February, 2009

Hello from Singapore!

Friday, February 27th, 2009

dscf2807.JPGIt has been a little over a month since my arrival here in Singapore. And I thought yeah why not let me write my blog on National University of Singapore. So here it goes!

My name is Jing Goh, and I am a sophomore at the Foster School of Business. I have chosen National University of Singapore because of its proximity to Malaysia, where I was born and where I will return to after graduating from UW. Since I will be returning to Malaysia, I thought it would really help me to build a network here in South East Asia and at the same time learn more about this region in general. And now I will tell you what I know about Singapore and NUS thus far.

Contrary to what little I knew about Singapore, it actually doesn’t rain much here. The weather is hot and humid in general. My dorm room, like most other dorm rooms on campus, offer only a ceiling fan, which only helps that much in cooling down the room. It is cooler in the hallways, so people usually leave their doors opened to let some air in. The individual floors are not co-eds but the buildings are. There are plenty of opportunities to meet other people in your dorm (or outside your dorm) as students here are very outgoing and friendly to newcomers, and there are a lot of student organized events.

dscf2791.JPGCourse load wise, most students here are taking 5 classes, even those on exchange. But I am taking only 3 classes because I figured if NUS really is harder than UW, I should not overload myself and instead try to do the best I can while taking the minimum required credits. I am currently taking BECON300, FIN350, and ACC225. My classes consist of a weekly 2 hour lecture and a quiz section, both meeting once a week. The professors and tutors (as they call the T.A.’s) here speak Singlish, even in lectures. Maybe some professors do have an American accents but the professors and tutors I have, don’t. Except for my Econ professor, who studied in America before and has an American accent. Sometimes the accent detracts me somewhat from paying attention in class, but it is bearable overall.

Food wise, breakfast and Dinner are included in the room & board fees at my dorm and lunch is usually settled at the faculty canteens (faculty here means schools. eg. Business Faculty = Business School). Food here is much cheaper than in the U.S. but they are mostly Chinese food. If you want a change of taste, it is not hard to find cheap & good food here at all because Singapore is best known for its food, as all other Asian countries are!

It seems to me that students here spend a lot of their time studying and doing extracurricular activities (they are very very active here). Of course, they party. The exchange students do, too. And there are always planned trips to Bali or other countries posted on the exchange student facebook group.

I myself have toured around Singapore and Malaysia a little. And I just came back from a week-long trip in Cambodia and Thailand! I shall write on a blog on travelling around SE Asia next time!

If you have any questions regarding exchange to NUS or Singapore in general, feel free to ask for my contact info from Ms. Andrea Gomes. I will be more than willing to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge =D !

Hello from the Netherlands

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

An introduction of myself, eh? My name is Joey Hwong, and I’m currently a super senior at Foster, studying in Rotterdam, The Netherlands for winter quarter. It took quite a lot of effort to get me here, so I thought sharing this experience would be most interesting as a late introduction of myself.

After I received my acceptance letter in spring 2008, I promptly submitted all of the required documents, including the housing request form to stadswonen (the company that handles all student accommodations). I didn’t hear back until…probably late September or October, with notification that I hadn’t submitted “anything” at all. After a couple follow-up emails, I realized my only option was to resubmit. This late into the game, I was left with but one option over 7 km from school and in a “shadier area of town.” (My buddy’s words, not mine.) It was also quite pricey. After several more emails with stadswonen/Foster Exchanges/my parents/my buddy concerning the safety of this location, the practicality of going to school, it was decided that I would need them to find me alternative housing, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go. In the meantime, throughout this discussion, instead of working with me to provide a solution, stadswonen contacted me and canceled their housing proposal because I had exceeded their 24 hours window for acceptance.

I spent a good week seeking all possible alternatives and finally found a girl on facebook who was studying abroad to Vancouver, BC for her winter trimester. Worked out well, it was 2/3 of the rent stadswonen wanted to charge and only 2 km from school. And she’s lent me her bicycle to use, which saves me a bit of money in transportation/bike acquisition costs.

Following, there was another fiasco involving the contract and deposit, since I was going on vacation, and so was she. I couldn’t wire money from my bank account in the States. But that’s less interesting, so I’ll skip those parts.

So, a week or two ago, there was a welcome dinner, and I spent the evening talking to a gentleman who was serving as the photographer for the evening. Turns out he’s part of the weekly magazine the university puts out and I’m not the only person whose had the worst experiences with stadswonen. I’ll be in a small segment (with photo) sometime next week in their magazine. The magazine is doing an expose on stadswonen and the fact the university outsources the housing to them.

At the moment, I’m currently enjoying my flat, conveniently located next to a grocery store, trams, metros, and the usage of my bicycle. It makes me feel less like I’m “studying abroad” here and more like I’m trying to immerse myself into the culture, which is nice.

That’s all for now.

Figuring Out Audencia

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Hello! I am David Johansson, a senior Business major studying in Nantes, France at the Audencia Nantes Ecole de Management. I am 19 years old and originally from Ferndale, Washington but now reside in Sammamish. I have always wanted to learn about new cultures and travel to another place where people do not have the same view of the world—so I decided to study abroad. Not only do I get to travel, which I love, but I also get to learn about a different culture and get other perspectives on world issues.

My first day in Nantes was interesting. I had no idea what to do, but that made it exciting. First, I went for a walk around the city. I was walking around for about two hours exploring the city and stumbled upon some pretty neat places. The first was Place Royal, a nice open area surrounded by shops and in the middle is a large fountain decorated with royal figures. But the real fun didn’t begin until the first day of school.

At the first day of school, I met many cool people. I had no idea that so many other exchange students lived in the same apartment building that I live in! The first day of school was quite interesting because many of the other exchange students were just as lost around town as I was. But the IC (International Connection) team welcomed us with open arms. The team is comprised of Audencia students who greet us on our first day and are a resource for us to use if we need help with something at school. They showed us around the school and also let us know about the school parties.

The schools here are very unique. The schedule is much different than UW; instead of choosing the classes based upon the time schedule, you choose a major and are assigned the appropriate classes, called “modules.” Classes are divided into three hour sessions, usually twice a day, for most of the week, except Thursdays. Schedules are updated every week or two—most of the time you do not know what classes you will have two weeks later. It is an interesting schedule, something I definitely had to get used to.

Suprises in France

Monday, February 9th, 2009

buddy1.jpgMy name is Buddy Waddington, and I am originally from Renton, Washington. I’m a junior at the Foster School, and I’m studying Marketing. Right now I’m studying abroad at the Audencia Ecole de Management in Nantes, France. The city is in Western France, only 30 minutes away from the Atlantic coast and a two hour train ride from Paris. I’ve been here only a month, and I have already experienced much more than I expected to encounter for my entire stay.

First, living in a place where the first language isn’t your own is an incredibly humbling experience. Taking the first train from Paris to Nantes was surreal. Upon arriving to my studio, I knew that the next six months of my life were going to be incredibly different.

I’ll sum up the atmosphere of Nantes by describing my trip to class. I have to walk out of my apartment, onto the cobblestone streets, and walk about a block to the tram station by the Loire River that runs through town. After waiting 0-2 minutes (the public transportation system here is very nice), I ride into the center of town to switch into the tram that will take me to the college (because if I stayed buddy2.JPGon for two more stops I would arrive at the castle of Duchess Anne, and it’s a school day, so no chateau visits today). Once I’m on the second line, I have about a 12 minute ride through the city filled with bakeries, French windows, and a handful of churches/cathedrals that could be older than the United States. Once I get off at my appropriate stop, I walk into the school, walk under the fountain that shoots water over the walkway in between the library and the café, and head into my classroom.

The students at Audencia are very welcoming. The school is comprised of only around 2000 students, which is just a tad different to the size of UW. The classes are structured very differently, and, like Foster, group work is emphasized. As classes go on, I’ll elaborate on school life here.

In all, my first month in France has been quite the learning experience for me. My other UW counterpart and I have made many friends from all around the world, including Paris, the French Riviera, Tunisia, Ireland, England, Germany, Austria, Colombia, Quebec, Ontario, Mexico, and Sweden. This first month has already made me so appreciative of this opportunity to stretch myself. Time is already zooming by, so I better go and get some things done around here.