September, 2008

My First Month Abroad

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

belgium-109.JPGHello, my name is Kyle Richards.  I am a finance major at the Foster Business School and am currently on exchange finishing up my studies to graduate in the winter.  I grew up on the eastside of Lake Washington in Kirkland and have spent 4 years at UW and now am spending a quarter abroad in Rotterdam, Netherlands studying at Erasmus University.

I chose to come to Rotterdam because of the great reputation Erasmus has regarding its business program and to travel and experience all that Europe has to offer.  Rotterdam is in a great location to be able to travel from.  Amsterdam is less than an hour away by train and both Germany and Belgium are less than 2.  You can also find cheap airfare leaving from Schipol Airport (35 min. from Rotterdam) if you want to travel to countries that are a bit far for the train.

After living in Rotterdam for only 5 weeks I already feel at home here.  The city doesn’t have the typical look of a lot of other European cities with the old buildings and architecture, but there is a lot to do and it is very easy to get around with the tram and bus system.  The university also has put on many school functions not only for exchange students, but for all business school students in general.

I have also met a lot of new friends from all over the world here.  The University put on a 3 day excursion when we first arrived for all the exchange students which helped all of us get to know each other.  Most students live in the same area of Kralingen which is nice because it’s easy to hang out with each other, and because its only about a 10 minute walk from campus.  About 10 of us have started to travel over the past few weeks including going to Brugge, Brussels, and Amsterdam.  We are planning to go to Munich next week to catch the end of the October Festival.

So far I am very glad I made the decision to study abroad.  I’ve met a lot of very cool people from all over the world and am getting to experience a lot of different things and places.

You can email me at kyler3@u.washington.edu if anyone has any questions about Rotterdam, Erasmus U, or just studying abroad in general.

First Impressions of Bocconi University, Milan & Italy!

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

bergamo-alta.JPGHi all!  My name is Tim Tran and I’m a junior majoring in Finance and minoring in International Studies.  It’s hard to believe, three and half weeks have already passed since I arrived in Milan, Italy, to study at Bocconi University (Univesita’ Bocconi) for fall 2008.  I came into Milan at the beginning of September to take an intensive Italian crash course offered to exchange students.  This took place before official business courses started and the rest of the Italian students arrived.

With over 1,000 international students, Bocconi is definitely a school with an international flavor.  Because all the exchange p1010101.JPGstudents were essentially in the same boat (in a new city where we all knew no one), everyone was extremely open and friendly.  I quickly made a bunch of friends from all over the world and by the first weekend, we were already traveling Italy together.  This was not something that I expected to happen so soon, but it’s definitely something that I love about this school.  With its smaller size, it’s much more intimate than UW, which, to me, was a welcomed change.  Just in the past few weeks alone, my friends and I have made day trips to Lake Como, Verona, Cinque Terre, and Bergamo, all awesome destinations no more than an hour or two from Milan.  The city of Milan is great as well.  Milan is definitely fast-paced compared to the rest of Italy (though still slow by American standards) and there’s a lively night scene.  It seems like the city never sleeps!

p1010472.JPGThe native Italian students, who arrived a week or two after the exchange students, are also very friendly and approachable.  Bocconi has a great international student buddy program that has hosted numerous events to help exchange students experience the school and the city.  These events have included a traditional Italian dinner, an AC Milan soccer match, and what seems to be a Milanese favorite, aperitivo (Italian for happy hour).

Classes have started now and so far, I am enjoying them all.  It’s funny that even though I’m half a world removed from home, the current events that we talk about in class are heavily focused on the US financial situation.  It has definitely been interesting to hear the Italian perspective on the recent financial crisis in the US!

Overall, I enjoying every moment here.  Occasionally, I crave the Ave’s Asian food and I can surely do without all the second-hand smoke I’ve inhaled, but these little things in no way detract from the fact that I am having a blast in Milan!

The Beginning of My Adventure in the Fashion Capital of the World – Milan, Italy

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

jenny1.jpgI am a junior in the Foster School of Business with a concentration in Marketing (declared) and perhaps Finance (still deciding).  I grew up in San Pedro, California which is roughly 20 minutes away from Los Angeles, before embarking on my four year scholastic journey at the University of Washington.  Attending school in Seattle was quite an adjustment for me since I was used to assuming everyday would turn out to be a sunny one when in SoCal; however, I love U-Dub mostly because of Foster!  The students and faculty that compose it truly are all diamonds in the ruff, and I feel so lucky to be a part of its community as they are responsible for facilitating my study abroad experience.

jenny2.jpgEver since I was a young girl, I wanted to travel the world to see what cultures from centuries in the past had left behind, in addition to what present-day societies were creating for future travelers to uncover.  Foster’s International Exchange Program provided the perfect means for me to fulfill this dream.   My international exchange, thus far, has been better than I could have imagined.  When I applied for the program, my first choice was to attend Università Bocconi not only for the fashion in Milan but because the school is ranked as the number one business school in Europe, third in the world (above Harvard).  Bocconi not only provides an academic challenge, but Milan offers a genuinely Italian experience.   I think I have eaten more pasta in my first 2 weeks than I have during my first two years at UW!  The night life is ridiculously abundant, the exchange students are extremely eclectic, and the list of things to do is exponentially growing.

