Bucket List Item #22…Check

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

This past weekend Diego, my Peruvian friend, and Lisbeth, my Spanish amiga, accompanied me to Valparaíso, a port city about an hour and a half from Santiago. Amongst our exploring of the city filled with the brightest walls, an interesting stay at a hostel, visiting one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, and sampling anticuchos (cow heart) and sopapillas from street vendors, we made our way a little further up the coast to Con Con to take a whirl at sandboarding

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When we arrived I was shocked to see such a view – sand dunes towering high above the ocean with its majestic blue waters directly below us. With only three other small groups there, it felt like we had the land to ourselves, all the better so fewer people could gape at our amateur boarding skills and smirk at our clumsy wipeouts (even though I found great pleasure in laughing at my ineptness). Our first attempts down the massive dunes culminated in trips and spills, becoming very familiar with the rough sand. But soon, paving our way down the dunes became more natural and my confidence in my sandboarding abilities grew. As we descended the hills and the sun cast its rays on the water, I soaked in the skyline, ingraining it on my mind, vowing to never forget this moment directly before my eyes. I couldn’t believe it – crossing bucket list item #22, sand-boarding, from my list for a grand total of $3 with some of the most breathtaking scenery halfway around the world and great company. You could say I am one lucky girl.


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



This is Tahiti

 By Midori Ng

Island of Moorea

“Bonjour”, “La Orana”, and “Hello” surrounded us as we disembarked the airplane and into the overwhelming humidity. Since I only speak English, I was immediately culture shocked with the French and Tahitian languages. The LePendu’s were our host family who warmly welcomed our UW group of 22 students with flower lei’s, shell necklaces, and friendly kisses. This marked the beginning of my Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMAD) study abroad journey in Tahiti for one month, exploring the towns of Punaauia, Fa’a, Papeete, and Moorea.

A small island with an even smaller population, Tahiti is home to natural wonders of sandy beaches, exotic flora and fauna, and clear blue ocean waters. To the outside world, it is known as paradise. However, many people never truly experience the aspects of Tahiti that make the island so alluring and captivating.

Our journey focused on making connections within the Polynesian community and learning about the Tahitian culture beyond the stereotypes and pre-perceptions. We spent weeks studying the traditional Tahitian canoes Polynesians used to voyage across miles of ocean during migration through guest speakers, readings, and discussions. Afterwards our group canoed in open water, swam with stingrays, and learned to how to paddle board with the LePendu kids. This type of active learning was applied to multiple aspects of the Tahitian culture.

Heiva Dance Festival

Heiva Dance Festival

During our second week, we attended the Heiva Dance Festival in downtown Papeete to watch an entertaining Polynesian show full of chanting, dancing, and singing. Afterwards, we got to partake and create our own Heiva festival, learning four dance routines, two songs, and a traditional chant within 48 hours to perform for the Punaauia community.

Volunteering at a kid’s camp and elementary school were the most rewarding experience of the trip. We spent all day with the children learning about their culture by weaving handmade baskets, making coconut milk, and preparing the dish E’ia Ota (Tahitian lime-marinated tuna). I also loved sharing parts of the American culture by playing basketball, soccer, and football with them. We also attended an American Football game between two local high schools to support the students the UW Athletic Football Department helped coach in June 2013. The football team performed the traditional Hakka dance for UW showing their appreciation of our support.

This was my first time out of the country and first time studying abroad. Through this program I realized the importance of slowing down and enjoying the moment being presented in front of you. Only staying for one month, every day was a new adventure and memory that would pass by too quickly.

Tahiti was an eye-opening study abroad trip that has no doubt changed my life. It is a destination that offers the greatest of simple pleasures rooted in a culture that values community, nature, and diversity. I found I am genuinely happy with Tahitian lifestyle of minimal accessibility to technology and materialistic items. More importantly, the LePendu family taught me a lot about living with a positive outlook, big heart, and open mind. As I am settling back into my life in Seattle, I am extremely grateful and humbled to have experienced the trip of a lifetime.


