Europe

Differences

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Written by Evan Daus, Foster School undergraduate student, studying at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

Navarra15_EDaus1

This past semester, I attended the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. At UNAV, I studied in their Economics and Business department.

I loved my experience at UNAV, but there were some differences that I found very strange in the way that UNAV operated relative to UW.

The University of Navarra is a catholic school, and the presence of the church is plain to see. Nuns and priests are common on campus and have significant influence in the administration of the university. In the front of every classroom, there is a crucifix hanging on the wall, and religious art is frequently on display in the libraries of the university. The strict catholic nature of the university was most prevalent among students who lived on campus; the nuns and priests are in charge of the on-campus living and strictly enforce a curfew at 10 pm. Students in these residence halls are required to have a signed note from their parents if the wish to spend a night outside of the dorms.

The dress code at the University of Navarra was very surprising as well. Athletic gear was strictly forbidden inside any school building, excluding the gym. This rule was enforced and students wearing any type of shorts, tank tops, or similar attire were forced to leave.

Another notable difference was the emphasis that the University of Navarra puts of recreational sports and activities. At the University of Navarra, sports are extremely popular and virtually all of the students practice one or more sports. The nice weather during my semester also contributed to the frequency at which we practiced soccer, tennis and other sports.

My study abroad experience opened my eyes to a different campus lifestyle. I cannot say with certainty which style I prefer, but each has some aspects which I love.

Exploring Europe

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

 

 

Written by Evan Daus, Foster School undergraduate student, studying at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

 

Navarra15_EDaus3

 

After the completion of my semester abroad, I decided to see more of Europe before returning to the United States, but my difficulty was deciding where to go! In Europe there are 51 different countries, each of which is unique and contains a variety of different cultures, and each of which I would love to visit.

In the end, I decided to book a series of the cheapest flights around Europe and just see what I find in each destination! That is how I ended up in Lithuania.

Lithuania is not a common tourist destination, but it should be. I arrived in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania and stayed in a lovely hostel within walking distance to almost everything within the small city. Vilnius was lit up for Christmas and the streets were full of Christmas markets, selling wooden handicrafts, amber jewelry and mulled wine.

The Lithuanian people were extremely warm and friendly. They always seemed to smile and were quick to start conversations with me.

I also traveled outside of Vilnius to the region of Trakai, where I visited the misty lakes, parks and forests of the region. The most beautiful part of Trakai is its island castle, which is only accessible by walking over a pleasant series of bridges connecting the various islands on the lake.

Lithuania was an unexpected delight and I cannot recommend it highly enough. On my next trip to Europe, I wish to visit all of the Baltic countries, including Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which are all inexpensive and well-connected with buses and trains.

Your Plan Sucks and You Deserve to Know It

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Written by Foster Undergraduate, Crowin Franklin

Navarra15_CFranklin3

“Why did you choose X city in X country?” If you’re about to embark on your study abroad adventure, you are surely going to be getting this question a lot from friends/family/etc. I believe that if you’re anywhere near normal, you will most likely have an exhaustive answer at the ready to shoot out proudly in response to this question. After studying abroad in Pamplona, Spain, I’m here to tell you that the “perfect plan” you’ve developed could possibly be the worst decision you’ll ever make.

Navarra15_CFranklin1

My plan before I left included my language goals, the types of friends I would make, the places I would visit, and even the sorts of pictures I would take. I was so bad that I spent much of the anxious few days before my departure imagining full length conversations between myself and the people I would be meeting, acting out word-for-word how our exchanges would play out.

About a month into my semester abroad, I realized I wasn’t on track. I started worrying that my study abroad experience wouldn’t be a “success.” I tried to sideline the thought as best as I could, but it was always hanging over me to some extent throughout the rest of my semester. Don’t get me wrong; I still had amazing experiences and formed lasting friendships, but something wasn’t quite clicking. It wasn’t until my last two weeks abroad after my semester ended that everything came together. I decided to travel alone through five countries, starting in Morocco, seeing as much as I could as quickly as I could. However, on my first stop in Marrakech, I met a young traveler who taught me this simple truth:

Enthusiasm is a skill, not a feeling. If you impart all of your excitement unto the world, you will only ever see your own stock increase.

Navarra_CFranklin2

This lesson hit me like a train. I realized that my lack of fulfillment came because of my damn plan. If I wasn’t hitting my checklist on the nose, I was feeling like I failed in some way. I began making every aspect of my adventure the greatest thing ever in my head. From meals to sights, people, and more, everything began to take the shape of the energy I brought to it.

On paper, the last two weeks of my study abroad trip looked horrendous. From badly spraining my ankle in my first destination, to losing hundreds of euros on having to switch and cancel flights, to being stranded in the Airport, unsure if I would make it back for Christmas, the trip looked like a failure. However, the past two weeks have been the greatest of my life. I’ve never spent so much time smiling.

