Europe

Soccer: The International Language

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Written by Charlie Kay, Foster undergraduate

One of my favorite parts about European culture is the fanatical devotion to football, or what we Americans call “soccer”. I’ve been playing soccer in some fashion since I was four years old. I love everything about the sport. But living in America presents a few problems to get my soccer fix on a weekly basis. Not everyone plays the sport, even fewer follow the leagues, and most of the soccer available to us is not top shelf.

But across the pond, it is an integral part of everyday life. Not a day goes by here without playing or watching a match. It is awesome. More importantly, it has allowed me to connect with so many more people. I currently play for two different recreational soccer teams, one intramural team with exchange students from my dorm, and one other team full of Czech guys that my Czech buddy is on. I’ve been playing with people from Brazil, Hong Kong, Spain, Turkey, Canada and a lot of other European countries, but we all speak the same language when we start kicking the ball around. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what kind of life you have; if you can play, you can play. It’s really been amazing to see how it all works.

By far my favorite experience of this experience has been going to a soccer game. It wasn’t just any soccer game, however. It was El Clásico, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, the biggest game in all of club soccer. This is the most heated rivalry in all of sports, bigger than UW vs. Oregon or Wazzu and bigger than Red Sox and the Yankees. The tickets were ridiculously expensive, but I would have paid anything to witness a live match between these two teams. One of my best friends from home is a casual Real fan, and as fan of Barcelona, I knew we had to experience it together. So we bought tickets, headed to Madrid for a weekend, and watched one of the best sporting events in the world. Real Madrid ended up winning 3-1, but Barcelona scored in the first 3 minutes and the place was dead silent. The atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever seen, and I highly doubt I will ever experience something like that again.

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Birthday Celebrations Abroad

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Written by Tara Stamaris, Foster undergraduate

Last weekend was my birthday and to celebrate a group of us from the international program decided to go to Budapest, Hungary!! It was so much fun and the city is absolutely beautiful. I thought I would be sad on my birthday, being away from home and all, but that trip really made me realize how many wonderful friends I have made here. They did everything they could to make sure the weekend was special and it made me realize the friends I have made will be friends for life. We are all in this crazy experience together and I am really glad I have such wonderful people to share these memories with. This is a picture of us on Castle Hill!

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Studying in the World’s Most Livable City

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Written by Will Fantle, Foster undergraduate

I’m now more than halfway through my exchange program at CBS in Copenhagen, and while the days are getting shorter the list of stories continues to grow. Of all the places I’ve been, Copenhagen in my opinion ranks as one of the most livable. The metro system is incredible, and when paired with a bicycle infrastructure designed to accommodate a city with more bicycle commuters than automobile, the city is extremely accessible. Most things are quite expensive, especially eating out, but on the bright side I’ve honed my cooking skills and mastered just about any kind of pasta or chicken combo.

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I’ve met people from all over the world, their stories of home only further fueling my desire to travel (of which I’ve done quite a bit!). So far my highlights have been hiking and kayaking in the fjords of Norway, exploring the glaciers and hot springs of Iceland, and experiencing the history and culture of Berlin and Budapest.

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Ahh yes, and school. CBS is one of the largest business schools in Europe with over 20,000 business students, and 3,500+ international students. The main buildings are beautiful (one of which has its own bar called Nexus that becomes a club on Thursday nights), and campus food is quite good. Library seating is somewhat limited, as is classroom space apparently as I have had several classes held in the movie theater next to campus. The classes are long and the grading system stressful, with 100% of your grade based on the final, consisting of either an oral exam, four-hour written exam, or 48-72 hour take home papers. However, if you manage the work load and listen in class it isn’t as bad as it sounds (or so I’ve been told). I have had no regrets so far, and can’t wait to see what the second half of this adventure will bring!

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Making Foster friendships abroad

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Written by Tara Stamaris, Foster undergraduate

After travelling for a couple of weeks, I have now been in Prague for two weeks and it has been so fun getting to know the city. It is beautiful here and there is so much to see! Along with the main city center called Wenceslas Square, there is Old Town with the most amazing buildings. I am so happy I chose to study here because not only is it beautiful but it is a fun place to live too. It never gets boring, there is always something new to see or do.

A great part of my trip is having someone else from UW here. It can be a little lonely at times when you realize you haven’t known these people for very long. Charlie, the other UW student, and I have been hanging out with the same group of people. It’s so nice knowing we are here to help each other if either of us need anything. For example, I needed to go to the doctors last week and I was scared to go because it wasn’t English speaking and I had never been in a foreign hospital before. Charlie came with me and was there the whole time until I was done. After that experience, I was so grateful to have him here. It is nice having someone to share a common bond with.