Posted by goabroad - August 8th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



CHID Study Abroad to Munich

Written by: Antonio Ortoll

It would be extremely difficult to resume my study abroad experience in one page. However, there were a few things that really changed the way in which I originally perceived the German culture. One of them would be the differences between Bavaria, and the rest of Germany. Germany is advertised to tourists in a very distinctive way. As a tourist, I expected to see most German people wearing a tracht at festivals, eating oversized pretzels, and drinking large amounts of beer. While this was true for Munich, places like Berlin were not as traditional in that aspect. In fact, not only the overall costumes were different, but also, there was a bit of a language barrier between Germans from Berlin and Munich. When our program director communicated to waitresses and waiters at restaurants in Berlin, a few things had to be repeated or clarified.

Germany, Antonio blog

Aside from that, I had the opportunity to interact with many locals. And for the first time, I experienced a low-context culture, where communication is usually taken at face value. Throughout my life, I have lived among cultures where non-verbal cues are subject to multiple interpretations. Learning about these differences will help me cope well in multinational businesses in which I intend to work in the future. Along with that, it was interesting to learn about their views on customer satisfaction. I had always believed that most people had the same customer service expectations, regardless of what part of the world they were from. I was wrong, Germans don’t value or identify with a charismatic server, but instead, they expect efficiency and perfection.

This sense of efficiency and perfection is very-well projected and the way German cities are constructed and organized. The public transportation is simple to use and extremely punctual for departures and arrivals. This punctuality in transportation, always allowed us to visit many places in one day, despite the fact that we were travelling long distances. Throughout the month, I had the opportunity to visit many holocaust monuments, which transported me back to times of political conflict and hardship. And also, I visited King Ludwig’s castles that transported me back in time just by looking at their well-constructed medieval structure. Every day spent in Germany was unique and exceptional. Travelling abroad has definitely changed my outlook on life. I’m very grateful to have been welcomed to be part of this incredible program. I couldn’t have asked for more.


Posted by goabroad - August 8th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Travel Tips

Written by: Jennifer Bullion

Overall I loved my trip abroad and learned a lot but not every situation was a great one. I have some tips that will hopefully help you from making the same mistakes and maybe save you an uncomfortable night.

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Les Caves- A club in a cave, it’s an experience.

Double Check last train times.

I spent the night in the Brussels train station because I check frequency of train assuming they went all night or until midnight.

Train Stations do not close.

With a ticket the police will not kick you out of the train station. I was approached by a man who said he was a taxi driver and that the station closed and I would be kicked out on the street. That was not the case.

Don’t bring purses into clubs or hold them.

While walking through a crowed club I was pickpocketed and they got everything in my purse without me noticing at all.


Posted by goabroad - August 5th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Paris: My Home Away From Home

Written by: Jennifer Bullion

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I visited my friend in Paris early in my trip and fell so in love with the city and people that I went back almost every weekend.

The bus systems in Europe make it really easy to get to other countries for cheap. By bus it was around $35 each way to get to Paris, but using Megabus you get to places for $12 but they only go to Amsterdam not Rotterdam. You can also get very cheap tickets for the train or Frya (high-speed train), the train is really comfortable and a lot quicker than buses.

 


Posted by goabroad - August 5th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



RSM Housing

RSM, Jennifer Bullion

This is the pond on the walk from the metro station to campus.

Written By: Jennifer Bullion

I stayed in the F – Building on campus; it was perfect for me because I did not have a roommate. I have never lived on my own so it was something I wanted to experience. The campus was under construction throughout the entire time I was there, but it wasn’t an inconvenience. There were about 12 students studying at RSM that came just for Spring Quarter, I was the only one staying in the F Building all the other students stayed in the Student Hotel or the other student housing. The other student houses are on a main road close to bars and I think it is easier to run into other students because they have community areas. The F – building did not have an area that made it easy to meet your neighbors. You can walk to the bars from campus but it’s a hike, if you take the tram it is only 3 or 4 stops. It is not very far, but since the last tram that stops at campus is around 1:15 am a lot of nights I did not go out, but I did not go to Erasmus to go to bars. Depending on the experience you want choose the right housing, it will probably make or break your trip.


Posted by goabroad - August 5th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Concluding Remarks

Written by: Evelyne Kolker

Now that I am back home in the U.S., with Rotterdam tucked away as a recent and cherished memory, I can start to really appreciate and pick out what I loved most about my study abroad experience.

barcelona

This is Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia.
Sarah Hann is in this photo too! And our friend Sandesh Menon.

