Unexpected Friendships

From a campus network to a global network. Join Brad Schulze’s journey in Italy on the Student Exchange Program as he expands his circle of connections from OSU to the world!

Go Bucks Lake Como, Italy
Go Bucks                      Lake Como, Italy

Buongiorno! Come sta? Mi chiamo Brad e Io sono Americano. Adesso, Io abito in Milano. Io studio a la Universida Bocconi. Mi piace il cibo d’Italian. En il future Io vorrei un unomo di affair per mi lavoro. Mi italiano e no buona ma Io sono practicare.

Hope you enjoyed reading my awful Italian, but I am practicing and I hope I can spice things up a bit in my next post. Let me translate that for you: “Good day! How are you? My name is Brad and I am American. Now I am living in Milano. I am studying at the University of Bocconi. I like Italian food. In the future I hope to be a business man.” My Italian is awful but I am practicing.

A little more about myself, that I do not yet know how to say in Italian. My name is Brad Schulze.I am a fourth year Finance major at The Fisher College of Business with an anticipated graduation date of December 2016. I am a member of Pi Sigma Epsilon Business Fraternity and  a Freshman Basketball Coach. In my free time I enjoy rooting on my beloved Buckeyes and anything and everything sports. As far as choosing to do a Student Exchange Program; I have always loved to travel;  but I won’t lie to you, spending a whole semester abroad and missing out on a lot of Ohio State things was definitely a thought that crossed my mind. In the end I decided to go all in and take advantage of the opportunity that I was blessed to come across and have absolutely no regrets. If anything my Student Exchange experience has been better than anticipated and I really fret it coming to an end in December.

It has officially been one month since my arrival in Milan, Italy and looking back I think it is safe to say it has been one of the fastest months, if not the fastest of my life. It has been jam packed with so many fun things like staying with an Italian family, traveling, meeting new people, learning some Italian and taking classes that are really challenging me. To say it has all been good would be a lie, as some of the processes I had to do when first getting here really tested my patience, which I plan to touch on in a later post, but for now I want to keep everyone in high spirits.

Milan Derby
Milan Derby

So first, let me get it out of the way, and please the audience by telling everyone what they are expecting. Yes, the food is great and surprisingly, it’s not all pizza and pasta. I would have to say Milanese (a veal dish typical to Milan) is my favorite and the gelato has lived up to all expectations. I have traveled to Florence, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, and have Verona this coming weekend, Rome the weekend after and was also lucky enough to attend The Milan Derby. Every place has a unique, different feature and not one is exactly the same which is something that has really impressed me. But from the blogs that I have seen and read; most every one is about the traveling and I  can’t say that is the best part thus far of my study abroad experience. Rather, I want to touch on a hidden aspect of study abroad that I don’t think gets the recognition it should. That is the the amount of people I have met from all over the world and the networking connections that I have made for the rest of my life. I have met kids from all over the world and now know them on a personal scale. Though, I don’t know what will happen in the future I can only imagine these connections will pay dividends beyond what the classroom will; Professionally but more importantly on a personal basis, friendships that will last a lifetime.

To start, on August 24th I arrived in Milan (Milano as it’s called here) and was picked up and greeted my friend Davide at the airport where we then traveled to his home in a small town called Malnate, Italy. Davide was a friend of mine that I met when I traveled to Italy in 2011 for an international basketball tournament. Davide and I now message and talk daily and I know I always have a place to stay in Italy and the same to him in Ohio. His family was super welcoming and I got to experience Italian culture for a few days before moving to the dorms. Got to eat some awesome meals made by him and his mom, drink some special Italian wine and attempt to learn a little bit of Italian with him. To top off these first few days he was kind enough to show me around Florence and Lake Como, two of the top places to see in Italy. The 3 days flew by and by Thursday I had to move in the dorm but plan to visit him at his school hear in the near future.

