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Planning my Next Trip… From sight seeing to culture seeking!

Katelyn Mistele shares her experience from being a “sightseer” to a “culture seeker” while abroad on the Student Exchange Program in Denmark. She also gives tips on how to be a “culture seeker” and encourage you to be one too!

I officially caught the travel bug when I was abroad last spring on the Students Exchange Program. My home base was Copenhagen, Denmark, but no one would have known that if I didn’t tell them. I was gone every weekend seeing every major sight Europe had to offer and spending my whole bank account. I am so fortunate to have had this experience through Fisher, but now my outlook on travel has changed. I have changed form a “sight seer” to a “culture seeker”.

Nyhaven, Copenhagen, Denmark. The picturesque canal in the city!

When I arrived in Europe I was in awe. I have never been to Europe before and my only abroad experience was my family trips growing up to the Caribbean or Mexico. I was lucky enough to arrive two weeks prior to my program and my family and I decided to use that time to travel. We went on one of those excursions with a travel company that took us through the European highlights. We traveled from London to Paris, through Switzerland, and down Italy stopping at every major tourist spot along the way. From someone who has only dreamed about seeing the Eifel Tower or Big Ben this was amazing to see everything in person. From nights of little sleep to days spent on our feet walking from sight to sight and driving from place to place we never really took a second to stop and embrace the culture.

Me and my sisters from our trip. Lot’s of sight seeing in Paris, France.

Over the duration of my six months in Europe I traveled to 19 different countries and over 30 cities. There’s not many things I didn’t check off my to do list, but at the end of the day all I can say is that I saw the sights. I never actually truly experienced the culture.  Did I regret traveling how I did? Absolutely not! My goal was to see Europe and I definitely did, but from now on I am officially no longer “sight seeing” but instead “culture seeking”.

There were moments in time when I experienced this in Europe. When I arrived in Malta my Airbnb host picked us up from the airport and took us around the island showing us its history and telling us about his life. He told us all about the history of the island and how they were just recently free from British rule so that’s why there’s so much British influence still. Additionally, he told us about growing up where his children were going to school and how he was a teacher at a local elementary school. When I was in Spain I chose the local restaurants where we dined with locals. These experiences were so much different than dining at tourist heavy restaurants as menus were all in Spanish and dishes were more traditional in nature. When I was in Denmark I tried to meet as many of the locals as I could and learn about their culture. I learned a lot of things about how the Danish culture is more reserved in nature and the high value they place on close relationships.  All of these things led to my new outlook on traveling.

View in Valletta, Malta.
Views of the famous narrow fjords north of Bergen, Norway.

I am in the midst of planning my next trip to Asia. I am motivated to head there next because I feel as if I have seen most of the things I want to see in Europe. Also, I am really interesting in experience a culture that is dramatically different from the culture we have here in the United States as sometimes in Europe I noticed a lot of similarities. My goal while traveling Asia is to experience as much of the culture as I can and try not to fall into the “sight seeing trap”. I have gotten so many suggestions and am still trying to narrow down my list but I have decided that I will not be staying in any five star hotels. I am not going to be doing everything trip advisor rates as a “must see in Thailand.” Instead I am leveraging my network here at home to see what my friends who have traveled to this region suggest. I am also going to reach out to my network to see if anyone knows anyone who will be in the region at the time to get a more unique and original experience (I am in the midst of writing a blog most on leveraging your global network as well so stay tuned!). I am also going to plan for down time to get out in the cities I am in and live amongst the locals and embrace everything their culture has to offer. Right now the following countries are on my radar but I still have a lot of planning and research to do: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Japan.

My tips for anyone who wants to join me in culture seeking are as follows:

  •  Avoid mainstream resorts, embrace hostel dwelling! Hostels are a great opportunity to meet other young travelers but also to experience the culture of the country you are visiting. A lot of hostels are family owned and they sponsor events that introduce you to their culture.
  • See a few main sights and snap a few pictures, but at the end of the day get lost (safely)! Wander, explore, and go to the restaurant that isn’t the five-star trip advisor suggested option. Ask your waiter for suggestions. People want to share!
  • Go to the places you wouldn’t expect to enjoy. Some of my favorite trips were to places I wasn’t even planning on going to! I went to Finland, Estonia, Malta, and Norway and honestly I didn’t even know Estonia and Malta were countries! Get out and see the world every part is unique in its own way and has its own hidden gems.
  • Ask questions. Ask questions. Ask questions. People want to share their culture and they want to learn about yours so take advantage of this.
Beautiful Russian influenced church located in Tallinn, Estonia.
Photo from cross country skiing in a national park north of Helsinki, Finland!

My six months in Europe were life changing and I saw amazing things and met amazing people, but I am looking forward to culture seeking from here on out. So let’s get out and embrace travel, see the sights, but experience the culture and grow interpersonally. And if anyone has Asia suggestions comment below!

Trying to be a local in Strasbourg, France

Starting life in Strasbourg on the Student Exchange Program, Ling Shao shares how she tries to live like a local in her new city in France! Get her insight on her housing, shopping, and commute in the city.

After adjusting my jet-lag, landing in Starsbourg, France, I started an “adventure” in my neighborhood. I live in downtown Strasbourg and I found it through “housing anywhere”. Accommodation on this website might be a little expensive but acceptable compared to US housing prices. If you know someone who is good at understanding French, it may be better to look for accommodation through “leboncoin”. The places I have is a really cozy and good loft and I really enjoy it. Except that you will not have dryers, only drying stands for your laundry. However, if you really need to wash large stuff, you can go to the public laundry spots which might cost you about 7-8 euros depending on your quantity and sizes.

The architecture here combine French and German styles which is exactly what you might imagine how Europe would look like. There are so many fashion shops and restaurants near me and they all close really late, almost after 12 am, which is really different from the US. It is so convenient to live here except for Sundays. Nearly all of the shops and restaurants close on Sundays! So, Grocery shop should be done before or after Sundays. Popular Grocery brands are “Auchan”, “U express” and “Carrefour city”. They usually have many branches all over the city. Just google search the closet one. The outside marché is usually held on Tuesdays at the Station “Brogile” or Station “Homme de fer” area or just next to the universities academic buildings.

The major transportation of the city is the “tram” which you can get to a lot of places within 20 minutes. It is about 25 euros/per month to get a transportation card and you can access trams and buses.  You can get your tram card after you get a student card, so  you can enjoy the student discounts. You can get your transportation card from CTS commercial agency (I bought mine at the one located in downtown just next to the F Tram stop named “alt winmarik”) or you can buy the tickets at the stops. It is the major transportation for me to go to schools every day. Here is a photo I got from the tram station. Do not forget to swipe your card before you get on the train, because it is possible that CTS employee wants you to show them your card or ticket.

Strasbourg is a really safe city. But still be careful of your personal belongings. It is really easy to lose things in Europe!

From Tourist to Local

Junior Madolyn Desch discusses her experiences living and working in London, England as part of the 2018 Summer Global Internship Program.

For my entire life, I have lived in Ohio. I lived in the same house in Cincinnati since I was 1 year old before moving an hour and a half away to Ohio State.  Though I have traveled extensively away from home throughout high school and college, including a month spent in Germany with the Fisher Freshman Global Lab program, nothing could compare to the nearly 3 months I spent living and working in London this summer.

 

When I arrived to London in May, I was a tourist –I relied on Google Maps and City Mapper to navigate the tube, I spent my free time visiting the tourist sites, and I depended on my co-workers’ suggestions for places to go and restaurants to visit. But within a few days, I began to become more than a visitor to the city; I learned how to navigate without utilizing my phone and discovered lesser-known areas inside and outside the city center. I could name four different tube and bus routes to get to work each day for the many times there would be a signal failure and tell you which car would be the least crowded so I could get a seat.

Even more than knowing the ins and outs of the transportation system, I learned so much about the culture of the city. London is one of the most Westernized locations in Europe, but the differences between the US and London are immeasurable.  I became so accustomed to cars driving on the opposite side of the road, security screenings at everything from museums to churches and even rooftop restaurants, and the lack of ice and water drank in Europe that it has taken time to readjust to the US.  While having air-conditioning and driving is a great perk of being home, I miss the public transportation, the ability to travel to a different country, inexpensively, on the weekends, the bounty of festivals, outdoor movies, and daily activities that occurred at The Scoop, my favorite spot to spend my lunchbreaks at or visit with friends after work, and my incredible co-workers who made it a summer I will never forget.