Another simple but vitally important aspect of my study abroad was grocery shopping. The variety and freshness of fish in the country alone deserves applause. It was a pleasure picking up fruit in the Netherlands, all the variety of cheeses, and the outdoor market ever Tuesday in the center of Rotterdam surprised me with its size and selection.Some people may be surprised, but I’d like to pay a special tribute to the public transportation in the Netherlands. While across many big cities in Western European countries the transport is fantastic, the Netherlands especially has a well-thought, very convenient system. I think sustainable urban development is something that the Netherlands has excelled in and something that the U.S. needs to take note of. There are very few places in the U.S. where we have buses or trams arriving every few minutes, without delay, and at all hours of the day and night. The Netherlands blew me away with the new, clean trains that allowed me to travel all across the Netherlands.

By glancing at a map of Europe, you can easily see what Erasmus University itself advertises: Rotterdam’s location conveniently allows you to travel to many different countries, such as Belgium, France, and Germany. The highlight of my travel experiences me was three days in Barcelona, just a short flight away. We got to walk down the famous Las Ramblas, caught a game of the amazing FC Barcelona team, and enjoyed Gaudi architecture throughout the city. I visited 7 countries during my time studying in Rotterdam. Rotterdam was a fantastic jumping off point for so many different trips.

Ultimately, the history, the culture, and the lifestyle are the components that make both the Netherlands and Europe in general such a fantastic place to travel to and live in. I hope that everyone who wants to study abroad makes it a priority because there is nothing like traveling when you are young and free to do so. Throwing yourself out of your element really puts into perspective what is important to you in life, what you miss from back home, and what you crave in the future. Essentially, that’s what study abroad is all about. Thank you Rotterdam for the chance to learn, to wander, and to discover!


Posted by goabroad - July 30th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Manchester

Written by: Sarah Breysse

 

So I’ve come to realize that I have a lot to catch up on but it will be impossible to say everything. I have a lot of commentary about my life here that goes on in my head throughout the day that I try to remind myself to write down so I can post it, but let’s be real, that rarely happens. I wish it was socially acceptable to talk into a voice recorder as I go about my day just to get out everything I want to say, but it’s not so here we are…

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Overall Manchester is a truly amazing city. It actually reminds me a lot of Seattle and I’m pretty sure that the contractor that built Foster also came here. The University of Manchester campus is all on one road but has 3 different locations where class rooms and residence halls are located. I live in Victoria Park, the central campus, which is in between the city campus where I have class, and Fallowfield where most students live.  I have a cute little dorm room right across from the dining hall. I’ve gotten to know two Australian girls who are also on exchange that live by me, so that’s been a nice comfort to have. I have my bus pass that gets me up and down Oxford Road through the different university campuses and up to the city center. Though I have yet to figure out what bus number to use, besides the 141, it’s been incredibly helpful considering things are pretty spread apart. On that note, everyone who used to give me crap for “only having to walk to Paccar” can suck it, because now my walk to class every day takes me at least 20 minutes. I never thought I would envy the UW pre-med students and their walk to class.and built MBS. The city center, bus stations, and Starbucks are very similar to Seattle, but with more people. I feel like Manchester is has a more concentrated population and people have no understanding of what a cross walk is. This is an incredibly diverse and culturally aware city with Chinatown, Curry Mile, and a LGBT area of town. Different languages are thrown around almost as much as gum is thrown on the street (which if you could see the streets around here, you would know is A LOT!) Cigarettes are much more prominent here, enough to actually make me think about second hand smoke, but you still can’t smoke inside which is nice. People are very friendly, especially when they hear my American ‘accent’. Though I think some of them might have been mocking me in the process.

I had my first week of classes last week, and overall they went well. There was nothing too surprising about them and nothing really caught me off guard. I don’t have class on Mondays, which is awesome (though nowhere near as cool as Foster Fridays back home). Professors are very international, but not in the same way as home. The biggest change for me is the way MBS grades. My overall mark (aka grade) is usually based on only a final, or a group project and a final. Though that is not completely unheard of at Foster, the final exam is an essay, which is unheard of. I need to brush up on my topic sentences and paragraph  structure for sure.

