2016 Trip

Study Abroad Post Blog

When I first arrived in Strasbourg, I was in awe of my new surroundings. The buildings were beautiful. The food was delicious. The languages were difficult. I tried my best to completely take in what I was experiencing,but it wasn’t until I had arrived back to the United States that I realized I had been in Europe for a month. I truly understood the differences between the US and Europe when I paid for my meal in cash and received a few quarters, nickels, and dimes. I was almost in shock when I didn’t receive Euros. I barely recognized a quarter and its shimmer. It was weird to think that a normal event–something I have experienced hundreds of times before–had stopped me for a moment. Since then, I notice small things that I had forgotten about such as a normal American conversation or a July 4th celebration. Small things that I never knew were different.

My experience in Europe really changed me for the better. I now have a better understanding of the EU and its cultures. I learned things in and out of the classroom. I learned that Europeans take their soccer/football really seriously. One of my better experiences is watching French people celebrating their victory on the streets of Paris; it was so chaotic, but the energy was contagious. I might just start watching soccer games.

Overall, Europe was not as scary as I thought it was going to be. The people were mostly friendly and very patient when it came to my poor French skills. I was surprised how easy it was to travel. Everything was different, but not too different where it would discourage. If given the chance to redo it, I would, but I would bring more money.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

Final Reflection

This post is supposed to be a reflection of all that I learned in 5 weeks. To be honest, I don’t fully yet know how this trip has changed me. I’m sitting here, waiting for my Economic Development of Europe class to start (wearing my Universite of Strasbourg t-shirt, I might add). I know I saw a lot. I saw famous sites and paintings and had adventures that could’ve been pulled out of a novel. I learned a lot too. I learned about the complexities of the EU and about Europe, in both a cultural and economic sense.

One thing I noticed throughout my time in Europe, even at week 5, was how constantly uncomfortable I was. For some reason, I would ever get overwhelmed was in the grocery store. But this sensation of feeling out of place in my own skin didn’t become a hindrance, it was just something that I adjusted to and dealt with. Aside from the classroom knowledge and street smarts I think I acquired, I think that was the most useful thing I learned. Clear-cut scenarios and easy situations don’t frequent the real world.

I’ve become okay with ambiguity. With not always having a plan, and making it up on the way. I can figure out a city metro. I’m okay with ordering a meal in three different languages, because even though its not perfect, it gets the job done. I also learned a lot about people, and different cultures. I’ve lived in Texas my whole life, and not much changes here. Some people’s values in Europe are different, and some are similar. I learned not to judge a culture or nation for their actions and manners before knowing their history. One guest lecturer compared us to goldfish that didn’t know what water was until we were taken out of it.

I still don’t really know what it fully means to be an American, but maybe after a few more trips overseas I’ll figure it out. Its important to recognize differences in cultures because how else would you know how to not only function within the differences, but also appreciate them?

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

Study Abroad Reflection

The last 5 weeks of my life have probably been the most exciting ones I have experienced. This is because they were spent in Europe doing a study abroad program, which meant that everyday was an adventure. There was so much to learn and the best part about that was that the learning was not solely occurring in a classroom.

Learning during the study abroad program was continuous. We had classes at EM Strasbourg where we learned about European integration and international finance. Furthermore, we had field trips at least once a week to places that were extremely relevant to what we were learning. This was one of my favorite aspects of the study abroad program because it was essential in order to solidify my understanding of the topics we were learning about, especially with the time constraints when it came to studying.

There was much to experience in regards to different cultures and countries. Besides France, I was able to go to Spain, Germany, and Belgium. In each location, there were noticeable differences but people were still kind and always willing to help. Because of this, I got to experience what it meant for the European Union to be unified in diversity. I grew to be very comfortable in Europe towards the end of the trip. To me, Europe is full of history and things to experience and admire.  I would like to go back in the future or even considering job opportunities that may take me abroad.

My time in Europe also allowed me to continue developing important skills. For example, there was a lot of problem solving that we had to think through. This was especially true due to our means of traveling on the weekends. We mostly traveled by train but there was a strike on the national railroad system at the time that did not facilitate things. Nonetheless, we still made it to our destinations. Furthermore, learning how to live somewhere despite not being very familiar with the language created interesting situations that have made me more flexible in terms of adapting.

