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!



Mannheim is gorgeous!

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Here is a photo of Mannheim’s campus. Don’t you wish you could go to school in a castle?

The Tauschie Culture in WHU

Monday, November 26th, 2012

By: Devin Kim, Foster Undergraduate

“Tauschie” refers to all of the exchange students in WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Tauschies account for a huge part in the community since the number of students in WHU itself is very small. This year there has been more than 140 Tauschies, which is almost as big as the freshmen class. Since the community is so small, there are many get-together events and here are two of them that I wish to introduce in the following paragraphs.

First of all, there could be nothing more international as the “Tauschie Tuesdays”. It’s a weekly event, in which students representing their country become the host to serve others with their representative food and welcome them with its unique atmosphere. Below is a photo taken at the Regional Tour to Boppard, which was an event created for the Tauschies by the International Relations Office here at WHU.

There’s also an event called the “Vallendar interaction event”, in which the local people get to meet the Tauschies and exchange each other’s culture. At the first event, the concept was Bavaria, since the Oktoberfest was approaching, and traditional instruments of Bavaria were played and folklores were sung. At the last event, the Tauschies had the chance to express themselves and their culture, and also display their talents in front for the audience.

The events held in WHU create a cohesive bond between you and other Tauschies, as well as the local students and inhabitants because the school itself is so small and provides people living in Vallendar a lot of opportunities to interact. It’s something you cannot really experience in large schools like the UW. The Tauschie Culture is definitely something you don’t want to miss out here, while you are here in Vallendar.

Pioneering Through Germany

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

By: Cynthia Chiou, Foster Undergraduate

If you want to be sure you’ll have a satisfying experience abroad both academically and culturally – I can sincerely recommend WHU in Germany. I cannot speak highly enough of the experience I’ve had so far! I am one of the first students to participate on the UW exchange with WHU, and I am proud to be a part of it.

To give you a little introduction of myself, I am a junior in the Foster School of Business studying finance and marketing. Having always heard past graduates talk about their regrets of not studying abroad, I knew I had to grasp the opportunity while I still could. I ultimately chose to study at WHU in Germany for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve always been fascinated by German culture and was interested in learning more. Second, WHU is highly regarded as one of the top schools in Germany with an intimate academic setting and world renowned professors. Third, I was blessed enough to receive the Dufey Scholarship which has helped me tremendously with expenses.


Description of the Area: Vallendar & Koblenz 

WHU is situated in the small town of Vallendar which is just along the Rhine River. Before studying abroad, I thought my hometown Kenmore was small – well, let’s just say Kenmore would be considered a metropolis compared to Vallendar. The area consists mostly of WHU students and retired German families. It was a challenge adjusting at first since I’m used to so much activity around the UW, but I’ve begun to treasure the peaceful walks to school along the Rhine and the simplicity of the local culture. If you want to enjoy more nightlife and shopping, it’s only a short 10 minute bus ride to Koblenz which is a slightly bigger city.

The ‘Tauschie’ Community 

I would say after spending a little more than a month here, I have really appreciated the university’s efforts to make us tauschies (German for exchange students) feel welcome. During the first couple of weeks, the international relations and VIP student team organize several events that allow all exchange students to get to know one another better. The team takes you on a regional wine tour nearby and you end the day feasting on a traditional German meal at a beautiful brewery. The VIP also organizes a rally in Koblenz where tauschies run around the city completing silly tasks in order to get to know the area better. Our team was called ‘The Bamm Bamms’ as you can see by the blue diapers we made for our costumes.

After the first few weeks winded down, there were plenty of events to still keep me busy. Every week, tauschies organize a ‘Tauschie Tuesday’ at the nearby bar, Korova. It’s usually thematic by country and tauschies of the chosen country prepare food and drinks of their culture. In addition, every Thursday evening many students go to Palais which is a local club in Koblenz. Apart from the events put on by WHU, tauschies are always organizing dinners and hang-outs. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed dinner parties with other tauschies and discussing cultural differences and similarities.

Courses at WHU

Classes here have been similar to that of the UW but also different in a few ways. Before signing up for a course, you can view all of the various times the course meets throughout the semester. Instead of having classes the same time each week, you could have anywhere from twenty hours of class one week to only five the next. This has turned out to be pretty convenient for planning week long trips. Otherwise, day trips around Germany have been just as interesting. Since the semester is split into two quarters, there is a lot of material to learn in a very short amount of time, hence I’ve been cramming for finals which are in about two weeks.



As far as traveling goes, exploring the various regions of Germany has been very exciting! The country is divided into sixteen different states in which each part has its own distinct feel. It’s only in a country like this where you’ll be able to visit the hippest parts of Berlin one minute and then experience traditional Bavarian life in Munich the next. Outside of Germany, I will soon be paying a visit to London, Ireland, and Prague. The great thing about Germany is it’s situated right in the heart of Europe which makes traveling to neighboring countries extremely convenient. I’m surprisingly less homesick than I thought I’d be. Of course, there are things about Seattle I miss, such as friends and family, but there is so much to explore here that I simply feel obliged to discover everything. If there’s one thing I’m learning about myself throughout this experience, it’s that I am too curious for my own good. The world is so beautiful and I hope to return to Europe another time. No, no. I must return to Europe soon to see the rest!!


All in all, I can’t wait to continue building lifelong memories while learning about our world and my place within it. Studying abroad obviously comes with sacrifices and well, points of confusion (did I really just buy German yogurt or is this sour cream..?) All joking aside, you’re confronted with a lot of ‘unknowns’..from the big to even small things. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but you’re put in a unique situation that you’d never find yourself in at home. Being isolated in a foreign country forces you to question why you do the things you do, whether you have a good reason for why you do them that way, and in the end makes your mind all the stronger. On a practical level, you learn to roll with the punches and find alternatives in the right places. I already know my time here will fly by. I’ll be trying my hardest to appreciate every moment before it’s all over!


Ich liebe Deutschland

Monday, March 26th, 2012

By: Cassandra Bass, Foster Undergraduate

Wow, it’s impossible to believe that it’s already December. In about 2 weeks I’ll be back in America and the only thing I can think is that I never want to leave Germany. A fair warning to anyone traveling to Germany during the winter; bring extremely warm clothes! Luckily, Mannheim is one of the warmest cities in Germany but even so, it’s been below freezing for some time now. Right now is finals time in Mannheim, so the students are pretty much on study lockdown. Even so, they still manage to get out every week to do something fun. Germans are incredible at multi-tasking :)

 On the studying note, I had to do a couple presentations this semester for some of my classes. I did some in German and some in English and I have to say that my German presentation partners were amazing. They are extremely on top of their work. I was especially impressed with the Germans in my English literature class. I swear that some of them can speak better English than me. The teachers here are also really flexible when it comes to exchange students. One of my teachers changed all the deadlines for my final paper for me, so I could turn it in early and she is correcting it quickly so I can take it home.

 Right now is Christmas season in Germany, which is a big deal. There are Christmas Markets in every town, where you can buy crafts and German food and most especially, Glühwein. It’s basically like stepping into a children’s Christmas picture book right now in Mannheim. If you are in Mannheim definitely make it over to Heidelberg, a town 20 minutes away by train. It’s an old, picturesque town with more tourists than Mannheim, but also with some really cool concerts in random places all the time. Germans love having concerts and parties in abandoned factories…so expect to end up partying in a random warehouse at some point in time if you ever study abroad here.

On that note, I have to say that everyone who goes to Europe should really check out Berlin. I went there for a long weekend and fell in love with the city. Everywhere you look there is something crazy going on: a protest here, an abandoned apartment building full of squatting artists there, and the history of the town is amazing. Berlin really never sleeps. People generally stay out until around 7am at least and there are some clubs that don’t even open until 8am so that you can go there to keep dancing after the other clubs close.

I’ve done a fair bit of traveling since being in Germany and I found that I really enjoyed all my travels into Eastern Europe. I went to Prague with a group of people and was amazed by how beautiful the city was. Most cities usually have a pretty old town and then a more modern, less attractive industrial part of town, but Prague was gorgeous everywhere. I couldn’t put my camera down. I also went into the countryside in the Czech Republic to a smaller town where they have natural mineral water springs. I would really encourage people to go into the smaller, less touristy towns when traveling around. You really get a better grasp of the people.

I also went to Krakow, Poland in November. Again, I was so impressed with how historic and pretty the city was. My hostel was right on the main market square where you could hear the street performers singing opera or watch fire dancers on the streets through your window. I went to see Auschwitz, which was extremely intense, but also an important thing to see I think. It was insane to realize how recent Poland’s history is. One polish lady was telling me all about the communist era and how it really wasn’t all that long ago and everyone was still feeling the effects. Here I went to a small town in the mountains near the border of Slovakia and saw the most beautiful wooden houses. The architecture of the mountain people in Poland was amazing.