I am thoroughly enjoying my study abroad opportunity.  I visited Cinque Terre- a group of five gorgeous beach towns along the Italian Riviera known for its very rigorous 6 km hike- last weekend and will soon be venturing to Venice; Munich for Oktoberfest hosted by Bocconi; and Cadiz, Spain to visit a friend also from UW on exchange.

jenny3.jpgAlthough I am having a wonderful time now, when I first arrived in Milan, I felt very overwhelmed.  Being away from home and in another country is a very different experience when compared to just changing locations in the United States.  You have to make new friends, figure out the society and language, and adjust to being away from family/friends.  The good thing is that within a few days those intense feelings of fear disappear, and you find yourself completely comfortable in a foreign place.  Just remain positive and embrace the opportunity that you have achieved; it will truly be unlike any other and the memories will be unforgettable.

Kuala Lumpur

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

kuala-lumpur.JPGSingapore is the gateway to Southeast Asia; from here many great tourist locations are within reach. Last weekend I had the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with my new friends in Singapore.

We departed at 10PM on Friday and after 6 hours on the bus we arrived in KL at 4AM the next day. After a brief rest we headed to the famous Petronas Twin Towers, after waiting in line for about an hour we got the tickets to go on to the skybridge on the 41st floor. From there we got to see an overview of the city center.

Food in Malaysia is very similar to food found in Singapore; it’s a mix of Indian, Malay, and Chinese. Most people in Malaysia spoke either Chinese or English so we had no problems with communication. Besides a few landmark buildings and delicious food, KL is also a major shopping city. There are many malls around city center and the prices are often half of those in Singapore. And that’s what we did for the most part besides sightseeing.

Marketing Internship Placement with Academy Music Group, London

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

p1000690.JPGFor this summer, I am doing work experience (aka an internship) at Academy Music Group (AMG), owner and operator of over a dozen live performance venues all over the United Kingdom. Three of our venues are in London: Carling Academies Brixton and Islington, and the Shepherds Bush Empire. I was fortunate to see Death Cab For Cutie in July at our Brixton venue, then The Dandy Warhols the week after at the Empire. Before each show, I toured the venue with the resident venue manager and chatted about their experiences working at the venue. Many of our managers have been at their respective sites for nearly ten years or more! The majority of my work is not on-site, rather, I operate out of the AMG headquarters above the Brixton venue.

p1010399.JPGOur marketing department is comprised of myself, the marketing and PR intern; Justine and Lauren, the assistants; and Louise, the marketing manager.  Technically, I report directly to Justine, but both Lauren and Lou are very participative in my work experience. Daily tasks which I have taken on over time include: searching for relevant press in regional and national publications, maintaining the digital and hard press archives, locating artist press contacts, and uploading show details on venue websites’ gig listings.  Some unique projects I conducted were the research for marketing opportunities and demographic points-of-contact in the Liverpool area for festival outreach and the design of interactive spreadsheets for internal purposes. Learning about the London music scene has been amazing as well! I’m fairly familiar with how my industry works, but there’s always something new to learn when you see how other companies in completely different cultures and geographic areas strive for the same goals and outcomes.

The Final Full Week

Friday, September 5th, 2008

guadalajara-1099.jpgToday is my final full week of work. Next week I have only three days, and then I leave for Cancun for four days (with my dad). It’s so weird that my trip is coming to an end. I feel like I have been here for so long, but at the same time, it all went by so fast. Yesterday we held an event at the President Intercontinental Hotel. An executive from PEMEX (Petróleo Méxicano) presented the effects of the reform that the company will be going through—moving from a fully governmentally owned company to opening for private investments. I can’t help but cringe every time we have a speaker give a presentation. I feel as if the chamber needs to hold a seminar on ‘Successful PowerPoint Presentations.” I am not exaggerating when I say they type every word on each slide and then the graphs they use are super complicated. On top of that, their speech lacks audience engagement. Luckily, it was a lunch conference so my head was in my plate the whole time.

On Wednesday night I went with my boss and a friend to ‘La Casa Mariachi.’ It was a nicely decorated restaurant and had live mariachi music and dance performance. People started pouring in around midnight. It made me wonder if anyone had to work the next morning.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas here. The truth is, the Mexican Independence day is coming up on the 16th of September (no, it’s not Cinco de Mayo). Cinco de Mayo is actually only celebrated by a small town called La Batalla de Puebla when the Mexicans won the battle against the French. The rest of the country celebrates the 15th through 16th of September. I say that it looks like Christmas because they have decorated the town with the colors red, green, and white (the colors of the flag).