Business Exchange Program

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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Journey to the French Atlantic Coast

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Written by Nashua Springberry, Foster undergraduate

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An amazing thing about Nantes is its close proximity to the beach. It happens to be a quick 45 min train ride to the beautiful French coastal city of La Baule. On two separate weeks me and my crew of multicultural adventurers made the journey to La Baule. Our first trip to La Baule was plagued by inclement weather. We had gone to see a triathlon that was being set up by the French students from Audencia. The day ended poorly after frigid weather and rain forced our early egress from the city. The highlight of the day being when one poor French student organizer got thrown into ocean by his comrades after the swimming portion of the triathlon was drawing to a close.

The next weekend we repeated our trek to La Baule in a very packed TGV train. This time the forecast was fantastic and we were not alone in wanting use the last expected weekend of good weather before the fall cold really set in – it seemed like half of Nantes was with us. Our day at the beach was much more enjoyable this time around. We hung out on the beach, took in some sun, listened to electro music (the Europeans are obsessed with electro), drank some wine, hit the water, and even played a pick-up game of beach soccer in which my American led contingent dominated the match. Afterwards we all grabbed the very delicious and highly addictive doner kebabs (sliced meat served in a pita often with French fries – as opposed to meat on stick) to cap off a great afternoon. All in all it was one amazing day in which I came back exhausted but at the same time refreshed – ready to take on the next adventure France had in store.

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A day of “Chateauing” in France

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Written by Nashua Springberry, Foster Undergraduate

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A great part about going to Audencia is the International Connection Team (commonly referred to as the IC Team). Audencia has a large amount of exchange students. This is largely due to a requirement that each Audencia student has to spend a semester aboard before they can graduate which means that have a lot of partnerships with universities all over the world, and consequently a lot of students doing an exchange at Audencia. For example, in one of my classes there were students from France, Germany, Spain, Austria, The Unites States, China, the Philippines, Korea, India, Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico, Nigeria, and Brazil – all in one class!!! The IC Team’s job is to help integrate all of these internationals students into the Audencia community and help make their time at Audencia incredible – quite the daunting task. As part of this mission they would frequently organize events and excursions, once such excursion was a day trip to two Chateaus in France – complete with a wine tasting, a classic French picnic and 6 hours of driving all over France’s Western Loire region.

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The day started early with the charter bus leaving Audencia around 8am. We proceeded to go the first Chateau. Where we were given a grand tour of the subterranean residence where some of the Chateaus first occupants would flee to in times of siege. We also toured their ancient kitchens and some residential rooms. At the conclusion of the tour we tasted some wine from the Chateau’s very own vineyards. We then proceeded to have an enormous French picnic which consists of several key elements, they are: wine, banquets, salami, cheese, and more wine. Afterwards we continued on to the next Chateau. Most of the group passed out at this point but not before the IC team president got done interviewing trip attendees from different countries. Being an American I was not exempt from this and got grilled in front of the entire bus on such exciting topics as: French government officals (could I name the PM of France?), the French Language, French culture, and French women. Finally we arrive at the second and final Chateau. This huge chateau was chalk full of tourists and was built onto a river. I toured the Chateau’s extensive gardens while making deepening connections with other international students. The whole trip was very satisfying and we concluded the day with a group photo. A group of students from all different backgrounds brought together to enjoy beautiful ancient architecture, French history, good wine, and most importantly – good company.

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ROA at WHU

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

written by Dane Johnson, Foster School undergraduate

Brain exanding during group project1I’ve come close a few times during my academic career, but never before studying abroad at WHU in Germany had I worked completely through the night and up until class the next morning to finish any assignment or study for any test. My Real Options Analysis class at WHU led me to do this twice and something close to this on three other occasions. Even though the class was very tough for me, I liked the feeling that I had learned more in this six week period than during any other comparable amount of time. Because the course was based on group case studies, I also got to know a few new friends who helped me sharpen my quantitative skills and taught me some really useful skills on excel. Our group members represented China, Canada, the US, France, and Germany- meaning I gained an international perspective that you can only find by building personal relationships. While I am happy to be home again, leaving my other home in Germany was a struggle. If someone asks me about ROA or working harmoniously in a multicultural setting, I’d like to think that my term abroad gave me a solid thing or two to say!

