Veerle Spronck fled Maastricht, but returned

Veerle Spronck, PhD candidate at the Philosophy Department, Zooms in at 16.00 on a Wednesday afternoon. Luckily, she only teaches on Tuesdays and Fridays this period, so this was only her second Zoom meeting of the day.

From my quick Google search on Veerle before digitally connecting with her, I learn that Veerle moved away from Maastricht after her high school years, only to return after completing her bachelor’s degree.

Why did she move away? Why did she come back? Was it Maastricht’s beauty that led to her return, or was it necessity?

“After secondary school I wanted to move away from Maastricht as quickly as possible”, Veerle tells me almost immediately. She went to Amsterdam to study art history and took some interdisciplinary courses as part of an honours trajectory. It was during these courses that she discovered her passion for research, and interdisciplinary research in particular. She was set on pursuing a research master’s degree and found out that there aren’t many of those in the Netherlands, and almost no interdisciplinary ones in Amsterdam or its surroundings. To her astonishment, Maastricht was only one of the few universities in the Netherlands offering a research master’s programme that combined all her interests. At first, she wasn’t interested at all, as returning to Maastricht was definitely not on her agenda. But her parents told her to not write off Maastricht University simply because of its geographical location. They advised her to go to an open day and there Veerle fell for the research master’s in Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST).

“Returning to Maastricht, it was so different from when I was 18. Of course, it wasn’t really different, I simply developed a different perspective. I never knew UM was so international and that I would have so many friends coming from different parts of the world. While Maastricht at 18 had felt restraining and small, Maastricht at 22 felt vibrating and outward-looking.” Now, she wouldn’t even mind staying in Maastricht after finishing her PhD. Of course she is keeping her options open, but she wouldn’t necessarily want to go away afterwards. For Veerle, Maastricht wasn’t that bad after all.

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