Europe

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.

Germany, Antonio blog

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.

 

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…

Sarah Breysse 1

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.