Yonsei Changed My Life…

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Written by: Ki Moon, Foster School undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Korea

“Change your mind and it will change your life.” I changed my mind by choosing to study at the Yonsei University by applying through the Foster School of Business. Prior to my decision of going abroad, I relied heavily on the familiarity of my life; I was so afraid of the unfamiliar and often times said to myself that “I’ve never done that before, I’ve never been over there, and I’ve never hung out with these people.” However, I came to the realization that sometimes you need to go out of the comfort zone, and as cliché as that sounds, it’s very true.

On August 22nd of 2013, I checked into the SK Global House, which is one of the two international dorm buildings built for international and exchange students. I signed up for the single dorm because I read prior recommendations that it would give me space to quietly study. Also, you get your own bathroom, which I believe is a must. This was also the first time that I got the chance to dorm. Back at UW, I’m a daily commuter from the eastside area, so living at home was always part of my college experience. However, this was different and I enjoyed every dose of this part of the experience. For one, living by myself helped me to understand so much about myself. I found out that I’m much more capable of handling my responsibilities and chores. It’s just that I never had the chance to prove it or show it to anyone. One thing I’m really good at now is doing my laundry. Let me tell you, the first laundry experience, using the coin laundry system at the first floor of the SK Global House, was traumatizing. After washing and drying all of my cotton shirts on the high settings, I came back to my dorm and realized that majority of my large-sized cotton shirts turned into women’s x-small. I laughed about it and never did that again!

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The business building at Yonsei University

The one hard part about living on your own is the food. There is no meal plan when you choose to stay at the dorms. That means you need to figure out a way to crunch your appetite. Back home, this was like an automatic no-worry matter. Mom would always cook three healthy meals for me a day, but at Yonsei there were many times when I skipped my meals. Of course, there is McDelivery, which is a delivery service available at the McDonalds in Korea. I used that plenty of times – three o’clock in the morning McChicken and BigMacs will be unforgettable.

Now let me tell you about my first day in class. First of all, all of my business courses were taught in English. I had one professor who had a very strong accent but understanding him was no problem. Since I am fluent in Korean and am very familiar with the broken English that my parents speak, I could easily understand what the professor wanted to say. All courses, at least the ones that I was enrolled in, were pretty straightforward. You will have to do at least one lengthy group presentation (groups are either assigned to you or you get to pick your group members), take one midterm and one final (most are based on multiple choice format), and have to have good classroom participation (showing up to class). The coursework load is very minimal, which means you have a lot of free time after classes. Usually, this can be a good or bad thing. For me, I started to procrastinate leading up to my first midterm, and then I got the wake-up call. But don’t worry because the UW has prepared us so well to study and manage ourselves in any kind of academic setting.

Meeting new people and making new friends can be a challenge anywhere, and it was especially harder to do as an exchange student. Many exchange students felt the same. The biggest problem for this is because the exchange students live in a secluded part of the Yonsei campus. When class ends, all of the exchange students usually head back to that part of the campus. It won’t be easy making friends with students who are regular Yonsei attendees. The best recommendation which I came across is to sign-up for the extracurricular clubs provided and managed by the Yonsei students. This is done during the first couple weeks of school. I highly recommend this opportunity. Also, sign-up for the Mentors Club, which is designed to match one regular Yonsei student who will accompany you by eating lunch with you, studying with you, and familiarizing you with the Yonsei student life.

All in all, words can’t even express how much I enjoyed the study abroad experience. It’s hard to put all of the memorable and valuable pieces of this experience into such short blog post, but my time in Korea has been truly worthwhile.

Thanksgiving in France

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

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Written by Nashua Springberry, Foster Undergraduate

Believe it or not almost no other country on the planet celebrates thanksgiving with the sole exception being Canada (but let’s be honest they celebrate it on the wrong day anyway). A great part of studying abroad is sharing your cultural rituals and traditions with other people. In my program there was only four other Americans besides me and one of these four Americans, my good friend Kelsey, was determined  to share the great holiday of Thanksgiving with all of our new internationals friends – all of whom (besides those Canadians) had never had a Thanksgiving dinner before in their lives! So Kelsey made a casual post on our communal facebook group page inviting anyone and everyone to join her for Thanksgiving dinner – she would just need some volunteers to help cook and everyone to chip in ten dollars so she can go grocery shopping and buy all the necessary goodies.

