February, 2019 | Reciprocal Exchanges Blog

I have been in Vienna, Austria for almost three weeks now and it has been fantastic! Everyday is a new adventure. Vienna is a very beautiful and clean city. Though, it did take me a couple days to settle in and adapt to the new culture. I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store for me.

My dorm is located near the city center and public transportation is literally located in every corner. It is very easy to get around in Vienna because there is the train, tram, and bus to get around in. The biggest challenge I have faced thus far is my inability to read German… This makes grocery shopping and ordering food at restaurants especially hard. Classes in Vienna do not start until March, so I recommend arriving early to get to know the city and really settle in before all the studying starts. What makes WU, my university in Vienna, great is that they offer a cultural orientation program in the month of February. You get to learn and explore the city with a group of exchange students that you end up getting very close with. For example, we visited the Parliament, National Library, and even learned how to waltz. It is a two-week program with two day trips on Fridays.

I am currently living with two other Texas A&M students and we have gone on many adventures together already. It definitely made it easier to adapt to the culture with people you already know. Austria is a beautiful city day and night! We have also traveled to Bratislava and London already because Vienna is in the center of Europe. It makes traveling very convenient and cheap. I am very excited to spend the rest of my semester here in Vienna!

Here are some pictures of the beautiful city

Categories: 2019, Austria, Reciprocal Exchange

Wow, I can’t believe I am approaching the month abroad milestone. It has been a whirlwind so far but with some intertwining moments of peace. It has been quite the challenge to adapt to Venice, but now that we have we are in love. I’m living with two close friends from Texas A&M as well as a grad student from Kentucky. Apparently, there is also a German girl moving into our flat soon.

So far we have seen two sides to Venice: a crazy tourist town of hustle bustle, and a calm floating city without cars; where life moves slower and things are peaceful. Sometimes we see both sides of the city in one day. One thing about Venice is that you have to know what you are doing. You are expected to understand the roads, canals, boat patterns, mail and trash services. Nothing runs like it does in the United States. We have had to solve lots of problems on our own. That is probably the most rewarding part of being over here so far. Our parents and teachers can’t come to our rescue. We have had to communicate and problem solve with adults who don’t speak our language and see us as children.

Once you figure things out though, Venice is a dream. It truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Everywhere you turn there is a breathtaking canal view. We walk 30 minutes to class most days and it isn’t a burden because of how gorgeous the scenery is.

We have been traveling every weekend and have been to Verona, Florence and Pisa so far. This weekend we bought tickets to see Tears for Fears in Milan, Italy. We are staying with the students from A&M who are studying there now. All of the students in different cities really try to show each other around and help out. You have to love that Aggie spirit!

Here are a few of our favorite photos so far. Excited for the unknown adventure to come.

Categories: 2019, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

Ciao!

I have been in Venice, Italy for almost three weeks now and I am loving it! Although it took a few days to get settled in, I have already been able to see and experience so many new things. I know that this semester will be full of incredible memories!

Venice is very different than anywhere I’ve lived before. With a city full of canals and the absence of cars, you have to walk or take a waterbus everywhere. Although this can make simple tasks like going to the grocery store more difficult, I am really beginning to appreciate the extra activity that it requires and like the long walks around the city. Venice is so beautiful and there is a new scene to appreciate around every corner! It’s very easy to get lost here, and Google Maps sometimes fails to understand Venice’s confusing streets. However, most of the locals are happy to help and I’m beginning to learn my way around the city. I will admit that I am already getting tired of pasta and pizza. I’m thankful to be living with two other Aggies here in Venice and we’ve begun to cook a lot of meals at home. I am also thankful for how safe Venice seems to be, even at night. Although you still have to watch for pickpockets in crowded areas, the threat here seems to be a lot lower than many other European cities.

School here is very different than in the US. You do not register for classes—you simply attend any that you want and sign up for the exam at the end of the term. Also, there are no syllabi with an outline of important dates and deadlines. As someone who always has her planner on hand, this was a little hard to accept at first, but I am getting used to it. In both of my classes right now, only a final exam and a group project determine your grade. It is a bit frightening not having preliminary exams to gauge your knowledge of the material, but I am staying on top of my studies so that I am not stressed at the end of the term. I have the same professor for both of my Marketing classes this term. He uses a lot of Italian and international examples, and it has been very interesting to learn about Marketing from this global perspective. Ca’ Foscari is a huge international school and I have met so many people from other countries. Everyone is nice, but the other students studying abroad seem to be friendlier than the Italian students. We are beginning group projects in both of my current courses, so I am looking forward to getting to know the other students better. The classes here are also three days in a row, rather than being Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday like at A&M. I got very lucky and only have classes on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday this term. This gives me ample time to explore Venice, travel to other places, and study some too.

Venice has been a great place to travel from so far! I have already been to Verona and Florence and am leaving for Milan in the morning. I had never travelled by train before, but it’s becoming my new favorite way to travel. I’m excited to visit more places in the coming weeks. I am feeling very blessed to be able to spend an entire semester in a different country. I have already learned so much in my short time here and I know that the knowledge and memories I will gain in the following months will be invaluable.

Categories: 2019, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

My semester abroad is off to a great start. The city of Milan is very welcoming, and the people are all very tolerant of my limited Italian vocabulary. The time change adjustment has been one of the biggest challenges thus far, but I am now finally dialed in and have a well established sleep schedule. My apartment has a prime central location; about halfway from University of Bocconi (where I am attending), and the city center of Milan, home of the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). The city of Milan is heavily enamored of fashion, and is hosting Milan fashion week starting today. Everyone seems to dress especially elegantly, including people roaming the streets as well as university students. They would be taken aback if they saw how American college students dressed for class! Since arriving, I have likely consumed more carbs than the average person eats in a year, but I am starting to learn moderation. Besides bread, pizza, and pasta, Milan is known for many local dishes such as Risotto and Piadina. I must also mention the gelato stops at every corner which always seem to draw me in.

Milan has enough excitement to last a full semester, however this semester in Europe is the perfect opportunity to travel around the continent. I have had the pleasure to visit Venice as well as Barcelona. Venice, otherwise referred to as ‘The City of Water’ is truly captivating. Whether it be sitting back and enjoying the gothic architecture, or floating the Grand Canal on a gondola, this town is a must-see for world travelers. Barcelona, Spain is truly a one of a kind city. The Catalonian people have such pride in their city and culture, and it’s quite apparent as to why. Getting an up close look at La Sagrada Familia was surreal, and watching the local soccer club FC Barcelona at Camp Nou was a thrilling experience. Looking forward, my next three trips include Berlin, Geneva, and Vienna, followed by St. Patrick’s day in Dublin.

I have already realized how fortunate I am to take part in the full semester exchange program, and I’m eager to experience what lies ahead.

Categories: 2017

My first few weeks in Austria have been great! Vienna is such a beautiful city, and I’m so excited to get to spend the semester here. Thus far I have visited Budapest, Hallstatt, Bratislava, Graz, and Melk. I decided to get to Vienna early to have time to settle in and I am so glad I did. In that two week span I went on my first solo trip and made a friend on a free walking tour of Vienna. We ended up traveling together for the next 3 days! In the past 2 weeks I participated in WU’s Cultural Program, which I highly recommend. I made so many friends and learned so much about Vienna. For anyone studying as an exchange student at WU in the future, this program is a must!! Some of my favorite events of the program included visiting the Austrian National Library, tasting different foods from around the world at the international potluck, and taking tours of different museums and palaces.

Today I am off to London with two of my roommates, who are also from Texas A&M. So far my experience has been nothing short of amazing, and I’m so excited to see what this semester holds!!

Some of my favorite things so far: 

-Making new friends

-Super nice public transportation

-Last minute travel plans

-Trying new food

-Cold weather

Categories: 2019, Reciprocal Exchange

The first few days in Prague were rough to say the least. It had been a full 24 hours filled with delayed flights, lost luggages and silly mishaps. As soon as I was able to get to the dorms, I collapsed onto my bed and slept. It was difficult not knowing anyone and even harder since I don’t know how to speak Czech. Thankfully, a majority of people speak English. The culture shock was definitely hitting hard, I missed home and hadn’t met anyone yet. I was starting to doubt my decision, but then I was able to meet more people during the next few days. I explored the city with a girl I had met on a trip to the grocery store. We went to all the places you first see when you google “Things to do in Prague.” We made our way to the city center, and found the Astronomical clock, Charles Bridge, and tried some Goulash. It was quite fun and we walked for so long, we decided to do it all again the next day since my suitemate had arrived. This time, we went all around but in no particular direction. We walked aimlessly to see what we could stumble upon in the beautiful city. During orientation week, I met a few more people from the United States. Within the next few days, we were planning a trip to visit Budapest before classes began. It ended up being a wonderful trip and we got to see a lot of beautiful sights such as St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Fisherman’s Bastion and we got to experience the famous Budapest thermal baths. Towards the end of the trip, it was a little bittersweet. We had seen so many beautiful sights and made wonderful memories that I will remember for many years to come, but everyone also started to feel a little sick. I think by the time we left, everyone was grateful for their time in Hungary, but were ready to be back home in Prague.

Now that classes have started, I feel as if the culture shock is settling back in. In comparison to the US and classes back at Texas A&M, they are much longer here and it seems a little hard to focus. Classes for a single topic tend to be no less than 90 minutes but can be up to 3 hours long. The classes are also a lot smaller, in one class I have give or take around 15 people. The difference from taking a class here and Wehner 113 is night and day. It can be nice having a class this size because of the free flow of ideas is a bit easier and intimacy of it. I plan to explore more of the Czech Republic with my friends during the next months and cannot wait to share the rest of my experience.

Categories: 2019, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

What a crazy week and a half  it has been! I arrived in Milan on January 27th and I began classes on February 4th! I spent my first week getting adjusted and exploring the city. I have seen many things already and I am very excited to continue to explore during the next few months! I have learned a lot about school in Europe and how it differs from school in America. For one, it is extremely uncommon to find a campus like Texas A&M. Many students here come to class and then go home, there is not much “hanging out” here. I have also learned that every class you sign up for can be attended or not attended, meaning that if you choose to not attend the class, you only have to take the final exam based entirely on the textbook to receive credit. This is a very popular choice among students here because many work full time. I have now attended each of my classes at least once so far and I am very excited for the semester. I am particularly excited about my Big Data for Business Analytics class and my Principles of E-Marketing and E-Commerce class. Both classes address the importance of data and how to use that data in a managerial perspective or marketing perspective which will be very beneficial to me since I am in the Data Analytics Marketing track at A&M. I am extremely glad to be here and learn from one of the best business schools in Europe! Tomorrow I am representing Texas A&M at the Bocconi international fair and I am very excited to talk about A&M and also meet others who have previously studied abroad at A&M. Last night I even met two Italians that studied at A&M last fall and they could not stop talking about how they love and miss Texas and that they really hope to go back someday! I am very excited to see what the next few months have in store for me!

It is crazy because there are around 900 students from around the world studying at Bocconi this semester. I love that I am able to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds!

I took this picture on top of the Duomo in downtown Milan- definitely the prettiest building in the city! The views are incredible from the top and the architecture is stunning. I love exploring and learning all about the history behind the buildings and artwork here and I am eager to learn about other cities in Europe too!

Categories: 2019, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

Que tal todos!

Here is a little insight to my life here in Barcelona, Spain as a exchange student! It has been an amazing time so far to say the least, I have met many new friends and have already seen quite a bit of Catalonia and the local culture here. Upon moving into my apartment, I was really nervous. Fresh off of 20+ hours of traveling, my house wasn’t what I was expecting, but its location 5 minutes from my university trumps any complaints I have. Getting acclimated to the city was tough, the first week I could not sleep longer than 3 hours and would often be awake until 3-4 am restless in bed. After awhile, I was able to get over my jet lag and actually get to start enjoying the city. Here at UPF, there is an organization that hosts a welcome orientation along with 2 weeks of welcome events for exchange students. Through this organization, I have seen so much of the city and have met many amazing friends from all over the world. From these people I’ve met, there is a group of about 20 that I have become very close with. We’ve traveled around the state of Catalonia and have seen two other cities, Girona and Tarragona, in addition to everything we’ve done around Barcelona. With all the fun and good things has also come with the downsides of living here. As most people have heard, pick-pocketing and mugging are rampant here in Spain, especially Barcelona. I have 4 friends who have been pick-pocketed and/or mugged by people here in the city. Just the other night, a friend and I were walking home and a group of guys attempted to pickpocket us. Luckily we were able to get away without get losing any belongings or getting hurt. It is a huge difference living in a city where you have to be conscious of your surroundings all the time. It is a weird experience that really makes you appreciate living in  safe places like in College Station and Dallas. School here is also very different. I go to class Monday-Tuesday, 9-2, and Wednesday-Friday for only 1 hour. We also do not have exams throughout the semester but rather one final cumulative exam at the end. This is a lot different than how it is back home, and is taking some getting used to. Overall, school is great, the food is amazing, the friends are for a lifetime, and the sights are well worth being seen. I look forward to posting another post around the end of this month with the next things I have done! Until then, here are some amazing photos that will definitely cause you to want to come visit!