Davide and I taking a selfie in Florence
Davide and I taking a selfie in Florence

So, now to the dorm. Where I have made the most connections by far.  Though the dorm is not the nicest and about 20 minutes from the University, I would not change the experience of living here for anything. I don’t know the exact numbers but I believe there are 6 continents (no Antarctica) and around 15 countries represented in this small five story dormitory. I basically have been around the world in 4 weeks. (Not Literally) I have met and become very good friends with three kids from Chile, one from Brazil, four from Canada, two from Australia, one from Netherlands, and the list goes on. I can’t really pin point the exact numbers but I would imagine that is a multiple thousand-mile network I have created and friends that I have for the rest of my life. On top of that, Bocconi itself has students across 50 different countries. In the dorms, almost every night we cook together, hang out together and just learn about so many different cultures. For example, if you ever hear an Australian say “Thanks Heaps” it means thanks a ton and if you ask a kid from Europe what his/her major is be ready to be stared at by a very confused face; because in Europe and elsewhere around the world it is simply “What do you study?” Every day a group of us play basketball outside the dorm, we all study together, travel together, etc. It really has opened so many gates and taught me so much that will be beneficial in my future, whatever I decide to do. It makes you leave your comfort zone, figuring out how to communicate with kids whose first language isn’t English, and gives you so many different views and aspects on the world that are second to none. Makes your tool kit that much bigger and experiences that much better.

I don’t want to dive into classes here too much since it only has been 3 weeks but I have already been lucky enough to have a very well known business man here in Italy speak to my class. My professor, who studied at Yale, knew him from work. His name was Gianluca Manca and he is The Head of Sustainability at Eurizon Capital. He went into a lot of depth about the issues in our environment and how it relates to investors and their decisions. It was a really cool talk and now I have an Italian connection for business who said if I can become fluent in the language he would be happy to give me connections and help me network here. My teacher has 3 or 4 more speakers scheduled through the semester so I will be sure to keep everyone updated on that.

Alright last thing I promise, I appreciate it if you have made it thus far, I will make it quick. I enrolled in a two week, 40 hour Italian language Crash Course in which we learned some very basic Italian Language. All I received was a certificate and will get no credit for it but I made a very good connection with the teacher which made it well worth it. We now exchange emails a few times a week in which I respond and talk to her in Italian, she corrects me and then responds in English and I do the same. Really has helped my Italian immensely and I now plan to take the follow up course through the semester and have an Exchange Language Partner that I will start meeting with regularly next week to practice my Italian and help her with her English. Again, a huge, huge tool that I can use and friends that will last a lifetime.

My Italian Language Teacher and I after my exam
My Italian Language Teacher and I after my exam

It really is awesome to see just how different parts of the world are. It really makes you appreciate the world more and even the USA. It has opened up a whole new perspective on everything for me and I wish everyone had the opportunity that I have been blessed with. The world is shrinking and the Student Exchange Program gives you a step ahead and helps you create an invaluable network. I think if I can become fluent in other languages (Italian and Spanish are the first two!) these friends I have made would be more than willing to help me out with jobs and the same for me to them. The classroom doesn’t give you this opportunity. I have created so many different friends through so many activities in only my first month here. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of my time here.

Hope you enjoyed my post and I really hope you at least consider the possibility of going abroad. So much world out there and so many people to meet.

Chile, Ohio, Chile, Australia, UNC
Chile, Ohio (Me), Chile, Australia, UNC

About the Author: Brad Schulze, Senior, Finance, Student Exchange Program- Italy.

Parla Inglese? (Do you speak English?)

Jayna Wolfe shares her excitement being exposed to an array of people and opportunity being on the Student Exchange Program at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Hear about her experience of her first few weeks in Europe and the small adventures she has on a daily basis living in a different country.

Ciao from Milano! My name is Jayna Wolfe and I am a fourth year logistics management student currently studying at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy. I have now been in Milan for about three weeks and am settling back into a more normal balance of academia and fun. My first week and a half in Milan was filled with welcome events including things such as “Speed Exchange” (a mock speed date for exchange students), orientation meetings, campus tours, visits to the Duomo and lots of socializing.