Well turns out our international friends were dying to experience a Thanksgiving dinner and the amount of interest was overwhelming. All told Kelsey had 48 people sign up for Thanksgiving dinner. She then frantically went up trying to deliver on the promised dinner. Let me tell you, you would think cooking dinner for 48 people would be impossible – try buying 48 peoples worth of thanksgiving food at a French grocery store – the same grocery stores that didn’t sell full turkeys. In the end we settled on 13 chickens, vast quantities of potatoes, enough homemade stuffing material for a small town (I’m still sure there are leftovers), multiple jugs of wine, and an immense amount of ice cream. Getting all of that home using one shopping cart and three people was almost has hard as making the dinner itself. After much labor and volunteer work we completed the American feast. Before digging in on that joyus Thursday everyone went around the room saying what they were thankful for – in true American style – with a French twist.

No Trek for Amateurs

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Written by: Rebecca Ruh, Foster School Undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Chile

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About halfway through my time in Santiago, my fellow Coloradan friend asked me if I would like to join him for a day of hiking just on the outskirts of Las Condes, una comuna in the city of Santiago. Loving the outdoors and hiking, I leapt at the offer.

What began as a leisurely hike soon transformed into a workout for pros. The first hour passed relatively easy but the following five entailed much exhaustion due to the steep incline and lack of tread on my shoes. After all, the desert sand was no match for my indoor running shoes. As we passed the other hikers clad with trekking poles and professional gloves, they scoffed at the sight of these American amateurs. One lady, with a pitying look on her face even gave me one of her poles saying that I would need it for the journey down the mountain and she was more than right.

rebecca2When we finally ascended the summit and trudged through the snow up top, quite different from the desert sand when we began our journey, the smell of victory was in the air. After finishing 15 miles of pure uphill battle 20 minutes from the center of the city, I felt so proud. First it was amazing that such a view lay so close to the heart of Santiago, much less that we could take in the skyline since we had climbed much higher than the view-hindering pollution now below us. Secondly, this was the thrill that I seek – exploring a region, seeing cacti to snow in the matter of several thousand meters, and talking to the locals about this hidden gem of a view that lay before us. Couldn’t get much better than that. The best 11 hours to spend a Sunday. Man, I love this country.

El Dieciocho the Chilean Way

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Written by: Rebecca Ruh, Foster School Undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Chile

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For el dieciocho, a Chilean celebration of independence on September 18th, I desired to spend it with Chileans. Some other foreign exchange students invited me to travel with them, but I yearned for the true Chilean experience. After all, spending one of the biggest Chilean holidays with a bunch of gringos wouldn’t give me a true sense of the special day, but more of an Americanized version. So when one of my Chilean friends invited me to join him and 14 of his guy friends in Algarrobo on the coast, I immediately said yes.

To tell you the truth, I’d only talked with this “friend” two times prior to his invitation and so joining him and all of his friends in a house for four days seemed a little risky, but at the same time I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to make more friends and experience la Fiesta Patria the Chilean way. Plus I figured that it is situations like these where putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is more than necessary and often results in spontaneous fun, often better than anything planned.

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In a matter of four days, these Chileans introduced me to a holiday to be remembered. The days were filled with the beach, volleyball, paddleball, and flea markets while the evenings with piscolas (pisco and coca cola) and wine paired with enough meat to feed an army. Then when midnight hit, we’d make way to the fonda, a fair, with terremotos and chicha (two famously sweet Chilean drinks), churros with manjar, and la Cueca (a traditional Chilean dance), only to return to the house to continue storytelling.

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In addition to experiencing and learning so much about Chilean culture, I met some great friends who welcomed me with open arms and included me in every activity. I felt beyond comfortable and anything but anxious and worrisome. I’m so thankful for days like these and the adventurous spirit that pushes me to test my boundaries.