Written by: Jennifer Joe, Foster Undergraduate
To start off, Morocco is one of the most beautiful countries out there. Each city has its own unique personality and even each building seems to maintain its own distinctive character. While I thoroughly enjoyed exploring these cities, my most memorable experience will be the one where I got to eat my dinner watching the sun set amongst the High Atlas Mountains, where I got to enjoy peaceful moments of tranquility underneath stars on a clear night without a hint of technology or busy cities around me, and where I got to watch donkeys and goats roam around free on mountain sides that would have been impossible for me to scale without seriously injuring myself. My trek through the High Atlas Mountains was an unforgettable experience where I learned a lot about myself. We had to hike for most of the day during the three day trek to get to our final destination and we had no technology or running water for all of it. Each day presented a new physical challenge and each day I would spend a significant amount of time just observing my surroundings and all that nature has to offer. It’s in those times that contemplation and reflection really kicks in. Every little thing begins to mean a lot to you and every simple thing starts to become significant to you. It was like taking a step back in time. When it comes to a trip like this this, I can’t think of a better way to really get to know the people around you and create a special bond that can’t be imitated easily. An experience like this makes you become truly mindful of the present moment and enjoy the company of others and appreciate the unique personalities that make up a group of 19 people. You learn that everyone brings something good to the table- whether it be stories, jokes, optimism, outdoor skills, or supplies. It also gives you a new found appreciation for nice hiking boots and moleskin.
Written by: Jennifer Joe, Foster Undergraduate
Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder
It’s now been a full two weeks since I was last in Australia. Having some time at home has allowed me to reflect on all the awesome adventures I got to go on, and how much I learned and grew as a person while abroad. Obviously the weather transition has probably been the most difficult thing about coming back to Washington. My last week in Sydney saw back to back days of 100 degree weather (Fahrenheit of course), and since returning home it has either been freezing cold, or pouring down enough rain to flood the valley’s near my house. But how can I complain? Even though I’m back home, I’ve still been frequently talking with a lot of the friends I made while abroad who live all across the world. All of those friendships seem so strong that it’s crazy to think I didn’t know those people a few months ago, and that I would never have had the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of people had I not had the opportunity to study abroad.
Tangible things like friendships aren’t the only great things I gained in Sydney. I have a real understanding of Australian life and culture, but also learned a lot about Europe from all of the European exchange students I met. I feel like I understand the world so much better after interacting with people from all over, and never realized how important gaining a global perspective was before this experience. Meeting people from all over the world with different cultures, customs, and ways of life, has made me a lot more open minded to certain things, and I’m now inspired to learn even more about other people in the future. It was so interesting to see the differences between life in Australia and life here in the states, and I really loved seeing how other cultures view the American lifestyle.
Finally, I am extremely thankful for all of the hiking, backpacking, and exploring I got to do during my time abroad. Growing up in the northwest, hiking has always been a passion of mine and was something I hoped to do from the beginning in Australia. I could never have imagined just how beautiful the different landscapes I got to explore were. Australia (and New Zealand where I spent a week during our spring break) had such stunning and diverse landscapes. And hiking, or bushwalking as it is called down under, was an excellent way to meet like-minded people who I shared some unforgettable experiences with. Study abroad truly was the experience of a lifetime, and while I already wish I could go back, I know I’ll have memories to last me a lifetime. To anyone considering study abroad, I would say that while it is a big commitment it’s something that you will absolutely thank yourself for doing if you find a way to fit it into your graduation plan while here at UW.
Written by Katelin Kobuke, Foster undergraduate
Watching the Sun Rise
Despite being super busy here in studying in Singapore I managed to find time to take a 10 day trip to Indonesia. A few of the other exchange students and I flew down to after finishing our midterm exams to reward ourselves and explore Bali. On this trip we ended up traveling all over Bali and the Gili Islands, staying in 7 different hostels. Our first stop was Uluwatu, which is famous for its cliffs and huge waves, which draw in the pro surfers. There is a big backpacker vibe here and lots of travelers so it was fun to meet people from all over the world. Next we visited Ubud, and the volcano in the north of the island. There we biked through the beautiful rice fields and villages, and got to see many of the Hindu temples in this area. We also had a tour of the spice plantations and drank Kopi Luwak coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world (made from the poop of a special cat that eats the coffee cherries).
After Ubud we went to Canggu where we tried out surfing ourselves with the assistance of some local guys. Although not anywhere close to what the pro surfers we saw in Uluwatu we managed to ride the waves on our first tries! From there we took a fast boat ferry to Gili Trawangan, which is an Island east of Bali. Gili has no cars or motorbikes, so everyone rides horses or bicycles around. The water was so clear and beautiful! Now that I have my scuba certification I was excited to put it to use! We did two dives one at Gili T and one at Gili Meno the island next-door. We saw turtles, sharks, eels, Nemo, and a whole bunch of sea life, although the current was pretty strong the visibility of the water was unbeatable.
Our last stop was Seminyak, where we were able to relax on the beach, shop at the little boutiques local markets, and eat wonderful food! This trip was so amazing, full of yoga in the mornings, exploring during the days and improving our surfing and diving skills while we were at it. Too bad the vacation couldn’t last forever, now back to my studies in Singapore.
Scuba Diving in Gili
Learning to surf in Bali
The Beach at Gili Island
Dinner parties on the beach in Seminyak
Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder
Well, spring break has ended which means that I am officially half way through with my time here in Sydney, and well over-due for another blog update!
This past month in Sydney has been really good. Now that I’m all settled in and am feeling comfortable with my surroundings, I’ve gotten to do a lot more exploring. The Sydney metropolitan area is HUGE, after all, it accounts for nearly a third of the population of the entire continent, so there’s always unique places to travel too around Sydney Harbour.
I’ve really fallen in love with a suburb to the north of Sydney called Manly. Manly is just a beautiful 30 minute ferry ride across the harbour but it feels like it’s a world away from the bustling Sydney. It is a much more laid-back town with great food and beaches just as spectacular as the ones closer to the city center, but way less crowded.
The warmer weather is starting to bring in the tourists and crowds too, but I don’t mind it too much. How can I complain about it being 85 degrees when everyone back home is already heading into fall and a long winter? And now that I’m more familiar with the area, I feel that I know all the secluded spots where the locals hang out.
I haven’t just been spending my time in the Sydney area though. Before spring break I had the chance to go camping in the Blue Mountains, about two hours west of the city, for three days through an outdoor education class I’m in. Needless to say it was a fantastic experience, especially for someone who loves the outdoors. I got to see my first kangaroo (not counting the zoo) as well as beautiful waterfalls, valleys, and sandstone cliffs. The entire class is made up of international and exchange students so it’s a great way to meet other like-minded people who are trying to explore Australia in our limited time here, so it’s been a really easy way to make friends.
During spring break I spent a week in New Zealand and then five days back in Australia but in the tropical rainforest of Queensland with a few friends. New Zealand was absolutely mind blowing and far above any expectations I had for my time there. The landscape is even more diverse than Australia’s. We got to do everything from exploring empty, black sand beaches, to hiking up through the jungle, and even got to hike through a snow covered mountain that we were direly under-prepared for. Of course we also got to see first-hand some of the landscape settings for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, including Hobbiton which was a convenient 20 minute drive from where we were staying most of the week.
Queensland was fun too, even though I think we were all a little run down after doing so much adventuring in New Zealand. I got to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and hike through the dense Daintree Rainforest, and even got to celebrate with the region as the local team won the Australian Rules Football Championship! I can also say that I’m officially a pro at driving on the left side of the road, as I’ve now rented and driven cars in three different places without running anyone over.
After almost two weeks traveling around, it feels really nice to be back to my routine in Sydney. And my bed has never felt more comfortable! Australia is lovely year round, but things are really coming to life now that winter is over and spring is in the air. Daylight savings time means that we get another hour of sunlight too, so I no longer have to deal with the frustration of the sun setting before 5 P.M. like I did when I first came to Australia.
I’m really getting used to the way of life here. Even though things are always more hectic in the big city, I feel like Sydney is simply a lot more laid back than most places in the United States. And I’m happy to say that I’ve adopted some of this more easy going mentality. I even find myself picking up Australian lingo such as “keen”, “no worries”, “reckon”, and of course, “mate.”
I’m sure the future holds even more exciting adventures for me, and even though I know my time is starting to run short here with group projects and even finals approaching, it makes me appreciate the experience a lot more. I’ll be excited to report back with new stories in the coming weeks!
Written by Connie Hu, Foster undergraduate
I can’t believe I have been in Europe, away from home, for over six weeks! It has been such an amazing time and I have already fallen in love with Copenhagen and the places I’ve visited: Florence, Cinque Terre, and London. I had no problem making friends or finding things to do as I live in a dorm and the Copenhagen Business School set up many activities for exchange students! I can already say that I have made friends I intend to keep and plan on visiting in the future. Copenhagen is so clean and bike friendly! Definitely two things I will miss when I return to Seattle. There is outstanding architecture here, and at the places I have visited. What’s so neat about Europe is that you can find super old, but beautiful buildings next to super modern buildings. Another awesome thing: the desserts in Copenhagen are the best I have ever had! The food in Italy was to die for, and the selection of food in London was endless. Every time I returned to Copenhagen after I visited other countries in Europe, I realized how much I missed it! I am so happy to be living and studying here for the rest of the year, and only look forward to making more unforgettable memories!
Written by Katelin Kobuke, Foster undergraduate
I have been in Singapore for over a month now, and what an experience it has been! I am the only student from UW student studying here at NUS so it has given me the chance to branch out and meet new people from all over the world; there are over 1000 international exchange students studying at NUS this semester. The first few weeks we spent our time exploring Singapore, seeing all the major sites, finding great places to eat, going to the beach, finding hiking trails, and visiting some of the close by islands. The food definitely takes some getting used to, lots of rice, meat, and fish, so good luck trying to find a nice fresh salad or a traditional breakfast around here!
Now that school is full swing we spend the weekdays studying so we can enjoy the weekends traveling! Classes are challenging and engaging, but it is definitely an adjustment getting used to the different teaching styles. I am taking an investments class, bank management, and organizational/leadership management class. I have my midterms this week, so I really need to buckle down and study hard. So far I have had the chance to travel to Malaysia and Indonesia with some of the friends I have met here, and even got my PADI open water scuba license last weekend.
Singapore’s garden by the bay:
Coral at Tioman Island:
Snorkeling in Malaysia:
Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder
Traveling the world is something that I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. But with school, work, and just life in general I’ve always had something holding me back from exploring everywhere that I’ve wanted to. From the moment I started school at UW, I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to finally get an opportunity to travel to another part of the world by doing study abroad, and I’m happy to say that dream has finally become a reality!
Besides simply getting away from home, one of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad was to experience different cultures and gain a better world perspective. I’ve lived in the Seattle area all my life, and until this summer I had never even left the United States except for a few trips to Vancouver and Whistler, Canada. While I do love the Pacific Northwest, living in one place for so long makes me eager to switch up the pace and see how another culture lives their day to day life. From this experience I hope to not only better understand how Australian culture compares to American culture, but also to see how my culture is viewed through the eyes of others. I guess that reading about other nations and societies in textbooks would be one way to do this, but for me, getting out of my comfort zone and having a hands on experience would be a much more engaging lesson.
While my parents have always been happy that I stayed close to home for college, they were very encouraging of me to do study abroad because neither of them did much traveling in college and sort of regretted it. I have friends from high school and UW who studied abroad in Europe this past year and all had fantastic experiences, so hearing their stories was the final push for me to really make sure I got the opportunity to do the same.
I’m doing a semester abroad at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia. Studying in Australia was especially tricky because not only is my university a semester school, but it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning that the start of their spring semester happens when it’s still summer up in Seattle. For that reason, I’ve actually been studying in Sydney for about a month already, and so far I love it!
The University of Sydney’s business school is very similarly structured to the Foster School of Business, so I don’t find the academic transition to be very hard. Although I guess that’s easy to say when I haven’t had any major tests for any of my classes yet. I’m really happy with my living situation as well. While there were many accommodation options to choose from, I signed up for a dorm just off campus that is new this semester and it’s incredible! There are lots of other international students, not just from the United States but from all over the world, so it’s easy to meet other people who are in the same situation as you and looking to explore. The dorm itself is VERY nice too. There are over 800 rooms, nearly all singles, and the facilities are impressive due to the fact that the dorm is so new. Just like everything in Sydney, it is pretty expensive, but I’m definitely happy with my choice.
Sydney itself is surprisingly similar to Seattle. Even though spring has just now started, it has been sunny and in the 60s here pretty consistently so that made the transition from a sweltering Seattle summer little easier. The city has a beautiful mix of really modern architecture and some older, almost European looking buildings, and Sydney Harbour is gorgeous! Sydney feels really safe as well and I’ve found that the locals are really kind. University students are always interested to hear about what life is like in the states and every time I’ve been looking at a map while in the city, friendly locals always approach me asking if I need a hand.
Of course, there are so many differences about living here in Sydney versus back home that make even the most ordinary days exciting! Sydney has some of the most interesting (and unbelievably loud) birds I have ever seen or heard, and the palm trees around the city and campus are a nice tropical touch. Sydney is a very multicultural city too, so there is every type of food you would want! And as you can imagine, the beach scene is great. Even in the end of winter/beginning of spring, Sydney’s sandy beaches are a really relaxing weekend destination, especially since they aren’t too touristy this time of year.