So, I would definitely recommend traveling to some countries that might not be the first thing you think of when in Europe. Paris was nice, but I would go back to Eastern Europe in a heartbeat.

Time of My Life

Monday, September 26th, 2011

By: Cassandra Bass, Foster Undergraduate

So, to introduce myself I’m Cassandra Bass, am studying Marketing, and am in my third year at Foster. Wow, Germany, where to start? I have already been here in Mannheim, Germany for two months and am having the time of my life. Germany is such an amazing country with incredible people and beautiful cities and culture. Coming here to study abroad is probably the best decision I’ve made so far in my college career. Before I arrived I was worried that I might have a difficult time meeting a lot of native Germans, and I might spend the majority of my time with other international students. Nothing against other international students (I’ve met people from all over the world and it is amazing!), but I just really wanted a true German experience. Luckily, I’ve found it very easy to meet Germans and fit in with the culture here.

I think that one of the best choices I made concerning my study abroad program was deciding to attend the Summer Academy here at Mannheim. It’s a month long intensive German seminar before the fall semester starts. It gave me a good chance to familiarize myself with the city, meet many other international students, improve my language skills, and also meet a lot of Germans. I would highly encourage anyone who is considering attending the University of Mannheim to attend the Summer Academy. They offer excursions every weekend to help you get out and see the sights. I went to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, canoed to Heidelberg, went wine-tasting in the countryside, and went on a brewery tour in Mannheim all in my first month here!

Before I came to Mannheim, my original plan was to live in student housing. At first, when all the housing filled up and I realized I was going to have to find an apartment in Mannheim I was pretty scared. However, I found an apartment where I live with two German students and another exchange student from Australia. In the end, the fact that I wasn’t able to get into student housing was a stroke of extremely good luck. Living with Germans has allowed me the chance to constantly speak German and to see another side of Mannheim that I might not have been introduced to if I hadn’t had many close German friends. On the topic of student housing, if you are considering coming to Mannheim I would really recommend not choosing to live in a dorm. The majority of the dorms are located fairly far from campus and aren’t the cleanest. I would recommend finding an apartment to sublease with German students. It will guarantee you the best cultural experience here in Mannheim.

The city of Mannheim itself is great. It’s about 300,000 people so it’s not the largest city in Germany, but it’s big enough to still offer good nightlife and culture and small enough to navigate easily. The university itself sponsors a lot of the nightlife, which is actually very fun, and thousands of students show up every week to their events. VISUM, a student organization here on campus, also organizes parties and events to help international students meet each other and other German students. They have a buddy program too, which is helpful if you want a German contact immediately upon your arrival in Mannheim to help answer your questions. Overall, German efficiency is everywhere here, making it easy to organize anything having to do with school, living, traveling, etc. Most Germans speak fairly good English so even if you don’t speak German it’s easy to get by. On that subject, you will have to go through some formalities registering as a resident of the city and country through the city hall here in Mannheim. This can be challenging if you don’t speak any German. However, most Germans and other internationals who know German are very friendly and willing to help out!

So I guess I should mention the school itself. The University of Mannheim is known in Europe for being one of the top business schools, and you definitely get the feeling that it is when you are here. If you tell anyone from Germany that you are attending the Uni Mannheim they are always impressed and tell you what good opportunities you will have. So far, I’ve found this to be true in my classes. All of my professors are great and extremely interesting. The registration process is fairly simple. Even if you don’t register for a class and still want to join it, professors are very open to international students just showing up on the first day and signing up there. Well, that’s all I have for now. Until next time, tschüss!

Alles Gut in Deutschland!

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Sean Germany3Guten Tag Everybody!

My name is Sean Fawaz, and I am currently a junior doing a semester abroad at the University of Mannheim. I am a business major with a concentration in Marketing. I apologize for not posting a blog entry much earlier. I have been busy traveling to a number of unbelievable cities and countries that have made this study abroad experience a whirlwind of excitement, cultural collisions, and an unforgettable adventure! But now, I finally have a chance to share what I have seen and done in Germany.

