July, 2013

Concluding Remarks

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Written by: Evelyne Kolker

Now that I am back home in the U.S., with Rotterdam tucked away as a recent and cherished memory, I can start to really appreciate and pick out what I loved most about my study abroad experience.

barcelona

This is Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia.
Sarah Hann is in this photo too! And our friend Sandesh Menon.

Another simple but vitally important aspect of my study abroad was grocery shopping. The variety and freshness of fish in the country alone deserves applause. It was a pleasure picking up fruit in the Netherlands, all the variety of cheeses, and the outdoor market ever Tuesday in the center of Rotterdam surprised me with its size and selection.Some people may be surprised, but I’d like to pay a special tribute to the public transportation in the Netherlands. While across many big cities in Western European countries the transport is fantastic, the Netherlands especially has a well-thought, very convenient system. I think sustainable urban development is something that the Netherlands has excelled in and something that the U.S. needs to take note of. There are very few places in the U.S. where we have buses or trams arriving every few minutes, without delay, and at all hours of the day and night. The Netherlands blew me away with the new, clean trains that allowed me to travel all across the Netherlands.

By glancing at a map of Europe, you can easily see what Erasmus University itself advertises: Rotterdam’s location conveniently allows you to travel to many different countries, such as Belgium, France, and Germany. The highlight of my travel experiences me was three days in Barcelona, just a short flight away. We got to walk down the famous Las Ramblas, caught a game of the amazing FC Barcelona team, and enjoyed Gaudi architecture throughout the city. I visited 7 countries during my time studying in Rotterdam. Rotterdam was a fantastic jumping off point for so many different trips.

Ultimately, the history, the culture, and the lifestyle are the components that make both the Netherlands and Europe in general such a fantastic place to travel to and live in. I hope that everyone who wants to study abroad makes it a priority because there is nothing like traveling when you are young and free to do so. Throwing yourself out of your element really puts into perspective what is important to you in life, what you miss from back home, and what you crave in the future. Essentially, that’s what study abroad is all about. Thank you Rotterdam for the chance to learn, to wander, and to discover!

Manchester

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Written by: Sarah Breysse

 

So I’ve come to realize that I have a lot to catch up on but it will be impossible to say everything. I have a lot of commentary about my life here that goes on in my head throughout the day that I try to remind myself to write down so I can post it, but let’s be real, that rarely happens. I wish it was socially acceptable to talk into a voice recorder as I go about my day just to get out everything I want to say, but it’s not so here we are…

Sarah Breysse 1

Overall Manchester is a truly amazing city. It actually reminds me a lot of Seattle and I’m pretty sure that the contractor that built Foster also came here. The University of Manchester campus is all on one road but has 3 different locations where class rooms and residence halls are located. I live in Victoria Park, the central campus, which is in between the city campus where I have class, and Fallowfield where most students live.  I have a cute little dorm room right across from the dining hall. I’ve gotten to know two Australian girls who are also on exchange that live by me, so that’s been a nice comfort to have. I have my bus pass that gets me up and down Oxford Road through the different university campuses and up to the city center. Though I have yet to figure out what bus number to use, besides the 141, it’s been incredibly helpful considering things are pretty spread apart. On that note, everyone who used to give me crap for “only having to walk to Paccar” can suck it, because now my walk to class every day takes me at least 20 minutes. I never thought I would envy the UW pre-med students and their walk to class.and built MBS. The city center, bus stations, and Starbucks are very similar to Seattle, but with more people. I feel like Manchester is has a more concentrated population and people have no understanding of what a cross walk is. This is an incredibly diverse and culturally aware city with Chinatown, Curry Mile, and a LGBT area of town. Different languages are thrown around almost as much as gum is thrown on the street (which if you could see the streets around here, you would know is A LOT!) Cigarettes are much more prominent here, enough to actually make me think about second hand smoke, but you still can’t smoke inside which is nice. People are very friendly, especially when they hear my American ‘accent’. Though I think some of them might have been mocking me in the process.

I had my first week of classes last week, and overall they went well. There was nothing too surprising about them and nothing really caught me off guard. I don’t have class on Mondays, which is awesome (though nowhere near as cool as Foster Fridays back home). Professors are very international, but not in the same way as home. The biggest change for me is the way MBS grades. My overall mark (aka grade) is usually based on only a final, or a group project and a final. Though that is not completely unheard of at Foster, the final exam is an essay, which is unheard of. I need to brush up on my topic sentences and paragraph  structure for sure.

The buildings here are both modern and rustic, which can lead to some strange combos, but are beautiful in their own way. Pubs and bars line the streets. Football is a religion. MCR is the acronym for Manchester, which should give nightmares to any current Alpha Chi.  The weather is almost the exact same as Seattle. Taxi’s aren’t yellow but they are everywhere.  The British accents are just as amazing as I thought they would be, but contrary to popular belief, it does not automatically makes someone attractive, it only adds to the allure of pre-existing attractiveness. And I am so excited that I get to call this city my home for the next five months.

I’M FINALLY HERE!!!

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Written by: Sarah Breysse

The first day after we landed wasn’t a real day because all I did was eat and sleep. The next day, Saturday the 19th , we took a train (extremely impressed with the train system here. It isn’t super inexpensive but it is efficient and easy to use,) to Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ve been to Edinburgh before, but the second time was just as amazing as the first, if not better.
Unfortunately we had some serious travel mishaps including me running 2 miles back to our hotel to get our train confirmation number and getting back to the station with only 2 minutes to spare. The second mishap started with my mom asking for directions to our bed and breakfast in Scotland and lead to us on the opposite side of town because the guy gave us the wrong directions. This wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if it wasn’t snowing, windy, and up-hill. On that note, cab drivers around here are not the best at maneuvering through their own city. At least 2 taxi drivers have given us bad directions or taken us to the wrong destination.