I’ll leave it at that for now but I’ll have many adventures to share next time I check in! Very excited that I still have 3 months here in front of me!
Written by Foster Undergraduate, Connie Hu
After being in Copenhagen for a month and a half, semester break had arrived! I was super excited for my upcoming travels; my itinerary was as follows: Athens, Santorini, Venice, and Rome. I traveled with my friend Ravi who lived across the hall from me in my dorm. What I loved about Athens was the vast amount of street art, monuments, and cute cats roaming the streets. It was exciting being in a city that I learned so much about in my history classes. As for Santorini, it was the epitome of paradise. I was so blown away by the city. The beaches and people were amazing. What made the experience even more fun was getting around Santorini by driving ATVs. It is definitely a place I will return to!
For the second half of my trip, I was thrilled to return to Italy. Venice was such a uniquely beautiful place. We just got lost in the city. Our second night there, we met two Canadians who were also going to Rome next! In Rome, we explored the city with them and really indulged in all the excellent food. Nothing will ever be the same after eating the spectacular food that I had in Rome. It will be dearly missed. Rome in general was such an impressive city; all of the monuments were outstanding. I was so happy that I got to experience those four cities during my break.
Shortly after I returned to Copenhagen, I traveled to Brussels to reunite with other Foster exchange students. It was such a great time getting to know and making friends with people from back home who were also sharing a similar experience as myself. The Foster advisers did an incredible job organizing exciting activities for us to partake in. I had a blast in Brussels!
Written by Rachel Fillman, Foster undergraduate
July 11, 2015
The day that best describes my international experience was the day I spent in Florence, Italy with a few of the people from my program. We all got up around 5 a.m. to catch an early train to be able to spend the maximum amount of time we could in the short day we had there. I hadn’t really heard much about Florence so I didn’t know what there was to do there, and I actually almost didn’t even make the trip with everyone because I didn’t know if it would be worth the money and time to get there. I am so happy that I did decide to go because Florence is possibly my favorite city we visited while we were abroad. We hiked hundreds of stairs to the top of Il Duomo, stumbled into old churches while we were lost among the streets, and bargained with street vendors to buy genuine leather goods. Although it was one of the longest days of the trip (14 hours in Florence), I fell in love with the city and the beauty of the buildings. I still go back and look at the pictures I took of Il Duomo because it still amazes me with its magnificence and grandeur. I enjoyed getting to go to a city that had so much to give—history, shopping, uniqueness; all these things made quite the impression on me. My day trip to Florence really stands out to me when I look back on the month I spent in Italy and I believe it highlights my international experience in a way that I will remember for a long time.
Written by Clarissa Suharli, Foster undergraduate
Although it is small, Singapore is a major hub to so many other cities in Southeast Asia. And to complete the exchange experience, I went to several other cities during school breaks, so many of which left me a lasting impression of amazement and gratitude.
From Singapore, I went to…
1. Siem Reap, Cambodia
I never thought that I would ever come to this city before, and coming there was one of the best travel decision I ever made. Although it’s famous for the Angkor Wat temple, everything here is amazing – the food, the people, the temples, even to the things sold at the souvenir shops. I felt so lucky to see the sunrise from Angkor Wat – if there’s a chance, please, please, please go there to witness the beauty. The picture won’t do the justice.
2. Bangkok, Thailand
Every exchange student I know went to Bangkok at least once over their exchange period, and that says a lot. There are amazing architectures, tons of opportunities to shop, and scrumptious food, everything for cheap. There’s no reason not to go here.
I went to Krabi hoping to go to the Phi Phi Islands from there, and boy, they have the most beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. And because it’s still in Thailand, they also have the yummiest food. Must go.
4. Malacca, Malaysia
A small, charming city just 3 hours away from Singapore, Malacca is nice for a day trip – it offers a lot of food and shopping options, and most tourist attractions are within walking distance from one another. A nice break from the hustle and bustle of Singapore.
This might be a bit subjective since it’s my hometown, but there’s always something to do at Jakarta. I flew home to go to a huge annual jazz festival in which I was lucky to see my favorite local musicians, along with Christina Perri (who coincidentally was on her Asia tour) play live. Before going back to Singapore, I also made sure to eat my favorite Indonesian foods: bakmie ayam noodles and podeng ice. Yum!
People say that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer, and I wholeheartedly agree. I closed this chapter of my life being a lot richer in experiences, and a gazillion times more grateful to be able to experience everything in this short, but sweet and rewarding semester.