I remember when I decided to apply for a study abroad program. I had heard that these things could be life changing and that I surely would see the world differently after but I was unsure of just how impactful a study abroad program could be. However, after spending 5 weeks in Europe and learning about the inner workings of it, what the European Union is and how it became what it is today, I cannot say that I was disappointed by the effects the study abroad program had on me. It was not only one of the most effective ways for me to learn about another culture and country but it was also a great way to improve vital skills and encourage a desire to learn more and explore new international opportunities.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

Final blog

Looking back at the last five weeks, I can say with complete confidence that I learned infinitely more than I ever expected to. From culture to travel to language, the things I learned in addition to international finance and European integration have molded me as a person in ways I never expected.
First of all, I never expected to have so much trouble getting around at first! Coming from a city that had next to no public transport whatsoever, figuring out how to navigate the maze of tram routes around the city completely baffled me. I remember our weekend in Paris really forced me to learn how to finally make sense out of the jumbled map of colorful lines, and by the end of the weekend I felt like I was a pro. From then on, it was really rather simple and time-efficient, since one didn’t have to deal with traffic or finding parking, and I even found myself favoring public transport to driving by the end of my five weeks here.
Additionally, I can’t even begin to describe how much I learned culturally. Of course, in our increasingly global world, I have always been aware of the fact that there are many countries that are extremely culturally different than the United States. However, I’ve always imagined this being true of undeveloped countries and countries with severely different histories and backgrounds, such as countries in the Middle East and the Caribbean. However, I did not expect to find so many deeply-engrained culturally differences in highly developed European countries. Their pace of life, ways of interacting with each other, social norms, favorite foods, lack of ice and air conditioner, and so many other simple aspects of everyday life are extremely different than what I’m used to in the Inited States, and in many ways noticing these differences made me finally see how special it truly is to be an American. I have never thought of the United States as being culturally unique since we are always labeled as a melting pot of cultures, but I can see now that our drive and determination to succeed is unique even amongst some highly developed European nations. In addition, our diversity makes us extremely accepting of all different types of people from different backgrounds. I expected European countries to be the same in this respect, but I observed that they are much more committed to preserving their history and origins, making them a little less welcoming to cultures outside Europe. In Professor Menu’s class, I was able to see that even within the European Union, there are many discrepancies between countries that are caused by cultural differences and countries’ unwillingness to sacrifice any part of national sovereignty.
One more thing that I observed while being abroad was the reactions of the citizens of other countries to Brexit. While studying the details of Brexit, it seemed incredible that it was a serious possibility, because it seemed so likely to bring harm to the UK in terms of economy as well as politics, with Wales and Scotland and others possibly thinking of trying to leave the UK to join the EU on their own. The more I talked to people from France and Germany about it, it seemed clear that they just rolled their eyes at it and thought that surely Britain wouldn’t actually leave. When the votes were in favor of Brexit, people seemed shocked and horrified, even the ones who didn’t know much about the details. Everyone seemed to know that this had some very serious implications for the EU, and I think it’s incredible that we got to be in Europe while it happened to see the reactions firsthand.
All in all, I took always so much more knowledge than I ever expected to in coming on this program. I am in awe at all of the different ways international business can work and I know that after seeing the institutions we visited firsthand and interacting with different citizens of those countries, I am much better prepared to enter into the work of international business than I used to be.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

Final Strasbourg Post

On my study abroad, I learned a variety of things some originated from my classroom experiences and others from my travels. It was extremely interesting to learn about international finance and EU integration in the classroom and then be able to see the effects outside the classroom. There were many things that differed from the US. Some things were easy to adjust while others took some effort. As the days went by it became easier to communicate with everyone. I was able to really get an understanding of the different cultures while traveling on the weekends.

It was remarkable to see and talk with people from different countries and hear what they believe as far as policy and regulations. I was able to learn about the different environments of business and how the people aspect changes with each place. Another big difference is the importance of time. In some places people would be early while in other places it was acceptable to be late. This was a big thing to adjust to but it was a very interesting aspect. In each country there were unique aspects that set each place apart. Also I was able to make many connections between my travel and international business. As each week progressed I learned more and more from my studies and I was able to apply them in my travels during the weekend.

Since I have been back there have been many things that I miss from France. It has given me a new perspective on the things that happen daily in the US. It has broadened my mindset on the opportunities available and some of the judgements that I had before the trip have been erased. I can honestly say that I would love to live abroad and work in accounting. This trip has given me so much but most importantly it has allowed me to appreciate everything that I have and the blessings that I am given. I am able to go to an outstanding business school while this isn’t possible for many. My study abroad has given me a new understanding not only in international business but also in life.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

Merci, Europe

My month in Europe was the greatest month of my life. I saw, experienced, and learned a great deal during my travels, and I would not trade my time there for anything in the world. From Strasbourg, I traveled to Switzerland, Paris, Barcelona, and Munich. Each one of these locations was unique and amazing in its own right. Whether I was at the beach in Barcelona, a bier garten in Munich, or paragliding in the Swiss Alps, each location offered incredible and unique experiences that I will be forever grateful for.

I was able to learn an enormous amount about the European people and their diversity during my month in Europe. In each location I visited, I was able to observe how similar and different everyone on the continent is. From the laid back lifestyle of the people of Barcelona to the efficient and fast moving Germans, it was awesome to see and experience how different each city and its people were from the other. However, as different as each location may have been, they also shared a great deal of similarities. Though each region certainly had its own identity, one could tell that they all shared something similar: being European. There is just a certain vibe that one gets from Europeans. It is good and different, and, to a point, it just feels like a more open, free-dealing, accepting vibe. This is not always the case, but I definitely felt it most places. It was great to experience and see the different yet similar cultures that existed throughout the continent, and it was an invaluable experience to see the perspectives of other people in another part of the world. So often we are trapped in our bubbles and forget that we are only one of several billion people. It is great to see how millions of others live, work, and play on a daily basis.

As fun as it was to live life to the fullest on the weekends, we still had serious classes that required our focus. We took two classes, one over the European Union and European integration and another over international finance. These classes were extremely fascinating, and I was able to learn a great deal. However, my greatest takeaway from these classes was how applicable they were when we were in Europe. Thanks to the historic Brexit vote, I was able to apply what I was learning at the time to the world around me. Everything that we had talked about in class and had learned was taking place before our very eyes. From the British Pound hitting its lowest point in 30 years to the possible crumbling of the European Union and its historical backdrop, everything that was taking place we had been talking about. It was absolutely awesome to apply my fresh and newfound knowledge of such subjects to something I was passionate about (I was so distraught during the Brexit vote that I could not sleep that night). It is really profound to see what you are currently learning in class happening on the news at that same moment. Though it was hard to keep up at times, the knowledge I gained from the classes I took was invaluable.

I am so thankful that I was able to take this trip and experience Europe as a college student. From the classroom to the Louvre, everything about the trip was an incredible learning experience that has helped change my world view. I am grateful for the great people on this trip and those generous enough to give me this opportunity (thanks Mom and Dad), for without them this trip would not be so great. I will always remember this trip abroad, and I hope to go back to Europe as soon as I possibly can. Thank you, Europe.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

European Reflection

It has been almost 6 weeks since my classmates and I departed from Bush Intercontinental airport on a journey that would take us across many countries and even more adventures. When first arriving in Europe, I had a since of ambiguity in what to do, say or even dress, but those anxieties soon feel to the wayside when I began to realize the true sentiments of the countries we were staying in. There is something to be said of the progress of the EU and its mission of European integration and inclusion; I firmly believe that this progress has led to some of the reasons I believe my experience abroad were so encompassing and not steadily focused on just fitting in. The diversity, especially in Strasbourg, and inclusion that is paired with it made it easier for me to focus on the cultural, socioeconomic and customary differences that helped shape the cultural experience I sought when first signing up for this program.

Although, my time spent in the class room gave me an understanding of the structure of Europe, it was the weekends that really showed me the lives of the people. So many train rides and stays in Airbnbs gave me the opportunity to have extended conversations with insights that have left me with context for what I have studied and a better understanding of the daily thoughts of a European. With some classes I have taken it is difficult to see their applications into the real world, but this program is not the case. By the end of the 5 week program I believe that I gained a wealth of knowledge into the culture and business side of Europe all while being able to check so many boxes off my bucket list. Some things I learned on the business side of this experience is that in many business ventures it is sometimes necessary to know the background of a country to best work with its people. Knowing common or dissimilar business practices will overall improve the outcomes of any foreign business. There was much to be learned on the cultural side of this program as well, especially with shocking Brexit decision made during our visit, which has ignited massive amounts of public outcry. It is easy to see the social tension that Europe faces at the moment, but I believe that it also easy too see its steady unification in the pursuit of a better and more united Europe.

Over all, I could not be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given to see a different part of the world and study the financial and governmental facets that bolster it.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

France 2016

Strasbourg, you have been my home for the past month and I cannot thank you enough for the opportunities you have made possible and the memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have been able to take away so many new experiences and perspectives that I’m certain will shape my life and my future endeavors.

Since I have been back, the most common question I have gotten is “what country was your favorite?” This is such an impossible question because of the cultural differences I experienced in each country. Each country I visited was simply so different and that extent of diversity is something you don’t get to experience in America alone. One of my first trips was to Switzerland and it was by far the most majestic place I have been to. I will also never forget spending 23 CHF on a burger. The following weekend we went to Paris and got to see the Eiffel Tower. We also witnessed France’s first win of the Euro cup as the French crowded the streets honking their horns and waving flags out of their cars. The next weekend we took an overnight train to Barcelona, Spain. The first day we did a bike tour to learn more about the history of the city and then hung out on the beach all day. Our last weekend trip was to Germany where we were able to go to the Dachau concentration camp in Munich. The

From paragliding through the Swiss Alps and getting lost in the city of Paris to walking the beaches of Barcelona and witnessing the aftermath of the Second World War in Germany I have been able to experience the different cultures of the world and now have a more accurate depiction of the world around me.. I will never forget my time over seas and although my journey has come to an end I look forward to my future plans to experience the other cultures of the world. Until next time, Europe.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

Call Me a Strasbourger

Dear Fellow Strasbourgers,

I cannot say thank you enough for opening up your home to me. Strasbourg offered such a beautiful portrait of Europe. Whether it be timeless cobblestone streets, preserved historic bridges and watch towers, thousand-year-old cathedrals, or rich cuisine, Strasbourg captured a blend of Europe like none other. As we learned in our EU Integration class, history is the backbone of any country. That being said, due to close proximity and history with Germany, Strasbourg balanced many German influences whilst staying true to its French roots. After each weekend adventure, coming back to this city truly became my home away from home and allowed me to better grasp an appreciation for Strasbourg, France.

When we first arrived to EM Strasbourg Business School, no one really knew what to expect. Many were wondering what our French Professor, Sabine Menu, would be like and how our class would be structured. I’ll be the first to admit that taking International Finance and EU Integration in five weeks is challenging and ambitious. However, both of our professors were accommodating and knew the reason we were in Europe was to grow our knowledge in the classroom, but more importantly outside of it. I really enjoyed learning from Sabine Menu; even though the language barrier was very real, she was such an intriguing lady and her class was terribly relevant especially being in Europe during the Brexit. She stressed the unity of Europe through its diversity and therefore on our weekend adventures I made a conscious effort to note each unique characteristic. Both classes spiked my interest in current events which tied into the structure of both the EU and International Finance classes. I found it really fascinating to be able to tangibly witness, analyze, and debate current issues while relating their history to their global impact nowadays.

I believe going on a study abroad trip is vital. As much as I value my education in the classroom, the growth in which I have experienced outside the classroom is unbelievable. With each adventure brought new faces, places, obstacles, and excitement. Our travels led us to these 17 incredible cities in five weeks: Interlaken, Gimmelwald, Kehl, Brussels, Paris, Munich, Fussen, Salzburg, Frankfurt, Bacharach, St. Goar, Moselkern, Klotten, Cochem, and Colmar. As Sabine Menu stated, each country truly speaks to the union of Europe, but also it thrives off each country’s unique characteristics.

Each new adventure created its own story. Additionally, each city meant travel, which brought up the question, how to get there? I am officially a firm believer in mass transit and an advocate of trains! Although figuring out where the train station is, getting a ticket, validating the ticket, finding the platform and not sitting in first class (oops) are quite the task, yet the reward is wonderful. Plus, after a few tries, we were basically pros. The train was our favorite means of travel; it allowed us to sit back gaze upon beautiful countryside and reflect upon each individual journey. From our first weekend in Switzerland, I’ll always remember being a mountain hippie. Not only was hiking the Alps an empowering feat, soaring above the Alps as I paragliding is the freest I have ever felt. This weekend was one adventure I will never forget. Switzerland may have cost us more than we bargained (as we we’re literally down to .74 francs), but we learned the beauty of no phones and not checking weather forecasts, what happens when you blindly follow trails, and how people’s stories have the power to shape this world. Switzerland started our trip with a bang! Second, Brussels, Belgium and Paris, France taught us how to be tourists and be proud of it. We did Paris in a day and all 30 miles of it were worth it! Not only did we conquer the metro, we saw it all and lingered little, this weekend was not a weekend for the faint at heart. Paris was overwhelming with crazy soccer fans, history, beautiful churches and cuisine! Third, we ventured over to Germany and Austria. This weekend met low points and high points. We (me) overcame biking fears, walked 45,000 steps in one day, drank straight from an Austrian cow, faced disappointment and sometimes had to compromise, pretended to be Julie Andrews in Salzburg, and stomached pretzels bigger than our faces. This trip was a bonding experience. Our last weekend in Germany involved getting lost and sticking our thumbs out like the Ags we are looking for a ride. This weekend taught me how warm yet austere Germans can be.

Something I found most interesting and appealing about Europe is this – simplicity. The word can be felt and sensed all around, in the people, in the portions, in the pace of life, in its preservation of history, in its scenery, in its communication; simplicity is gratitude. Thank you Strasbourgers for letting me call this place home. Thank you for the opportunity to become well-rounded, more knowledgeable, more self-aware, more appreciative and more confident. This non-stop adventure is something I will cherish the rest of my life.

Published: July 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

5 weeks summarized Bein 1 post

5 weeks resulted in several new friends, more than a half dozen new cities visited, and more memories and lessons than I’ll be able to recall. It never really hit me till I was back in the United States that I had just been on a 5 week trip to Europe and all the places and things I had seen. The first weekend in Munich was awesome. The German people spoke better English and were generally more friendly than our French hosts. Also the pretzels, bratwurst, and schnitzel definitely set the food standard high for the rest of the trip. This first week was also when I had my first tangible experience of French culture when the French Rail Union decided to go on strike. Some trains were delayed or cancelled, and I quickly learned how much value the French placed on their free time vs work week. The weeks of class went relatively fast and I found most the material relatively interesting. The following weeks I visited Brussels, Paris, then Barcelona, and finally London. I really wish we got to spend more time in Brussels, it seemed like an awesome city that had a lot more left to explore. Paris lived up to all the hype, the Louvre was awesome and I could have spent all day looking at the paintings and sculptures but I felt like I saw as much as I could the two days we were there. Barcelona was a crazy weekend. The beach, Spanish, and sea food all had me feeling like I was on a mini vacation within the study abroad. I had probably the best meal of the trip that night as well eating all sorts of stuff. The weekend trip to London could not have come at a better time. I was ready to speak English, order my food in English, and just enjoy London and the British people and all they had to offer. Looking back on all the places I went, Barcelona I would go back to if I had one weekend, but London and Munich seemed like the most “livable” places out of the places I visited. This trip inspired me to explore Eastern Europe and the South of France and can’t wait for my next trip over the Atlantic. The friends I made and the experiences I had better me academically as well as as a whole.

Published: July 5, 2016 | Comments: 0