January, 2013

Definitely not still Jenny from the block… Too sparkly for that

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By: Sasha Sabsowitz, Foster Undergraduate

I had the most amazing time yesterday. After not going out for weeks, my roommates and I got to go to the Jennifer Lopez concert for FREE!

For dinner, my roommates and I made burgers. There were a lot of 90’s hits being played while cooking. Our burgers were very classy, accompanied by three different types of 35 DKK (about 6 USD) white wine. Our lamp above the table is still out so we ate dinner by candle light.

At 8:00 we realized what time it was and boogied on our bikes in our fancy outfits to Forum where the concert was. When we arrived, we could hear “Dance Again” playing inside and by the time we had made it inside she was playing “Waiting for Tonight,” my favorite! It’s so mind blowing that she’s 43, not 23 since she danced almost the whole time. We also got to hear her phony Selena laugh for an awkward mid concert break where she just smiled and laughed and told the crowd how much she loved them.

After the concert we biked to Nørrebro to find a bar to relax and talk in while we waited until 1 o’clock, when the dance clubs wake up. We ended up at a really cozy wine bar called Malbeck Vinoteria. We chatted over a shared bottle of Semillon from Argentina.

The lights came on bright in the bar around 1 when they were trying to get everyone to leave. When we got outside, it was pouring down rain. One of my roommates, Anna, and I wanted to go home but my other roommate, Annechiene, insisted on us going dancing. So we biked a few blocks down the street and lo and behold ended up on the exact street I stayed at when I first arrived in Copenhagen. Stefansgade!

Anna had suggested this place called Drone where they have a bar upstairs and a “lively” dance floor downstairs. But, when we got there and went down the stairs (coats, hats, scarves and gloves still on) no one was on the dance floor, just surrounding it talking. So without consulting each other, we all flew to the dance floor and started jumping around, spinning and dancing like complete weirdos to the jive like music the DJ was playing. In NO time the dance floor was packed!

We danced with some nice people, had some nice chats, did some bendy backwards dips and called it a night.

I love Copenhagen!

Returning to the States – Reverse Culture Shock

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By: Jasmine Reliford, Foster Undergraudate

As finals came to an end in Australia, I decided to do all the things that I had not yet done but said I would; everything from visiting the Blue Mountains (see photo) to being at the Sydney Opera House at sunrise (see photo).  I spent my last hours with my friends who were from around the world and from around the United States. The perfect end to my trip was spending it with the people I grew so close to at an iconic location of Australia. So I hopped on the plane home that night and 14 hours later I landed at SFO.

I was nervous to see my friends and adjust back to American style living, which was ironic because just a few months before I was complaining about the Australian culture and how NOT American it is. Since Australia’s summer starts in December I had a full month and a half of relaxing before I had to head back to Seattle. It was not until school started and being exposed to the Seattle winter, that I realize that I was not in OZ anymore.

While my Aussie friends have a three month break in 100 degree weather, I am sitting in class bundled up in 30 degree weather. My weekends that were once filled with going to the beach, or traveling to New Zealand or the Great Barrier Reef or Melbourne were not consumed with studying in a heated apartment. I still keep in contact with all of my close friends from abroad and we all complain about being back and having to do American style schooling together. I think that is what has allowed me to get through this tough transition period. It is finding people who are just as shocked to be back as you are. While the adjustment is tough at times, and I feel that everything out of my mouth is “In Australia they do this…” or “When I was abroad…”, I would not change that experience for the world. Being abroad you learn so much about that country you study in, about American culture and world views about America, and most importantly you learn so much about yourself. Your comfort limits are pushed, and you learn who you really are when you are plopped in a country and forced to figure EVERYTHING out. The transition back is worth every moment, every picture, and every memory I had while I was abroad.