The buildings here are both modern and rustic, which can lead to some strange combos, but are beautiful in their own way. Pubs and bars line the streets. Football is a religion. MCR is the acronym for Manchester, which should give nightmares to any current Alpha Chi.  The weather is almost the exact same as Seattle. Taxi’s aren’t yellow but they are everywhere.  The British accents are just as amazing as I thought they would be, but contrary to popular belief, it does not automatically makes someone attractive, it only adds to the allure of pre-existing attractiveness. And I am so excited that I get to call this city my home for the next five months.


Posted by goabroad - July 16th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



I’M FINALLY HERE!!!

Written by: Sarah Breysse

The first day after we landed wasn’t a real day because all I did was eat and sleep. The next day, Saturday the 19th , we took a train (extremely impressed with the train system here. It isn’t super inexpensive but it is efficient and easy to use,) to Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ve been to Edinburgh before, but the second time was just as amazing as the first, if not better.
Unfortunately we had some serious travel mishaps including me running 2 miles back to our hotel to get our train confirmation number and getting back to the station with only 2 minutes to spare. The second mishap started with my mom asking for directions to our bed and breakfast in Scotland and lead to us on the opposite side of town because the guy gave us the wrong directions. This wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if it wasn’t snowing, windy, and up-hill. On that note, cab drivers around here are not the best at maneuvering through their own city. At least 2 taxi drivers have given us bad directions or taken us to the wrong destination.

We packed a lot of activities into our day in Edinburgh. We started by going to dinner with our old friends who live in the city and it was literally the best. I got to hang out with baby Freddie and then go out for a pint with all the grown-ups. One of the best nights I’ve had in a while and I learned a lot about living in England (including the fact that you have to ask for the check at restaurants, there are no street signs anywhere, and everyone lives in flats.)

The next day my mom and I climbed the stairs of the Scot Monument, toured Holyrood Palace (I felt like Kate Middleton), went through the Castle (it was built in the 12th century and was unbelievable), and had lunch at a little pub right down the street from where they used to do public hangings and just down from where the Germans bombed in WWII. Just from walking down the Royal Mile I learned that Edinburgh is known for their cashmere, to be a city in England the area must have a Cathedral (St. Giles) and the number of kilts are still unflattering on pretty much everyone.The one strange thing I have experienced is repeatedly seeing some random person on the street and thinking they look just like someone I know from home. Even if it’s just a slight resemblance I think it’s one of my friends. Probably just home sickness. Seattle seems like Mars over here.

More on Manchester soon!
xoxo

 


Posted by goabroad - July 16th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink



Manchester Bound

Written by: Sarah Breysse

So as I sit on my couch watching TV thinking about getting through the next couple weeks, while I should be packing, I’ve decided to start my study abroad blog instead. All of you should be extremely excited about this by the way, because it’s about to win a Pulitzer. (I am a horrible writer, please do not judge me.)

I’ll start off with some background. I will be attending the University of Manchester, Manchester Business School. The process has been long and quite a struggle to be completely honest; especially considering I found out I was accepted to the program over a year ago.  The biggest pain in my butt was getting a visa. No, I didn’t have to go down to San Fran to get it like other people, but I did have expensive and unfortunate relationship with the British Embassy in New York after I applied for the wrong type of visa. The UK should really try and clarify their student visa process, (granted I’ve never even thought of applying to come into the US so I admit my bias).  The other rather large issue with “studying” abroad was trying to convince my professors to give me credit towards my degree for actually doing the “studying” that the 6 business classes I’ll be taking require.  This led to many trips to the counseling office and an unreal amount of emails to a very nice guy named Andy at the MBS admin team.

The anticipation is seriously killing me. I would totally hop on the next plane right now and hitch-hike through England just to not have to wait 2 weeks to start my very own, less graphic, version of Eurotrip. I have so much to look forward to and knowing that my beautiful, rustic, and very English single dorm room is waiting for me feels like partial torture.

In all seriousness, I cannot wait to see everything, be everywhere, and meet everyone that I possibly can. Getting out of the GS bubble is going to be a much needed real life wake up call. As much as we all try and deny it, we are pretty sheltered at times. I’m not saying that Manchester is some worldly utopia of life revelations or culture shocks (especially since they speak English), but it is a different country, a different upbringing, and a new educations system. If nothing else, I will at least learn how to use public transportation that actually works.

The waiting continues.

Stay tuned….

xoxo


Posted by goabroad - July 16th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink