Guest post by Aimee Squires, Senior majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship. Aimee received the Dufey Study Abroad Scholarship to study on a Foster Exchange at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany.
My one piece of advice for everyone in college is to study abroad!! My semester was absolutely life changing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My time in Vallendar was so different than anything I had experienced before, in the best way possible! The town only has about 8,000 people and WHU has 1,200 students, which is a vast difference from UW. But, with so few students there is this incredible, welcoming community. One of the reasons I actually chose UW is because it is a big school and something I had always wanted, but in my time abroad I wanted something different and I could not be happier with my decision. WHU also has an extensive exchange program, and all the full-time students are required to do a semester abroad, so everyone understands what it is like and has had all these incredible experiences. The exchange program consisted of 100 undergrad students from all over the world and the amazing relationships I built will last a lifetime. I am still stay in touch with many of the people that I met and already have plans for them to visit/me to visit them.
The location of WHU is also perfect for traveling! It is only an hour train ride away from two airports that have lots of inexpensive flights and most classes are only on Tuesdays through Thursdays, giving you a lot of long weekends to visit other places. Most people traveled every single weekend. Don’t worry about having to plan this ahead either, there will always be someone who wants to go the same place as you!
The school also hosts a lot of events for full-time and exchange students, including “Tauschie Tuesday’s” every week. Tauschie is the German word for exchange student and it is hosted at the campus bar. Each week a new country or region is chosen to cook their local cuisine and sell it at the bar to raise money for the Tauschie party that we host at the end of the semester in the school’s vaulted cellar. One thing about WHU is that despite only having been around for 33 years, they have lots of cool traditions that exchange students get to participate in. Throughout the semester each class hosts a party at a school, beginning with PhD students and ending with Tauschies. Taushie Tuesdays are always the best opportunity to see all of your friends again after a weekend of traveling and to get to know the full-time WHU students as well.
The classes at WHU are also quite different from UW. The lectures are usually 3 hours long but only meet once or twice a week. The most an entire course will meet is 6 times total, a few of my courses only met once or twice with extended lecture times. One of these courses was sports economics and the class is intended to prepare the student for their Bachelor theses so the course met once to explain the essay topics and available resources and then once again about a month later to present our research reports. It was interesting to take a class that was so independently run, it really is up to the students to stay on track and study material on their own, especially when most courses are graded solely on the exam. If that scares you, don’t worry too much about it, the concept is intimidating at first but you will have a lot of time to study before exams and most professors provide a lot of material to help you prepare.
Overall I had the experience of a lifetime and would do anything to go back and do it all again!