Birthday Flyout

October 22nd, 2014 by under Australia, Semester. No Comments.

GuptaBy Aashima Gupta

I left for Melbourne, Australia on July 10th, which is also my birthday! As you can imagine, it was a bittersweet day. Australia runs on a different school year than America does. At my exchange university, which is RMIT, school starts on July 21st and ends on October 17th. Following this, there is a three-week exam period so I will be completely done with the semester in mid November. I plan on staying for about a month after exams so I can travel around.

My family came to the airport to drop me off on my birthday. I finished up some last minute packing in the morning, we cut the cake and before I knew it I was saying goodbye to them for the next few months.

My family came to the airport to drop me off on my birthday. I finished up some last minute packing in the morning, we cut the cake and before I knew it I was saying goodbye to them for the next few months.

For most of the summer leading up to July 10th, it still hadn’t hit me that I would be leaving for five months. I made an effort to see my close friends and spend time with my family before I left so I think some part of me could feel it approaching, but the other part of me felt like it was going to be just like any other semester. Packing was hard because I had to take all of my winter clothes with me since the seasons are opposite. I had just returned from vacation in Florida where it was almost 90 degrees, and the next thing I knew I was in 40 degree weather. I didn’t mind though, because I was so fascinated with the beautiful city that was now my home.

Following my arrival at the Melbourne airport, I was greeted by the RMIT pick up service representative who took me to my accommodation. My friend had just done an exchange semester in Melbourne so I decided to stay in her old room this semester. I live in a shared house with 10 people on my floor. We share a kitchen (all appliances are provided) and bathrooms. The cool part is that we all have our own rooms. My accommodation is only a 3 minute walk to my classes and it is in the heart of the city. Not to mention, I’m 2 minutes away from the Queen Victoria Market, which sells fresh fruits, vegetables and meat regularly. They also have delicious hot food so I’m a frequent customer!

Orientation is on July 14th, which is where I’ll meet the other exchange students. I’m a little nervous, but excited to get my adventures started.

 

 

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Why Denmark?

October 22nd, 2014 by under Denmark, Semester. No Comments.

Monica Lesar Blogging Photo (1)By Monica Lesar

Countless Danes as well as American friends and family have asked me why I chose Denmark, of all places, for my semester abroad. The truth is that I don’t really have a rational reason for it. I’ve never had the opportunity to travel anywhere before so I had no way of truly knowing what city would be the right choice. I landed on Copenhagen using my intuition and a gut feeling.

I knew that I wanted to do an exchange because I think it’s the best way to get the most authentic cultural experience. I wanted to do a business exchange specifically so that I could continue my business studies and graduate on time. The Smith School offers business exchanges in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Europe appealed to me the most but that still meant deciding between Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

Many of my friends have done a semester abroad and they’ve all come back with their own unique stories and experiences. More than anything, I wanted my own unique stories and experiences to share with family, friends, and classmates (and the internet!). I wanted to do my own thing and go somewhere to have my own adventure. I had a feeling that Denmark was the place for me to do that.

Hygge-ing it up with friends at NOHO in the Meatpacking District.

Hygge-ing it up with friends at NOHO in the Meatpacking District.

Moving to a new country is scary stuff! I was downright homesick the first few days I was here. But after making friends and getting to know the city, I couldn’t feel more at home in Copenhagen. Studying abroad is all about appreciating another culture and really living it. I love the way Danes live. Danish culture can be exemplified through the Danish word “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-guh”). It is difficult to translate directly but can be roughly translated to mean creating a warm and cozy atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. Hygge can be anything from an evening out with friends to a Christmas dinner at home with family.

Although I’ve done my best to soak up everything there is to know about Danish culture, there is still so much I don’t know about the world and so many places that I want to see. Denmark is the starting point to what I hope is a life full of travel and cultural exploration. If you want to study abroad, just go with whatever country or city is calling your name. You don’t need a rational reason because no matter where you go, you’ll discover new things about the world and about yourself.

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English Culture in the most unsuspecting of places

September 24th, 2014 by under Summer Break. No Comments.

By Ryan Wilkinson

In London on our agenda was an excursion to see the Tate + Lyle sugar factory. While I began this tour thinking it would strictly be a business meeting, to my surprise, I left the factory enriched with a great cultural experience.

We started with a tour and learned about their refinement processes as well as their history. We learned that Tate + Lyle was one of the first sugar refineries and that they set the standards for the purification percentages, we still use to this day. One thing that stuck out to me was how much of an emphasis they put on how pure the sugar had to be. They were very careful to always make sure that when they said the sugar was purified to a certain level that it was purified to no less than 99.95% pure sugar. The sugar had to be bright white with no brown in it. If it was ever any less they said they would dump it back in the stacks of semi refined sugar in their storage towers to be refined again. With such high standards and low margins for error we all got a feel for how serious they were about making their sugar exactly the way they wanted it. Furthering that point if they refined an entire batch to 99.94% pure they would entirely redo it without any concern for money. While brownish sugar is perfectly edible and most people do choose to eat it or use it to sweeten their food the brownish sugar has additional flavors that come with the impurities.

Tate + Lyle workers.

Tate + Lyle workers.

Where this came full circle for me and where it is so anchored in England’s culture is with their tea. English people care more about tea than most Americans care about food or their local baseball team. Their tea is a part of their heritage and preparing it and preserving the timeless traditions that go into the drink are family secrets that they won’t ever allow to be changed. Ensuring the exact standards that their great grandparents did is a family affair that to this day are carried out by their lineage.  As I personally spoke with the business representative John from Tate + Lyle we spoke about his experience with sweetening his tea. When we got to him sweetening his tea with brown sugar, a whole slew of nasty words describing how “ghastly” it was or that it was complete “rubbish” came pouring out.  It was fascinating to see how much he despised and loathed the taste of the brown sugar sweetened tea because the flavor of the tea was changed as was the tradition. It was no longer his family’s tea but more an oddly flavored tea that he clearly wanted nothing to do with.

Personally I don’t think I know of anything that I’m that particular about food wise, but, to see an English man so passionate about his tea really showed me a little bit of England’s history and culture. I see how they give a salute to their elders almost every day with their tea preparations and how much they respect the true unabashed flavors or tea.

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Free Day in Munich

September 24th, 2014 by under Summer Break. No Comments.

By Ryan Wilkinson

As I traveled I kept a journal. I logged everything I did, and did my best to include every little detail. As I plan out my blogs I want to blog about my favorite moments from the trip, and it’s hard with all the amazing memories I made. However, one excursion stands out to me. There was one thing I did that was by far the most amazing and rewarding experience from the trip and it was during my first free day in Munich. My small group and I decided to take a two hour train out of the city to see the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian mountains. We went there because we heard about the beautiful countryside as well as the great castle of King Ludwig II. The trip included a two hour train ride there and back, a hike up a mountain, and incredible sight-seeing.

 

The beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle in the background.

The beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle in the background.

We began our day in Munich’s City Center where we boarded our train. Almost immediately after departure we were in the beautiful countryside of Munich where we saw little town’s all with their own unique character connected only by little gravel roads. Soon after that, we started to see the Bavarian Mountains which in many ways are just like the Alps. We saw the mountains rise up and block in the valley like giant walls with how large they were. As we got closer to our destination and as the mountains got larger we began to see the Neuschwanstein Castle. Perched up on the side of the largest mountain, contrasting abruptly with the dark rocky mountains the pristine white castle looked as if nothing had changed throughout the years. With all its glory in our sights we got off our train and hiked up the mountain towards it. We hiked for an hour, working up a nice sweat that was soothed with the most heavenly breeze coming down from the white tops of the mountains. As we got to the top of the mountain and could see the views from the castle we all stopped and felt an appreciation for where we were. Purely from the natural beauty of Munich we all fell in love with Germany. We looked out and saw hilly green fields with bright blue lakes at the bottom. Little towns with earthy orange shingled roofs and rolling fields that seemed to go on forever, which I hoped they did. Everything came together to make it one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. My love for Germany’s countryside has made this a country I will come back to. The natural scenery combined with the vivid colors of the landscape come together to make up what I feel is a genuine utopia.

 

We hadn’t planned to do this but we stayed and just looked out over the valley below us for the rest of the day and not a single person had a problem with it.

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Italy in Photos

September 24th, 2014 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

By Hayley Smith

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Hello from China!

September 24th, 2014 by under China, Semester. No Comments.

By Allison Collins

 

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Amazon Munich Is About Innovation in the Cloud

September 24th, 2014 by under Summer Break. No Comments.

By Roel Petri

Munich is a beautiful city, with parks everywhere, some of the largest located in the city. It also offers activities for everyone, so whether you want to relax at a beer garden, like my favorite Hofbräuhaus (mmm beer), or go surfing, yes you heard it right, surfing, it is the city to be in. It is also the city housing the offices of some of the most important companies in Germany, Europe and US.

Surfing on Eisbach River in Munich.

Surfing on Eisbach River in Munich.

When you hear names like Siemens, BMW and SAP something rings a bell, right? We see, touch or otherwise are affected by these companies’ products every day. They are some of the oldest and most successful businesses in Germany and they are doing well, even during the recent economic downturn. Part of their success comes from the German business culture, which is described as reserved, punctual, precise, disciplined, plan-oriented, perfectionist and organized. Yet these same values are getting in the way of one think, innovation. That is not the case for one particular company though, which caught our attention during the visit at their office.

Meet Amazon, Munich – although part of the parent company, their focus is geared towards the local market, which means they must be sharing similar values described above. Not so much says, Jochen Walter, our presenter at the company. Amazons focus is completely geared towards the customer, and in order to accomplish that you have to change the way you do business. That has allowed for faster growth, compared to traditional businesses, and in particular areas more than 200%.

One of those areas is the Cloud business, in which Amazon is a leader. It was an area of growth bringing in steady revenue. Yet the boom came not from their traditional business, but instead through innovating, by utilizing what they were not using. In a nutshell, Amazon offers reliable Cloud service to its clients, guaranteeing performance during peak times, and in order to do that has server centers that can accommodate the increased traffic. That happens 4-5 times a year only, and for short periods of time, let’s say Christmas week or Black Friday. The rest of the year all this power is idle. That is no longer the case, since all that unused power is being offered at lower/auction prices to start ups or businesses, that otherwise could not afford it regularly. It helps the revenue stream of Amazon and promotes new businesses and their ideas. Brilliant, isn’t it?

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Ready for an Adventure!

September 24th, 2014 by under Summer Break. No Comments.

By Ryan Wilkinson

As I prepare and look forward to my course abroad my taste buds get more and more anxious. As a ‘foodie’ and someone who hasn’t missed a show on the Food Network or the Travel Channel in recent years, my excitement is hard to contain. I’ve heard of many German delicacies like different varieties of desserts such as the Berliner that I cannot wait to try out.  As I indulge in the different desserts and food I plan to live the lives of Anthony Bourdain and Adam Richmond for a little bit. If you don’t know who they are, they are on the Food Network and they go around to little Mom and Pop stores and restaurants and try out the local cuisine. I feel like the easiest and quickest way to get a feel for the culture is through their food. As like other trips I’ve been on I plan to make it a rule to never eat something twice and to never eat from a fast food restaurant that I could eat from in the US. With those guidelines I am little nervous to try some of the more intense foods like sauerkraut and German meat loafs but am still excited to give them a try because they are such staples in the local peoples diets. In London, I look forward to trying some classic English food like Fish and Chips that was fished right out of the water that day. My heritage is from London so it should be exciting to see where the place where my grandfather grew up.

 

In addition, to all the excitement I am a little bit nervous. I fly out a day early and will be staying in an eight man hostel the first night in Munich. I look forward to the friends I will hopefully make in my hostel and to the stories we will be able to share from our diverse back rounds. Stay tuned for more blog posts to hear about my experiences!

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Here I Come!

September 24th, 2014 by under Summer Break. No Comments.

By Roel Petri

I have my confirmed flight ticket. Next week at this time, I will be in Munich, Germany, the city of arts and beer. Then the week after, I will be in London, UK. I know that my first priority is to successfully complete the scheduled visits we have with different companies in both cities. I also know this trip will be one of my greatest adventures since I have never been there before. Now, I have to prepare myself so I don’t miss anything. First on my list is a good camera. Munich and London are two of the most beautiful places in the world. In Munich, the Oktoberfest fresh market, Schloss Nymphenburg historic garden, and Marienplatz are in my must-see list.

Instead in London, Tate Modern, London Eyes, and Tower of London top that list. A good camera is an indispensable tool to record the memorable moments when I am there. The next thing to know is what clothes to bring with me. During next week in Munich and later in London, it will be warm and rainy. A nice rain jacket and a pair of rain boots will help make my life easier. I will leave my favorite baseball cap, sneakers, and backpack at home since I don’t want to look like an American tourist.

For Munich, I have been practicing on how to say a few basic words in German. Who knows, it may help me make some new German friends. Hallo und wie geht es dir (Hello, how are you?) is a good start. My camera is ready, my cloths are ready, and I can speak some German, now I am pretty much ready to embark on this amazing trip! Oh… I almost forgot… My passport too.

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It’s not the end

August 31st, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

Alice bio picBy Alice Lu
Three weeks ago I was in Sydney, Australia; one of the world’s most vibrant, beautiful, nature-filled, delicious and friendly cities. Now that I’ve moved back to College Park I’ve realized that I was truly living in a dream. A couple of things I can’t help but miss from Sydney are its friendly, jovial and diverse citizens, the gourmet healthy food, the exercise culture and the number of things there is to do in that city.

Wherever one goes in that city, they can find a different suburb at each train stop. One can explore the small urban modern day Buddhism city, Newtown or the hip gourmet food suburb, Surry Hills. Let’s not forget the beautiful beaches and relaxed Kiwi (New Zealander) filled beach towns from Bondi to Coogee. There are beautiful snorkeling and scuba diving areas at Gordan’s Bay and the surrounding cliff walk area.

Whoever I talked to always made me laugh. Their humor would be purely to take a piss out of you or out of people near you. Its all good fun of course, there is never any maliciousness behind the words. Never is there a sensitivity issue either, people in Australia that I’ve met were the most carefree people I’ve ever met.

Being back in College Park has made me realize that I don’t know America as well as I can say. There are 50 states each with different types of culture and people. One state can’t represent all 50 states so I can only speak about my experience in Maryland and few other states I’ve really spent time in. After this experience, I want to travel to more cities and countries and explore all different types of cultures. I want to learn the differences and be aware of just how many different people there are in this world.

I’ve missed the various types of healthy food I had in Sydney now that all I have are chain restaurants surrounding me. Sometimes I even still walk on the left side and then it dawns upon me that I’m no longer in a left side culture. I’m sure my travel adventures won’t end here. I’m excited for what the future holds for me!

Our friends we made while in Melbourne. As we disembark on a helicopter ride over the 12 apostles

Our friends we made while in Melbourne. As we disembark on a helicopter ride over the 12 apostles

These little birds are insane. They attack you when they see you have seeds to feed them. Good thing they are so pretty.

These little birds are insane. They attack you when they see you have seeds to feed them. Good thing they are so pretty.

Our second ferry ride to Manly Beach to walk along the Cliffs

Our second ferry ride to Manly Beach to walk along the Cliffs

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