ROA at WHU

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!


Posted by goabroad - January 14th, 2014 - 0 comments - Permalink



Yonsei Changed My Life…

Written by: Ki Moon, Foster School undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Korea

“Change your mind and it will change your life.” I changed my mind by choosing to study at the Yonsei University by applying through the Foster School of Business. Prior to my decision of going abroad, I relied heavily on the familiarity of my life; I was so afraid of the unfamiliar and often times said to myself that “I’ve never done that before, I’ve never been over there, and I’ve never hung out with these people.” However, I came to the realization that sometimes you need to go out of the comfort zone, and as cliché as that sounds, it’s very true.

On August 22nd of 2013, I checked into the SK Global House, which is one of the two international dorm buildings built for international and exchange students. I signed up for the single dorm because I read prior recommendations that it would give me space to quietly study. Also, you get your own bathroom, which I believe is a must. This was also the first time that I got the chance to dorm. Back at UW, I’m a daily commuter from the eastside area, so living at home was always part of my college experience. However, this was different and I enjoyed every dose of this part of the experience. For one, living by myself helped me to understand so much about myself. I found out that I’m much more capable of handling my responsibilities and chores. It’s just that I never had the chance to prove it or show it to anyone. One thing I’m really good at now is doing my laundry. Let me tell you, the first laundry experience, using the coin laundry system at the first floor of the SK Global House, was traumatizing. After washing and drying all of my cotton shirts on the high settings, I came back to my dorm and realized that majority of my large-sized cotton shirts turned into women’s x-small. I laughed about it and never did that again!

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The business building at Yonsei University

The one hard part about living on your own is the food. There is no meal plan when you choose to stay at the dorms. That means you need to figure out a way to crunch your appetite. Back home, this was like an automatic no-worry matter. Mom would always cook three healthy meals for me a day, but at Yonsei there were many times when I skipped my meals. Of course, there is McDelivery, which is a delivery service available at the McDonalds in Korea. I used that plenty of times – three o’clock in the morning McChicken and BigMacs will be unforgettable.

Now let me tell you about my first day in class. First of all, all of my business courses were taught in English. I had one professor who had a very strong accent but understanding him was no problem. Since I am fluent in Korean and am very familiar with the broken English that my parents speak, I could easily understand what the professor wanted to say. All courses, at least the ones that I was enrolled in, were pretty straightforward. You will have to do at least one lengthy group presentation (groups are either assigned to you or you get to pick your group members), take one midterm and one final (most are based on multiple choice format), and have to have good classroom participation (showing up to class). The coursework load is very minimal, which means you have a lot of free time after classes. Usually, this can be a good or bad thing. For me, I started to procrastinate leading up to my first midterm, and then I got the wake-up call. But don’t worry because the UW has prepared us so well to study and manage ourselves in any kind of academic setting.

Meeting new people and making new friends can be a challenge anywhere, and it was especially harder to do as an exchange student. Many exchange students felt the same. The biggest problem for this is because the exchange students live in a secluded part of the Yonsei campus. When class ends, all of the exchange students usually head back to that part of the campus. It won’t be easy making friends with students who are regular Yonsei attendees. The best recommendation which I came across is to sign-up for the extracurricular clubs provided and managed by the Yonsei students. This is done during the first couple weeks of school. I highly recommend this opportunity. Also, sign-up for the Mentors Club, which is designed to match one regular Yonsei student who will accompany you by eating lunch with you, studying with you, and familiarizing you with the Yonsei student life.

All in all, words can’t even express how much I enjoyed the study abroad experience. It’s hard to put all of the memorable and valuable pieces of this experience into such short blog post, but my time in Korea has been truly worthwhile.


Posted by goabroad - January 7th, 2014 - 0 comments - Permalink



Surrealism Paris

Written by: Benjamin Conrad, Foster School undergraduate, Exploration Seminar to Paris

Dinner in ParisOne of the best experiences I had while studying in Paris was a trip I took to the outskirts the city to the Isle of Impressionists. This island was hosting a music festival that I thought would be a really fun excursion. My program’s material involved activities where the suspension of normal motives was necessary. On several occasions we were asked to wander around the city and “get lost”, leaving from point A without any sense of point B. This led to plenty of cool experiences and a much more involved exploration of the city and its people. While sometimes disorienting, this mode of exploration transferred a bit into my time at the festival, and I don’t believe I would have seen such cool art or heard such good music without it.

Paris was an awesome place to socialize in because it was such an international city. Many of the people I met and friends I made were from all over the world, and it seemed that I met less Parisians than anything else. The festival was no different, and I ended up making friends with people from New Zealand, Denmark, and Canada. It was really interesting to explore common interests at the festival with people who came from such different cultures. I was also very lucky to spend so much time with people who spoke English so well, as my French is atrocious. Plenty of the time I relied on other people in the program to help me communicate, but because I went to the festival by myself, I could have had much more trouble if I didn’t meet such outgoing people. This festival really had me investigating much of the different cultural aspects of Paris, and is an example of how fantastic my time abroad was.

The festival on the Isle of Impressionists was an amazing experience. The food, the people and the atmosphere all contributed to one of the best days I had in France. The day I spent there was fantastic, and I don’t think I’ll forget it anytime soon.


Posted by goabroad - December 18th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Thanksgiving in France

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Written by Nashua Springberry, Foster Undergraduate

Believe it or not almost no other country on the planet celebrates thanksgiving with the sole exception being Canada (but let’s be honest they celebrate it on the wrong day anyway). A great part of studying abroad is sharing your cultural rituals and traditions with other people. In my program there was only four other Americans besides me and one of these four Americans, my good friend Kelsey, was determined  to share the great holiday of Thanksgiving with all of our new internationals friends – all of whom (besides those Canadians) had never had a Thanksgiving dinner before in their lives! So Kelsey made a casual post on our communal facebook group page inviting anyone and everyone to join her for Thanksgiving dinner – she would just need some volunteers to help cook and everyone to chip in ten dollars so she can go grocery shopping and buy all the necessary goodies.

Well turns out our international friends were dying to experience a Thanksgiving dinner and the amount of interest was overwhelming. All told Kelsey had 48 people sign up for Thanksgiving dinner. She then frantically went up trying to deliver on the promised dinner. Let me tell you, you would think cooking dinner for 48 people would be impossible – try buying 48 peoples worth of thanksgiving food at a French grocery store – the same grocery stores that didn’t sell full turkeys. In the end we settled on 13 chickens, vast quantities of potatoes, enough homemade stuffing material for a small town (I’m still sure there are leftovers), multiple jugs of wine, and an immense amount of ice cream. Getting all of that home using one shopping cart and three people was almost has hard as making the dinner itself. After much labor and volunteer work we completed the American feast. Before digging in on that joyus Thursday everyone went around the room saying what they were thankful for – in true American style – with a French twist.


Posted by goabroad - November 28th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Business in India

Kiersa India

by Kiersa Sanders

Day 1 of our Self Employed Women Association (SEWA) visit involved meeting at SEWA headquarters, visiting two different garment worker communities, visiting a garment worker thread store, presenting our $2,000 donation to SEWA, and brainstorming solutions to attract more shoppers to the store. We ended the night at a traditional Guajarati restaurant for dinner.

At SEWA headquarters, we learned about why and how the group was formed. The organization’s main goal is to obtain full employment and self reliance for the women in the informal labor sector that it represents. From SEWA headquarters, we travelled to the thread store that our fundraising will support. It was a very small space but the shelves had a variety of different types of thread. We asked questions about the product, supplier, and customers to get a better idea of how the store could improve. My favorite part of the day was actually meeting the women that will be utilizing the thread store. Our group and about a dozen female seamstresses packed into two different sitting rooms and exchanged questions. We discovered that many of these women both worked nine-hour days and took care of the household duties. They earned 30-60 rupees per day or less than $1 US dollar.

They told us that girls have to start sewing at around eight or nine years old. Students often had to leave school to support the family income. In addition to this, even basic government school costs families at least $300 US dollars per year. Families that enrolled their children in school stood to lose money from lost hours at work as well as the tuition itself. This part of the visit was pretty disheartening and made me reflect on my own education. Growing up wasn’t all roses, but at least school was free. Performing well at school opened up opportunities for me to exceed what my mom had been able to accomplish financially. Because many of these women are at the whim of the garment companies that contract for their services, many families get stuck in a cycle because they have to depend on the children to bring in the necessary income. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to attend school and become eligible for different job opportunities.

There is a pretty stark contrast between SEWA Day 1 and SEWA Day 2. We began Day 2 at the Gandhi museum which was located where he lived for part of his life. I had no idea that Gandhi was born in Guajarati. The museum was extremely peaceful. As I walked through the exhibit I learned so much that I never knew about him. He studied law in England, took his first position in South Africa, where he experienced discrimination for the first time. Without Gandhi’s teachings, I wonder where I would be right now. Many of his philosophies inspired the peaceful strategies of the Civil Rights Movement that helped make it successful.


Posted by goabroad - October 28th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Culture Clash in China

by Gabriel Heckt  

Mt  ChongQing

When going abroad, what sometimes comes to mind are adventurous trips to incredible monuments and unforgettable locations and people, I think the story that really fits my study abroad experience is one that can be seen as slightly commonplace, but represents the day to day experience of living immersed in a civilization I was completely unused to.

