’ll figure it out in the next 6 years (just hope I won’t get in an emergency before that).
  • People here like to talk. The Finn in me is often very confused by this, but the rest of me loves it dearly.

  • People here actually come out of their wholes – for such a small town it’s extremely lively!
  • People here do believe in hazing. But that’s the only minus on this list.

  • People here speak great English, but in general like to stick to English. This does have lots of exceptions though!
  • People here (read; the police here) will fine you about 80€ if your bike lights are not on)

  • People here have a strange recycling & waste system, but in some ways it’s really smart too.
  • People here have lovely bakeries, great biking streets, many options for beer (and the beer is really cheap), big smiles on their faces and open minds for us little travellers who have decided to call their town our town.

French Skies

Hello people!

Sunny greetings from France! Surprise surprise, it’s been quite a summer. I’m still having some trouble knowing my boundaries, and apparently again failed in not passing them. I had a very interesting summer job this year, but keeping in mind that I had to drive 1h back and forth just to get to work and that all my friends lived 3h away and for that reason I basically had no life outside of work, I worked way too much. I should’ve just been able to say that I’m not up for such long workdays, but once again I failed in saying no. But hey, one lesson more passed! And I’m not here to complain. There’s a lot of other stuff in my mind right now, and mostly exciting stuff! I do however think that it’s really important to be open, and not just publish the shiny parts of one’s life. Of course everyone chooses for them selve’s and I understand that most people would rather keep their personal problems to themselve’s, but I’ve always been more about the openness since I keep hoping that one sharing their issues might be of help for someone else, so here’s what I shared on my personal instagram account some time ago;

Hey, not another smiley selfie with a lyric caption here (even tho I like those actually)! I’ll tell you two secrets. Firstly, lately I’ve been extremely unhappy – I haven’t felt as bad since being depressed. Secondly, as you might have guessed now, I’m also extremely good at fake smiles. Also thirdly but not a secret, instagram only allows certain lenghts for captions so please read the comments, I think it’s important ❤️ But while I don’t belive in complaining helping with anything, I don’t think it’s always a good idea to only focus on the good and keep on a bright face when things really aren’t going well. Despite some really lovely memories, this summer has been the worst one ever, and I’ve never felt this lonely in my life. I’ve been so unhappy that I didn’t want to go to sleep, and until recently I woke up almost every morning by drilling super early due to the renovations. I lock doors 6 times because I’m so exhausted that I can’t remember if I really locked it on the first 5 times. My mood’s been so low that I haven’t even been able to keep myself excited for the things that are about to come, even though I’ll be starting on my dream career very soon, which should’ve been enough to keep my head up high but instead I had almost every possible problem with that too. I’m already in advance missing everything and everyone so that obviously helps with feeling good eh. Almost everything that can go wrong (from speeding tickets to serving raw food) has gone wrong, and I’ve been on the edge of tears on average two times a day. Even the smallest things have been setting me off, cause I’ve had zero energy nor tolerance for anything bad. But hey, here I am with my fake smile, moving ahead. On a positive note I haven’t had panick attacks in over 6 months now and also I don’t think I’ll fall under depression, cause I do know (even if I don’t believe it) that better is going to come, I have amazing people around me and I also know where to get help if I need it (suomalaiset alottakaa vaikka osotteesta ❤️). I’m not writing this to get any pity points or to get anyone worried about me, I’ll take care of myself and I am doing that. Some of my friends have already heard more than enough of my complaints tho, and it has meant the world to me that they’ve listened. I was speaking with a great minded friend of mine, and she mentioned that it’s helpful to be open about things cause there’s often people going through the same stuff. So here I am first of all reminding you that not everything is what it seems (I haven’t been having a blast, I don’t only bake pretty cakes at work, I did not want to cut my hair but it got destroyed and partly fell off after a hairdresser’s accident 2 years ago and I’m just trying to make the most of it, it is not all fun and games moving abroad) and also that it’s okay not to be okay. You’re very likely not the only one feeling that way (no matter how I wish I was). Things will get better, I know I’m already heading to a good place. Hopefully you, likeminded person, will too 💛 While it’s very much okay not to be okay, it’s much more fun once you start getting towards being that.

Now I’m doing significantly better though. After writing that text, I lived two weeks with my grandparents (they started renovating our apartment so I we had to move out at the end of July) and that’s my favourite place in the whole world, so just that did some good. We also had a great girl’s weekend before moving out, I got to spend some more time with my cousins and other family, and finally quit my job. Then I took a rather spontaneous plane to France, where I’ve spent the past week with my boyfriend and his family in Provence. Oh boy it’s been good. First of all, the family is extremely sweet. The place was gorgeous. And it was perfect for getting your mind from all the past month’s stress. Now I actually feel like I might be ready for starting the next chapter of my life – my study years. I have one more very packed week in Finland, which I’ll spend packing everything and seeing my friends as much as possible. I’m really looking forward to that and also to actually getting to Maastricht! I’m still not quite sure what exactly is expecting me there, but I’m quite sure I’ll manage with whatever it may be. So here’s some good vibes for you too, in the form of photos from the beautiful Provence. Hope you’re having a great day! xx



  1. I just turned 21 yesterday! I can feel the wrinkles forming..
  2. I’m still living in central Finland in Jyväskylä, now alone since my roommate is gone for the summer
  3. That mentioned roommate has been the best one ever <3
  4. I work in a hostel/countryside/café location until the beginning of August, and the place is GORGEOUS
  5. I’m moving out of the country in exactly two months
  6. I have got nothing prepared
  7. I have already sold my table tho!
  8. I have a day off today and so far I’m spending it by watching Society on Netflix and eating my favorite holiday candy, soon I’ll head to granny’s for some late birthday coffee and a shopping trip for them
  9. I’m extremely happy that by living here (where my whole family is from and also still living apart from my parents and sister) I’ve gotten at least a little bit closer to my family and learned a lot about it and everyone in it
  10. I’m extremely unhappy because living alone in a strange city without being able to see my friends really isn’t for me
  11. .. but I’m making the most out of it! I live every day like the last day of summer and so far it’s been pretty good.
  12. My roommate surprised me with a cake in bed and waffles for breakfast for my birthday, and that was the sweetest!!
  13. My boyfriend being the game designer that he is made me an app for my birthday, and that was also the sweetest. <3
  14. I’m trying to get rid of everything I own apart from my clothes, favourite dishes and all the essentials but it’s progressing really slowly.
  15. We’re moving out July 22nd, so that’s part of the reason why I’m trying to get rid of my possessions and slowly pack already, but I do not want to live with a bunch of boxes either.
  16. I’ll live with my grandparents for the last week of July (and of work) and I’m really looking forward to that too.
  17. It doesn’t get dark at all in the night anymore in Finland and I’m loving it
  18. I am in desperate need of going for a run
  19. I was so glad yesterday to have so many people remembering my birthday even when I’m far. That’s why we’re friends y’all.
  20. Work is taking all my time (50+h a week plus 1h drive back and forth) but the job is really nice and I get to live in a beautiful town close to my relatives so it really is worth it.
  21. I’m craving for a ryebread and an ice cream. Not together.



Howdy! I haven’t been keeping my post a week- resolution too well, but I am here again! And this time instead of only stress-related topics (also those actually), I’m also sharing here some great news!

As I think I wrote on my last post, for as long as I remember, I’ve had one dream – to become a doctor. And as known rather widely, it can be a rather difficult dream to pursue. I also had another dream for just as long, which was to study abroad. (Fun fact, my original dream was to study in the med school in Hawaii, but that’s literally the only thing ever that I’ve given up on since I saw the 70 000$ yearly tuitions for foreigners eh.. But thankfully it was one of many, many options) And now, to my biggest surprise, I’ve actually fulfilled both of those!! Well I mean, it will obviously take me at least 6 years to become an actual doctor, but I am on the path. And I’m so happy, I think I cried happy tears almost the whole day when I found out!  I will be starting my studies in the international track of medicine (ITM) at the University of Maastricht (UM) next fall, and I couldn’t be more excited.


