Business Britain-High Tech in the UK

8/20/2014 Blog by Isara Ebsen, Busi­ness, Busi­ness Britain-High Tech in the UK

Hi every­one! My name is Isara Ebsen and I will be a senior at UW-Bothell this year. BEYOND excited about my study abroad trip to Lon­don which I leave for on Fri­day! How­ever, before I get into the details of my pro­gram and why I chose it, I wanted to tell you a lit­tle about myself first. I’m half Thai half Amer­i­can and I’ve spent almost equal amount of time liv­ing in both Phuket, Thai­land and here in the Seat­tle area. I work two part-time jobs as a wait­ress at two local Thai restau­rants. My fam­ily is every­thing to me! I have the best par­ents any­one could ever ask for. They divorced when I was really young but they never missed a beat when it came to pro­vid­ing love and sup­port. My father is my moral rock. Some­times I think of the per­son I might have been if I didn’t have him and the answer would be, not good. Peo­ple say the only uncon­di­tional love you will ever get is from your mother and my mother is liv­ing proof of this. I have a younger brother who is a year and half younger than me and is also in col­lege. While I set­tled for a rather mun­dane busi­ness degree, my hot shot brother Har­ri­son thinks he can out shine me by study­ing petro­leum engi­neer­ing. Sib­ling rivalry at its finest. I also have a younger sis­ter (Arisa 12) and another younger brother (Con­nor 8), bet­ter kids you won’t find any­where. My life would not be com­plete with­out my three best girl­friends Sarah, Abby, and Stephanie! We recently just had a blast together in Vegas cel­e­brat­ing being young and fun. A great friend trip that I would rec­om­mend to any­one! And last but def­i­nitely not least I have an amaz­ing boyfriend named Tate. Slow and steady wins the race is how I like to think of our rela­tion­ship. We met roman­ti­cally in halls of Cas­ca­dia Com­mu­nity Col­lege almost two years ago at the begin­ning of the school year, we went on our first date last July, and have offi­cially been dat­ing since April. He is the most car­ing most thought­ful boyfriend and I’m one lucky girl to have such a great man in my life.

Okay now about my trip! I leave for Lon­don on Fri­day, and since today is Wednes­day you can only imag­ine the excite­ment. I have never been to Europe before and can’t wait to see what that side of the world is like. Peo­ple keep telling me that just because they speak Eng­lish in Eng­land does not mean there isn’t a huge cul­ture dif­fer­ence. My trip is an explo­ration sem­i­nar and is part of the Fos­ter School of Busi­ness on the Seat­tle cam­pus. (For those of you who don’t know, an explo­ration sem­i­nar is a three week pro­gram offered dur­ing Pre-Fall term. A great choice for those of you who might have sched­ule con­flicts or are wor­ried about being over­seas for too long.) The pro­gram is called “Busi­ness Britain-High Tech in the UK” and focuses on high tech com­pa­nies and their con­nec­tion with global busi­ness. Being a busi­ness stu­dent with a strong inter­est in global busi­ness, I def­i­nitely felt like this pro­gram was a per­fect fit for me and I’m extremely lucky to have been cho­sen to go. Since my pro­gram hasn’t begun yet, I can only speak to how you should pre­pare for any study abroad trip. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN AHEAD! My one and only main piece of advice. Whether you are wor­ried about finances, trav­el­ing, or any other con­cerns you might have, you can find a solu­tion to all of them if given enough time. I know that for me my main con­cern was finances (it still is!). Hours of plan­ning, prob­a­bly twenty-something phone calls, numer­ous Google searches, and the UW-Bothell Study Abroad Schol­ar­ship is how I am afford­ing to go to Lon­don. The process is time con­sum­ing and not always fun, but achiev­able and super rewarding.

I leave on Fri­day and have a whole day in Lon­don before my pro­gram starts! I be sure to blog more about how my trip is going. Hope my adven­ture inspires you to go on one yourself!!