My friend, if you’re reading this, please believe me when I say your plan likely sucks. Only your own positive energy will bring you the satisfaction you’re looking for.

The End to the Escape

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Written by Foster Undergraduate, Connie Hu

CBS15_CHu10

As exchange was coming to an end, I just wanted to make the most of my time. I had two last trips planned: one to Paris and Barcelona, and the other to Prague and Budapest. My best friend from Portland flew to Europe to celebrate her 21st birthday with me. It was amazing being able to explore two beautiful cities with her. We made such fond memories admiring art in Paris and admiring the architecture in Barcelona. Barcelona was especially fun for us because we really enjoyed the culture. I was also able to show her Copenhagen!

 

Looking back, it is crazy to think about how I almost did not go to Prague and Budapest, but I am extremely glad I did! Prague was breathtaking, and so was Budapest. Both cities were the most affordable places I had traveled to. I was overjoyed to have had three course meals at 5 star restaurants for only $20! I was also so excited to have experienced the baths in Budapest; I bathed outside in 30 degree weather!

 

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

All in all, my exchange: trips around Europe and living and studying in Copenhagen will always hold a special place in my heart. I had some of the best times of life and was able to experience things I never thought I would experience. My last month was spent finishing exams in Copenhagen, hanging out with the amazing friends I made there, and further exploring the city. I will never forget what an incredible impact studying abroad made on my life and I will continue sharing my stories about it for a long time to come.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Experiencing Europe

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Guest Post by Alexandra Martyanova, Foster School Undergraduate Student.

Travel – The easiest way to reach any of the three airports in Milan (Linate, Malpensa, Bergamo) is to take the metro or tram to Central Station and hop on a shuttle bus. It’s quite affordable (8-12 Euro depending on which airport) and probably offers the least amount of hassle. When initially arriving in Milan you will most likely fly into Linate or Malpensa; Malpensa is quite a ways out of town and even further from the Arco dorm residences. I highly recommend taking the shuttle from Malpensa instead of the train into town as it is cheaper, faster, and it’s much easier to load your luggage in a bus bay then on the train. The shuttle buses go to Central Station and you can catch a cab from there to Arco for about 20 Euro – between the travel and luggage, it beats attempting to navigate the public transportation system right out of the gate.

Martyanova_Italy_2015_4

I encourage everyone to take the train in Italy at least once (to Venice, or Rome, or Florence) for the experience. We don’t really have the same train infrastructure back in the states and it can be a great way to see the countryside. However, depending on the destination, it can frequently be cheaper to fly than to take the train if sticking to one of the myriad low-cost airlines in Europe.

Martyanova_Italy_2015_2

 

Money – It’s best to arrive in Europe with a little bit of the local currency in cash form because it will make your life a little bit easier if paying for shuttles, or cabs. While many airport currency exchange kiosks can be a rip-off, it may be worth the fees/exchange rates so you have some 30-40 Euros on hand to hit the ground running. Prior to leaving Seattle, check with your bank regarding international and transaction fees: BECU charges only a 1% fee for withdrawing abroad or using the card at point of sale. Some banks will charge you a percentage in addition to a foreign transaction fee ($2.50/transaction with US Bank). I was able to easily get by in most cities in Europe with a combination of some local currency, my BECU Mastercard bank card for larger purchases and a VISA credit card that had no foreign transaction fees whatsoever.

The City of Pamplona

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Written by Evan Daus, Foster School undergraduate student, studying at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

Navarra15_EDaus2

The city of Pamplona, Spain, where I lived during my semester abroad, was incredible.

I did little research about Pamplona before I left for my exchange, because I wanted it to be a surprise. Everyone I met who had been there had told me that it was nice, but that it was a small town. My home town has about 20,000 people, so when I heard that Pamplona was small, I imagined that it would have about 10 or 15 thousand people.

Upon arriving in Pamplona, I was shocked to find that it was much larger than I had ever pictured. The city has a population of 200,000 people, and I felt that it had much to offer in terms of recreation, history and culture.

I fell in love with some of the city’s traditions, for example Juevinxto. Juevinxto (pronounced hue-veen-cho) takes place every Thursday night in the old town. The streets fill with thousands of local people who move from bar to bar drinking small glasses of beer and eating tapas at each location. The most interesting part of this tradition is that it is for all ages. Spaniards well into their 60s, 70s and early 80s meet their friends and family members each week for Juevinxto.

Pamplona is also the city that holds the Running of the Bulls each summer. Although I did not attend this festival, it gives Pamplona international notoriety.

