Germany

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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International Collaboration

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Written by Davis Brown, Foster undergraduate

One thing I was looking forward to at WHU in Germany was having the opportunity to work alongside German students through group projects in university classes. I have always enjoyed group projects as they give students the chance to work through problems, analyze situations, and provide solutions to the question at hand. Additionally, group projects give you the chance to meet new people and learn from their prospective and experience. Every person brings something new to the table and it’s great to learn from my business peers and tie the groups’ strengths together.

Bringing things back to study abroad, group projects were both great and challenging because I got to tackle complex global issues and really learn from the experiences of my international peers. The international aspect is something that really made things interesting and kept me engaged throughout. At the Foster school I’ve been exposed to international business topics in the past few years, but it is completely different interacting and discussing topics with students who have grown up with a completely different perspective than myself. I really took advantage of their knowledge and learned something new everyday while still solving the task of our group case. I look forward to the chance of having more international exposure and learning more about global business.

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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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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!

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.

Last Day In Germany

Friday, January 11th, 2013

By: Devin Kim, Foster Undergraduate

“Farewell, fair cruelty.” Shakespeare said in his famous quote. I actually didn’t feel that cruelty until I had finished all of my packing and cleaning up my room because I had returned from Rotterdam late yesterday. After everything was set ready to leave, lying on my couch, I felt that void I was expecting to feel.

The first things that crossed my mind were my dearest landlords, who were all supportive and very warmhearted. I remember the first day I landed at the Frankfurt International Airport and took the train to Koblenz Hauptbahnhof (main station). My landlord Hardy, came to the station to pick me up. As we arrived at his house, I met his wife Gitti and 2 French guys that were staying there until the next day. We had dinner together, which is something I heard rarely happened with the other Tauschies (Exchange students) who moved into private apartments. The next day, Hardy even took me on a ride to introduce most of the parts of the town and helped me shopping some basic household items and food. He even paid for all the stuff because my credit card was not working in the store. I paid off with cash after we got home of course. Thanks to Hardy and Gitti, it was not hard for me at all to settle safe and solid in Germany.

Another thing was for sure the Tauschies. We shared such great times together and it’s hard to pick one specific event that was the best. As some of you reading this will experience later on, building friendships with these folks is one of the most exciting and valuable things you will experience during the study abroad period. I would describe them as companions who take part of a journey taking place in a dream. In a totally different place, environment, culture, and so on, they were really the ones I could rely on. As a relatively small group of 150 students, we got to know each other very well and going on trips with some of them is the most fun thing to experience as you are study abroad. Of course, getting along well with your fellow exchange students can make your exchange life extremely richer. In my case, there was Cynthia with whom I celebrated Thanksgiving together and also studied together for the exams. I really thank her for all the great memories we shared in Germany.

Besides, there are plenty of other things I would like to mention, but I sorted out the previous two because I thought they are really the most important assets and values I got from the program. But have no worries about the farewell. The return makes one love the farewell.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Friday, January 11th, 2013

By: Cynthia Chiou, Foster Undergraduate

My time at WHU and Germany will be four months I will treasure for a lifetime. Studying abroad may not have turned me into a complete different person, but I can certainly say that it has made me a stronger and more clear-minded individual.

One of the most valuable things I will take away, is understanding how crucial keeping an open mind is in our journey through life. From the first day to the last; cultivating relationships, understanding new cultures, and ultimately having an unforgettable experience, were owed to refraining from any presumptions I might have had about anyone. What made my time so unique was being surrounded by a community that was enthusiastic and genuinely excited to hear each other’s perspectives.

You would think having conversations with non-native English speakers would limit my interactions, but to the contrary, I had some of the best discussions with exchange students. The excitement we shared and willingness to withhold any judgment allowed us to have some of the greatest memories. Granted that studying abroad probably bolsters your confidence in social situations, I realized this environment didn’t just have to be created when you’re off abroad. This miniature epiphany might sound extremely obvious to some of you; sure, it makes sense that someone would be more accepting and open minded when they are abroad – there is less at stake, you’re in a foreign country, and you’ll make a grand exit in just four months. But the entire time, I couldn’t help notice how wonderful it was to be surrounded by such passionate individuals. I wanted to bring this same mindset back with me. Whether it be within my career, school work, or creative processes, being in an encouraging community helps you achieve a different level of performance. Risks you used to be hesitant about or ideas you had rolling around in the back of your mind can now surface and begin to develop.

So in many ways, studying abroad has been a necessary experience that has allowed me to appreciate the subtle but important value of community. I needed to venture into a different setting only to realize core values that should be applied regardless of wherever you are in the world. Taking all the things I’ve learned, I’m ready and excited to challenge myself further each day!

If you’re still considering studying abroad, I can’t vouch enough for the experience – especially at WHU. All in all, you really won’t have any regrets!!