Traveling Tips — Norway Edition!

Due to the recent real­iza­tion that I may have under­es­ti­mated how expen­sive and dif­fer­ent Nor­way is, I have decided to start a few tips for trav­el­ing to Norway!

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The view from my room. Bergen, Norway 

Num­ber one: Bring a lot of money and trans­fer it into NOK before you get here.

So you’ve heard Nor­way is expen­sive right? Well, now you know. I knew Nor­way was going to be expen­sive but I had NO idea it would be this expen­sive. One bus ride is about $4.00, and the McDonald’s does not have a dol­lar menu. Think of every­thing you buy, and then at least dou­ble the price.

The rea­son behind trans­fer­ring your money before you arrive is mainly because the US banks will give you a much bet­ter deal than any air­port, or ran­dom ven­dor here in Nor­way. How­ever, It is not just that but there is no Chase bank, Bank of Amer­ica, or BECU. The ATM fees will bury you alive.

Num­ber two: Black jeans and con­verse, Wear it.

If you are a woman, or man, you will see almost every sin­gle Nor­we­gian wear­ing this out­fit. The shirt rotates, but the bot­tom is always the same. In the states women tend to wear var­i­ous pairs of shoes, how­ever, Nor­we­gians here stick to the basics.

Num­ber three: Bring TP, some dry food, sham­poo / conditioner.

My four biggest regrets. Like I said ear­lier, every­thing in Nor­way is expen­sive includ­ing the basics. If you can get away with spar­ring some room in your lug­gage for these items, I would rec­om­mend. That is four things you do not have to worry about — the less to worry about the bet­ter. More room for fun! Also, they aren’t nec­es­sary to take back with you, so the room that they take in your lug­gage is the room you can use for your new Nor­we­gian sweaters!

Num­ber four: Try and for­get about Mex­i­can food… 

Maybe this is just a tip for me… due to my absolute love for Mex­i­can food, but you just wont find it in Nor­way. Although, Friday’s are taco Fri­days! Lit­er­ally every­one in Nor­way makes tacos on Fri­day… you just do..

Num­ber five: Hike, Hike, Hike!!

With Bergen being sur­rounded by seven Fjords, there is absolutely no excuse not to hike! So bring those shoes, work­out pants and your rain coat! (yes it rains almost every­day) So far, I have hiked only two of the Fjords, how­ever, every week­end it is a new adven­ture! Its the cheap­est and most ful­fill­ing thing that Bergen can offer you, so take it!

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More to come! :)

Preparing for Take-off

August 19, 2014, Blog by Stephanie Schoep­pel, Soci­ety Ethics and Human Behav­ior (SEB),Psychosocial & Com­mu­nity Health Thai­land: Health in a Devel­op­ing Nation (Explo­ration Seminar)

Today is the day! I have been wait­ing months for this day to finally be here and have worked very hard to make it hap­pen. I must admit that my bags have been packed for quite some time and I have recently fin­ished acquir­ing the last few neces­si­ties (i.e. maps, e-books and of course tons of snacks). I will be fly­ing out tonight at 2:10AM and it will take me 12 hours to get to my first stop, Taipei, Tai­wan. I’ve been told to spend the 4 hour lay­over explor­ing their beau­ti­ful and quirky air­port so there won’t be a dull moment for me any­time soon. From there it will be another 3.5 hour plane ride to Bangkok, Thai­land where I will begin nav­i­gat­ing the taxi ser­vice in order to arrive at my quint lit­tle hotel. At that point I will prob­a­bly fall over from exhaus­tion, but it will all be worth it! I am so ready for the adven­ture to begin and can’t wait to see every­thing Thai­land has to offer!

Chasing my Dreams!

 August 10, 2014, Blog by Kelsey Bolinger, Soci­ety Ethics and Human Behav­ior (SEB), The Uni­ver­sity of Bergen Exchange Program 

Kelsey

So, what does it mean to be start­ing your twen­ties in another coun­try? So far, it has meant chas­ing your dreams and con­fronting your fears head on. Bergen, Nor­way will be my new home for the next five months, through thick or thin, were stuck with each other. It is really funny when you travel alone you feel really adven­tur­ous and excit­ing when really it’s those things but mostly scary. I am so grate­ful to have had a friend meet me here in Nor­way and I can’t thank her enough for help­ing jump start my trip! Hav­ing a few days to adjust to the time dif­fer­ence, the adven­tures have offi­cially begun. Where do I even begin?

kelsey 2Bergen is sur­rounded by seven Fjords. One of which is called Mount Floyen. With the help of some new friends I made at an ori­en­ta­tion a few days before we made our way to the top of the moun­tain that over­looks Bergen. What a beau­ti­ful sight! The weather is a lot like Seat­tle, which helps with the home-sickness. The view is incom­pa­ra­ble to the Seat­tle sky­line though. This sight was absolutely breath­tak­ing. I have met peo­ple from many dif­fer­ent coun­tries like Ger­many, Hol­land, Switzer­land, France, and the list goes on. It feels really good to be sur­rounded by peo­ple who know so much that I do not. I have the oppor­tu­nity to learn so many things here! I am begin­ning to under­stand what every­one has been telling me about the expe­ri­ences in another coun­try shape you for your future. There is so much to take in when you study abroad. This week will be filled with “wel­come week” activ­i­ties! It is all about meet­ing new peo­ple, under­stand­ing which courses you want to take, and attend­ing ori­en­ta­tions. I will write more on how wel­come week went! These past three days have mostly been spent wrap­ping my mind about the expe­ri­ence! Not only these past three days of arriv­ing in Nor­way, but also the months that brought me to this moment made me real­ize that the biggest mis­take a twenty year old could make is think­ing that your life has to be fig­ured out, when really, life is just begin­ning. Over the next five months I will be tak­ing courses, meet­ing new peo­ple and start­ing my life with one of the best oppor­tu­ni­ties known to man.

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Thailand/Cambodia!!

8/11/2014, Blog by Jamil Chavez, Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, BUS 480 Global Envi­ron­ment of Busi­ness in SE Asia 2014

 

Jamil

Jamil 2The rea­son I chose this option of learn­ing is to become more aware of the impact that global busi­ness is cre­at­ing over­seas. Since Asia is a fast grow­ing and devel­op­ing region, I felt Thai­land and Cam­bo­dia would help me expe­ri­ence the expan­sion firsthand.

From this expe­ri­ence of study­ing abroad I want to stand out from my peers and give myself the option to travel for a poten­tial employer through­out the world, and if pos­si­ble work in a satel­lite branch of a com­pany that is con­duct­ing busi­ness in other coun­tries. I would also like to become more aware of the process of con­duct­ing busi­ness over­seas and what the ben­e­fits and down­falls are in a per­sonal setting.

A spe­cific skill that I would like to attain from this trip would be global busi­ness rela­tions. I would like to make an impres­sion on those whom I meet and learn the sub­tleties of how to inter­act with those of dif­fer­ent cultures.

In order to pre­vent myself from get­ting home sick I have set up a means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion through Face­book mes­sen­ger, and plan to keep an elec­tronic jour­nal that I will send out to my loved ones via email.

I plan to be an hon­est diplo­mat of the United States and its cit­i­zens by; telling the truth to oth­ers, not embell­ish­ing how we live, and giv­ing an accu­rate pic­ture of the dif­fer­ences from state to state.

I have done plenty of trav­el­ing through­out my life and the only fear I have is miss­ing a flight. I plan to pre­pare well in advance in order to be where I need to be in a timely fash­ion in order to make all my arranged flights.

So far pack­ing has been a breeze. Before our trip, we have sched­uled plenty of meet­ings in order to dis­cuss what we will need, as well as a check list for our group to adhere to.

We leave in a week and our group is very excited and has planned many out­ings and gath­er­ings in order to max­i­mize the time we spend together. I can’t wait to land in Bangkok and get this tour started.

Team Togo

After only a few days of being home I still can’t believe that I just got back from three weeks in Ghana and Togo. It was a whirl­wind expe­ri­ence, but I learned so much and really enjoyed work­ing with our won­der­ful UW team. This was a great expe­ri­ence as a primer for my ser­vice in Peace Corps next year in Togo. In many ways it helped me get a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what liv­ing in Togo will be like.
I learned so much work­ing in the clin­ics. Before I left for Togo, I was a lit­tle unsure how my knowl­edge in pub­lic health would be very use­ful in a clinic, but I real­ized that so many of the sys­temic prob­lems in Togo directly affect the peo­ple com­ing into the clin­ics. For exam­ple, we saw in many clin­ics that peo­ple were unable to go to the hos­pi­tal because of trans­porta­tion or the cost of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion. These chal­lenges were dif­fi­cult to face and really drew on my ini­tial thoughts that Togo is a for­got­ten coun­try. There was much less aid seen in Togo com­pared to Ghana. The infra­struc­ture was sig­nif­i­cantly worse and there was a clear dif­fer­ence in acces­si­bil­ity from one coun­try to the other. It made me really appre­ci­ate that I choose to spend the first 4 days and the last 4 days in Ghana and use the com­par­i­son to bet­ter under­stand the need in Togo.
This was a fan­tas­tic expe­ri­ence and it really put the con­cepts that I have learned in health stud­ies and other BIS classes into a real world perspective.IMGP3341

Recommendation for Teaching English in China with Buckland Group International

7/2/2014 Blog by Kyle Mery, Class of 2014, Global Stud­ies, Buck­land Inter­na­tional Eng­lish Teaching

SignSchool Building

Children's classroom

I was selected for con­tract ser­vice for the Buck­land Inter­na­tional Eng­lish Group in July of 2013. My con­tract was to take place from August 2013 to Jan­u­ary 2014 and was to be that of a for­eign “expert” (The clas­si­fi­ca­tion used by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment for us) who would teach Eng­lish in China to ele­men­tary, mid­dle, and high school stu­dents. After hav­ing com­pleted this 6 month con­tract, I can now heav­ily rec­om­mend Buck­land as a viable and great option for those stu­dents who wish to gain inter­na­tional experience.

I rec­om­mend Buck­land not only because of my expe­ri­ence, but the expe­ri­ences of other for­eign teach­ers also work­ing for Buck­land who I became acquainted with. In August I took a flight to China and stayed for a week at the com­pany head­quar­ters where I was pro­vided lan­guage lessons, teach­ing lessons, a med­ical exam, and gen­er­ally pre­pared to teach in China. The ori­en­ta­tion was help­ful and we were taught var­i­ous tech­niques and rules needed when teach­ing Chi­nese stu­dents. As well, we were given tours in order to accli­mate us to the Chi­nese cul­ture before we were all sent off to our respec­tive schools through­out the country.

In terms of the pro­gram itself, you sign a con­tract with Buck­land which typ­i­cally has require­ments on your end (that you show up for work on time, that you teach your classes, etc.), but there are also require­ments on the school’s end which is what makes Buck­land a very good choice for a teach­ing pro­gram. For my con­tract, I was given an apart­ment of a cer­tain stan­dard min­i­mum (shower, TV, stove, microwave, free inter­net access were required), I was to be pro­vided a bike for free, I was given in addi­tion to my reg­u­lar pay a cer­tain amount extra for extra food a month, I was to be paid by a cer­tain date each month, and finally I was to be allowed access to school resources when I needed them. All of these were ful­filled by the school and Buck­land encour­aged us to let them know if the school did not ful­fill their end of the con­tract. Work weeks were not demand­ing and I was given two days off and typ­i­cally only taught until 4 p.m on the week­days. If any­thing broke in my apart­ment it was repaired or replaced promptly by the school.

My time in China enriched my aca­d­e­mic career immensely. As a for­mer global stud­ies stu­dent I was able to gain first­hand expe­ri­ence on the ways in which other cul­tures work and inter­act. It helped me develop a global per­spec­tive on things as I can now see what a Chi­nese person’s opin­ion might be on mul­ti­ple issues, in addi­tion to just my own Amer­i­can one. When com­ing back to Amer­ica I was able to see the dif­fer­ences in our cul­tures and now am able to bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate with Chi­nese stu­dents who are here and help them in their lives in Amer­ica, much as I was helped as a for­eigner in China.

Finally, the expe­ri­ence of liv­ing in another coun­try will help you to inter­act more effec­tively with those of other coun­tries par­tic­u­larly those of other lan­guages as in China you will have to learn how to com­mu­ni­cate with a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion that has very lit­tle to any expe­ri­ence speak­ing the Eng­lish lan­guage.   All in all, my time as a con­tract employee of Buck­land was very ful­fill­ing and I learned a lot about the Chi­nese cul­ture and also got great expe­ri­ence teach­ing. The inclu­sion of a con­tract gave safety that my needs as a for­eign teacher would be met. Per­haps the most impor­tant, health insur­ance was pro­vided by Buck­land in the event of ill­ness. My con­tract was met and ful­filled and at the end I was pre­sented with an offi­cial TESOL cer­tifi­cate (Teach­ing Eng­lish To Speak­ers Of Other Lan­guages) which autho­rizes me as a qual­i­fied per­son to teach Eng­lish as a sec­ond lan­guage. Because of their will­ing­ness to help and the fact that Buck­land hon­ored their end of my con­tract, I heav­ily rec­om­mend Buck­land Inter­na­tional Group as a great option for those want­ing to teach abroad and gain a mul­ti­cul­tural view of the world.

 

Adden­dum by Global Ini­tia­tives: For more infor­ma­tion about the oppor­tu­nity to teach Eng­lish in China with the Buck­land Group, visit: http://www.seattlecolleges.edu/international/china.aspx. Appli­ca­tion dead­lines are June 15 and Decem­ber 15.

Hello All!

7/30/2014 Blog by Sara Bran­n­man, Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies and LEPP, Andes to Ama­zon: Bio­di­ver­sity, Con­ser­va­tion, and Sustainability

I’m so excited to be prepar­ing for my sec­ond explo­ration sem­i­nar! This year, I’ll be going to Peru to study sus­tain­abil­ity and con­ser­va­tion in a global bio­di­ver­sity hotspot.

Last year, I took part in the early Fall explo­ration sem­i­nar in Ecuador and the Gala­pa­gos, which focused on issues of con­ser­va­tion with rela­tion to diverse eco­nomic classes and sit­u­a­tions. When I first saw the sem­i­nar on the UWB web­site, the first thought that flashed through my mind was, “Oh, I could never do that.” But once I became aware that I was say­ing this to myself, I though, “Wait…but why not? Why couldn’t I do this?” So I forced myself to apply.

The expe­ri­ences I had in Ecuador changed my life and the way I per­ceive my place in the world. After it was all over, I couldn’t wait to go some­where again. I was thrilled when I found a pro­gram in Peru that was even more closely aligned with my career inter­est in sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture. As a dou­ble major in Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies and Law, Eco­nom­ics, and Pub­lic Pol­icy, I’m very inter­ested in the way the econ­omy and the envi­ron­ment inter­act with and influ­ence each other. At this point in time, I’m pri­mar­ily con­cerned with the envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic impli­ca­tions of the mod­ern food sys­tem. The Peru pro­gram will pro­vide me with oppor­tu­ni­ties to look closely at food pro­duc­tion sys­tems — both cur­rent and retired — and learn more about sus­tain­able food pro­duc­tion. I hope to return with an even more inti­mate under­stand­ing of the poten­tial of sus­tain­able food sys­tems to help me in my desired future career.

While in Peru, I won’t have many oppor­tu­ni­ties to con­tact fam­ily and friends. Last year, I had plenty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to email and Skype with loved ones, so I’m a bit ner­vous about this change. How­ever, I feel con­fi­dent in trust­ing that I am safe with my pro­fes­sors, my peers, and my host coun­try. Hope­fully my fam­ily and friends will feel the same! Last year, before I left for Ecuador, I made my boyfriend a packet for while I was away. At the time, it was the longest span of time that we would be apart, so I made a packet with an activ­ity for him to do every day. One day, he’d do a home­made cross­word based on inside jokes, the next day he would have a col­or­ing sheet of a pic­ture of us, and another day he would have a quiz. I just wanted him to feel like he was talk­ing to me every day, even though he wouldn’t be able to. So, if you’re in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, feel free to use this idea!

Despite my ner­vous­ness regard­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I couldn’t be more excited to be going on another adven­ture. Before Ecuador last year, I was not an adven­turer. I lived in a box, I was afraid of change, and I didn’t like not know­ing what to expect. How­ever, after throw­ing myself out of my com­fort zone, I feel like a wiser, smarter, and more open per­son. I will always encour­age oth­ers to study abroad. Go have an adventure!

When One Door Closes, Another Opens: Highlighting the Very Best of Maastricht and Beyond

Maastricht's "stadhuis"--or city hall, foreshadowed by the modern and upbeat vibe of a Carnival disco ball. It is an image symbolic of Maastricht's people: committed to age-old tradition and pride while celebrating their passion for what the near future holds.

Maastricht’s “stadhuis”–or city hall, fore­shad­owed by the futur­is­tic vibe of a disco ball. It is an image sym­bolic of Maastricht’s peo­ple: com­mit­ted to age-old tra­di­tion and pride while cel­e­brat­ing their pas­sion for what the near future holds.
(March 2014 — Carnival)

 

Jan­u­ary 19, 2014 — July 11, 2014

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On July 11th, I said good­bye to a city that I called home for the course of six months.  My exchange has now offi­cially come to a close, and it is unthink­able how quickly each day rolled by.  I am now back with my fam­ily and friends in the Seat­tle area, enjoy­ing each and every ounce of much-anticipated sun­light and warm temperatures.

When reflect­ing on my expe­ri­ence abroad, I strug­gle to wrap my mind around all that has hap­pened.  I explored new des­ti­na­tions, met new peo­ple, and encoun­tered new chal­lenges.  Nat­u­rally, this is what going on exchange is all about: putting your­self in an entirely new envi­ron­ment and allow­ing your­self to see the world through a new lens.

As such, I give you the high­lights of Maas­tricht and beyond.  The exchange was a mix of the very Dutch and the very inter­na­tional.  These are the expe­ri­ences which made the exchange the great adven­ture that it was, and what it was meant to be.

Cook­ing at Heuge­mer­weg 

From left: Adam Robinson (England), Fien Decuypere (Belgium), Aga Cylna (Poland), Matt Rice (United States), and Joon Kyo Ahn (South Korea)

From left: Adam Robin­son (Eng­land), Fien Decuypere (Bel­gium), Aga Cylna (Poland), Matt Rice (United States), and Joon Kyo Ahn (South Korea)

Heuge­mer­weg is the name of the street that I lived on in Maas­tricht, and in my apart­ment build­ing, I and four other exchange stu­dents would take turns cook­ing dur­ing the week in our com­mu­nal kitchen.  It was a great way to sharpen our cook­ing prowess, and more impor­tantly, it allowed us to wind down after long days at the uni­ver­sity.  Because we all came from dif­fer­ent parts of the world, it comes as no sur­prise that, by form­ing a “cook­ing team,” we always got an excel­lent sam­ple of typ­i­cal foods from our native countries.

Cook­ing din­ner at Heuge­mer­weg allowed us five to get to know one another very well dur­ing the exchange, and it ulti­mately became a tra­di­tion.  In addi­tion, these stu­dents were the back­bone of some amaz­ing Fri­day night parties!

 Blind City Trip 2014: Porto, Portugal

I con­sider myself an advo­cate of spon­ta­neous travel–the abil­ity to be flex­i­ble in one’s itin­er­ary with the goal of seek­ing out qual­ity expe­ri­ences.  Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Maastricht’s (UCM) Excur­sion Com­mit­tee man­aged to do just that: orga­nize a sur­prise week-long trip to Porto dur­ing Reflec­tion Week (the equiv­a­lent of Spring Break).  The sur­prise was a suc­cess, as no one had a clue as to the des­ti­na­tion until it was revealed at the air­port.  Not bad!

So, I and 15 other stu­dents from UCM partook.

A typical residential street in Porto

A typ­i­cal res­i­den­tial street in Porto–something the aver­age vis­i­tor will sel­dom tire of.

The Porto expe­ri­ence con­sisted of excel­lent free walk­ing tours, pro­vided by a tour guide who took great pride in show­ing vis­i­tors all that the city has to offer; beau­ti­ful 360-degree views of the city upon climb­ing the nar­row steps of the Torre dos Cléri­gos (see below); intensely-flavored Port wine (native to Porto); a cruise along the River Douro; and, come sun­down, stops to some of Porto’s best pubs and nightclubs.

Torre dos Clérigos

Torre dos Clérigos

Porto is an awe-inspiring city.  Though it is evi­dent that it and its res­i­dents have been touched by the recent Euro­pean eco­nomic cri­sis, one can observe their sense of opti­mism for the future.  The locals are friendly, the food is fan­tas­tic, and so is the atmos­phere.  Despite this, how­ever, what made the Blind City Trip such a mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence was the peo­ple I spent it with.

UCM is a very international college.  The Blind City Trip group alone (shown here) represents students from the Netherlands, Germany,  Mexico, Slovakia, and Australia

UCM is a very inter­na­tional col­lege. The Blind City Trip group alone (shown here) rep­re­sents stu­dents from the Nether­lands, Ger­many, Mex­ico, Slo­va­kia, and Aus­tralia.  I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter group!

Easter in Den­mark: An Upbeat Mix of the Dan­ish, Dutch, and Very International

I men­tioned before that my exchange offered the very best of the Dutch and the inter­na­tional; my excur­sion to Aarhus, Den­mark was cer­tainly no excep­tion.  In my eyes, the best adven­tures are those which hap­pen at a spur-of-the-moment.

It all began on the Ger­man Autobahn–a high­way known through­out Europe and the world for hav­ing no speed limit.  This was my route from Leus­den, the Nether­lands: a six-and-a-half hour (overnight) jour­ney directly to Aarhus.  I joined my Dan­ish flat­mate, Maria, who was plan­ning on return­ing to her home coun­try dur­ing the break.  There, we would meet her Dutch boyfriend, Sander.  Sander’s fam­ily also joined Maria and I on the road to Den­mark.  Sander is cur­rently liv­ing and work­ing in Aarhus, and is also a good acquain­tance of mine.

I stayed in Sander and Maria’s apart­ment for the dura­tion of the trip; though small, it imme­di­ately felt like home and over­looked the Aarhus har­bor.  The sun shone, and their was always a gen­tle breeze.  Spring was just emerg­ing in Denmark.

Aarhus as seen from our apartment

Aarhus as seen from our apartment

Many a night, myself, Sander, Maria, and the fam­ily would go out for din­ner to eat.  It doesn’t get more inter­na­tional than an Amer­i­can, a Dane, and a group of Dutch peo­ple, going out for din­ner in Den­mark, sit­ting down and eat­ing Mex­i­can cui­sine in a restau­rant owned by a Moroc­can man.  Par­ties on the mod­ern apart­ment bal­cony had a sim­i­lar feel.  Stu­dents from Aus­tralia, Eng­land, Ger­many, Ice­land, and Den­mark would sit back and relax–casually dis­cussing impor­tant world issues as the sun set.  I was inter­ested to learn the Euro­pean per­spec­tive of the United States–whether that con­cerns reli­gion, pol­i­tics, gun con­trol, and so forth.  Euro­peans are always eager to assert their opin­ions even when unso­licited, and I admire that.  It has allowed me to view both the world and the United States in a dif­fer­ent light.

Sight­see­ing was also on our to-do list.  One day, we vis­ited Aarhus’s Old Town–Den Gamle By.  It’s a con­glom­er­a­tion of Dan­ish archi­tec­ture from days of yore; more specif­i­cally, from the 16th to the 19th cen­turies.  While it is the quin­tes­sen­tial tourist attrac­tion, it serves as a reminder of what once was.

My time spent in Aarhus ended with a tra­di­tional Dan­ish Easter brunch.  Gath­ered in the open, mod­ern, com­mu­nal kitchen of Sander and Maria’s apart­ment, we enjoyed her­ring salad, rye bread, cold cuts, and chopped veg­eta­bles as top­pings.  Dan­ish licorice shots and beer were also on the menu.

One Chap­ter Ends, Another Begins

Now that I am back in the United States, it is strange to think just how much I have learned and gained.  I have real­ized how much I am going to miss the peo­ple that I have met, the places that I have vis­ited, and the expe­ri­ences that I would not have had oth­er­wise.  As a result of my time abroad, I have become more inde­pen­dent, more out­go­ing, more relaxed, and more con­fi­dent as a solo trav­eler.  These all go hand-in-hand with step­ping out­side of what I was ini­tially com­fort­able with.  What I am espe­cially look­ing for­ward to to being back in the States is apply­ing these ele­ments.  For exam­ple, using pub­lic trans­porta­tion has become sec­ond nature.  Cook­ing is now a more enjoy­able pas­time.  At the same time, I now view the United States with a bit more skep­ti­cism, but also with more pride.  One of the great­est expe­ri­ences of my life took place when I was in the Nether­lands and Europe, and I am look­ing for­ward to the day that I can visit again.

The Naive German’s First Adventure! (Dispatch 1)

7/24/2014 Blog by Sta­cie Rajkovics, CSS, Ger­man­ics Ger­many: Beyond the Berlin Wall

My very first study abroad trip — wow!  I’m soo excited!  I can hardly wait to get to Ger­many to see all the cool things that I’ve only ever seen in mag­a­zines and pic­tures. I won­der what it will feel like to stroll down the boule­vards? Or gala­vant around the coun­try­side? Or just sim­ply enjoy the art, cul­ture, and of course, my per­sonal favorite — food!

German Government Building

But wait!! Today is July 24th. My trip begins August 1st. There is only seven days left until I’m sup­posed to fly out, and I don’t have a flight. What do I do now? How do I get to Germany?

Well, let’s see… First I go online to Expe­dia, Cheaptick­ets, United Air­lines, and Lon­don Air­ways to see what the going price is for a plane ticket to Ger­many. Ok, so I quickly dis­cover that last minute plane tick­ets are VERY expen­sive. Hmmm… Now what?

I know!  I sprint to the Finan­cial Aid office where I learn that I can apply for a short-term loan. It only takes three days to get an approval and dis­burse the funds. Yay! I’m saved!!

But wait! If the plane ticket is too expen­sive, then how do I pay my rent?  And what about food? And where am I going? I haven’t even stud­ied the map yet. This is no easy task! What was I thinking?!

Will I make it to Ger­many? Stay tuned my fel­low inquirers…