Soju Think You Can Dance?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By: Julie Dickinson, Foster Undergraduate

Korean drinking culture is intense…and I could write about it forever. It’s one of the most unique and highly ritualized drinking cultures in the world but in addition to being highly alcohol fueled, the practices really do say a lot about Korean culture as a whole. Drinking in groups (which is the preferred way of drinking in Korea) is really all about respect. It reminds me a lot of ballroom dancing…there are certain ways of doing everything and certain mannerisms, which translate into much larger meanings. I’m not going to attempt to tell you all of the rules because I would butcher them but I can convey the general gist of what I gathered.  As like most things in Korea, age is everything. Your age relative to the other members of your group will tell you who’s buying the drinks, who’s pouring the drinks, and who’s going to need to tap out first (usually involuntarily). It is very common for colleagues to go out together after work and I was lucky enough to be invited on some of these outings. Work is not discussed but rather jokes are told and games are played and everyone needs to have as much fun as the boss is having (which is quite often an exceptional amount of fun). One must never pour ones own drink, one must never let the other drinks at the table become empty, and one must never drink in a group without buying a meal for the table. The drink of choice is Soju: the most widely sold alcohol in the world (almost exclusively sold in Korea if that tells you anything) and in my opinion one of the worst tasting things you’ll ever encounter. The best (and I would say 90%) of drinking outings end in Karaoke. The only shame in Karaoke is holding back, one must go all out in one’s Celine Dion impersonation. And the number one rule in drinking with one’s colleagues? One must show up to work the next day looking impeccably fresh and pretend that one did not see one’s boss dancing on the tables the night before.

 

Why Psy?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By: Julie Dickinson, Foster Undergraduate

At the time of this writing the video “Gangnam Style” by PSY has over 1 Billion views, making it by far the most viewed video in the history of Youtube. PSY’s antics are hilarious and the video is truly unique, but I’ve seen videos of cats trying to stuff themselves into too small boxes that rival the comedic value…so why PSY? Koreans are wondering the exact same thing. Living in Korea during the Gangnam Style phenomenon was bizarre to say the least because honestly Koreans didn’t understand the popularity and would frequently ask me if as a westerner I could provide insight. That being said, PSY is a national hero for the popularity he’s brought to the country and to KPOP. It makes me a little sad that this video is what 99% of the world population associates with Korea but at the same time it really is an excellent opportunity to open the world up to Korean culture. In October, PSY decided to give a free concert in Seoul to thank the people of Korea for their part in his success. I decided to attend and it was an experience that really very drastically changed my outlook on life and that I will never forget. The population of Seoul is around 10 million and I would hazard to guess that 9,999,999 of these people were at the PSY concert. I have lived in big cities my entire life and I thought I had some sort of concept for what that many people in one place looked like but I had no idea. Needless to say I arrived at the PSY concert 2hrs early and I probably moved about 3 feet between where I got off the subway and where I ended up. I couldn’t see or hear PSY but that was irrelevant. Seeing the massive amount of Koreans ranging in age from infants to the extremely elderly was an experience I’ll never forget.  To Koreans, PSY represents so much more than a silly horse dance, he represents hope for the country. As I said, to me its somewhat of a shame that PSY is the only exposure that most people will get to Korea because honestly if you think PSY’s funny or unique or quirky…he’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Kimchi for Breakfast…Lunch and Dinner

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By: Julie Dickinson, Foster Undergraduate

I wouldn’t be doing Korea justice if I didn’t pay homage to one of the countries greatest delicacies…its cuisine. Before going to Korea I had never tried Korean food…not even once. I had heard it was incredible and quite honestly I’ve never met a food I didn’t like (except quiche) so I was very much looking forward to trying out a new thing. However, Korea presented three realities that I was extraordinarily underprepared for: 1. In Korea, you only eat Korean food 2. There are thousands of different Korean dishes but they basically all consist of the same four ingredients 3. This last one is embarrassing but…Korean’s use chopsticks…exclusively. Needless to say upon arrival I was like a fish out of water, or rather a white girl without her beloved fork and knife. My lack of chopstick knowledge is absolutely pathetic but honestly I’ve spent hours on end trying to perfect the art (I can’t hold a pencil correctly either so I suspect there is a high correlation between the two). Not only are fork and knife not used in Korea, they are unheard of. My amused but gracious Korean friend suggested I buy a bag of forks and keep them in my purse at all times. Luckily for me, my western tendencies amused the Koreans to such a great extent that I was able to make fast friends by bonding over my lack of knowhow. I digress…the point of the story is that Korean food is out of this world and if you’ve never tried it I highly suggest you embark upon trying it ASAP. Kimchi (fermented cabbage) is served with literally everything and by everything I mean everything… Upon leaving Korea I was having such bad Kimchi withdrawals and unfortunately unless you know how to make it yourself its hard to come by in the States.  Not only does Kimchi taste amazing (in my humble opinion) it’s also one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Not to mention Kimchi is so steeped in Korean history that there are entire museums dedicated to the art of fermenting the cabbage. Needless to say, if I had to spend the rest of my life eating one cuisine I would be more than ok with that cuisine consisting of spicy, fermented, sticky Korean food…even if I did have to fumble around with chopsticks.

Talent? Pshh. Try, hard work!

Monday, January 28th, 2013

By: Sasha Sabowitz, Foster Undergraduate

Today was so inspiring! My Trading in Financial Markets class had a guest speaker. He was a Danish trader who lives in London and is quite well known in the financial world.

In his short 45 minute speech, he backed up many thoughts that I had already played around with.

The presentation started out by him showing the success he has achieved so far. He was confident, but not cocky. He showed us simplified charts and calculations so that we could follow/understand complex financial graphs quite easily.

Then he told us he actually flunked out of one of his years of high school. But, during a bout of pneumonia sometime before college, his dad went to the library and got him a  book called “Liar’s Poker.” We were told that book changed his life and inspired him to study hard so that he could work in trading – at this point not even knowing if he had what it took to “make it. ”After reading the book, he said, “I thought, if this guy can make it, so can I…”

Soon after, he left Denmark for England to study at the London School of Economics. He said there were many nights that his friends would want him to come out to the pubs with them but he was very focused on his studies and he attributes his success both in school and his career to his hard work and dedication.

Which brought him to his next slide of four famous public figures known for having talent.  Mozart, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and Andre Agassi. After being asked as a class if these four people had talent, we were told that they, in fact, did not. We just perceive them as talented. Tom believes we do not emphasize enough the hard work and dedication that these figures spent to get where they are today.

Take Mozart for example. He was perceived as a prodigy, a musical genius! But when you look at the facts, it turns out his father was a musician just like him and had forced him to practice since he was a wee little lad. It is estimated he had logged 3000 practice hours on the violin and the piano by the time he was SIX years old.

There is a similar theme with Tiger Woods. His father also played golf and was completely obsessed with the idea of “practice makes perfect.” He even had Tiger enrolled in golf lessons when he was only one year old.

The bottom line is, success/greatness/achieving goals and dreams is not about talent that you are either born with or without. It’s about timing, a bit of luck, and PUTTING HARD WORK into whatever you want to excel at.

Of course this type of determination will take time and trade offs in other parts of your life. For example, Tom said he “unfortunately” doesn’t have kids but he’s good at what he does and that makes him happy. He knows the trade off and is okay with the sacrifices he has made. Very interesting.

Afterwards, I went up to him and introduced myself, even though I was a bit nervous since he is so tall and bold and successful! But he was very nice and thanked me for thanking him for the motivation and inspiration. Today is one of those days that is crucial to remember…

“Patri, mirrraaaaa”

Friday, January 11th, 2013

By: Patricia Mayer, Foster Undergraduate

Mira=look, or in Jorge and Miguel’s language “hey look at meee!”

I should have learned the first time. Never, ever, look. A few days ago my host family got home after picking Jorge up from karate practice. As I was studying in my room, Jorge ran in dressed in his Karate robe and practiced one of his moves on my arm. A few minutes later I hear “Patri, mirraaaa!!” I glance over to my doorway where Jorge, who escaped from Chety’s grasp midway through changing into pajamas, stands butt-naked dancing and sticking his tongue out at me. I almost fell out of my chair laughing, and the best part was, after a long day at work Chety didn’t have the energy to wrangle an unruly Jorge and let the incident go without punishment.

