WHU

Time Flies at WHU

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Written by Davis Brown, Foster school undergraduate

 

4

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.

1 2 35

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!

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

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.

 

Traveling 

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!