My Global Mindset Journey So Far… and Where to Next!

After going abroad on Student Exchange and participating in the Global Option in Business program, Katelyn Mistele reflects on what she gained and what she recommends/advise to future students who aspires to have a global mindset. She also shares a glimpse of what she plans next to continue to go global!

Over the past year I have experienced so much and reflected a lot on my experiences. I have grown as an individual and in my global mindset. The purpose of this blog post is to reflect on my best experiences and ones I suggest you take, as well as determine where I am going next before I officially sign off!

A beautiful view from my trip to Killarney, Ireland!

The best experience in my personal growth and global mindset growth hands down was studying abroad for a semester on the Student Exchange Program. I became a more open-minded person and self aware. Being immersed in a whole new culture and being the minority, forces you to become open-minded and also immediately makes you more self aware. Studying abroad changed my perspective about a lot of things and I would go back and do it again in a heart beat if I could.

A photo from cross country skiing in Helsinki, Finland!

If you have the opportunity to go abroad for a month, summer, semester, or a year I suggest you do it! Fisher has great programs through Student Exchange. Additionally, I never did it but I heard the Global Internships are a great way to get exposed to other cultures as well. If your budget or schedule doesn’t permit education abroad, I would suggest you take a trip and truly immerse yourself in a culture. Stay at Airbnb’s and interact with your host, ask for suggestions, see the sight seeing stuff, but then go to a local restaurant and chat with locals to get an authentic experience (check out my blog post about this if interested). Even if any of these ideas push you out of your comfort zone, I suggest you do it. I was nervous and scared before heading over to Denmark, but it was hands down the best experience I have ever had! Also from an employer standpoint, companies love it if you have this experience. I have talked about my experience in multiple interviews. Companies love to see that you can adapt and immerse yourself into other cultures because that’s what they want to you to do with their company culture at the end of the day.

Picture from my home for five months. I miss it everyday! @Copenhagen, Denmark.

Another great opportunity I suggest everyone doing is get involved in a global club. Ohio State has SO many and I wish I got involved sooner. I am involved in the Exchange Partner Program at Ohio State. Basically I am a mentor and point of contact for an exchange student who is coming to Ohio State for a semester. I have been fortunate enough to provide mentorship to students from Italy and Japan over the past two years. I have learned so much about their cultures and even more about what other cultures think of the United States (I always ask for what their thoughts on Americans are and how these have changed since they’ve been here). I wish I would have gotten involved in more because there is so much that Ohio State offers and everyone is so willing to share their culture with us!

Check out Global Option in Business, if any of the above interests you. It is a certification program through Ohio State that helps foster your global mindset. I am in the process of finishing it out right now. It requires you to take part in a education abroad experience, global club and activities, as well as global courses. So the best of all worlds and you get a certificate to show employers that you have made efforts and have grown in your global mindset.

Berlin Cathedral, in Berlin Germany.

From here I am graduating in May. I am not going into a career that is global right away as I will be working for an American company that has some degree of “globality” to it but I am not going to be sent on global assignments all the time. I am hoping some day that I will find myself traveling globally for work, and even maybe working in a different country! I am going to keep traveling and culture seeking (planning my next trip right now)! I am still keeping in contact and growing my global network. I am hoping that all I have learned and my growth does not plateau after I graduate, but instead increases exponentially as I can apply what I learned through Fisher and Global Option in the real world. I am going to stay “hungry for culture” and I can’t thank Fisher and Ohio State enough for revealing and harvesting one of my new found true passions!

Enjoying sweet treats in Tallinn, Estonia!

Networking…. Globally!

Network, network, network… Katelyn Mistele has heard this at OSU, but felt the need and benefits of networking abroad even more as she was on the Student Exchange Program in Denmark! Read her advise on what she did and wished she have done while abroad on networking with peers and professionals.

“Today it’s all about who you know not what you know.”

“Network, network, network.”

We hear it all the time, and I’ve even experienced it but networking is an essential and integral part of today’s business environment.  I personally have experienced the impacts of networking, and challenged myself when I was abroad to network on a global scale. During my time in Denmark I was able to begin to create my network of global individuals, but there is still a lot of room to grow. In this post I talk about networking on a global scale, and tips for things I didn’t do during my time in Denmark, but wish I did.

Networking with Peers

When studying at a large business university, networking happens naturally. If you get 500 plus exchange students at a university that is 20,000 plus students from all over the world there to solely study business networking occurs naturally. A lot of times I found myself sharing stories about my previous internships with other students and they would do the same. At the end of the day I left Denmark with a lot of new LinkedIn connections, and a new network of individuals who I could potentially connect with again in the future.

I personally have found a lot of my job opportunities through networking. I always ask individuals what they do for a living and share my aspirations and experiences with them at the end of the conversation too. I have found that people love talking about their careers and/or goals, and if you act curious it could result in a connection that could benefit you in the future. This is what I did with a lot of my peers abroad. While the relationships might not benefit me right now in the future, if I decide to make a career change I now have a large network of individuals from all over the world who could possibly assist in this.

A photo of some of my abroad peers.  Students from Michigan, Boston, South Carolina, and Canada!

 

Networking with Professors/Professionals

I wish I would have taken my networking skills to the next level and connected with my professors at my university. At the time I didn’t have aspirations to work abroad but now when I am searching out a full time career this is something that is on my radar that wasn’t before. A lot of the professors at Copenhagen Business School were from all over the world and were expatriates too, so they would have been able to help me navigate if a global career is for me and how to navigate the legalities of making this reality. I suggest to anyone studying abroad to connect with your professors! They could be a powerful resource in the future.

Social Benefits of Networking

Apart from networking from a career standpoint there is a lot of benefits of socially networking as well. I was able to connect with people from all over the world even prior to leaving for Denmark. I also make an effort to get individuals contact information who I meet. I was able to leverage these individuals I met for not only suggestions and recommendations, but potentially to stay with them if I travel to their home country. Prior to leaving for Denmark I met exchange students at Ohio State from the Netherlands and Italy and while I didn’t end up connecting with them in person while I was in Europe, they were able to provide me with travel suggestions and tips for when I visited their country. At the end of the day culture sharing is so important and a part of daily life in Europe, so these individuals want to connect with you (I wrote a post on culture sharing earlier feel free to look for it if you’re interested!). One of my connections I met from the Netherlands even invited me to her home to dine with her family. While I didn’t end up being able to take advantage of this opportunity, it was a powerful feeling knowing that I had made a connection that was this ingrained. All of these connections I made was simply by being curious!

If studying abroad or even just traveling I urge you to network, network, network! Whether socially or professionally, both of these types of relationships can help you in the future. Even if it’s not on your radar yet! So go network abroad and at home!!

A photo from students from schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota!

Life and Study in Strasbourg

Ling Shao shares her life in Strasbourg, France, from what she recommends seeing in the city to how the education system is different, as she studies abroad on the Student Exchange Program.

Strasbourg is a really safe and quiet city close to Germany and Switzerland. You can always take a train to go anywhere you want outside of France. If you live downtown, you can go anywhere that might interests you by walking. There is a really famous Cathedral named “Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg”.

You can see the whole view of the city at the top of the cathedral. It has the same name as Paris’ famous cathedral but it is much bigger and less touristy than the Paris one. I am not able to see the famous light show, but if you come in August or Early September, you can enjoy the light show in the evening.  It is really nice.

Other than the Notre Dame Cathedrale, you can also enjoy the biggest Christmas Fair in Strasbourg. It is still November, but normal trees are ready to become Christmas trees.

The study here is really different than that in the US. We only have 5 or 6 classes per week, however, classes here are more intense. One period class might take about 3-4 hrs and in some special cases, you might have to take an 8 hr class on Saturday with breaks. So bring some snacks and water for the classes and check your schedules before you arrange some trips on weekends. There is less homework which also means the grades heavily depend on the exams. I suggest that listening to the classes on a daily bases will help, so  you will not be so stressed during finals. I haven’t experienced an exam yet, but I am pretty sure that there will be a really intense reviewing week before the exam.

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!

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.

Coming Back from Australia

Maggie Hobson counts the many blessing from the semester abroad as she returns to the U.S. from Australia, after completing her semester at Curtin University on the Student Exchange Program.

My last day in Australia:

8-10am: Enjoyed my final $10 black coffee and raspberry muffin at my favorite on-campus cafe as I did some last minute studying

10-11:10am: Psychology exam

11:10am-2pm: Made my last meal of pasta using the one pan, one bowl and one fork that I bought for the entire semester and ate it while doing more last minute studying

2-4:10pm: Human Structure and Function exam

4:10-6pm: Packed my things, cleaned my room and had it inspected by the RA

6-9:30pm: Said my goodbyes with the amazing friends I made during the semester over one final group dinner

A few of my friends outside the car, saying goodbye

9:30-11:55pm: Went to the airport and checked in

From that time on, I traveled 32 hours to be greeted by my parents in the Chicago airport where my audit internship with EY started the next morning.

My parents greeting me at the airport with a sign

To some, this may seem like a “day” (it was only a day since I gained 12 hours) they would dread, but to me this is a day to be so thankful for.  First of all, I had the opportunity to study in Australia and take classes a regular accounting major at OSU would not normally take.  Not to mention, my professors were able to move my exams early so that I could get back to Chicago in time for my internship.  Secondly, I made amazing friendships and lasting memories that I will never forget.  Thirdly, I was greeted by two very supportive parents who were able to meet me away from home (Ohio) in order to move my things into an apartment in Chicago for the summer.  Lastly, I am humbled to start an internship with EY where I am able to gain experience working for a big four accounting firm.

OSU has provided me with so many great opportunities and for that I am forever thankful.  Studying abroad in Australia has been hands down my favorite college experience and I would do nothing to change my experience there.  I am satisfied with the time I spent there: the places I was able to explore, the people I met and the things I was able to accomplish.  Now, I am looking forward to continuing my internship with EY.  My fellow interns have already been so enthralled by the fact that I was living in Australia for five months.  I plan to share my experiences in a beneficial way.  The knowledge I learned about different cultures through becoming friends with so many exchange students from all around the world, will only benefit me in the workplace.  Therefore, overall I am thankful for this experience because it did not only influence me personally, but professionally as well.

 

It’s a Small World After All

Calling out O-H! and getting an I-O! back in the Glass Mountains in Australia while on a hike, along with may other encounters, Maggie Hobson studying at Curtin University realizes how small the world can be and how anywhere can feel like home.

It’s crazy how small the world can be.  Especially when you are traveling with an open mind and meeting as many people as possible.  This past week and a half I traveled with four other exchange students to the East Coast of Australia during our time off from Curtin University.  On the first plane ride from Perth to Cairns, I sat next to a girl that looked about the same age as me and we got talking.  It turns out she attends University of Guelph in Canada, the same university that the two guys who were on my trip attend.  What a small world.  We ended up spending some time with her in Cairns, exploring the Great Barrier Reef and  the Daintree Rainforest.  After those few days in Cairns, we departed ways with our new friend and flew to Brisbane.

Selfie with a turtle in the Great Barrier Reef

While in Brisbane, we were able to explore the city as well as nearby areas such as Noosa, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast.  While on a hike through the Glass Mountains, we passed by a group of people headed down the trail.  I took a double take and saw a woman wearing an Ohio State t-shirt. “OH” I shouted and of course she replied with an “IO” and a big grin.  Even though that was such a short moment, there was a part of me that felt like I was back at home.

Nick, Steffi and I in the Glade Mountains, right outside of Brisbane

After a bit of a drive, we made it to Sydney.  We were able to meet so many people who had been traveling around the world for months, sharing stories of their adventures.  I found it amazing how so many people travel to places alone and just meet people as they go.  All the travelers we met had such open mindsets, making them people we wanted to spend time with.  So we spent a lot of time with them and one day while hiking along the coast from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach, an older gentleman stopped my friend from New York because of her shirt.  Turns out he had attended the same university as her, New Paltz.  We learned from him that he has lived in Sydney for quite a few years now, but was a born and raised New Yorker.  What a small world.

Views on the hike from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach in Sydney

Finally, towards the end of our trip, we flew to Melbourne.  It happened to be Kings Day, which is a Dutch holiday and the last girl traveling in my group was Dutch.  That evening, after exploring the city, we attended a Dutch festival to celebrate the holiday that was so important to her and her culture.  I spent my night trying all kinds of Dutch food and meeting spirited people who were happy to talk about their Dutch traditions.

My friend Steffi enjoying food in China Town in Melbourne before heading to the Dutch festival

By the end of our week an a half trip on the East Coast of Australia, myself (from Ohio), my friends Mitch and Nick (both from Toronto), my friend Paige (from New York) and my friend Steffi (from Amsterdam) were all able to experience something from each of our home towns.  In my time exploring the world and seeing so many new things, I was baffled by how small the world can really be.

Learning Cultural Intelligence (CQ) – Core vs. Flex

“‘Everyone assumes that Cultural Intelligence (CQ) comes from understanding other people’s cultures, but you really have to understand your own’ (Middleton). Julia is so right about this point.” says Sydney Lapin studying abroad on the Student Exchange Program at Ecole de Management Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France. Read more on what she learned about CQ and how it related to her experience abroad, as well as how being abroad has helped her learn about her own culture and about herself.

Friends from all over Europe getting together for Valentine’s Day

The other day in my International Marketing Strategy class, we watched a Ted Talk that really spoke out to me. It was called “Cultural Intelligence: The Competitive Edge for Leaders” spoken by Julia Middleton. In the beginning, Julia defines cultural intelligence as “the ability to cross borders and boundaries between different cultures,  and actually thrive in doing so and love doing it and never want to not do it”. Julia grew up in the time where IQ meant everything, where it was considered crucial. Then, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) came around and people realized that it would be good for leaders to have this trait as well. However, people who are “good with people”, may really just be good with people who are like them. That is where CQ (Cultural Intelligence) comes into play: “the ability to work with people, and lead people, who are not like you”.

Julia went around the world, studying and interviewing people who she thought to have a good amount of cultural intelligence. Through her conversations, she found one large thing in common: “They had sort of figured out which bits of them was core, and which bits of them was flex”. By core “bits”, Julia means the behaviors, values and beliefs that are absolutely crucial to you being who you are, and a part of you that you are not willing to change. By flex bits, Julia means everything else that you are willing to compromise, or be flexible about. She states, “The more core you are, the more people trust you. The more flex you are, the more people trust you”. By this I believe she means that one needs to find a good balance, and that balance is what people who obtain cultural intelligence have found. For example, a salesperson is extremely flexible, and you lose all parts of your core and no one trusts you. And then, as Julia mentions, you have people like your grandparents, who are so set in their core that they refuse to be the least bit flexible.

Julia stated that cultural intelligence is found on the line between one’s core and one’s flex, and it moves from learning new things, gaining new experiences, and meeting new people. This video really got me thinking about which parts of me are core, and which parts are flex. I thought about my life, and my culture, and I tried and am still trying to figure it out. I think it will take a long time, if not forever, for someone to truly figure out where they stand because like Julia says, the line is always moving based on the things you learn and the people you meet.

Being abroad, I completely see how this video connects with my life. I have met people from all over the world, and not only met them but have held conversations, been involved in group projects, and traveled with these people of different backgrounds. There are parts of me I have and still need to adapt in order to get things to go smoothly when I work with people from other cultures.

With that, I am talking about the part of the video where Julia mentions knots in the core. We all have knots: parts of our supposed core that are based on PRE-judgement, rather than judgement. These are things we should push at and work on changing about ourselves. They might not be pretty, but I feel like that’s the point. For example, something I know I need to work on is my emotional resilience. When coming abroad, I thought that I had a pretty good grip on the things that would be difficult: the language barrier, the bureaucracy, the new school system. However, I did not think about preparing myself for how to react when difficult things are occurring. This is emotional resilience, the ability to bounce back and be okay when something is extremely frustrating and difficult. I have bounced back, but there are situations that I know I could have been more flexible and less reactive about.

An important part of the Ted Talk was where CQ comes from: “Everyone assumes that CQ comes from understanding other people’s cultures, but you really have to understand your own” (Middleton). Julia is so right about this point. She talks about the need to understand how your culture helps you versus hinders you, how it could open doors or close them, when your culture causes other people problems, and when your culture causes you to miss opportunities. To quote myself from my application, I thought one of the most important things was for me to “experience new cultures, learn about different backgrounds, and immerse myself in these cultures”. However, I now realize that the most important thing I am doing here, aside from learning about other cultures (which of course is still important), is learning who I am and how my culture, my core and my flex, affect my life and the people around me.

It is actually extremely complex, because when I think about the many things that I thought I was flexible on, it turns out that in some situations here I have found these things as “knots” in my core: they are things I want and aim to be flexible about, but I am currently not there yet, like my emotional resilience for example. It also turns out that when thinking deeper, things that I thought were in my core are actually things that I am quite flexible on. The biggest example of that I can think of is my Judaism. Being Jewish has always been one of the most important parts of me. I grew up in Cleveland, in an amazing Jewish community, that gave me so many opportunities I am grateful for. While being Jewish is something I hold very close, this video has made me think about the fact that yes, I am Jewish. Yes, this is important to me, and a part of me that I will not change. But, Judaism is actually one of the most flexible religions in the world. For instance, I personally do not think I believe in God, or in a lot of the things that supposedly happened back then, but Judaism still accepts me as a Jew. I am flexible to new opinions that go along with Judaism, and my thoughts and beliefs about it are always changing. So while being Jewish is something in my core, something that makes me who I am, I am still quite flexible about my beliefs through my religion.

I am beyond grateful to have seen this video while being abroad, and to be able to relate it to my everyday life here in Strasbourg, France. I feel as though I am much more aware of my personal strengths and weaknesses, and what I need to work on in order to become more culturally aware and to gain cultural intelligence. I know that the journey to having cultural intelligence is not easy, and will take a long time, but I think it is so important to be open to changing things about yourself, while also realizing what you are not willing to change in order to be who you are.

A trip to the Black Forest in Germany

Two Weeks of Travel

Kayla Salant, on the Student Exchange Program at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (Milan, Italy), shares her two week break time travels with some advice and tips of traveling, as well as what she has learned from traveling abroad.

As I am beginning the second half of my semester abroad, there are many things I have learned about taking advantage of every second you have while abroad.

Recently I had a two-week spring break. This is unheard of in the states, but seemed normal to most students here in Italy. When my friends and I realized this at the beginning of the semester, we knew we had to take full advantage of this time off to cross many cities off our lists.

After hours of searching on Google Flights, Sky Scanner, and Go Euro we had the perfect two weeks planned to the minute. It was time to begin our break, everyone packed in just a carry on and a backpack, it was going to be the most adventurous two weeks of our lives.

From London to Amsterdam, Brussels to Paris, Prague to Budapest, we had a packed full two weeks. I will say, you learn a lot, not only about the cities but certainly about yourself when traveling for that long, hostel to hostel. You learn that alone time is necessary, that sleep is important, and time flies.

Some things I’ve learned

It is important to read about the history of cities before going. We have many different cultures in the U.S. alone, but imagine traveling from country to country, you’ll be in for a bit of a shock. It is easy to forget what languages they speak as you are traveling, so it is crucial to look up and remember basic greetings and phrases before you arrive.

Some things I wouldn’t change

Always travel with people you get along with. Take the time to meet locals. Go on free walking tours. Wake up early, and get lost in a city. Take tons of photos, but remember to be present.

Some things I won’t forget

The connections you’ll make. The breath-taking views. The unforgettable food. And certainly, the times you almost miss your bus, or getting stuck in the rain for hours in a line.

It is important to take time for yourself, and get rest. Two weeks of straight travel was not easy mentally or physically, but if I had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would!