A large portion of the 850 exchange students at Bocconi participated in an Italian language “crash course” and quickly started meeting each other and forming travel groups. I chose not to participate in the crash course, but have found that the excitement of being on exchange is similar to being a freshman at your college university—everyone is a little unsure about how life will be and is therefore willing to extend their hand and introduce themselves if you are willing to do the same.

Bocconi exchange students hail from North America, Latin America, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East. I can honestly say that when first becoming interested in Bocconi I had no idea that I would be meeting students from such a wide range of universities and different cultural backgrounds. The diversity in my peers has made my experiences in the classroom very different from those at Fisher College of Business. I am currently enrolled in a corporate finance class and although the course is taught in English and utilizes dollars in practice problems, our professor encourages input from every student on similarities and differences between the American financial system and the system of the country the students hail from. When asked in my entrepreneurship course to formulate ideas for innovative products and processes we will develop throughout the span of the course my classmates considered problems they face in their own countries. I was intrigued by my group member’s idea to create a system for displaced refugees to integrate into society. The refugee crisis is something we hear about on the news in the United States, but has never been something I consider on a day-to-day basis because of influxes in the number of migrants moving to the states. My group members are from Germany and Australia where these issues are prominent.

When asked where I am from I cannot simply say “the state of Ohio” because those unfamiliar with the geography of the US are only familiar with California, Florida, and New York City. Participating in the classic first day of school ice breaker where each student states their name, country of origin, and home university I was in awe- Australia, Egypt, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Brazil, Turkey, and so on. Bocconi is truly a global institution and I am confident that I will walk away from this experience with a broader way of thinking, thanks to my peers. Each education system instills in its students’ different behaviors and methods of participating in the classroom. In just one and a half short weeks of class I have been enlightened by my classmate’s different ways of thinking and participating. Some students are incredibly comfortable with shouting out to the professors as though they are having a one-on-one discussion while most of the American student have learned that in a classroom you always raise your hand unless told otherwise.

The wide variety of courses offered to exchange students that coincide with Ohio State course credit is a huge benefit of coming to Bocconi. This semester I am enrolled in Leadership Skills, Corporate Finance, Organizing Entrepreneurship, and New Product Development and Open Innovation. Some of these courses are similar to topics covered in leadership and development courses I have already taken, but the professors have accents from around the globe, are impressively decorated with research distinctions, and have been visiting professors at universities all over the world. These distinctions and scopes of experience make for interesting class periods and excellent networking contacts for students.

I feel incredibly blessed to have the chance to participate in this program and to be able to say that at this very moment I am a Bocconi student, and I am in Europe. The ability to travel on the weekends, see amazing places and meet such wonderful people gives you a different sense of freedom than being in your home country. Every tram ride, trip to the grocery store, and visit to the Galleria is a new adventure without the feeling that you are a tourist. My weekly trips to the grocery store that started as one of the most confusing life processes have become routinized as the layout is now clear. Clerks speak broken English if any at all, and navigating around a sea of shoppers (the grocery is crowded at every hour of the day) you are constantly yelling “scusa!” (sorry, or excuse me). I finally know how to respond when the clerks ask “sacchetto?” (bag?) or “carta?” (card?). Each learning experience no matter how big or small helps with becoming more and more confident in your ability to navigate the unknown.

Here’s a brief travel update of what’s to come:

Cinque Terre, Italy

Corfu, Greece

Florence, Italy

Barcelona, Spain

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Jumping for joy at a beautiful swim spot in front of George Clooney's mansion in Carate Urio on Lake Como.
Jumping for joy at a beautiful swim spot in front of George Clooney’s mansion in Carate Urio on Lake Como.
My first Italian pizza <3
My first Italian pizza <3
The classic Duomo photo. A requirement when traveling through Milan.
The classic Duomo photo. A requirement when traveling through Milan.

Arriverderci! (See you later)

About the Author: Jayna Wolfe, Senior, Logistics Management, Student Exchange Program- Italy, first time traveler to Europe.

Last day in Bangkok

I can’t believe our GAP experience is almost over. The last three weeks have been such a great experience. I have learned a lot about team work and professionalism, as well as Thai people, Thai culture and why they are so much better off than Vietnam economically.

Now heading back to my internship, I hope that the lessons I’ve learned from this trip will help me in my new position. Thank you Fisher for this wonderful opportunity, thank my friend for helping me during the project, and to Thailand: แล้วพบกันใหม่ (see you again).

Some random memories:

Most professional photo
Most professional photo
Thomas was checking out some painting on an ancient house wall.
Thomas was checking out some painting on an ancient house wall.
Free live music in a shopping center
Free live music in a shopping center

 

This city keeps building huge temples every where, something to look forward to for my next visit.
This city keeps building huge temples every where, something to look forward to for my next visit.

 

Last meal in Bangkok, cooked by my girlfriend, taste like home. So delicious.
Last meal in Bangkok, cooked at home. So delicious.

Another side of Thailand

After two weeks in Bangkok, our team decided to expand our experience to some other areas of Thailand during the weekend. However, half of the team wanted the loudness and craziness Pattaya, one wanted the romance of Bali, Indonesia, while I chose Hua Hin, a very quiet and beautiful beach just about 300km (186 miles) from Bangkok.

The place was quite the opposite of noisy Bangkok. We enjoyed some of the most peaceful days since we came to Thailand. The most pleasant experience for me was the people in the town. They were extremely honest and helpful- definitely a great relief from the tuk tuk and taxi drivers in Bangkok. If you enjoy peaceful beaches, nice weather, great street foods and elephants, this is the place to go.

This was the place where we lived in Hua Hin, very nice little hotel we found on Airbnb
This was the place where we lived in Hua Hin, very nice little hotel we found on Airbnb
The elephant was coming to pick us up. 400 baht each ($13) for 20' riding. The name of the elephant was Tuk Tuk, which was really funny as the experience we had with tuk tuk (a kind of motobike taxi) in Bangkok was aweful.
The elephant was coming to pick us up. 400 baht each ($13) for 20′ riding. The name of the elephant was Tuk Tuk, which was really funny as the experience we had with tuk tuk (a kind of motobike taxi) in Bangkok was awful.

 

Tuk Tuk meeting his gang
Tuk Tuk meeting his gang
Camels, ugly animals with beautiful eyes. And they were almost as tall as  the elephants.
Camels, ugly animals with beautiful eyes. And they were almost as tall as the elephants.
Found a nice bar with live music (Jazz and Saxophone) with 5 stars on Tripadvisor. Obviously we didnt understand anything about Jazz, but the place was really cool.
Found a nice bar with live music (Jazz and Saxophone) with 5 stars on Tripadvisor. Obviously we didnt understand anything about Jazz, but the place was really cool.

Colorful Bangkok

After several days of hard work with the team, at last I had sometime to go around and explore the city of Bangkok on a sunny day. What I wanted to see was not the typical temples and touristy attractions, but the normal life of Bangkok. And, I was not disappointed. This city is so vibrant, literally. There were so many beautiful things to see and bright colors were everywhere. I truly felt thankful to the GAP program for this opportunity. Without it, I would probably have come to Thailand on a standard tour (which is very very popular in Vietnam) and missed the real attractions of this wonderful city.