 

 

From WHU to Rotterdam

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

By: Devin Kim, Foster Undergraduate

The main entrée so to say to be an exchange student is definitely the traveling part. The Netherlands is surely one of the more accessible countries to visit from Germany, since they are very close, geographically, culturally and linguistically. I would like to introduce you how I arrived at the Netherlands and I will also like to compare college-level classes in both countries, how they are different from each other, based on what I have witnessed.

Take the train. Taking the train is the most convenient way of reaching the Netherlands from Germany. In my case, I paid around 90 Euros for a round-trip from Koblenz to Rotterdam. It seems quite expensive, but if you compare it to how much it costs to travel from Koblenz to Hamburg, both taking around 5 hours, you’ll notice that traveling to Rotterdam is actually cheaper (!) than the latter. Because the countries both apart of the Euro Zone, you don’t need to go through customs and border control, which makes your life so much easier. There are some alternatives, like taking the bus, but it’s often not as available in Koblenz, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

 

Strangely, I had the opportunity to visit the Erasmus Universiteit in Rotterdam and attended a statistics class, since I had a friend who was studying there. I thought it would be interesting to compare the classes of WHU and at the Erasmus Universiteit, to classes in UW.

The teaching method varies among the countries regarding how active they are. As I noticed, in Germany, the classes are not as participation-based even though the size of the classes are usually smaller than at UW. Lectures are mostly rigid and unilateral. The amount the teacher talks during class accounts for more than 90%, except for some questions the students ask. On the other hand, the statistics class that I have experienced at the Erasmus Universiteit was very participation-based. The professor was constantly asking about the contents, and the format of the class was that the students were supposed to solve a few problems together with the professor on side, guiding through the processes. It was in a sense quite similar to some mid-sized business classes at UW.

Student behaviors during class were also quite different from each other. The atmosphere was more conservative in the Netherlands and students barely talked during class except when the professor asked something. However, one thing you should consider if you are thinking of going WHU as one of the exchange options is that Germans (at least those at WHU) can make quite a lot of noise, while doing anything. In some lectures, especially in non-major elective classes, the noise level can become quite loud. It is definitely something that I want to be critical about and objectively, something I really didn’t like about the German students at WHU. UW, in my perspective, lies closer to the Erasmus Universiteit in this regard.

But since the lectures at WHU mostly use slides, it is very straightforward what the professor demands from the students. The contents are usually more organized and preparing for exams don’t involve any complex thought processes. Just memorize. It’ll save your grades. Based on what I saw, it seemed that the Erasmus Universiteit would be trickier when you try to prepare for exams. Since the class I attended involved lots of participation, and more student answers, it’s hard to predict how the exams are going to be. I think UW is closer to WHU when it comes to the workload and straightforwardness.

It is very subjective what I have written on this post so far, and of course I cannot judge quite right because I only attended one class in the Netherlands, about something I barely have knowledge of, but I hope this would give you at least a simplified picture of whether studying in Germany would be the right choice for you.

Thanksgiving in Germany

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

By: Cynthia Chiou, Foster Undergraduate

When I heard about my friends and family celebrating Thanksgiving back at home, I knew I wanted to share this same American tradition with my international friends in Vallendar!

Unfortunately with everyone traveling so often, we couldn’t have the feast on the actual date of the holiday but was able to celebrate in December. A fellow American friend and I cooked a feast of turkey, duck, mashed potatoes, pumpkin cookies and other tasty dishes for our friends. I had actually never prepared a turkey all on my own, so I left the expertise to my friend who had done so many times! Also, neither of us had ever prepared a duck before so that was a fun experiment which actually ended up with delicious results.

I have to say, I was really lucky to get placed in the house that I am in because I have a spacious place for inviting friends and an oven which I’m learning is a huge blessing in itself! I was able to invite my tauschie friends whose home countries ranged from Ireland, France, Mexico, to Uruguay. Everyone was so excited to experience what they kept calling a ‘real American Thanksgiving’ .. (so the stakes were high). I think we were all extremely happy to have a hearty feast that wasn’t just German food for once! Not to say German food isn’t delicious but I think all of us were schnitzel-ed out after the first month or so. It was also fun explaining how you ate American food to my new friends. I think my favorite moment was when someone starting drizzling iced tea over the salad. We quickly stopped him and alerted our Uruguayan friend that the bland watery tasting salad was actually due to the ‘iced tea dressing’. He was kind enough to finish the food anyways.

Everyone was stuffed after dinner and we deemed the night a success – even among my French friends who have very high culinary standards! ;) I’ll never forget preparing such a great meal for a great group of folks. Another fabulous aspect of studying abroad – sharing new cultural cuisines and traditions with your new friends!

Tschüss!

Cynthia