This might have been the reason why yesterday, as I walked out of my room I was met by Jorge mooning me. Wanting to be just like his big brother, Miguel quickly joined in. And soon I was trying to figure out how to yell the boys are mooning me in spanish. Something I don’t think I will ever have to say again in Spanish.

And another prime example of the adventures of Miguel and Jorge:

Today, a distressed Eli burst through the door as both boys screamed and talked a mile a minute. I learned they had been at the super market earlier and had been refusing to behave. (Note: they are normally very well behaved, eat all they are given, tell their parents they love them and give them a kiss) But today, they wouldn’t listen to Eli at all in the supermarket. Somehow, while Eli grabbed something off the shelf, Jorge became in charge of pushing the cart which held Miguel as a captive passenger. Because he is 5 and can’t see over the cart, Jorge plowed straight into a coca cola display, knocking a ton of stuff over, and catapulting poor little Miguel out of the cart. Miguel showed me his leg which at the present moment has a giant purple bruise.

I don’t know how I’m going to say goodbye to these guys. After spending 3 months eating my meals in the center of chaos (and the best free entertainment you could ask for), I don’t want to leave!

Last Day In Germany

Friday, January 11th, 2013

By: Devin Kim, Foster Undergraduate

“Farewell, fair cruelty.” Shakespeare said in his famous quote. I actually didn’t feel that cruelty until I had finished all of my packing and cleaning up my room because I had returned from Rotterdam late yesterday. After everything was set ready to leave, lying on my couch, I felt that void I was expecting to feel.

The first things that crossed my mind were my dearest landlords, who were all supportive and very warmhearted. I remember the first day I landed at the Frankfurt International Airport and took the train to Koblenz Hauptbahnhof (main station). My landlord Hardy, came to the station to pick me up. As we arrived at his house, I met his wife Gitti and 2 French guys that were staying there until the next day. We had dinner together, which is something I heard rarely happened with the other Tauschies (Exchange students) who moved into private apartments. The next day, Hardy even took me on a ride to introduce most of the parts of the town and helped me shopping some basic household items and food. He even paid for all the stuff because my credit card was not working in the store. I paid off with cash after we got home of course. Thanks to Hardy and Gitti, it was not hard for me at all to settle safe and solid in Germany.

Another thing was for sure the Tauschies. We shared such great times together and it’s hard to pick one specific event that was the best. As some of you reading this will experience later on, building friendships with these folks is one of the most exciting and valuable things you will experience during the study abroad period. I would describe them as companions who take part of a journey taking place in a dream. In a totally different place, environment, culture, and so on, they were really the ones I could rely on. As a relatively small group of 150 students, we got to know each other very well and going on trips with some of them is the most fun thing to experience as you are study abroad. Of course, getting along well with your fellow exchange students can make your exchange life extremely richer. In my case, there was Cynthia with whom I celebrated Thanksgiving together and also studied together for the exams. I really thank her for all the great memories we shared in Germany.

Besides, there are plenty of other things I would like to mention, but I sorted out the previous two because I thought they are really the most important assets and values I got from the program. But have no worries about the farewell. The return makes one love the farewell.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Friday, January 11th, 2013

By: Cynthia Chiou, Foster Undergraduate

My time at WHU and Germany will be four months I will treasure for a lifetime. Studying abroad may not have turned me into a complete different person, but I can certainly say that it has made me a stronger and more clear-minded individual.

One of the most valuable things I will take away, is understanding how crucial keeping an open mind is in our journey through life. From the first day to the last; cultivating relationships, understanding new cultures, and ultimately having an unforgettable experience, were owed to refraining from any presumptions I might have had about anyone. What made my time so unique was being surrounded by a community that was enthusiastic and genuinely excited to hear each other’s perspectives.

You would think having conversations with non-native English speakers would limit my interactions, but to the contrary, I had some of the best discussions with exchange students. The excitement we shared and willingness to withhold any judgment allowed us to have some of the greatest memories. Granted that studying abroad probably bolsters your confidence in social situations, I realized this environment didn’t just have to be created when you’re off abroad. This miniature epiphany might sound extremely obvious to some of you; sure, it makes sense that someone would be more accepting and open minded when they are abroad – there is less at stake, you’re in a foreign country, and you’ll make a grand exit in just four months. But the entire time, I couldn’t help notice how wonderful it was to be surrounded by such passionate individuals. I wanted to bring this same mindset back with me. Whether it be within my career, school work, or creative processes, being in an encouraging community helps you achieve a different level of performance. Risks you used to be hesitant about or ideas you had rolling around in the back of your mind can now surface and begin to develop.

So in many ways, studying abroad has been a necessary experience that has allowed me to appreciate the subtle but important value of community. I needed to venture into a different setting only to realize core values that should be applied regardless of wherever you are in the world. Taking all the things I’ve learned, I’m ready and excited to challenge myself further each day!

If you’re still considering studying abroad, I can’t vouch enough for the experience – especially at WHU. All in all, you really won’t have any regrets!!

 

 

From WHU to Rotterdam

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

By: Devin Kim, Foster Undergraduate

The main entrée so to say to be an exchange student is definitely the traveling part. The Netherlands is surely one of the more accessible countries to visit from Germany, since they are very close, geographically, culturally and linguistically. I would like to introduce you how I arrived at the Netherlands and I will also like to compare college-level classes in both countries, how they are different from each other, based on what I have witnessed.

Take the train. Taking the train is the most convenient way of reaching the Netherlands from Germany. In my case, I paid around 90 Euros for a round-trip from Koblenz to Rotterdam. It seems quite expensive, but if you compare it to how much it costs to travel from Koblenz to Hamburg, both taking around 5 hours, you’ll notice that traveling to Rotterdam is actually cheaper (!) than the latter. Because the countries both apart of the Euro Zone, you don’t need to go through customs and border control, which makes your life so much easier. There are some alternatives, like taking the bus, but it’s often not as available in Koblenz, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

 

Strangely, I had the opportunity to visit the Erasmus Universiteit in Rotterdam and attended a statistics class, since I had a friend who was studying there. I thought it would be interesting to compare the classes of WHU and at the Erasmus Universiteit, to classes in UW.

The teaching method varies among the countries regarding how active they are. As I noticed, in Germany, the classes are not as participation-based even though the size of the classes are usually smaller than at UW. Lectures are mostly rigid and unilateral. The amount the teacher talks during class accounts for more than 90%, except for some questions the students ask. On the other hand, the statistics class that I have experienced at the Erasmus Universiteit was very participation-based. The professor was constantly asking about the contents, and the format of the class was that the students were supposed to solve a few problems together with the professor on side, guiding through the processes. It was in a sense quite similar to some mid-sized business classes at UW.

Student behaviors during class were also quite different from each other. The atmosphere was more conservative in the Netherlands and students barely talked during class except when the professor asked something. However, one thing you should consider if you are thinking of going WHU as one of the exchange options is that Germans (at least those at WHU) can make quite a lot of noise, while doing anything. In some lectures, especially in non-major elective classes, the noise level can become quite loud. It is definitely something that I want to be critical about and objectively, something I really didn’t like about the German students at WHU. UW, in my perspective, lies closer to the Erasmus Universiteit in this regard.

But since the lectures at WHU mostly use slides, it is very straightforward what the professor demands from the students. The contents are usually more organized and preparing for exams don’t involve any complex thought processes. Just memorize. It’ll save your grades. Based on what I saw, it seemed that the Erasmus Universiteit would be trickier when you try to prepare for exams. Since the class I attended involved lots of participation, and more student answers, it’s hard to predict how the exams are going to be. I think UW is closer to WHU when it comes to the workload and straightforwardness.

It is very subjective what I have written on this post so far, and of course I cannot judge quite right because I only attended one class in the Netherlands, about something I barely have knowledge of, but I hope this would give you at least a simplified picture of whether studying in Germany would be the right choice for you.