Tag Archives: GBC Student Experiences

Food delivery in Shanghai and a discussion on cultural differences

Guest post by Emily Su, Foster undergraduate, studying marketing and pursuing a Certificate of International Studies in Business. She studied abroad in Shanghai, China this summer 2015.

IMAG5349The story that best highlights my international experience is not a story that’s groundbreaking, daring, or jaw-dropping. But, it’s a pleasant and humbling story that is life-changing and something I’ll never ever forget.

We are all aware that there are striking differences between Chinese and American systems. Chinese views on politics, economics, social class, independence, and freedom (just to name a few) are drastically different. Going into my study abroad experience, I did not expect to have the opportunity to talk with locals about politics and social issues. In China, these issues are sensitive. Often, they are a big no-no for open discussion.

One day, my Chinese roommate and I were deciding where to eat lunch—at the cafeteria? The food court at the neighboring mall? A noodle restaurant ten minutes away? Before we had decided –  thanks to typhoon season in Shanghai –  a torrential downpour began outside. So much for a lunch date outing. Immediately, my Chinese roommate pulled out her phone and showed me an incredible App, 美团外卖 (Mei Tuan Wai Mai), that featured thousands of restaurant selections nearby. They all had built-in speedy food delivery services. When she told me that food delivery in Shanghai is often cheaper than dining in, my eyes lit up. I knew I had discovered something amazing. We ordered multiple flavors of dumplings and within 30 minutes we were eating to our heart’s content in the safety and protection of our dormitory.

I kept gushing about the food delivery system in Shanghai, since America seems to be a little behind on this trend. This sparked one of the most genuine, interesting, and meaningful conversations I have ever had. Despite my expectation of avoiding political topics, my roommate initiated the discussion of some political issues. We talked about an array of topics, from gun laws to voting, from traffic laws to pollution. We discussed differences in entrepreneurship and corporate tax. What started off as curious conversation about voting, became an exciting and enjoyable exchange of perspectives, experiences, and questions. I found myself asking more questions than giving answers. I never thought I could ask so many questions at once, and I never thought anyone could be that curious about my home country. I could probably have written a book about all the things I learned that day about differences in Chinese and American culture.

I absolutely love to discuss differences in cultures. I like to observe, and so almost everything I experienced in Shanghai, I would compare to the American version. Comparing cultures and seeing the huge differences in daily life is mind-blowing. Chinese people may cook completely differently, interact with friends differently, or even wash their clothes differently, but it somehow works. Different societies, whether it be because of political/economic/geographic/social differences, just have different ways of getting the job done. That’s what I’m fascinated about. I learned that there is no one culture that is the best or the greatest in all aspects. Learning more about another country has helped me realize this.

My ancestors are from China. I was born and raised in America. This study abroad experience was a wonderful way for me to bridge the gap, to understand the meaning of and be the representation of Chinese-American. This is exactly what I needed to pursue my career in international business. And, the bridge will only become shorter and shorter.

Study abroad photo contest winners 2014

Over 300 University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students studied or interned abroad last year.  These photos and short descriptions are a small taste of the transformative educational experiences these students have each year.  The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos in two categories: Foster Abroad and My Global Lens.


1st Place Foster Abroad: Hitchhiking in George Town

Experience abroad: Jeremy Santos, Foster School Exchange Program at the National University of Singapore.  Studying and living abroad gave me the opportunity to see, hear, and taste new things. The experience knocked me off my feet!”


2nd Place Foster Abroad: Dawg Pack in Prague – Our program contributed to the Lennon Wall in Prague by spray painting a W and showing our Husky spirit abroad.

Experience abroad: Jessica Gardner, UW CHID Program in Prague.  “I spent 10 weeks studying abroad in Prague and visiting surrounding areas learning about how different groups and countries learn about history and how this represents who they are today. I immersed myself in Eastern Europe culture and felt that I gained a greater appreciation for different cultures and discovered how I want my business career to be internationally focused.”


1st Place My Global Lens – The Last Potter: This man was the last potter in his village, as his only son pursued a different career. I love how his grin shows how proud he is of his work!

Experience abroad: Alexandra McCarthy, Foster School Exploration Seminar in India.  “Studying abroad in India was nothing short of amazing. I absolutely fell in love with the people and the culture. From their colorful clothing to breathtaking temples, India is by far one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to.”


2nd Place My Global Lens – A Man and His Dog: It’s not every day that you get to wander through the mountains of Northern Spain. Even more rare is meeting this man who has lived in a stone hut in the mountains his whole life, swapping stories over the cheese he makes from the cows that roam nearby, using smiles to convey what my broken Spanish could not.

Experience abroad: Bonnie Beam, Foster School Exchange Program at the University of Navarra in Spain.  “My time abroad has been challenging, awkward, hilarious, embarrassing and most importantly, has opened my eyes to things I would have not seen otherwise. I have been humbled by how much I have to learn and am extremely grateful for every single person who has taken the time out to teach me something new; from teaching me a simple phrase to showing me how to play pádel to divulging the secret to making the perfect roscillas, I am a better person because of it all and I owe it to the lovely citizens of Pamplona. I have realized that I will never stop learning as long as I continue in humility and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included over 40 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study abroad opportunities at the Foster School.

Foster School students win 2nd place at BYU Business Language Case Competition

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Saya Kashiwamura, Janet Yang, and Gail Letrondo represent the University of Washington at the 2014 Brigham Young University Business Language Case Competition in Provo, Utah.

Although belated, the Global Business Center would like to extend an enormous congratulations to Janet Yang, Gail Letrondo, and Saya Kashiwamura who won 2nd place in the Chinese track of the BYU Business Language Case Competition on November 7th.

The Brigham Young University Business Language Case Competition is a unique opportunity for students to showcase their business acumen and foreign language skills by analyzing a real-life global business problem, and presenting their solution to a panel of judges made up of international business professionals in a non-native language.

These three young women competed against teams from prestigious universities across the country. They did an outstanding job analyzing the case and presenting their solution – in Mandarin Chinese! Judges were impressed by the insightful and innovative problem solving and detailed financial reports presented by the University of Washington team.

Student teams develop innovative solutions to increase profitability of the world’s largest festival

Photo of Winning Team
2014 Winning Team members Michelle Hara, Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, and Crystal Wang with Larry Calkins of Holland America Line

Did you know that during the 16 day Munich Oktoberfest an average tent with 7,500 seats sells over 4 million euros worth of beer?

This weekend at the  2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition, over 100 Foster School undergraduates grappled with how to increase the profitability and global reach of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest festival. The Global Business Center is pleased to announce that this year’s competition was a great success!

Teams played the role of outside consultants hired by the Munich Oktoberfest Organizing Committee to develop a strategy recommendation to increase profitability of Munich Oktoberfest. Teams spent 48 hours developing their background analysis, and on Saturday November 15th presented their recommendations to panels of community member judges. The top four teams were selected to move on to the final round.

After watching the final round teams present, the panel of six finalist judges determined a winner. This year’s deliberation was particularly challenging because each of the finalist teams had an insightful and innovative recommendation.

Team 2 members Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, Michelle Hara, and Crystal Wang, were named the 2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition Champion, and awarded $1,000. Their recommendation to increase profitability of Oktoberfest was to replicate the festival abroad, specifically in Munich’s Sister City, Sapporo, Japan. Their team determined through detailed analytics that a Sapporo Oktoberfest would prove successful due to existing infrastructure, socioeconomic factors and a strong cultural identity.

This year we had seven outstanding freshman teams participate in the ‘Freshman Direct Track’ of the competition, where only teams of Foster School freshman compete against one another. Judges were blown away by the extraordinary recommendations the freshman teams developed.  The title of Freshman Winning Team and an award of $500 was achieved by Christopher Cave, Carly Knight, Jennifer Louie, and Molly Mackinnon.  We are excited to see these students getting involved so early in their Foster careers!

The Holland America Line Global Case Competition is an introductory case competition and an exceptional learning experience for Foster School students. It provides an opportunity for students who have never competed in a case competition to ‘get their feet wet’. This year learning opportunities included a ‘how to approach a case competition’ training session, taught by Foster School faculty member Leta Beard, and a coaching round which provided teams the opportunity to get feedback on their presentation from business community and faculty coaches before presenting in front of the judges panel. Thank you to all of our volunteers who made the event possible!

Visit our website to find out more and learn how to get involved next year.

The Global Business Center would like to thank Holland America Line for their generous support of this unique educational event for Foster School of Business students. Holland America Line is a leader in the cruising industry and a longtime supporter of the Foster School of Business.

CISB student profile: Robby Ryan

Robby Ryan is a senior at the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business, pursuing an option in finance and a minor in Spanish. He is also taking the Certificate of International Studies in Business, Spanish Track.

Robby began studying Spanish during his freshman year at Juanita High School in Kirkland, Washington, and always had the goal of gaining fluency in the language. Upon arriving at the UW, he decided to combine his passion for language, travel and business by joining the Certificate of International Studies in Business Program. After completing second-year Spanish courses, he studied abroad in Santiago, Chile in 2012 as a participant in the semester-long direct exchange program at the business school of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. His study abroad experience gave him the opportunity to immerse himself in the Spanish language and Latin American culture, make friends from all over the world and gain first-hand international business experience.

Last summer, Robby worked as a bilingual intern in the Regulatory Affairs Department at Starbucks Coffee Company, where he focused on product registration and labeling in Latin America. Robby credits the CISB program with giving him the language skills and cross-cultural experience he needed to be successful in his internship.

Robby will graduate in the spring of 2014. After graduation, he plans to return to South America to see the World Cup, visit friends and travel as much as he can. In August, he will return to Starbucks, where he has been hired as a quality assurance specialist.

Study Abroad: Personal Transformation

Foster alum Benjamin Wood participated in the UW Exchange program in Germany in 2007. This is his personal testimony.

Studying abroad in Germany in the spring of 2007 stands out as the most defining and life-transforming period that I have experienced during my time at the University of Washington.  From this experience I learned a lot about myself and about the people and cultures that I came in contact with. The lessons and life experiences that occurred during that time have played a pivotal role in making me into who I have become. Three specific areas that I grew in, and that I believe are of key importance for anyone who desires to achieve success in business or in any realm of life, were my interpersonal skills, my confidence and my problem-solving ability.

Regardless of one’s career goals, possessing strong interpersonal skills are essential to success in business and even happiness in life. Whether it involves communicating to co-workers or customers in the workplace or building relationships with people outside of work, being able to relate to others, understand their perspectives, and communicate one’s ideas is essential to successful interactions. Studying abroad provided me with the opportunity to meet other people from cultures that I had no previous interactions with and forced me to learn to adapt to these cultures and personalities. While in Germany I became good friends with students from all over the world, ranging from England, to Russia, to Palestine and Israel. Living in such a diverse environment changed the way I interacted with people and made me a much more effective communicator.

Probably the single greatest area of transformation in my life while studying abroad concerns how much confidence I gained from the experience. Living on my own in a foreign country, with no safety-net of people around me to help me make decisions forced me make tough choices and then live with whatever happened. Even when things did not turn out the way I would have hoped, this process taught me so much about myself and about what I truly value. Through this experience I became much more confident in myself and, consequently, much more confident in the way I interact with others and make every day decisions.

Somewhat as a result of the other two areas, my ability to problem-solve and look at issues from different angles increased dramatically. By interacting with people from all over the world I received fresh perspectives every day on how problems can be approached and solutions can be discovered. Furthermore, because I was living on my own, I had the opportunity to frequently practice the new problem solving methods that I observed. Overall, I became much more adept at facing complex problems and making confident decisions based on whatever information was available.

Going abroad has given me skills that I will carry with me and build upon for the rest of my life. Studying abroad, more than any other factor in college, has set me up for future success in business and in life. Not only that, but in addition to the great skills it gave me, studying abroad has provided me with an amazing global network of friends and future business associates who I continue to remain in contact with and visit. These relationships alone made the whole experience incredibly rewarding and worthwhile.

Living to the Fullest

Mendoza-JosueThis post was written by Josue Mendoza detailing his 2007 Foster School Exchange trip to Chile.

Growing up, money issues have always been a problem for my family. Not in my lifetime did I ever imagine that one; I would go to college because of the expense and two; be given the opportunity to study and travel abroad for over a year in South America.  I did the latter while working on my degree at a prestigious university and interning at the North American Chilean Chamber of Commerce in Santiago, Chile. Thanks to the Foster School’s extremely dedicated undergraduate advisers and scholarship opportunities, this one thought impossible dream, I lived to the fullest.

Being abroad in South America has done more than help my Espanol, it has truly helped solidify the academic, career, and personal paths I follow now and will follow for the rest of my life. This was a genuinely transformational experience that I recommend to all students.

I have learned that “The world is [truly] our classroom”. Not only have I been able to see the world through the eyes of professors in the areas of business, economics, and culture in Latin America in ways that I would have never considered, I have also discovered and explored the millions of details that distinguish each individual country as their own little satellite.  I have done so while understanding what unites these countries to one world.

A week into being in South America I heard a phrase in a song by Bacilos titled “Tobacco y Channel” which I have used as a guide throughout my experience abroad; “Esto solo se vive una ves” (You only live this once). I challenged myself to take this quote of the song to heart and live it out; my same challenge goes out to you.

Smartest College Decision

Becca RidenourThis post was written by Rebecca Ridenour detailing her 2007 EUSA London Internship

When I applied for EUSA’s study abroad program, I did it on a whim.  One of my friends and I had toyed with the idea of doing internships in London through the EUSA program, and the day before our applications were due, we said, ‘were we going to do that?’  I set out working on a CV, an essay, and various other parts of the application that night. I thought, well I’ll turn it in if I get it done.  I was a sophomore at the UW applying to the Foster School.  I was a fairly confident person but not when it came to getting into the business school, picking a concentration, or deciding where I wanted my career to go.

The experience and confidence gained by participating in the EUSA internship program was life changing.  I spent a summer in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, working on a multi-million dollar project at Barclays Wealth and being truly responsible for myself.

I feel like I “grew up” in a professional, mature sense.  I learned so much about myself, my abilities, my interests, and really what I am capable of.

I returned to UW last fall confident in myself, the concentration I was picking, and my ability to start an exciting career in finance after graduation.  When I look back at the personal development that took place in a matter of months, I am astonished.  Interning abroad in London was a blast, and one of the smartest things I’ve done in college.