February, 2014

Time Flies at WHU

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Written by Davis Brown, Foster school undergraduate

 

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It’s almost been two months since I left the University of Washington and arrived in Germany at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management for my study abroad exchange. Time has truly flown by. In the past 7 weeks I have met some amazing exchange students from all around the world, traveled to 4 different countries, and gained an international perspective through my business classes. WHU is very different from UW in many ways, but I think that is what makes it a great university (I still love UW). WHU is a private university with around 1,000 students located in a small town near Frankfurt. It is strictly a business focused university funded by companies throughout the region. These attributes are what made WHU appealing to me. After going to such a large university for 3 years, it has been a very nice change of pace to attend a smaller private university. Walking around campus everyday you run into familiar faces and the small population of the school gives exchange students a real opportunity to get to know people inside and outside of the classroom. The school does an amazing job of integrating exchange students with the rest of the student body, which makes being at another university much easier. From day one, school faculty and student leaders focus on getting exchange students involved, whether that be in clubs, exchange tours, school government, or extracurricular activities. Below are some pictures of the university and my travels so far. Cities include Paris, Barcelona, Brussels, and Cologne. Cannot wait for the next half of my exchange. So much to look forward to.

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What I’ve Learned After 1 Week in Singapore

Friday, February 21st, 2014

written by Jeremy Santos, Foster school undergraduate student

#1) I can drink, but I can’t watch “The Hangover.” Crazy, right?! Some friends and I planned to go to the movie theater today to see “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Back in the US, this movie is rated R, so anyone at least 17 years old can buy a ticket. But here, viewers have to be at least 21! Movie restrictions vary (some to 16, some to 18), so it was interesting to see that TWofWS is currently the only movie with this restriction. I’m speculating that the record number of swear words, along with a few controversial scenes, had something to do with it.

We just ate food instead.

We just ate food instead.

#2) I need a map. The spring semester began this week, and it has felt like freshman year all over again. There are people rushing in every direction; then there’s me, wandering around trying to find the stairwell. I’ve known that I have no idea where my classes are, but I just figured that I’ll eventually find the right classroom! Luckily, I’ve found fellow lost exchange students and helpful locals, so this week has still been fun. I’ll definitely find my own way around campus next week. I have an app on my always-on-airplane-mode smartphone (i.e. essentially a wifi device) that gives directions around the NUS campus, so I should probably start using it!

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#3) Class dynamics at NUS aren’t much different from UW. As I prepared for my 5-month study abroad experience, I heard that class dynamics in Asia as a whole are much different from in the US. I can’t speak for other countries, but courses at NUS could easily be mistaken for courses back home. In class, especially in smaller sections and tutorials (aka quiz sections), students are encouraged to ask questions and engage in class discussions. Grade breakdowns usually consist of multiple exams, projects, and class participation. And classrooms themselves are set up colosseum-style, with curved desks forming a half-circle facing the front of the room. With all of this in mind, it sounds like I’m back at Paccar Hall at UW. It also doesn’t help that courses here focus on American financial markets and Wal-Mart, just like at home.

On the other hand, the diverse student population creates a truly unique learning environment. I’ve met people from all over the world, along with students born and raised in the small but dense melting pot called Singapore. In my short time here, I’ve learned the Singlish word “kiasu,” which refers to the fear of missing out. This fear is a major aspect of Singaporean culture, and it can be seen everyday. People queue up to try popular foods (myself included), and in an academic context, students generally don’t want to miss out on class readings. Many courses require readings obtained from the library, which may have only a few copies. Because of the fear of missing out on testable readings, I saw students rush to the library to start studying on the very first day of the semester. While others begin poring through textbooks, I’m still trying to figure out where the bookstore is! Despite the competitive environment here at NUS, I’m not too worried about my classes. Most students are taking classes only in their major, but I’m also taking two non-business modules that don’t seem too difficult. I’m here to have fun, make friends, eat good food, and avoid any dips in my GPA!

Guten Tag from Germany – The International Winter Academy

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Written by Kat Li, Foster School undergraduate student

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Since the course schedule of the University of Mannheim is not really in sync with that of UW’s, I had the opportunity to arrive a month beforehand and participate in the University’s International Winter Academy. It’s basically an intensive German language course (4 hours per day, 5 days a week!) lasting the entire month of January. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take it at first (instead of traveling around Europe for a month), but it turned out to be a great decision.

Because of the sheer amount of hours spent each day in class, my German improved dramatically. I went from only being about to understand really basic phrases to being able to understand, speak and read significantly better. In addition to the classes in the morning/afternoon, there were optional seminars we could attend in the evenings. Their topics ranged from grammar and phonetics to German history and literature.

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And no, it wasn’t all work! There were excursions 2-3 times a week to neighboring cities and attractions within Mannheim. One memorable trip I went on was to Heidelberg, an old city completely un-destroyed during WWII. We took a tour of the ruins of the castle there, which was destroyed by the French in the 17th century. Inside was the largest wine barrel I’ve ever seen, with a capacity of around 220,000 liters!

Finally, because only about 80 international students attended the Winter Academy, we became a pretty close group. We were able to become good friends before the huge group of about 600 international students arrived in February. Participating in the Winter Academy was wunderbar and now I’m looking forward to starting the semester!

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A Trip to the Stonehenge and Bath, England

Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Fish and Chips in downtown Brighton

Fish and Chips in downtown Brighton

Written by Giovanna Tapia, Foster School undergraduate

It is hard to capture just how amazing my study abroad experience in England was in words or even in writing. I think that no matter how long I go on talking or writing about it, I will never be able to do justice to all that I experienced. It was truly a period in my life that I will never forget, and always cherish. The people I met, the places I visit, the lessons I learned; all of it was unnaturally perfect. Even the mistakes I made along the way were perfect, as I grew and learned from every experience during my time abroad.

One of the highlights of my time in England was visiting the Stonehenge attraction. I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed trip, which was put on by the school specifically for international students. I had not gone expecting too much since a lot of my English friends did not seem to be very impressed with the Stonehenge (in fact many of them had not even visited it). But of course, as it the case with most people, we often take for granted what is easily accessible to us. The Stonehenge was much more amazing in person than I could have imagined and the history behind it made it even more phenomenal.

The next stop on the trip was the city of Bath, which I honestly didn’t know too much about but feel so incredibly glad that I visited. It is honestly such a breathtaking city; everything about it was perfect. The architecture was amazing (every building was so adorably European). It really felt like I had stepped into a fairytale, which I realize sounds extremely cheesy but it was so perfectly picturesque.  I think it helped that the weather was absolutely amazing (who would of thought I’d see the sun in England!). The Roman Baths were probably one of the most interesting parts of our tour in Bath. It was incredible to be standing somewhere with so much historical significance. Although much of it has been reconstructed, a lot of the original remains still stand today, so it was a bit mind blowing to be standing somewhere where people used to congregate and meet to socialize thousands of years ago! Although we weren’t in Bath for too long we made good use of our time and were able to see most of the major tourist attractions including the Roman Baths, Abbey Church, The Circus, Royal Crescent, and Pulteney Bridge.

This was of course just a snippet of one of the many wonderful moments while abroad. As I have mentioned before, I do not think I can ever fully explain how much of a life changing and fulfilling experience studying abroad. I feel fortunate enough to have been able to be living in England for four months, and even travel to other European countries during my time there. I know that the people who get to study abroad are few, and so I cannot explain how fortune I feel to have been able to experience it.