When I left my apartment in Pamplona for the last time and headed to the train station, I realized how much I would truly miss my life there. It is nice to be home, but Pamplona will always have a special place in my heart.

Copenhagen Days and Exploring Europe

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Written by Connie Hu, Foster undergraduate

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

 

I can’t believe I have been in Europe, away from home, for over six weeks! It has been such an amazing time and I have already fallen in love with Copenhagen and the places I’ve visited: Florence, Cinque Terre, and London. I had no problem making friends or finding things to do as I live in a dorm and the Copenhagen Business School set up many activities for exchange students! I can already say that I have made friends I intend to keep and plan on visiting in the future. Copenhagen is so clean and bike friendly! Definitely two things I will miss when I return to Seattle. There is outstanding architecture here, and at the places I have visited. What’s so neat about Europe is that you can find super old, but beautiful buildings next to super modern buildings. Another awesome thing: the desserts in Copenhagen are the best I have ever had! The food in Italy was to die for, and the selection of food in London was endless. Every time I returned to Copenhagen after I visited other countries in Europe, I realized how much I missed it! I am so happy to be living and studying here for the rest of the year, and only look forward to making more unforgettable memories!

Copenhagen_ConnieHu2

Copenhagen_ConnieHu3

Copenhagen_ConnieHu4

Copenhagen_ConnieHu5

Jet Life

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Written by Foster Undergraduate, Connie Hu

CBS15_CHu7

After being in Copenhagen for a month and a half, semester break had arrived! I was super excited for my upcoming travels; my itinerary was as follows: Athens, Santorini, Venice, and Rome. I traveled with my friend Ravi who lived across the hall from me in my dorm. What I loved about Athens was the vast amount of street art, monuments, and cute cats roaming the streets. It was exciting being in a city that I learned so much about in my history classes. As for Santorini, it was the epitome of paradise. I was so blown away by the city. The beaches and people were amazing. What made the experience even more fun was getting around Santorini by driving ATVs. It is definitely a place I will return to!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

For the second half of my trip, I was thrilled to return to Italy. Venice was such a uniquely beautiful place. We just got lost in the city. Our second night there, we met two Canadians who were also going to Rome next! In Rome, we explored the city with them and really indulged in all the excellent food. Nothing will ever be the same after eating the spectacular food that I had in Rome. It will be dearly missed. Rome in general was such an impressive city; all of the monuments were outstanding. I was so happy that I got to experience those four cities during my break.

 

Shortly after I returned to Copenhagen, I traveled to Brussels to reunite with other Foster exchange students. It was such a great time getting to know and making friends with people from back home who were also sharing a similar experience as myself. The Foster advisers did an incredible job organizing exciting activities for us to partake in. I had a blast in Brussels!

14 Hours in Florence

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Written by Rachel Fillman, Foster undergraduate

Florence_33

 

July 11, 2015
The day that best describes my international experience was the day I spent in Florence, Italy with a few of the people from my program. We all got up around 5 a.m. to catch an early train to be able to spend the maximum amount of time we could in the short day we had there. I hadn’t really heard much about Florence so I didn’t know what there was to do there, and I actually almost didn’t even make the trip with everyone because I didn’t know if it would be worth the money and time to get there. I am so happy that I did decide to go because Florence is possibly my favorite city we visited while we were abroad. We hiked hundreds of stairs to the top of Il Duomo, stumbled into old churches while we were lost among the streets, and bargained with street vendors to buy genuine leather goods. Although it was one of the longest days of the trip (14 hours in Florence), I fell in love with the city and the beauty of the buildings. I still go back and look at the pictures I took of Il Duomo because it still amazes me with its magnificence and grandeur. I enjoyed getting to go to a city that had so much to give—history, shopping, uniqueness; all these things made quite the impression on me. My day trip to Florence really stands out to me when I look back on the month I spent in Italy and I believe it highlights my international experience in a way that I will remember for a long time.

 

Florence_44

Florence_2

Florence_1

Reflection

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Written by Kimberly Matsudaira, Foster undergraduate

Studying abroad in Milan at Bocconi University was one of the best moments in my life. A cliché thing to say, I know, but honestly there’s no other way to describe my 5 month experience in Italy.

Itlay_1

I made life-long friendships, had incredible experiences (even the not so good ones I’ll look back fondly on) and learned so much about the world and myself. I discovered my strengths and weaknesses throughout my travels and learned ways to improve myself.

Italy_2 Italy_3
Cinque Terre, Italy

Italy_4

Prague, Czech Republic

Italy_5

Malta
Italy_6

Budapest, Hungary

Italy_7

United Nations at Geneva, Switzerland

Ultimately, studying abroad was so rewarding and enriching. My final advice: don’t ever have doubts about studying abroad. JUST DO IT! Trust me, you won’t regret it.