First, I’d like to begin by asking myself “why out of all places I could have chosen through the GBC did I choose to study at Mannheim, Germany?” I had a few reasons that influenced my decision.  I love to travel. And I had plenty of experience in the past traveling to various countries in Europe, Asia, and Central America. However, I wanted to choose somewhere I had never been. Germany had not been crossed off yet on my places-to-go list. That was my first reason. Second, I wanted to go somewhere that would be beneficial for my major. Germany has the most thriving economy in all of the European Union to this date, and is known for its successful corporations such as Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bahn, Daimler-Chrysler, SAP, Volkswagen, BMW, etc. The city of Frankfurt is the financial hub of all Germany where such corporations maintain their successful business practices daily. The city of Mannheim happens to be conveniently located just 30 minutes south of Frankfurt by fast train. Not only that, the University of Mannheim is the most prestigious business school in all of Germany, being ranked number 1 for the past 5 years running. Therefore, I knew I could receive a good quality education on an international level as I continue pursuing my degree and eventually my career.Sean Germany4

Everything about Germany as a country is astonishing. The city center of Mannheim itself might seem like any typical downtown with shopping, restaurants, and crosswalks with floods of people. Having said that, the highlight of the city of Mannheim is actually the university Schloss, or castle (pictured), a beautiful Baroque castle entrance.  At Mannheim, I am taking classes 4 days a week, which is convenient for me to frequently go on weekend trips to various places. All of which are in English except my German language course. So far, I visited the majority of the large cities in Germany, the Netherlands, the famous Neuschwanstein castle (Disney castle), Romania, and I just came back from a trip to Berlin and Madrid with another fellow UW student studying in Europe. Just as a fair warning, be sure to stay on top of your studies at the University of Mannheim as many courses have 1 final exam as the entire course grade, and you are only given a fairly limited amount of time to complete the test. Just a heads up! The big German cities I have visited such as Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin combine a unique cocktail of a classic Renaissance vibe associated with many European countries with extremely modern city skylines at the same time. You see the history that made each city so unique as well as how far and futuristic they have come along, especially in Munich and Berlin.Sean Germany2

 The German way of life is unique to say the least. Initially, I was not so sure if I could adjust to the German punctual, structured, and almost no-nonsense personality. It was at first very difficult to meet the local German people. Generally speaking, they are not the type to immediately warm up to a stranger/foreigner’s needs. So, here’s what I highly recommend to those considering studying at Mannheim. Request a buddy through VISUM, which is the international student association through the University who can accommodate you with your academic, personal, and legal needs. My buddy was a 24-year-old master’s student named Anne, who was extremely helpful to fulfill all my necessities to make the most of my study abroad experience. I found out through Anne that the best way to get acquainted with and become good friends with the German people is to have a buddy of your own who can introduce you to their friends, just so they know you’re not a complete stranger. And once you do break the ice with the German people, they are genuinely very friendly and helpful. Not only have I met plenty of Germans here in Mannheim, but also a United Nations of an exchange student body. I’ve met people from Spain, England, France, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Taiwan, Colombia, you name it! And it always fascinates me to see each of their respected cultural differences and the curiosities they have about our American culture. And this gives you the opportunity to speak on behalf of your country and give a good first impression. I’ve even immersed myself with the German tradition as I went to Oktoberfest this year, which I highly recommend if you want to get the full traditional German experience of having a great time with your new friends while enjoying Germany’s finest beer, Weißwurst and Currywurst (German sausages), big pretzels, all while singing songs and having the time of your life. I think I got the full German experience this Oktoberfest (see picture). You be the judge!Sean Germany1

 Anyways, this is all I have for now and I hope I helped you get a better perspective of life in Deutschland. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment on my entry and I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Until then, Tschüss!

Getting settled in Germany

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
University of Mannheim

University of Mannheim

My name is Tanor Johnson, and I am a Junior with a finance concentration in the Foster School. I am currently spending spring semester at the University of Mannheim in Mannheim, Germany. Mannheim is a great city with plenty to do. It is fairly large with the University and the train station being the two main areas of the city. So far my time here in Germany has been a blast. Classes are much different than at UW and many of them only meet once a week. Because my schedule allows me to have Thursdays and Fridays off, I have been able to take weekend trips to many places.

I am living in a student dorm “Am Steingarten” which is about a 10 minute bus ride from campus. There is a good mix of German, Polish, American, Turkish, and other students living in my dorm. It was tough at first to get around the city and ask for directions, but after a short period of time you get the hang of where things are and how to ask the basics in German. The school has a student organization called VISUM that plans parties, dinners, day trips, pub crawls, and weekend activities all throughout the semester. You receive an entire semester schedule of these events and it makes meeting international students extremely easy and fun. Many of the parties are held in the University, which is a big baroque palace.