We packed a lot of activities into our day in Edinburgh. We started by going to dinner with our old friends who live in the city and it was literally the best. I got to hang out with baby Freddie and then go out for a pint with all the grown-ups. One of the best nights I’ve had in a while and I learned a lot about living in England (including the fact that you have to ask for the check at restaurants, there are no street signs anywhere, and everyone lives in flats.)

The next day my mom and I climbed the stairs of the Scot Monument, toured Holyrood Palace (I felt like Kate Middleton), went through the Castle (it was built in the 12th century and was unbelievable), and had lunch at a little pub right down the street from where they used to do public hangings and just down from where the Germans bombed in WWII. Just from walking down the Royal Mile I learned that Edinburgh is known for their cashmere, to be a city in England the area must have a Cathedral (St. Giles) and the number of kilts are still unflattering on pretty much everyone.The one strange thing I have experienced is repeatedly seeing some random person on the street and thinking they look just like someone I know from home. Even if it’s just a slight resemblance I think it’s one of my friends. Probably just home sickness. Seattle seems like Mars over here.

More on Manchester soon!
xoxo

 

Manchester Bound

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Written by: Sarah Breysse

So as I sit on my couch watching TV thinking about getting through the next couple weeks, while I should be packing, I’ve decided to start my study abroad blog instead. All of you should be extremely excited about this by the way, because it’s about to win a Pulitzer. (I am a horrible writer, please do not judge me.)

I’ll start off with some background. I will be attending the University of Manchester, Manchester Business School. The process has been long and quite a struggle to be completely honest; especially considering I found out I was accepted to the program over a year ago.  The biggest pain in my butt was getting a visa. No, I didn’t have to go down to San Fran to get it like other people, but I did have expensive and unfortunate relationship with the British Embassy in New York after I applied for the wrong type of visa. The UK should really try and clarify their student visa process, (granted I’ve never even thought of applying to come into the US so I admit my bias).  The other rather large issue with “studying” abroad was trying to convince my professors to give me credit towards my degree for actually doing the “studying” that the 6 business classes I’ll be taking require.  This led to many trips to the counseling office and an unreal amount of emails to a very nice guy named Andy at the MBS admin team.

The anticipation is seriously killing me. I would totally hop on the next plane right now and hitch-hike through England just to not have to wait 2 weeks to start my very own, less graphic, version of Eurotrip. I have so much to look forward to and knowing that my beautiful, rustic, and very English single dorm room is waiting for me feels like partial torture.

In all seriousness, I cannot wait to see everything, be everywhere, and meet everyone that I possibly can. Getting out of the GS bubble is going to be a much needed real life wake up call. As much as we all try and deny it, we are pretty sheltered at times. I’m not saying that Manchester is some worldly utopia of life revelations or culture shocks (especially since they speak English), but it is a different country, a different upbringing, and a new educations system. If nothing else, I will at least learn how to use public transportation that actually works.

The waiting continues.

Stay tuned….

xoxo

Musings About the Netherlands

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

By: Evelyne Kolker

I think that the best part of studying abroad is the chance to meander around another country, enjoy a new culture… When we had time to travel around, we wandered all around the Netherlands. My first day trip was to Delft, which is a smaller city to the northwest of Rotterdam.. Unlike Rotterdam, Delft remained intact after World War II, so offers the quintessential Dutch town feel.. There are beautiful canals throughout the city, beautiful old buildings, and a main town square with a church (called the New Church, yet dates back to the 14th century). The Delft Technical University also has a really cool library. Inside it has spiral stair cases, rows of books light up with a blue background, and a lots of places to sit and study. The library has a sloping roof covered with grass that’s great to lounge around on. It’s a delightful town to walk around in.

Evelyn edited

Amsterdam is a huge city that offers an unbelievable variety of things to do. In comparison to Rotterdam, you definitely feel constantly surrounded by tourists. Amsterdam is massive and you can spend days just walking along canals, down streets with handsome buildings. The architecture rivals some of the best cities in Europe. It’s a breathtaking city and you can wander into the Royal Palace or some great museums or just wander in and out of little stores all across the city. One of my favorite experiences in Amsterdam was meeting up a with a family friend who has a Dutch girlfriend. The advantage of knowing someone from Amsterdam is that we ended up going to this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, past the port of Amsterdam. It’s somewhere you would never know about unless someone takes you there. The restaurant is housed in a boat that used to ferry people across the water. The boat is now stationary and houses one of the best seafood restaurants I have ever been to. They serve only locally-grown, fresh food, and was the best way to try out all the different types of seafood Amsterdam has to offer.

Evelyn

We have also headed to little towns around the area. One day we went to The Hague, which has a lot of important government buildings. On a personal note, it has the M.C. Escher museum,

which for me was hands down one of the best things I got to see here in the Netherlands. Escher was a Dutch-born artist and has created some really amazing art work. We headed up to Leiden after looking at one of the famous tulip fields Keukenhof. We also headed to Utrecht and Gouda (yes, as in Gouda cheese;-p). Overall, the Netherlands has a lot of really great places to visit and see.