Many have asked me, why there? And I gladly explain, but to prevent myself from repeating the same things all over here’s a very frank list:

  • I personally like the study structure of UM
  • I always preferred to study abroad. I love my homeland, but it was never really quite the place for me to stay in. I might come back yes, but now this was calling me much more.
  • I fully believe in the application process of the medical track of UM, which makes me believe in their values
  • Studying on an international track of medicine is the best possible gateway for me to reach my further goal of eventually working for Doctors without Borders
  • Graduating abroad in another language will open me many doors to work in various countries (including Finland), and is significantly easier than trying to leave to work abroad after studying in Finland
  • The university itself is located in a beautiful medieval town in the center of Europe (I’ll be a train ride away from some amazing countries and cities!! For someone who’s born and raised in a country as isolated as Finland that is a gift haha!)
  • And as for studying abroad, UM was a great choice because of its internationality and also because it’s still rather close to home, so visiting will be much easier than from some of my other options like Malaysia or Chile (even though I’m sure those would’ve also been just as great!)
  • Also, the tuition fees do obviously play a role as do binding study advice (the system of dropping out students at the end of each year), and since UM’s tuition fees are extremely reasonable and there is not binding study advice, it was a great choice

the last night before the exam I spent decorating the hostel room

aand the morning of the exam day we found this perfect stress – relief breakfast place called Livin Room, definitely recommended!

Another thing I’ve been asked plenty of times is how the application process works. So again, to not repeat myself, here’s the process in a nutshell.

  • First you send the school your previous grades
  • You full a portfolio asking all kinds of questions about motivation, previous experience in working life, extra activities and so on
  • You need to take an official language exam (such as IELTS or TOEFL) unless you full other criteria like having graduated from an IB high school
  • This year was the first and probably not the last where there were also additional exercises that took about 60h
  • Then, after the first application round (all above) you will or will not get invited for the application exam, which takes place in Maastricht itself (that was the first time I got to the city! We did a weekend trip together with my boyfriend, and the city was definitely love at first sight. That trip is also where these photos are from, taken by the very same boyfriend)
  • After the application exam UM processes the applications and you’ll find out if you belong to the 60 students accepted to the ITM at uM (or the ~250 students accepted in the Dutch track of medicine)




And as for Maastricht, I will definitely be telling more about the city when I actually get there! Right now I’m searching for an apartment and trying to get all my papers and so on in order (well actually right right now I’m sitting on the bus heading towards my home in Jyväskylä after spending a week of holiday in Helsinki visiting friends – after being on a study evacuation until the results came – and at my parents organizing all my toys and memories that I’ve in my old room) , and mentally preparing myself for selling all my furniture and getting rid of the things I’m not planning to take with me. It’s a long process eh, but it’s progressing. Today I’ll just go dancing, visit my grandparents and have a candlelight dinner on the balcony by myself since my roommate is sadly away tonight, tomorrow I have my last work gig (lollipops coming!) coaching the little ice skaters I’ve been coaching the whole spring while studying, a long-awaited visit to the gym and then I’m again heading back to Helsinki to celebrate Labor day (”Vappu”) together with my friends from high school. In other words, I’m making the most out of this surprise holiday! I’ve been weirdly stressed because I think it just now stroke me that I’ll be actually moving abroad until further notice. But above that, I’m excited. And as always, I’m sure things will work out just fine. Oh and to explain the term ’surprise holiday’, as most know I was indeed also going to apply to the Finnish med schools so after the exam in Maastricht I’ve been studying for the Finnish entrance exam, but since I already got the happy news from UM which was my first choice, my studying ended there – for the time being that is, there’ll be plenty of that in the future eh! I do plan on studying some English medical terms to make the beginning a bit easier for myself, and also studying for a head start in Dutch. And in a bit over two weeks I’ll already be starting my summer job, so there’s more than enough planned. Happy things! I hope you’re having lots of happy things in your life too. And for all those fellow students who are still preparing for their exams, I wish you all the luck from the bottom of my heart!!

And also, even if a bit in advance, hyvää Vappua!

Love, Anna

All the photos taken by Jeroen Coessens <3