My friends and I had taken a taxi down to the middle of the city to look for gifts we could get for our families. The place we went was known for its bargain prices and authentic merchandise, so we were excited to try to find things we had never seen in the U.S. However, as soon as we got there, we started to run into problems. The place was extremely crowded, unlike anything we had experienced back in Washington. There were thousands of people, so many that we couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to go. Also, we couldn’t seem to find the place that we were trying to go, despite talking with several shopkeepers in Chinese. We always wound up at extremely pricey name brand shopping centers, the opposite of what we were trying to find!

As if to make matters worse, it suddenly started raining. This didn’t seem to be much of a problem to me. After all, I’m from Seattle, so there was no reason I should be worried about a little rain, right? I didn’t even bring an umbrella because it didn’t seem like it was going to rain that day. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This rain was nothing like even the heaviest rain I had ever experienced in Seattle. It came down in sheets, drenching in literally seconds. It was almost comical just how fast the streets cleared of the massive amounts of people. They seemed to know how to respond to the torrential downpour, but we had no clue. The rain was so heavy, that the streets started flooding, and police had to start blocking off intersections.

Now, not only had we not found our destination, but also we were completely soaked and were running out of options on how to get home. Had we been in Seattle, I’m positive we would have known how to respond instantly, and have been able to navigate our way in and out of an area. But we were in a completely unknown area, and had no knowledge of how to proceed in a situation like the one we were in. Completely by chance, we actually managed to find the shopping place we were looking for, but then we had to start the process of bargaining, which is full of subtleties and very difficult even with the decent grasp of Chinese we had. I spent around twenty minutes bargaining for a pair of shorts with a saleswoman because she wouldn’t give me even a slight discount. I was almost positive it was because I wasn’t Chinese, because I had seen Chinese people in other shops bargain to almost half the price of very similar goods. It was a pretty challenging, but also rewarding process when I finally got a small discount on what I wanted.

Trying to get back to the Sichuan University was another problem in and of itself. Because of the extreme rain, almost everyone was trying to catch a cab, and people kept moving in front of us to grab them, because unlike Seattle you have to be assertive and even appear somewhat “rude” to obtain something if there is a wait in China. Thankfully, we eventually found a very unsafe looking box motorcycle to take us back. We managed to negotiate a price and describe how to return to the University. Although we were drenched, freezing, and tired, we felt happy that we had managed somewhat successfully to navigate our way through some of China’s cultural differences that day.

Though every day wasn’t as hectic and confusing as the one above, almost every day was a learning experience, whether it was buying food or just asking for directions. Learning to adapt and fit into such a different culture through events like this was one of the largest parts of my study abroad experience, and that day is an excellent representation.


Posted by goabroad - October 14th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Inside Look: Brazilian Quilombo

by Diana Conde

Diana Brazil

One of the places we traveled to while in Brazil was an indigenous place called a Quilombola. This place as well as many others was a place where Africans who were often runaway slaves stayed. These places are very poor and only have the necessities in order to live. It was shocking for me to learn how slavery was such a big part of their history as well and how much inequality still remains today just like in the United States.

When we visited this place which has housed many generations, many of the people were very happy because today they have a lot more resources than they did many years ago. Their children are receiving better education and most importantly they actually have access to get education. Many people live in this small area which houses 96 families. The leader of the Quilombo is a woman, she is the first to lead the Quilombo as well as having been voted a second time because of how well it has been run. They also made us a typical Quilombo meal which was very delicious.

I learned that there are many quotas that universities have on the amount of afro Brazilian students they have to take in. This is done in order to level the field a bit since they were so disadvantaged in the past. This also exists in the workplace. I learned that they are trying to get more Afro Brazilians educated and in better working positions for the same reason of being disadvantaged in the past. I also learned that they aren’t trying to get them to the higher level positions just a step or two up from where they are now. Even in the government there are no Afro Brazilian people who have an important position.

This really shocked me because their situation is even worse than the United States because they still aren’t trying to be completely equal. What they wish for the most is to be able to be in the position that African descendants are in the United States which is to have the opportunity to be truly successful. While in the Quilombo one of the ladies there was asking us about Obama and how he was doing as the president. She said that they were very proud of him and that they want Brazil’s African descendants to be able to one day be president as well.

I think this visit highlights my time in Brazil because I learned many new things about Brazil. There were similarities between Brazil and the United States but there were many differences. My experience was amazing and I was able to open my eyes to a whole new world full of their own issues and battles. This experience was great and I’m lucky to have been able to participate in it.


Posted by goabroad - October 14th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Come to Norway, Meet the World

by Vi Nguyen 

After spending six weeks at the International Summer School, I have the ability to say that with my personal experience, the ISS has beyond succeeded with their motto of “Come to Norway, meet the world.” I was able to not only meet wonderful Norwegian people but also others from all over the world. Each year the ISS invites hundreds of students from all over the world to learn about their culture, language and other subject areas. Towards the end of the program, the ISS hosts an event called “The ISS Culture Night.” This is an event where the students at the ISS wear their traditional costumes from their home country and performs their traditional dances. Before the show, they also have booths representing each country where they reveal their traditional customs with finger foods, history, etc. Because of this event, I was able to learn a lot about other countries but in particular I learned a lot about South Africa and Georgia.

Vi Nguyen in Norway

Set aside from the school experience, I encountered a culture difference that I often retell to my friends and family. It is rather a funny situation now that I think about it.

It was a Sunday evening and because everything is closed on Sundays the traditional thing to do on Sundays is to catch a movie at Saga’s movie theatre. My friend and I decided to watch Pacific Rim. As I ordered the movie ticket, the cashier asked where I would like to sit during the movie. I casually responded it doesn’t matter where I sit…having the thought that I would enter the movie theatre and decide where to sit where there’s availability just like here in the states. The cashier continued to bother me with the question of where I would like to sit, do I want to sit in the back or in the middle…I then got a little frustrated and responded o.k. I’m just going to go in and sit where there’s availability o.k. ? The cashier then respectfully explained to me that here in Norway when ordering your movie tickets you also receive assigned seats. I was not aware of this difference, and felt terrible…I then apologized and was assigned a seat in the middle. This was one of many culture differences that I have encountered. I have learned to be more aware and respect the culture differences.


Posted by goabroad - October 14th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



No Trek for Amateurs

Written by: Rebecca Ruh, Foster School Undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Chile

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About halfway through my time in Santiago, my fellow Coloradan friend asked me if I would like to join him for a day of hiking just on the outskirts of Las Condes, una comuna in the city of Santiago. Loving the outdoors and hiking, I leapt at the offer.

What began as a leisurely hike soon transformed into a workout for pros. The first hour passed relatively easy but the following five entailed much exhaustion due to the steep incline and lack of tread on my shoes. After all, the desert sand was no match for my indoor running shoes. As we passed the other hikers clad with trekking poles and professional gloves, they scoffed at the sight of these American amateurs. One lady, with a pitying look on her face even gave me one of her poles saying that I would need it for the journey down the mountain and she was more than right.

rebecca2When we finally ascended the summit and trudged through the snow up top, quite different from the desert sand when we began our journey, the smell of victory was in the air. After finishing 15 miles of pure uphill battle 20 minutes from the center of the city, I felt so proud. First it was amazing that such a view lay so close to the heart of Santiago, much less that we could take in the skyline since we had climbed much higher than the view-hindering pollution now below us. Secondly, this was the thrill that I seek – exploring a region, seeing cacti to snow in the matter of several thousand meters, and talking to the locals about this hidden gem of a view that lay before us. Couldn’t get much better than that. The best 11 hours to spend a Sunday. Man, I love this country.


Posted by goabroad - October 7th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



El Dieciocho the Chilean Way

Written by: Rebecca Ruh, Foster School Undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Chile

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For el dieciocho, a Chilean celebration of independence on September 18th, I desired to spend it with Chileans. Some other foreign exchange students invited me to travel with them, but I yearned for the true Chilean experience. After all, spending one of the biggest Chilean holidays with a bunch of gringos wouldn’t give me a true sense of the special day, but more of an Americanized version. So when one of my Chilean friends invited me to join him and 14 of his guy friends in Algarrobo on the coast, I immediately said yes.

To tell you the truth, I’d only talked with this “friend” two times prior to his invitation and so joining him and all of his friends in a house for four days seemed a little risky, but at the same time I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to make more friends and experience la Fiesta Patria the Chilean way. Plus I figured that it is situations like these where putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is more than necessary and often results in spontaneous fun, often better than anything planned.

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In a matter of four days, these Chileans introduced me to a holiday to be remembered. The days were filled with the beach, volleyball, paddleball, and flea markets while the evenings with piscolas (pisco and coca cola) and wine paired with enough meat to feed an army. Then when midnight hit, we’d make way to the fonda, a fair, with terremotos and chicha (two famously sweet Chilean drinks), churros with manjar, and la Cueca (a traditional Chilean dance), only to return to the house to continue storytelling.

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In addition to experiencing and learning so much about Chilean culture, I met some great friends who welcomed me with open arms and included me in every activity. I felt beyond comfortable and anything but anxious and worrisome. I’m so thankful for days like these and the adventurous spirit that pushes me to test my boundaries.

 


Posted by goabroad - September 21st, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink