Europe

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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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.

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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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!

Surrealism Paris

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Written by: Benjamin Conrad, Foster School undergraduate, Exploration Seminar to Paris

Dinner in ParisOne of the best experiences I had while studying in Paris was a trip I took to the outskirts the city to the Isle of Impressionists. This island was hosting a music festival that I thought would be a really fun excursion. My program’s material involved activities where the suspension of normal motives was necessary. On several occasions we were asked to wander around the city and “get lost”, leaving from point A without any sense of point B. This led to plenty of cool experiences and a much more involved exploration of the city and its people. While sometimes disorienting, this mode of exploration transferred a bit into my time at the festival, and I don’t believe I would have seen such cool art or heard such good music without it.

Paris was an awesome place to socialize in because it was such an international city. Many of the people I met and friends I made were from all over the world, and it seemed that I met less Parisians than anything else. The festival was no different, and I ended up making friends with people from New Zealand, Denmark, and Canada. It was really interesting to explore common interests at the festival with people who came from such different cultures. I was also very lucky to spend so much time with people who spoke English so well, as my French is atrocious. Plenty of the time I relied on other people in the program to help me communicate, but because I went to the festival by myself, I could have had much more trouble if I didn’t meet such outgoing people. This festival really had me investigating much of the different cultural aspects of Paris, and is an example of how fantastic my time abroad was.

The festival on the Isle of Impressionists was an amazing experience. The food, the people and the atmosphere all contributed to one of the best days I had in France. The day I spent there was fantastic, and I don’t think I’ll forget it anytime soon.

Come to Norway, Meet the World

Monday, October 14th, 2013

by Vi Nguyen 

After spending six weeks at the International Summer School, I have the ability to say that with my personal experience, the ISS has beyond succeeded with their motto of “Come to Norway, meet the world.” I was able to not only meet wonderful Norwegian people but also others from all over the world. Each year the ISS invites hundreds of students from all over the world to learn about their culture, language and other subject areas. Towards the end of the program, the ISS hosts an event called “The ISS Culture Night.” This is an event where the students at the ISS wear their traditional costumes from their home country and performs their traditional dances. Before the show, they also have booths representing each country where they reveal their traditional customs with finger foods, history, etc. Because of this event, I was able to learn a lot about other countries but in particular I learned a lot about South Africa and Georgia.

Vi Nguyen in Norway

Set aside from the school experience, I encountered a culture difference that I often retell to my friends and family. It is rather a funny situation now that I think about it.

It was a Sunday evening and because everything is closed on Sundays the traditional thing to do on Sundays is to catch a movie at Saga’s movie theatre. My friend and I decided to watch Pacific Rim. As I ordered the movie ticket, the cashier asked where I would like to sit during the movie. I casually responded it doesn’t matter where I sit…having the thought that I would enter the movie theatre and decide where to sit where there’s availability just like here in the states. The cashier continued to bother me with the question of where I would like to sit, do I want to sit in the back or in the middle…I then got a little frustrated and responded o.k. I’m just going to go in and sit where there’s availability o.k. ? The cashier then respectfully explained to me that here in Norway when ordering your movie tickets you also receive assigned seats. I was not aware of this difference, and felt terrible…I then apologized and was assigned a seat in the middle. This was one of many culture differences that I have encountered. I have learned to be more aware and respect the culture differences.

CHID Study Abroad to Munich

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Written by: Antonio Ortoll

It would be extremely difficult to resume my study abroad experience in one page. However, there were a few things that really changed the way in which I originally perceived the German culture. One of them would be the differences between Bavaria, and the rest of Germany. Germany is advertised to tourists in a very distinctive way. As a tourist, I expected to see most German people wearing a tracht at festivals, eating oversized pretzels, and drinking large amounts of beer. While this was true for Munich, places like Berlin were not as traditional in that aspect. In fact, not only the overall costumes were different, but also, there was a bit of a language barrier between Germans from Berlin and Munich. When our program director communicated to waitresses and waiters at restaurants in Berlin, a few things had to be repeated or clarified.

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Aside from that, I had the opportunity to interact with many locals. And for the first time, I experienced a low-context culture, where communication is usually taken at face value. Throughout my life, I have lived among cultures where non-verbal cues are subject to multiple interpretations. Learning about these differences will help me cope well in multinational businesses in which I intend to work in the future. Along with that, it was interesting to learn about their views on customer satisfaction. I had always believed that most people had the same customer service expectations, regardless of what part of the world they were from. I was wrong, Germans don’t value or identify with a charismatic server, but instead, they expect efficiency and perfection.

This sense of efficiency and perfection is very-well projected and the way German cities are constructed and organized. The public transportation is simple to use and extremely punctual for departures and arrivals. This punctuality in transportation, always allowed us to visit many places in one day, despite the fact that we were travelling long distances. Throughout the month, I had the opportunity to visit many holocaust monuments, which transported me back to times of political conflict and hardship. And also, I visited King Ludwig’s castles that transported me back in time just by looking at their well-constructed medieval structure. Every day spent in Germany was unique and exceptional. Travelling abroad has definitely changed my outlook on life. I’m very grateful to have been welcomed to be part of this incredible program. I couldn’t have asked for more.

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.