 

Until next time,

Cam

Categories: 2019, Reciprocal Exchange, Spain

It’s only been a week or two since I arrived in Hong Kong and, wow, am I starting to fall in love with this place! I’ve visited so many places and eaten so many delicious foods that I don’t even know where to start.

School at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology started two weeks later than school at Texas A&M, so I was given an ample amount of time to pack and figure out what I needed. It was well-needed, too, for this was my first time traveling halfway across the world by myself, with no assistance! While I was nervous about starting school, getting around the city, and packing the right things, I was also excited to meet new friends and travel to a brand new place.

The one thing that surprised me when first getting off the plane was the fact that I couldn’t read many of the signs anymore. Though a lot of official signs and advertisements had English translations, quite a few of them were also in plain Chinese. Not being able to understand what was written was the biggest culture shock that I’ve faced immediately upon arriving. The ride to campus from the airport made everything worthwhile, however, as I got to see the city illuminated with its night lights.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is notorious for being a difficult school in Asia. So much so, in fact, that the locals have “lovingly” dubbed the university as the Hong Kong University of Stress and Tension. While the branding of this school seems quite intimidating, I also realize that this is why Texas A&M has chosen to partner with this amazing university, and will strive to work hard and return with more knowledge under my belt.

In the meantime, due to Lunar New Year this week, we have a break from classes from Tuesday, February 5th, to Thursday, February 7th. My newfound friends and I plan on hiking and touring many of Hong Kong’s landscapes and landmarks, including the Tian Tan Buddha statue in Ngong Ping. So far, I have been able to tour some of Mong Kok and the Central area of Hong Kong, watch the Symphony of Lights show on Victoria Harbor (which also happens to be the world’s largest permanent light and sound show!), and climb up to the top of Victoria Peak to get a nice panoramic view of the city. I cannot wait to see what other adventures await me for the rest of my time here at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology!

Categories: 2019, China, Hong Kong, Reciprocal Exchange

Before arriving to France I was filled with an array of emotions, from excitement of gaining new experiences to the fear of not knowing what to expect. Yes, I have traveled a lot and have been to France before, but this time it would be different. It was going to be the first time staying somewhere other than Paris, not being accompanied by family and staying for a much longer time. Due to past travels to Europe I did have some misconceptions of France, because of what I had previously experienced in Paris. However, it has been three weeks since I arrived in Nice and everything I thought I was going to experience or feel was not quite near the truth.

 

After the first few days of getting lost around the city through the diverse means of transportation, I feel I have quickly become part of the Niçoise culture. Every corner on every street I have come across diferrent local shops and a lot of friendly people. Exploring the vieille ville has left me in awe due to the substantial history and architecture Nice has to offer.

 

The first weeks in Nice, before classes started, I decided to go to different places nearby taking advantage of the train system. Along the Côte d’Azur, I traveled to Monaco, Cannes, Eze Village, Villefrance-sur-Mer, Antibes, etc. and have loved exploring each city/town. I also got the chance to travel to Chamonix, France where I got to witness the beauty of Mont Blanc. Coming back from those travels I was ready to see what my life on campus would be like.

 

On January 10th we had our orientation, where I got to meet several great people from all over the world and work together with them in a scavenger hunt around the city center. As for the classes, I have come to see the differences in academics from the US and France. Classes, for the most part, run for three hours and schedules change every week. So far, the professors are great and I’ve enjoyed their style of teaching. Many like to include case studies and challenges with local businesses. People at school have been very friendly and have helped me in adapting easily to France.

I am eager to explore more of Europe and delve deeper into my studies as time passes by!

 

Chamonix, France: Mont Blanc

Categories: 2019, France, Reciprocal Exchange