Business Exchange Program

Bucket List Item #22…Check

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

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

This past weekend Diego, my Peruvian friend, and Lisbeth, my Spanish amiga, accompanied me to Valparaíso, a port city about an hour and a half from Santiago. Amongst our exploring of the city filled with the brightest walls, an interesting stay at a hostel, visiting one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, and sampling anticuchos (cow heart) and sopapillas from street vendors, we made our way a little further up the coast to Con Con to take a whirl at sandboarding

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When we arrived I was shocked to see such a view – sand dunes towering high above the ocean with its majestic blue waters directly below us. With only three other small groups there, it felt like we had the land to ourselves, all the better so fewer people could gape at our amateur boarding skills and smirk at our clumsy wipeouts (even though I found great pleasure in laughing at my ineptness). Our first attempts down the massive dunes culminated in trips and spills, becoming very familiar with the rough sand. But soon, paving our way down the dunes became more natural and my confidence in my sandboarding abilities grew. As we descended the hills and the sun cast its rays on the water, I soaked in the skyline, ingraining it on my mind, vowing to never forget this moment directly before my eyes. I couldn’t believe it – crossing bucket list item #22, sand-boarding, from my list for a grand total of $3 with some of the most breathtaking scenery halfway around the world and great company. You could say I am one lucky girl.

Travel Tips

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Written by: Jennifer Bullion

Overall I loved my trip abroad and learned a lot but not every situation was a great one. I have some tips that will hopefully help you from making the same mistakes and maybe save you an uncomfortable night.

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Les Caves- A club in a cave, it’s an experience.

Double Check last train times.

I spent the night in the Brussels train station because I check frequency of train assuming they went all night or until midnight.

Train Stations do not close.

With a ticket the police will not kick you out of the train station. I was approached by a man who said he was a taxi driver and that the station closed and I would be kicked out on the street. That was not the case.

Don’t bring purses into clubs or hold them.

While walking through a crowed club I was pickpocketed and they got everything in my purse without me noticing at all.

Paris: My Home Away From Home

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Written by: Jennifer Bullion

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I visited my friend in Paris early in my trip and fell so in love with the city and people that I went back almost every weekend.

The bus systems in Europe make it really easy to get to other countries for cheap. By bus it was around $35 each way to get to Paris, but using Megabus you get to places for $12 but they only go to Amsterdam not Rotterdam. You can also get very cheap tickets for the train or Frya (high-speed train), the train is really comfortable and a lot quicker than buses.

 

RSM Housing

Monday, August 5th, 2013
RSM, Jennifer Bullion

This is the pond on the walk from the metro station to campus.

Written By: Jennifer Bullion

I stayed in the F – Building on campus; it was perfect for me because I did not have a roommate. I have never lived on my own so it was something I wanted to experience. The campus was under construction throughout the entire time I was there, but it wasn’t an inconvenience. There were about 12 students studying at RSM that came just for Spring Quarter, I was the only one staying in the F Building all the other students stayed in the Student Hotel or the other student housing. The other student houses are on a main road close to bars and I think it is easier to run into other students because they have community areas. The F – building did not have an area that made it easy to meet your neighbors. You can walk to the bars from campus but it’s a hike, if you take the tram it is only 3 or 4 stops. It is not very far, but since the last tram that stops at campus is around 1:15 am a lot of nights I did not go out, but I did not go to Erasmus to go to bars. Depending on the experience you want choose the right housing, it will probably make or break your trip.

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

My time at Yonsei

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Written by: Agnes Kim

One of the best parts of going to Yonsei was the experience of getting to meet new people from all over the world. Yonsei’s student exchange system is truly a world-class exchange program; more than 40 nations were represented by the diverse student nationalities. The opportunity to meet people of so many different backgrounds and cultures was very eye opening.
Often it can be difficult to truly grasp that out there is a world, a world in which all types of people can be found and that, just as often, these people can be radically different than yourself. Many people spend their whole lives surrounded by familiar experiences, people, and settings that never truly challenge their lives. It was truly an eye-opening lesson to find that your local and personal experiences and stories are not things that can simply be assumed to be true–the lives of others of others are so radically different from your own, even as they are taken for granted just as lightly from their point of view. And maybe it was because everyone’s story was different from each other’s but rather than having these differences separate everyone, it ironically ended up being a common thread that everyone could share and relate to. Especially in today’s globalized world, to be forced to learn first-hand that differences are gaps to be bridged rather than ignored at the expense of finding yourself friendless and a loner is a pretty humbling and valuable lesson.

At the same time, it was strange to see that this experience doesn’t exactly translate back at home either. Just as my own personal experiences or views were difficult for other people from around the world to grasp fully, I’ve found that now my experiences abroad aren’t easily understood by friends and family who stayed home, who haven’t seen what I did as well.
When meeting people abroad, they at the very least have the benefit of knowing that a lack of communication went both ways. Yet it’s strange and interesting to find that back home, people listen to your story and because of your familiarity, friendship, or kinship believe or pretend to understand when in truth they don’t. I was in that position before this trip and now know that I didn’t understand then. It’s an odd sensation to come home feeling you’ve grown and changed so much after having learned that there’s a world out there so big it could crush you, yet it seems everything is exactly as I left it since I left. I guess you call that growing up.
However, I also did notice that, particularly at Yonsei, studying abroad can be and is what you make of it. Although there are so many opportunities to see new things, it’s just as easy to stay insulated and see nothing new at all. This was a problem highlighted by the fact that the dormitories and even the associated lecture halls for foreign and exchange students are all gathered and stuck on one corner of the Yonsei campus away from everything else, being secluded and separated.

It can be very tempting to do nothing but take English courses taught by English professors in a class with English students while living in an English housing complex and only make English friends who you only go out in English districts and areas with. Although there’s nothing wrong with that since making new friends and networking is always a great thing. Plenty of the other exchange students, especially those from systems such as the EAP-UC programs that intentionally put you in that environment, did exactly just that. But I think if you’re bothering to go to another country and are surrounded by a global environment, it’s short-sighted to not take advantage of the experience to see a bit of the world and I’m glad to have put myself out there and did things out of my comfort zone and gained valuable experiences that are difficult to come by. I would strongly urge anyone considering studying abroad to do the same.

One of the most interesting cultural differences that I was able to observe in Korea was the drinking culture. Korea was recently mentioned in online research articles about worldwide drinking habits as the nation with the highest alcohol consumption rate per capita in the world and my experience at Yonsei definitely showed me that side of Korean culture; it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that the capital of Seoul could easily steal the moniker of ‘the city that never sleeps’ from New York. The most fascinating thing about the drinking culture though was that it seemed to be so deeply tied to the social ladder and work environment. Alcohol serves not only as a rite of passage for newly graduated high school students (the legal age of consumption is 19) but as an engine of social cohesion and professional networking. Whether it is with groups of personal friends, student organizations, or work functions, there are nightly outings attached with the unspoken implication that your presence is required and alcohol must be consumed in order for you to be truly accepted into the fold.
This was both fascinating and baffling when in western culture alcohol is generally considered as simply being a social lubricant that isnt necessary for acceptance among your peers. Whether this is due to the Korean alcohol soju and rice wines being so inexpensive that they are unavoidable or because there is a separate underlying cultural reason I couldn’t tell. But I can attest to the culture shock that you can go through after witnessing a society that functions so normally despite having the level of nightly alcohol consumption and social outings.