Last week we went to a town outside of Prague named Kutna Hora. There is a church there that is decorated with over 40,000 human skeletons and both Charlie and I were really excited to see it. We took a train there and the church was amazing. Afterwards we found a great restaurant and had one of the best meals of my life. Getting to know the Czech Republic outside of Prague is really fun, especially with a fellow UW student!

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New Adventures

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Written by Tara Stamaris, Foster undergraduate

In a couple of weeks, I will have been in Europe for two months. It is crazy how fast the time has gone by, and how much I have learned along the way! The first couple of weeks were a little hard for me. I was missing home and felt out of place in my new foreign home. However as I meet more people and experience more things, it is easy to see how amazing this trip is.

On the weekends a group of us students from school have been going on mini trips to neighboring countries. We have gone to Munich, Germany, Vienna, Austria, and next weekend we are going to Berlin, Germany! These trips are so much fun because we are all new to the environment and are really excited to see and experience new things. We just returned from Vienna and when we were there, we went to the most beautiful palace. It is called the Belvedere Palace and it was breathtaking. Living in the United States, buildings like this simply don’t exist. It was so fun to walk around and see the gardens and rooms inside. Vienna was so romantic and beautiful.

I can’t wait to see where else I end up visiting! Europe is amazing because all of the countries are so close yet so different. Every place I go is different from the last, and every place presents new challenges as well as experiences. I never thought I would be going to new countries every weekend, it’s amazing.

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These are my roommates, the one on the left is Margot and she is from Belgium. The one on the right is Rianne and she is from Holland.

 

Czeching In After 1 Month Abroad

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Written by Charlie Kay, Foster undergraduate

I have officially been in Europe for a month now, and it is really difficult to quantify how much I’ve learned since coming over here. Everyday brings something new, and it has been so much fun learning about and living the Czech culture. The first thing that you notice when you travel to a foreign country is the language. However, unlike most other European countries, Prague and the Czech Republic does not speak a romantic language, their language is slavic. Whereas in Italy or France or Spain you can rely on your basic knowledge of their language and similarities it has with English, in Prague, it is nearly impossible to decipher signs and understand what people are saying. Its even more difficult to speak the language, but I hope to be an expert by the end of the semester. It really helps that most people speak English in Prague.prague 1

Prague might be the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The Gothic architecture, the red rooftops, the Charles Bridge, the Castle, and Old Town Square never cease to amaze me. As beautiful as it is during the day, Prague is even better at night. The way the buildings are illuminated at night make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. Prague isn’t the only amazing place I have spent some time in this month. I had an unforgettable weekend in Munich during Oktoberfest and spent another one in Vienna. Each town has its own different flavor, but everything is just awesome here.prague 2

While school is just starting to ramp up, my favorite part of my time abroad so far is meeting all the people here. I live with an Italian, a German, and a French and it has been so insightful just to learn how each culture does something differently. I have spent so much time just having a beer or coffee and discussing our different ways of life and I think that that is far more valuable than any one class can teach. That being said, having another student from UW at the university has helped me a lot. We have been able to rely on each other when we need help, and it is fair to say I do not know where I would be without her. It is extremely comforting to know someone is going through exactly what you are and it’s making my experience that much better.

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I’m already through a quarter of my trip, but there is so much to see and do before I leave. I’m so excited!

Looking Back

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Written by Davis Brown, Foster undergraduate

When I first arrived at university in Germany I didn’t really know what to expect. I had attempted to prepare for study abroad as much as I could, but there comes a point when you just have to let go and learn things as the experiences happen. This leads into the biggest lesson I learned while on a Foster Exchange; prepare for the unexpected. Throughout studying abroad I ran into my fair share of unexpected situations, both the good and the bad. Things don’t always work out as planned and that is where flexibility and preparation come into play. When things don’t work out, you must be able to go with the flow or resort to “plan B.” At first, the culture shock makes it difficult to figure out what to do next, but as you begin to adapt to a different way of life things slowly come together. By the end of my study abroad experience I was able to find solutions to these unexpected situations and sometimes those solutions were better than the original plan in the first place. All it takes is looking on the bright side of life.

As I look back on my study abroad experience I’m just amazed at how lucky I was to have met such amazing people and learned so many things along the way. I cannot wait for my next chance to visit a new country, learn from their culture, and widen my horizons.  Lastly, going on the exchange was probably one of the best decisions I have made as an undergraduate and I can’t imagine my junior without this amazing experience.

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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.