Enough for the lengthy introductions, here are the pictures:

The statue outside of the Central World, biggest shopping center in Bangkok
The statue outside of the Central World, biggest shopping center in Bangkok
Thai people love Aston Mini, I love them too
Thai people love Aston Mini, I love them too
Cute elephants.
Cute elephants.
Outdoor shopping area
Outdoor shopping area

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What I hate the most in Bangkok is the traffic. It is even worse than that in Vietnam. However, this traffic jam looks really good in the picture. :)
What I hate the most in Bangkok is the traffic. It is even worse than that in Vietnam. However, this traffic jam looks really good in the picture. :)
People queing to wait for the bus. This is not something you will ever see in Vietnam.
People queing to wait for the bus. This is not something you will ever see in Vietnam.
Adding some colors to the street of Bangkok
Adding some colors to the street of Bangkok
Random photo of my  team mates going to a client interview. Just to keep this post work-related. :))
Random photo of my team mates going to a client interview. Just to keep this post work-related. :))

To be honest, before I came here, I expected the city to be the same as Sai Gon, Vietnam, but I was totally wrong. Bangkok is like Sai Gon on steroids. It has been a wonderful experience, and I will definitely come back here someday in the future.

Leaving Zanzibar

Wedesday, May 27th was our last day in Zanzibar.  We were all reluctant to leave after spending two days in paradise.  We explored the town and spent an amazing day on the safari blue tour snorkeling, eating fresh fruit and seafood, and relaxing on the beach.

Our flight was to leave Zanzibar at 8:20pm, so we had the day to do with what we wanted.  Seven members of the group went to see monkeys that can only be found on the island.  The other five, my group, wanted to go to the eastern side of the island where we thought better beaches could be found.

Getting there was our first obstacle.  We felt that the hotel we stayed at, while a great place to stay, was trying to overcharge us for getting across the island.  We went and used our new found haggling skills to find a cab ride that was half the price.

It took us a while to find a beach where we could go. Most of the beach access is through hotels, which were closed because of the off-season.  We ended up finding a place that was open and was even serving lunch!  We had about three hours to spend here before we had to head back.

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The hotel was beautiful and a nice way to spend the afternoon. We relaxed over lunch and enjoyed the views.

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However, when we went to go into the water, we were disappointed.  There were rocks everywhere and no good swimming spots.  After some time, we got back in the cab to head back.  Overall it was a trip we all greatly enjoyed and somewhere I would like to return to in the future.

Last day in Zanzibar

As our trip to Zanzibar came to an end, we spent the final day visiting historical sites and getting in some last minute beach time.  Stone Town is filled with interesting locales and the island itself is a crossroads of East African, European, Indian, and Arabic culture. This results in an interesting mix of architecture and a complex history.

Churches and Mosques mixed together in Stone Town
Churches and Mosques mixed together in Stone Town

 

The West side of the town is a maze a tiny streets that can be difficult to navigate, but exploring the city is well worth the effort.  Each turn reveals art stands, boutiques, corner cafes, historic sites, and locals willing to chat.  While the weather and scenery are beautiful, some of the cities more somber landmarks point to a checkered past.  We took a guided tour of the old slave market, and it was a sobering experience to understand how bad the conditions had been and learn about the huge volume of people who passed through the slave markets of Zanzibar.

Our guide shows how slaves were collared down in holding pits.  This room was meant for 75 women and children.
Our guide shows how slaves were collared down in holding pits. This room was meant for 75 women and children and there’s little to see of it outside this picture.
Monument outside the old market.
Monument outside the old market.
Anglican Church outside the market.  The British were instrumental in ending the slave trade in Zanzibar.
Anglican Church outside the market. The British were instrumental in ending the slave trade in Zanzibar.

After touring the town, we hired a local cab to take us to the East side of the island and Pongwe beach.  We found out the hard way that the tourist season hadn’t started yet, and most the hotels with beach access were still closed.  Luckily, our cab driver was willing to press on. After a drive through the town of Pongwe, we came across the Zanzibar Rock Resort.  We sat down to have lunch and were able to walk down to the water right from the resort’s sea side restaurant.  (I’m not a paid sponsor of the Zanzibar Rock Resort, but I would highly recommend staying there if you ever end up on the island.)

I would have taken more pictures but I was too busy enjoying the beach
I would have taken more pictures but I was too busy enjoying the beach

We were sad to say goodbye, but eventually we had to jump back in the taxi and head to the airport.  Visiting Zanzibar was a great time and the perfect way to wrap up the team’s last week in Africa.

A safari photo journal

Entrance to Maasai Mara Park
Entrance to Maasai Mara Park
It's like a painting!
It’s like a painting!
Sunrise over the savanna
Sunrise over the savanna
Morning at the park
Morning at the park
Lunch time
Lunch time
Lunch interrupted
Lunch interrupted
Giraffes hanging out
Giraffes hanging out
Lonely elephant
Lonely elephant
This lion is not amused
This lion is not amused
"Go away!"
“Go away!”
GAPers on safari
GAPers on safari
Maasai Mara mountains
Maasai Mara mountains
Leftovers
Leftovers
Lounging lions
Lounging lions
Zebras of all stripes....as long as you want black and white
Zebras of all stripes….or at least black and white
Road block
Road block
Safari accommodations
Safari accommodations
A jackal!
A jackal!

A Budget Traveler’s Dream

By far the biggest perk about studying abroad in Singapore is the ease of traveling around Southeast Asia. I was able to travel to 5 different countries outside of Singapore and the most I paid for a flight was $300 to Australia. Most flights were 2-3 hours long and only around $150. Airlines such as TigerAir and Jetstar make flying on a budget a breeze.

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Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

My favorite country I visited was Thailand and I loved it so much that I went twice on my four month exchange. From the white sand beaches, to feeding elephants, to 40 baht pad thai, Thailand was nothing short of Paradise.

 

My favorite experience out of both my trips to Thailand was visiting an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai called Elephant Nature Park. I heard horror stories about how elephants are domesticated and knew I didn’t want to go the typical route and go elephant riding. Instead, I got to spend the entire day among them, feeding them, bathing them, and observing them. It was an unforgettable experience and I recommend it to anyone traveling to Thailand.

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Elephants playing in the river
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Up Close & Personal

 

Other amazing experiences included visiting the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, sailing Halong Bay (New 7 Wonder of Nature), diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and visiting tea plantations in Malaysia.

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Halong Bay, Vietnam
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Angkor Archeological Park

 

 

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Ta Prohm-Tomb Raider Temple

 

I was fortunate enough to travel to all these amazing places and not have to break the bank. Although traveling was relatively inexpensive, the people I met along the way, the culture, the views, and the memories were all priceless. I definitely recommend traveling as much as possible while on exchange because an opportunity like this doesn’t come often.

 

 

Social Life and Traveling in Nantes and Europe

Hello everyone!

In this post, I will discuss the social life living in Nantes, as well as the travel I have been able to do living in Europe. Before departing for Nantes for the Student Exchange Program, one of my main concerns was leaving my friends back in the US and having to meet all new people from different countries when I arrived here. I am a very social person and looked forward to being around all new people, but it was definitely nerve racking.

However, the social life I have had here in Nantes has been absolutely incredible. I have met and become close friends with people from over 30 countries, and I will have these relationships for the rest of my life. Just on my floor in the residence, I have friends from Ireland, England, Belgium, US, Spain, Finland, Mexico, and Argentina. This group, along with about 50 other international students and 10 friends from the basketball team I joined at Audencia, travel, hang out, and pretty much do everything together. This was a big adjustment, as at Ohio State you only see 5-10 people every day, and the rest maybe once or twice a week. It really allows you to become close very quickly, and everyone has truly become a family. It is so cool how everyone has a different background and culture, but are all here for the same reasons and connect right away.

Outside of the social life, traveling has been another great thing about being in Nantes. Nantes has both a main airport and main train station, making it very easy to get anywhere around Europe for a low cost. So far, I have traveled to Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and roughly 6 cities around France. I still have plans to be in Portugal, Spain, and 6 more cities in France before returning home, and I cannot wait! There are several websites and travel methods that can be used to get around Europe, and through searching all the options it can be done at a very low cost! The trips I have been on have shown me many different cultures and ways of life, and have truly allowed me to have a better view on life. I will never forget the people I have met here and the travel I have done, and am so thankful to have had the opportunity.