Before leaving, I anticipated that my summer spent in London would be different than any other experience traveling abroad I had had up to that point. I knew that I would grow accustomed to my new life in the city over time. What I did not expect was to feel so at home in the city in such a short period of time. Within a week, I did not feel like a tourist in London; I began to feel like a local and even was mistaken for one multiple times by tourists and locals alike asking for directions or history lessons on the British Royal Family. Now that I am home, I constantly think back to my time there and bring up the practices I think Europe is better at in most conversations. In less than three months, London became my second home, and I am so grateful for the Fisher College of Business and the Global Internship by We Find Group for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

 

 

LOST THEN FOUND: A GIRL TRYING TO NAVIGATE EUROPE

Madison Carter, Junior, Marketing major with Fashion and Retail Studies minor

I’ve travelled a lot. Ever since I was little, my parents have always brought me along on excursions both in and out of the country. They ranged from a family week in Arizona, a luxurious vacation in Aruba to a business trip in Rome, but nonetheless, my parents were constantly by my side when we explored all of these new places. I was able to just aimlessly follow them around and really didn’t have to put that much thought into getting from point A to point B. All the taxis, hotels, and activities were planned by them—I was just there to happily tag along. It was so easy.

So, when the opportunity to spend the summer in Madrid came along, my clouded judgement kept telling me “Psh, this will be a piece of cake for you. You’ve travelled so many times.” While the travelling part is true, the other point about being perfectly equipped for the summer was a tad bit off.

Yes, I took Spanish in high school. Yes, I followed the packing list. And yes, I read up on all the culture differences that I was going to face. I still wasn’t prepared. You could study and research a new place for hours, but until you get there, you can’t fully understand what it’s going to be like. And that’s okay.

The beauty about living abroad for two months is that you’re put in a totally new environment and challenged to figure it out. There’s no perfect guidebook that tells you what to do when you can’t find your office on your first day, or what to do when your Spanish SIM card stops working on you (it’ll happen), but if there was such a book accessible to us, you wouldn’t get anything out of living in Europe.

At first, the culture shock is a lot. The language barrier, new modes of transportation, and unfamiliar places can make you wish you were back in America. Trust me though, it didn’t take long until I felt as if I was starting to overcome those obstacles to the point where I developed a work routine, had a special coffee shop I visited every day, and knew the metro pretty darn well.

This new sense of confidence allowed me to broaden my horizons and travel outside of Madrid. I was able to go to Segovia, Barcelona, Ibiza, Paris, and Morocco knowing that I didn’t need my parent’s full assistance to plan trips for me. Travelling on the weekends with my friends furthered my growth as an individual, and now I can’t stop thinking about what place I want to visit next!

My biggest piece of advice is to not go into the trip thinking you know everything, and to not be afraid of not being fully prepared. There’s enough stores to get whatever you need, and enough nice people to help you along the way. You’re there to be challenged in a way that you probably never have before, and you’ll grow so much from learning how to problem solve in a foreign country. If I can do a total 180 in terms of being self-sufficient when travelling, you can do it too.

Opportunity, Not a Lengthy Visitor

Thomas Lowden, a rising junior at Ohio State, shares his journey full of self-discovery and opportunities as he travelled across the pond and was fortunate enough to call London home for eight weeks as a part of the Summer Global Internship Program.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to be a part of the 2017 Freshman Global Lab, studying in Hamburg, Germany for four weeks. Amidst the bratwurst, bier, and schnitzel, I was bitten by the “travel bug” and already started planning my next adventure. Shortly after returning to campus in Autumn 2017, I began looking into the Summer Global Experience Program and started to weigh my options between locations and industries. Here, you will find my journey throughout Europe, a time where I was able to discover more about myself and did not let a single opportunity slip from my grasp.

 

My experience abroad this summer started a few weeks earlier than most as I did something that I recommend any participant of a Fisher Abroad program do if they have the means, and that is to travel before the program begins. It is a relaxing way to start your journey and adjust to any time zone differences before you get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of your program. Also, since I have done both, be sure to travel beforehand as trust me, you do not want to be lugging your souvenirs and luggage from your program around for an aditional week or two. To save money, split an Airbnb (stay in a central location, even if it is a bit farther out from the airport) with friends and make sure to visit cheap eats (in most cases, it is also better food

 

With two weeks and a scavenger hunt with some fellow Buckeyes under my belt, I was ready to leave my American comforts behind and dive head first into my internship at GHO Capital, a private equity firm in the mid-market healthcare space. My typical day in the office consisted of team meetings, data analysis, conducting market research, and creating PowerPoints based on my findings. A piece of advice for those who are still deciding on which career path to embark on. Take your time and enter every situation with an open mind. If you are like myself and your internship is in an industry that you cannot exactly see yourself in, being flexible and learning everything you possibly can will help you build upon those technical and soft skills, which WILL be applicable to your future job.

One of the great things about London, is that there are so many unique destinations just a few hours on a train away. One of my favorite parts of the program has to be the weekends exploring Europe with my friends. If you choose to intern in London, be sure to check out Brighton, a beach on the English Channel, as well as Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor. You will not regret it!

If you prefer to stay more local, that is entirely okay as well! There are so many opportunities in London to find what interests you. Whether it be sports, musicals, or shopping, there is something for everyone. While here, I was able to explore one of my biggest passions, theatre. Unlike the United States, history and the arts are integral parts in London’s culture, making for cheap theatre tickets and free museum entries! While in London, I was able to see 12 different musicals on the West End! If you are interested in learning more, I typically used LondonBoxOffice.co.uk or TodayTix, however, some of the shows offer lotteries or cheap tickets the day of the show so be sure to keep an eye out for those!

Now, what you really come to London for, besides the lowered drinking age and the accents of course, is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. While in London, I took a chance and decided to sign up for the British 10k on July 15th, 2018. Throughout the race, there were numerous times that I wanted to walk or slow down, but believing in myself and trusting my abilities kept me pushing and I was actually able to beat my goal of 1:00:00 with a finish time of 00:56:44. This experience provided me with one of the main life lessons that I am taking away from this trip and that is to not be afraid to take a chance, push your limits, and make a great memory. Who knows, you might even find a new passion.

Whether you are debating participating in the Fisher Summer Global Internship or you have already signed up, this is not only a great opportunity to add a unique experience to your resume, but it is also a great way to grow personally and professionally and gain a greater appreciation for the world and its various cultures. I am beyond grateful that I was able to capitalize on this opportunity and discover more than I thought was possible about myself. Getting out of my comfort zone and taking a chance allowed me to make new friends, try new foods, and see new things. An opportunity, is here for just but a second and we must do everything we can to not let it slip away. Now, it’s time for me to start planning my next journey. Cheers!

Financing Education Abroad

Questions on financing education abroad? Katelyn Mistele, who when on the Student Exchange Program to Denmark, has some suggestions for you!

One of the biggest challenges and often times a reason individuals shy away from education abroad is the topic of determining how you will finance your experience. I’m here to tell you that it can be done, and be done economically! It’s important to take into account the following when determining how to finance your study abroad experience: what type of program you are looking for, what locations you are looking at, and how much traveling do you want to do off program.

For starters Fisher offers a variety of programs for education abroad each ranging from a variety of prices. I personally participated in a Fisher Student Exchange Program. The great part about the exchange programs is that they are simply your Ohio State tuition. You don’t have to pay more or less you simply pay your Ohio State tuition as you normally would and essentially you “swap places” with a student from the university you will be attending. There are other programs as well that have different financing plans, but these can be affordable as well! There are many opportunities through scholarships and even using STEP money if you happen to be involved in that program. Fisher’s Office of Global Business has a scholarship program that I know myself and many other students who were studying abroad were lucky enough to receive. I personally only applied for one scholarship the Fisher’s Office of Global Business FCOB Global Experience Scholarship. It was a super easy process and didn’t even require that much time. I just had to fill out a brief questionnaire! It’s all about keeping an eye on those opportunities early, and simply applying! Fisher does a great job at outlining those opportunities and making it easy for you to take advantage of them.

Another important factor to take into consideration is where you want to go abroad. This is something that I didn’t take into consideration and it was quite the shock for me. I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark which I didn’t know but is one of the more expensive cities in Europe. It’s important to consider this and plan accordingly. I didn’t plan out a budget prior to leaving but I definitely should have. I had to be frugal when I was in Denmark. I didn’t eat out as much as I would to have liked because I had to prioritize my finances and I wanted to travel, as opposed to experience all of the restaurant’s the city had to offer.

Finally, the most important thing you need to plan for financially is how much traveling you want to do during your program. Personally, this was a key point for me. I really wanted to travel all around Europe and I did! I ended up going to 19 countries when I was out there, but it definitely required a lot of financial planning. I worked the summer and semester leading up to my exchange to save for this purpose. Besides saving I would suggest to prioritize. Like I mentioned before eating out in Copenhagen is very expensive meals ranging from $25-45. So instead of eating out multiple times a week I would opt to cook and use that money to travel instead.

Just to break down an average trip for you I have some costs listed below that were associated with each trip. This of course varied from trip to trip as some cities are more expensive than others, and some places are more expensive to fly into, but this will give you a general idea for when you are planning out your finances.

  • Plane Ticket = $100-200
  • Airbnb or Hostel = $50
  • Food = $100
  • Activities = $50
  • Transportation = $30
  • Souvenirs = $10
  • Other = $50
  • Total = $390-490

Overall, education abroad can be financially challenging, but totally do able! I would suggest that no one not study abroad because they are worried they can’t afford it because the experience is so valuable and amazing. All you need to do is plan carefully and prioritize and you can have a semester full of traveling and experiences that can’t even have a price tag. Also again apply, apply for scholarships they are there and you never know unless you simply apply!

Tips Before Arriving in Strasbourg

Ling Shao shares her tips and advise on pre-departure preparations for studying abroad on the Student Exchange Program to France. Covering topic on accommodation search, to visa process, to traveling!

This is not my first-time studying abroad but the only difference is that I am doing this independently this time. I used to go abroad with a friend and or have somebody picking me up at the destination, so I had concern and had to plan for all the circumstances that I might confront ahead of time. I have had two biggest challenges:

Finding Accommodations

Preparing the accommodation is very complex. Luckily, I was able to find my accommodation through the website my host institution gave me. For France, there are several websites that you can use: leboncoin / housing anywhere / airbnb. If you really cannot find a place before you arrive, an option may be to find a cheap hostel and try to communicate with your host institution. Strasbourg is a really safe place comparing to other places in Europe, but still be careful of the location of the hostels, and definitely do some researches on the destination that you are going to!

Visa Process

My visa process was really challenging and tough. I am an international student and I had to transfer my academic status from the US to my home country to get a French Student Visa. However, after all of the challenges that I dealt through this application, I now feel confident that I am able to deal with any visa application in the future. Just to start early and do not hesitate to ask questions to the embassy in your country.

Traveling 

I googled and searched a lot of tips about traveling to Europe (useful website can be TripAdvisor and youtube videos, and there is a channel that I really love named “DamonandJo”), but the one I stress is: PACK LESS! You can buy everything you need in Europe, especially in Strasbourg.

Safety

BE SMART! Just be aware of your surrounding and avoid going to higher risk places in the cities you visit. Ask! Most people in Europe can speak English, even if you cannot communicate with them in the local language.

Using Study Abroad to Explore Your Passions

Emma Goilo shared her passion of travel, which motivated her to go abroad on the Student Exchange Program to Trinity College, Ireland. What she gained was an expansion of knowledge on different countries and many skills and qualities that developed her further personally.

My passion is traveling, I love to visit new countries and learn about the culture, the language and most importantly the people that live there. I have traveled to 35 countries and I am just getting started. I was fortunate growing up to have parents that valued travel, that made sacrifices to ensure my brothers and I saw the world and always supported what we wanted to do—whether that be volunteering in Colombia for a few months, dropping everything to travel or studying abroad. Having parents that support my passions has empower me to seek more opportunities.

Acropolis
Sahara Desert – Morocco

The ability to travel was the main reason I chose to participate on the Student Exchange Program at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland – a main hub for Ryanair. While abroad I made it a goal to travel to places I had never been before. I went to Scotland, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Greece and Morocco, as well as some places I had been before. I learned the history of the places I went and definitely enjoyed the food. I think I grew a lot the past semester as a result of my travels. I went to places where  most people don’t think to travel and to places that pushed me as far outside of my comfort zone as I had ever been—which is where growth happens. An example of how I grew during my travels was in my thoughts for others. When traveling with others, I had to learn to make decisions and choices that benefited the group and that addressed the desires of the group and not just myself. The study abroad opportunity that Fisher provided for me, and even supported, allowed me to live my passion and for that I will always be grateful. And the best part about studying abroad is now I have friends from all over the world to visit!!! My passion for traveling was only quenched for the moment, I will always be planning my next trip.

To summarize, here is a list of some of the skills I learned abroad:

  • independence
  • adaptation
  • cultural intelligence
  • collaborating with individuals from high and low context countries
  • self awareness

I think it is really important that students have goals for their abroad experience – personal goals, experiential goals, and academic goals. But I think it is just as important that students be open to change and experiences they couldn’t have imagined. The best thing about studying abroad are the things you don’t expect, the friends you don’t know you are going to meet. My biggest piece of advice for students preparing to go abroad is balance. Have goals, but don’t let them put you in a box. Be prepared but don’t become paralyzed by the unexpected.

How Traveling Develops Better Leadership

On the Student Exchange Program at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Emma Goilo describes how she developed her leadership skills and global citizen mindset abroad.

Since I was little, I dreamed of living abroad. I wanted to live in a glamorous and architectural city, with rich history. And last semester I achieved that dream. I spent four months living in Dublin, Ireland and attending Trinity College. I studied, made life-long friends from around the globe and got to travel. What I didn’t realize about education abroad is how much I grew, the challenging academic environment and diverse social situations made me a better leader. I came back from Dublin more self-aware, a truly global citizen and with the ability to work with and empower diverse groups of people – all factors I consider vital in leadership. I went abroad to travel, to study and to make friends but came back to the USA a more developed leader.

I believe that to be a true leader one must be self-aware, have the ability to empower others and be a global citizen. Being self-aware means to know not just your strengths but your weaknesses. I believe that addressing weaknesses and compensating for them is even more important than flexing your strengths. The biggest strength that I encountered within myself is adaptability. I was able to quickly adapt to my environment: a new country, a new university, and a new group of friends. This adaptability will serve me well in my career, I will be able to quickly adapt to new work teams and to new work locations. I think I was adaptable prior to my semester abroad but this exchange experience gave me a chance to practice and further develop that strength. One weakness I encountered while abroad is that I require structure and at Trinity College there was a lack of structure I am used to in the USA. Classes don’t have weekly assignment, exams or even structured class. I quickly learned that I had to adopt the classes to my strength. I had to make small weekly assignments for myself or come exam time I would flounder. This experience made me realize that I must adjust situations to play to my strengths, rather than to my weaknesses. Another key component of leadership is having the ability to empower others. While abroad I was able to empower my friends to face their fears and to speak up to things they didn’t agree with. I believe that being a true leader isn’t about making yourself look good but making whatever team you work on look good as a whole. Finally, being a leader means being a global citizen.

This doesn’t mean that you have to travel to be the most traveled, it means that you have an appreciation for cultures different than your own and you value the perspectives that come along with those diverse cultures. I believe those are some of the key components to successful leadership and that my time abroad pushed me to work on being self-aware, on empowering others and on being a global citizen.

Frequently Asked Questions – Global Internships

Below are the most frequently asked questions with regards to the Summer Global Internship Program:

 

Q: Am I guaranteed an internship if accepted into the program? What type of internship can I get in this program?

A: Yes! It depends as each internship is tailored to the specific student’s career goals, previous experience, and skills and knowledge they want to gain.

 

Q: Is this program competitive?

A: There is no max number of students we accept per location but you are competing against yourself and your resume for the best internship for you!

 

Q: Do I need to know another language in order to intern in another country?

A: No, all internship work can be completed in English unless a student specifies that they want to further their language skills.

 

Q: Can I intern in NYC or Chicago through this program?

A: The NYC and Chicago Global Internship Programs are exclusively for Non-US citizens only. We want you to have a global experience!