If you are going to come to Germany, I 100% recommend you plan your trip so you are able to be here in the end of September to the beginning of October. The simple answer as to why is the biggest beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest. I have a German friend that I met in his semester abroad in Texas A&M. He lives in Stuttgart so I gave him a call and he let us stay at his place for the weekend. This started the weekend off right because we went to the second biggest Oktoberfest in the world on Friday which is in Stuttgart. It is called Wassen and it was a blast because it is not as touristy as the Munich Oktoberfest and twice the number of Germans. Saturday came around and we were in Munich to see the original Oktoberfest. It was amazing to see so many people having fun and we stayed there the whole day. After a much needed weekend of partying in Bavarya, I hit the books and started preparing for my two midterm presentations and a few tests.

Until next time,

Diego Malagamba

Categories: 2016, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

Getting into the swing of things in Copenhagen has been way easier than I thought.  Coming as the only student from Mays Business School was a little scary for me. I was worried about not knowing anyone and experiencing things without someone to understand how I felt. But Copenhagen has been welcoming, friendly, and a joy to live in.

Studying abroad is not only about the classes, but truly experiencing what it is like to live in a new country, getting involved in the city, and starting a new life of sorts. Life in Copenhagen is busy, but relaxed.  Cold, but cozy. And above all friendly and inviting to me. I can’t truly describe how I feel about Copenhagen. It makes me so happy to live here and go to school. I found it easier to be involved here than at Texas A&M, which is saying something!

The exchange program at CBS organizes events weekly, and they are fun and truly a time to get to know many different people. I am also involved volunteering at a women’s shelter for prostetutes working in Vesterbro, which is something I never thought I would be doing. Being a part of the community in Copenhagen is so important, and has really allowed me to feel like I live here, not like I am visiting for six months. I am also part of a church in Copenhagen that is truly after the hearts of this city. To show them the joy and peace and forgiveness of knowing Jesus Christ. Hillsong Copenhagen has really helped me feel like I belong in Copenhagen, helping me develop a love for the people here.

Studies at CBS are new to me. The school is organized into quarters and semesters, meaning that some classes only run from September to October, some from October to December, and most from September to December. I am enrolled in one class that ends in October. This class has been exciting and moves really fast.

I enjoy the lecture style of most of my professors and the engagement Danes show in their studies. Danes read every assigned reading, and also the “suggested” reading. And there is so much reading, about 150 pages a class, I would estimate. Having the students show such dedication for their studies has inspired me to be more engaged as well. I read more here than I ever did at A&M. I also participate in lecture more. Professors are encouraging of questions, even those that contradict their teachings. At CBS, professors are at the student’s level, we call them by first name and have real discussions.

The greatest and most obvious difference between classes at CBS and those at Texas A&M is the way students are assessed. Rather than taking an exam every few weeks and submitting papers and homework assignments as well, students are simply assessed at the end of the course by various exam types. The most widely used exam types at CBS are oral exams, written exams, and individual and group project exams. While studying here, I will experience all four.

Because there is only a final, I’ve found myself so much less stressed, and more able to participate in activities outside of school. At A&M I was always on campus from early in the morning to late at night, going to three classes a day and then joining organization meetings in the early evening, then studying really late into the night for the inevitable exam I had that week or next. Instead, studying here I am able to have a much more varied schedule. I can make it home to cook dinner or even go to lunch in Malmo, Sweden. I love the freedom not having constant exams allows.


I still spend time in the library, which is a beautiful example of Scandinavian modern design! I read for classes, meet up with friends to plan trips and weekend activities around Europe and Copenhagen.

Above anything, if you are considering studying in Copenhagen, DO IT. It is an amazing experience.

Categories: 2016, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

Oh yeah, Milan is home!

I’m currently writing this blog from my little apartment in Milan, Italy! It is a crazy feeling knowing that I’ve been living and going to school here for the past 6 weeks.

First off, if you’re reading this blog because you’re unsure if you should study abroad, please do it! It is an experience that I think everyone should have at some point in their lives.

Well, where do I even start? Milan is an amazing city, and Italy is easily my favorite European country. The people, environment, and beauty that this city and country have to offer easily make it a great option to study abroad.


Drinking some tea on my balcony while hanging up my laundry to dry


To start off my time in Milan, I took an Italian Crash Course taught at Bocconi University, which is the university that I’m attending. If you don’t know Italian and will be at Bocconi, I highly recommend taking it! You get to meet a lot of other exchange students, which is a great way to quickly make friends!

For the most part, I spent the month of September traveling around Italy since I only have classes from Tuesday to Thursday. But the days that I spent in class were long days. Although school is not the most fun thing in the world, it is incredible going to class with students from all over the world. The insight that you gain from their experiences and knowledge is seriously invaluable. I’ve met some of the brightest students here.


The Duomo!!!


I feel like the Italian people are on a wide spectrum. Since Italy is a young nation and split by so many regions, it depends on which city and part of the country you’re talking about.

As far as Milan is concerned, the people here are fast-paced. Milan is a major metropolitan city with some of the most fashionable and hardworking people you’ll meet. They walk fast, don’t smile as much, and cut you in line to get to where they need to go.

But the students that I’ve met from all over the world are amazing! It’s so awesome to be able to say that I have friends from The Netherlands or Brazil or Canada or Singapore. Easily my favorite part of being abroad thus far is the people I’ve been able to meet.


Although the food has been great, I miss food from back home! Tacos, Chick-Fil-A, What-A-Burger, please send some over. I would trade 10 pastas and pizzas for a taco from Mad Taco or Torchy’s. Haha. But seriously, I eat so much pasta and pizza here because that is seriously the norm. I thought people exaggerated about it before I got here, but it’s the truth.

Milan and Navigli (the area in Milan that I live in) is well known for its aperitivo, which is a concept where you pay for a drink and the buffet is included. It is a great deal to socialize with friends after school and get some food.


Catch the tram from all over town!


If you’re going to be living here, you’re going to have to choose a mode of transportation. Those include biking, metro, or walking.

If you choose to bike, it’s a good deal! You pay around 28 euros and get everywhere quickly. I personally travel via the metro, which is very easy to navigate and takes you everywhere that you need to go. If you get a metro card, you are allowed to use the metro, tram, or busses. You pay 22 euros a month, which is a steal in comparison to how much I spend back home on gas.


All in all, this first month rocked. I seriously cannot wait to see what the next few months have in store!

Categories: 2016, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

Julie Andrews sings in my head multiple times a day as I take in this new, beautiful city. No, it is not Salzburg where the movie The Sound of Music was set, but it’s equally beautiful and much larger sister to the east, Vienna. The home of musicians like Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss as well as painters like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, it is obvious why such influential artists would pick this beautiful corner of the world to serve as their muse. Vienna is an immaculate city that seems to be draped at every turn with Baroque era architecture, statues and paintings. From Saint Stephen’s Cathedral towering over the center of the city to Schonbrunn Palace resting amongst the hills and wineries on the far reaches of the region, this city is nothing short of picturesque.


After a rainy afternoon discussion with some other travelers, it became so apparent to me why Vienna is such a special location. Farther east than many other European attractions, few travelers ever make it to Vienna. They are at a loss. Those who dare to venture over here often remark that the city is reminiscent of Paris with far fewer tourists. The central location of the city makes traveling outside of its borders so easy. In under 4 hours you can make it to Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Salzburg and so many other charming and underrated eastern European cities making it the ultimate central location for any student wishing to travel frequently.


Take note: though there are so many exciting destinations within reach of Vienna, I am convinced that you could spend a lifetime exploring the Austrian capital and never run out of things to do. With over 100 museums, 3 palaces, an amusement park, a cafe on every corner, and multiple sprawling parks and gardens you are really never at a loss for entertainment. My favorite place in the city is the Schottentor area that surrounds the University of Vienna with acres of cafe’s and parks. Founded in 1365 the university itself looks more like a castle than an institution of higher education. Just a short walk away lies the center of town which holds Stephansplatz, Museums Quarter and the immaculate Rathaus (city hall).


Though you may feel like you have taken a step back in time, the culture in Vienna is rather progressive. In recent years the city has taken steps to increase inclusivity and on a global stage is viewed as one of the most open-minded and accepting cities in Europe. One of the first things you will notice is the crosswalk symbols in the center of town show either two women or two men holding hands as they cross the street, most even have a little heart above the couple. I was very interested to discover that this was a small but visible attempt by the government to make equality and tolerance a priority not only in law but in the minds of citizens.
After my first month here, I am certain that Vienna was the best choice for me. I feel at home in the city of music, art, culture and coffee. Even as I sit here and look out at the large park that surrounds my apartment on a cold October day I can’t help but think how surreal this all seems. Though at times the experience is overwhelming and a bit scary, it has been nothing short of incredible.

Ceiling of the ballroom of the Belvedere Palace

Ceiling of the ballroom of the Belvedere Palace

The most important meal of the day.

The most important meal of the day.

Life and Death by Gustav Klimt

Life and Death by Gustav Klimt



The gardens of Schonbrunn Palace

The gardens of Schonbrunn Palace

Morgan Hampton

TAMU ’17

Categories: 2016, Austria, Reciprocal Exchange

This place becomes more beautiful with every passing day. Time is moving quickly and seasons are changing but most of my time has been spent outside in the fresh air during the month of September. The summer temperatures are fading into cool fall weather towards the end of the month and Norwegians are taking full advantage of the last days of warm, sunny weather.

September brought more travels around Norway as school is still incredibly laid back. I have no assignments or mandatory homework until my exams at the end of November. I hiked Trolltunga in early September and would recommend this to absolutely everyone who has the chance to come here. The entire hike was beautiful and although challenging, I believe anyone who takes breaks and has proper shoes can do it.


I also traveled by car to Verdens Ende, which directly translates to “World’s End” and is about 2 hours outside of Oslo. One of my international friends has a car here so we have visited a few other small cities outside of Oslo as well. Norwegians live so simply in the quaint towns and I found it refreshing to leave the largest city in Norway to experience more traditional neighborhoods.


Outside of my travels I can find beauty right down the road. I spend a lot of time running a lovely trail I found just 5 minutes away from my apartment along the river. Norway has many hidden treasures, you just have to be proactive about looking for them.

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I’ll post for you guys again in October. Ha det!

Categories: 2016, Norway, Reciprocal Exchange


Vallendar, Koblenz, and the Surrounding Area

I arrived in Vallendar Germany late August with all sorts of excitement for my study abroad. I wasn’t sure what to expect about the city, because pictures rarely do justice. However, it definitely met and even exceeded my expectations. Vallendar is a very quaint town on the Rhine river. The town is full of the classical half timber house construction. It is located on a section of the river filled with all sorts of old and beautiful castles. These are easy to get to and are seen even on train rides leaving from Koblenz towards some of the major cities. The terrain is generally hilly and so far, has had almost perfect weather for my first month here. There are plenty of grocery stores within walking distance as well. My first experience in a German grocery store was a little interesting and confusing, but all of the people were very helpful and gave me assistance. After a few trips I had it figured out pretty well!


Orientation Week

Orientation week for Tauschies, what they call us exchange students, was fantastic and made meeting everyone a lot easier. We had a fun rally in Koblenz where we split into teams and had to complete various challenges for points. One of them included creating a chant about WHU (There are very spirited students and love chants). We also did a wine tasting tour in Boppard, a nearby town. The Rhine area is famous for its wine and specifically Riesling. We walked through all of the vineyards while trying different types of wine. One of the last events we did was an international dinner. The students were split up into their countries of origin and told to make a small amount of food that is representative of their home countries. We were then each introduced individually and shared about our food and country. Naturally, I was part of a group that made PB&J sandwiches. We then went into their vaulted cellar beneath the school and celebrated while eating everyone’s food. In the end, the orientation week really helped kick off the semester excellently!


Categories: 2016, Germany, Reciprocal Exchange

Bonjour from Strasbourg, France! My name is Carmen Pilarte, I am a little over a month in my exchange in Strasbourg at EM Strasbourg Business School, and I am at a loss for words to try and describe how much of an exciting adventure it has been living here… but I’ll give it a shot.

So, a little bit of background information: I am a Marketing student at Mays Business School at Texas A&M and the only person from A&M studying here in Strasbourg, I’m in my last year of college (A-WHOOP), and I chose Strasbourg mainly because I’ve always dreamed of learning the French language, its central location within Europe makes for easy travel, and EM was one of few schools in France that offered enough Marketing classes to transfer back to A&M. I never knew that these 3 reasons would lead me to the most challenging, yet rewarding month of my life so far.

When I first arrived, I was lucky enough to have my parents by my side as they wanted to make sure I got settled in and could adapt to my new life relatively easily since they knew that this would be my first time traveling/living alone in a new continent, let alone a new city (but I also think they might have used my exchange as an excuse for all of us to have a week-long vacation in London the week before 😉 ). We strolled around the city, got our first feel for the transportation system, and observed the French lifestyle together in those few days we were all here. And while I was at my orientation week at EM, they helped set my dorm up, told me where the best places to grocery shop were, and left me with the confidence that I was prepared to take on this challenge of living 5,625 miles away from them for the first time. Like I said, I was fortunate to have them with me those first couple of days, since this is not the case with a lot of other exchange students. And although they’ve adjusted and figured things out just fine, even some of my friends were jealous of the helpful knowledge and hands that come with experienced, loving parents. (THANK YOU MAMI + DADDY!)

So! Strasbourg is even more beautiful than I imagined and it looks just like the pictures, plus so much more! The city of Strasbourg is quite large, yet has the atmosphere of a small town/village (kind of like College Station!). It’s French, yet being right on the border of Germany, it has a lot of German influence to its architecture as well. There are tons of lovely little shops and cafes as far as the eye can see, bars and pubs to keep up with its lively student population (making for quite an impressive nightlife), parks and outdoor areas where lots of people visit all the time, and it is home to the European Parliament while also being the capital of the Alsace region of France. It’s biggest tourist attraction is its very own Notre-Dame Cathedral (which, to my amazement last night watching Netflix, makes a cameo in the film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows!!) and is surrounded by people almost 24/7, especially on Sundays, in awe of its Gothic beauty. There are still many places I have yet to discover, both in and out of the central part of the city, but I’m sure my friends and I will continue to learn more and more about every corner of our city as time goes on.

Speaking of my friends! EM Strasbourg has been extremely supportive in connecting all of us exchange students together since the summer. On top of that, my friend Marie started our main Facebook group, all of us were invited to the school’s exchange student Facebook group, and we all also started our very own What’s App group to talk more frequently. Through this What’s App group, I went out my first night in Strasbourg and as luck would have it, I met my wonderful group of friends right then and there! We all just clicked on the spot and kept wanting to find out more and more about each other to the point where I have been with them almost every day/night since we’ve met! It’s crazy now to think that I ever went a day without knowing them!! They’ve become my best friends, French teachers, and travel companions, and I can already tell our friendships will thrive even when we’re back in our respective countries, pursuing our own individual paths, years after our exchanges are finished. 🙂

Me and my friends having lunch in Strasbourg!

Me and my friends having lunch in Strasbourg!

Some of my friends are in my classes and know what I go through on a daily basis with each class, but ALL of us exchange students (even some of the French students we’ve talked to!) know the challenges this school system has generously welcomed us with from the first day of orientation. Although I had read many blogs and had heard about the noticeable differences between our school system and EM’s, I still wasn’t completely prepared for just how different the French seem to organize administrative tasks. But first, it’s best to know some general points about the French lifestyle, some of which can shed some light on why dealing with the administration was so challenging:

  • The French are very laid back and never seem to be in a rush, they take their time and “do things when they do them”, “get to places when they get there.”
  • Restaurant business hours, for example, are extremely varied. Some places, depending on their products, may open at 7 am, 11 am (whenever they feel like it really), stay open through lunch which usually ends at 2pm, and then close until dinner which is usually around 6:30 pm until 10:30-11 pm in some cases.
  • Most, NOT ALL like I was previously led to believe, shops, convenience/grocery stores, and restaurants are closed on Sundays.
  • Transportation workers go on strike randomly and without notice, so entire trams or bus routes may not run all day and people don’t realize this until they’re already late for work/school.

So to sum up, the French are not the most organized/efficient people. And this is reflected in how paperwork, appointments, class schedules, etc. are handled. Our class schedules, for example, were not solidified until after the first week of classes had already begun. Course registration itself was frustrating because you have to make sure that 1) 2 or more classes don’t clash, 2) you have the correct number of credits to transfer back to your university, 3) there is enough room in the classes you want to be able to get into it, 4) the class you want doesn’t get cancelled right before you try to register for it (it happened to me!!). Then, once registration time came for all of us exchange students, the server/website crashed and it was delayed for another 1-2 hours, with some lucky students actually getting through to the website after refreshing a million times and others having no luck at all until the server was fixed. During orientation week, we were all offered a “Culture Card” which gives us discounts to museums, plays, movies, shows, etc. but when my friends and I tried to get them, there was confusion between departments with no one knowing who was actually handling what. That in particular  is also very common here, people who don’t know within their own departments/workplaces who takes care of what and where. We would go up to one desk, ask them where to go/what to do, and they would tell us to go to so-and-so place but when we got there those people would tell us to go back to where we started or somewhere completely different!

Orientation/Registration week was very frustrating.

BUT, everyone I had spoken to said that this is the one and only frustrating thing about studying in Strasbourg. And rest assured, after all of that waiting, confusion, and frustration, like many people had told me before and like I told my friends afterward, “EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY AND EVERYTHING WILL TURN OUT FINE.” And it did, everyone eventually got into all of their classes and got every issue sorted out…. eventually. 🙂

Roadtrip on the Wine Route of Alsace!

Roadtrip on the Wine Route of Alsace!

My courses themselves are wildly different from those at A&M. Instead of going to each class 2-3 times a week every week for about 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes, I go to each one once a week for 3-4 hours MAYBE every week, maybe every other week, depending on what the professor decides. Each class also has a 15 minute “coffee break” where everyone goes to the bathroom, takes a walk around the building, and/or buys a quick, small cup of coffee. Instead of going to the same classroom for each class, professors have to reserve classrooms wherever they can and most of the time, I go to a different classroom each time I attend a session of that class. Classroom assignments can also change within 24 hours of the class session so you always have to refresh your email and sometimes adjust accordingly. Instead of beginning and ending each course at the beginning and end of the scheduled semester dates, some classes I’ve started 2 weeks after the semester had already started for everyone else (with one class that won’t start for me until Oct. 19th) and some classes will end weeks before the scheduled final exams week/end of semester. Instead of having 3-4 rounds of exams throughout the semester, a lot of my classes are mainly based on continuous individual and/or group work (with a lot of case studies!) with maybe one final exam and/or group presentation at the end of the semester. And instead of mostly sitting in lecture and taking notes, all of my classes are based on participation, discussions, and expressing our own opinions about the material. But the BIGGEST difference for me was the fact that it is totally normal and acceptable to talk about partying/drinking between the administration/faculty and the students! I’m guessing this is because the drinking age is 18 throughout most of Europe, but the fact that it almost seems encouraged by the administration/professors as a way for students to get involved and socialize with other students is BEYOND what I’m used to as an American student. I remember during orientation week, the student organization that helps integrate the French students and the exchange students gave a presentation and talked specifically about their parties, in front of the faculty, and they were totally okay with it!!! There’s even a bar IN THE SCHOOL that opens up in the evening for students to enjoy, and all of my European friends say that this is quite common at almost every university throughout Europe. I. WAS. STUNNED. This is so backwards to me because many universities throughout the U.S. only ever mention alcohol and partying in legal terms, when it comes to accident/binge prevention and awareness, or if they’re speaking about or to students who are over 21.

What a difference, man. What a difference both in and out of the classroom.

My dad recently asked me if these differences in the classroom made me like A&M or EM better, and it is hard to say. Although it feels like the course load is easier here, not having to study all the time for quizzes and tests, it still is challenging having to really know the material enough to discuss it in front of the class and to have a lot of groups to meet up with throughout the semester for various projects. This may intimidate a lot of people who are used to just getting by in a course by studying and “getting a good grade”, but it’s also satisfying and a relief to know that I have time to get things done since each class only meets once a week and that I’m challenging myself by adjusting to different learning environments and having more to say in an intellectual setting. I can’t even tell you how many times I was left dumbfounded by how much all of the other exchange students know about different topics and current events (especially in the U.S.!!) that I had NO idea about. These students have given me the motivation to know more about everything, to really pay attention in class, to truly appreciate my education, and to gain more knowledge about what’s going on in the world, especially in my own country.

Throughout all of these adventures and challenges, there’s still one thing that comes to mind when talking about studying abroad in general that my friend Ashley Crozier had mentioned in her blog this time last year: studying abroad comes with its ups and downs. It may seem as though from pictures and videos that everything is wonderful 100% of the time, but in reality, just like anywhere you live at any point in your life, there will be times where you may feel scared, lonely, bored, or upset. But the important thing to remember is that it’s okay to feel this way. There will be drama in your friend group, there will be disagreements, things may not always go “according to plan”, there will be times you don’t want to or are not able to travel, and there will be times where you just want to stay in bed and watch Netflix all day. And that is all okay. I know my biggest thing coming here was to “make sure I made the most of it always and said yes to everything and made sure I lived it up 24/7!!!” However, even just a month in, that hasn’t always been the case and to be completely honest, I’ve felt guilty about it. I’ve felt guilty about not making every second the most amazing second it could be because I’m in FRANCE and how dare I not make every second a whirlwind adventure??????? What I’ve come to realize is that it’s impossible. And that’s just the way life is. Don’t get me wrong, every day that I’m here I think of how grateful I am for this UNBELIEVABLE opportunity to experience the world and learn from it. But life throws itself at you in every direction and you have to deal with it, through all of the good and the bad. I think this is what a lot of people may forget to realize when all they see are all the pictures/videos of happy people in wondrous places, so this is just an important reminder that if you plan to study abroad, it’s okay to have your good days and your bad, and it’s okay to make every day count, the way YOU want to make it count in that moment, not the way you think is expected of you.

I am learning and growing, I am gaining perspective in a world outside of College Station, TX, and I could not be more thankful. Not a lot of people get the opportunity, so if you’re reading this and have given studying abroad some thought, DO IT. Make it happen, however you can. Even if there are obstacles, even if you have your doubts, I PROMISE that this experience, whatever the length of the trip, is more worth it than I can possibly put into words. You just have to experience it to find out for sure. Take it from me and all of those who came before me who have studied abroad. I mean I’ve only been here for a little over a month, but just know that this has already been more than a dream come true.

September was spectacular in Strasbourg and left in the blink of an eye. And these next 3 months are going to fly by I’m sure, but I AM THRILLED TO SEE WHAT’S TO COME, and if you’re interested enough, I HOPE YOU ARE TOO! Oh, and if you have any questions about my experience or studying abroad in general, PLEASE do not hesitate to contact me via email (carmenpilarte@tamu.edu) or adding me as a friend on Facebook (Carmen Carolina Pilarte)!

Until next time! Au revoir!

– Carmen Pilarte

Me PARAGLIDING in Interlaken, Switzerland :)

Me PARAGLIDING in Interlaken, Switzerland 🙂


P.S. I love lists, so here’s a quick list of things that I miss in the States:

  • Driving my car
  • Whataburger, and American fast food in general
  • Drive thrus at restaurants
  • Tex-Mex food
  • Country music, surprisingly
  • Texas sunsets
  • FTA Football Games and BTHOEveryone!!
  • The Aggie Spirit and Sawing Varsity’s Horns Off
  • My mom’s cooking
  • And of course my family, friends, and my pup Max

Categories: 2016, France, Reciprocal Exchange

Tomorrow marks mine and Vienna’s one month anniversary, and WOW- what a month it has been! It has taken me four weeks, but I think I’ve finally wrapped my brain around the fact that I’m here to stay for a while and not just on a brief vacation from which I’ll be returning shortly.

I arrived in Vienna on the first of September, and since then it has been a constant whirlwind of adventures. In the last short month I have traveled to Prague, Melk, Graz, and Bratislava, toured various castles and palaces which look like they belong on the set of a Disney or Harry Potter movie, climbed to the top of several hills (and experienced several very rewarding views), tried new foods, and met so many people from every country imaginable. WU offers a pre-semester orientation program which began about a week after I arrived. Through the program, I’ve had the opportunity to see so many parts of Vienna (and Austria in general) that I didn’t even know existed. If you have the opportunity to do a program like this, I would definitely recommend it! It will give you a chance to meet people and become acquainted with the city before you’re thrown into classes. The orientation basically consisted of one or two activities a day including palace tours, museum visits, and other cultural activities. Each activity lasted a few hours each day which gave us plenty of time to explore things on our own as well. Today marked the last day of the 3-week program, and Monday marks my first day of class at WU. Believe it or not, I’m pretty excited to begin the actual “study” part of my study abroad experience. I can’t wait to meet my classmates, experience education from a different perspective, and most of all, finally begin learning how to speak German! The month of September has been a month of overwhelming change, but it’s one that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

As for the culture shock, things here honestly aren’t as different as I imagined them to be. Aside from the incredibly ornate architecture and the German language, there are only some small differences, but nothing you can’t get used to. For example,

  1. People here tend to be a lot less friendly than in the states. Not necessarily in a bad way, but just in the sense that they keep to themselves more. However, if you need help with something, most people here are very kind and are more than happy to help if you just ask!
  2. Customer service isn’t nearly as prevalent here. The waiter’s job is to take your order, bring you your food, and give you your check (only after you flag them down and ask for it)
  3. Most restaurants/cafes prefer for you to pay in cash, and you always have to ask to split the check when eating out with other people.
  4. The food has probably been the biggest adjustment for me. Austrian meals mainly consist of red meat, potatoes and bread. It is very rare that a meal comes with a side of veggies. Thankfully, there are plenty grocery stores and farmers markets where you can buy your own!
  5. People drink beer and coffee like we drink water
  6. The street food here isn’t sketchy at all. Definitely try the doner kebap and the hot dogs. You won’t regret it.

A few helpful hints:

  1. Thankfully, almost everyone here does speak English, but I would definitely recommend at least attempting to learn German. Not knowing it makes reading menus and going grocery shopping very difficult, and it also makes for some very awkward interactions with cashiers…
  2. The public transportation system here is actually very easy to navigate, especially if you download a magical app called Quando
  3. Don’t bother filling your suitcase with American food, because you can actually find a lot of it here including peanut butter, Oreo’s, burgers, and even Mexican food if you look hard enough!
  4. The weather is actually pretty warm until late September, and most facilities don’t have air conditioning, so I would definitely recommend buying an electric fan once you’re over here and packing more summer clothes than you think you’ll need!

I’m beyond excited to learn even more about Vienna and its culture and to see what the rest of my semester has in store for me. Until next month, Auf Wiedersehen!

Biking through the city

Exploring the city with new friends!


Belvedere Palace

Austrian Parliament

Austrian Parliament






The view from the top of Kahlenberg

Categories: 2016, Austria, Reciprocal Exchange

Madrid Ayuntamiento

It has been a month since I arrived in Madrid and the experience could not be better. Whether is the food, people, architecture, culture or all of the above, Madrid has been extremely welcoming.

I am currently attending Universidad Carlos III located in Getafe, which is a small town about 30 minutes by train from the center of Madrid. Every year, the university hosts around 1000 international students from all over the world. Most of these students prefer to live in Madrid and commute to Getafe because they find more things to do in Madrid, which I completely agree with. Professors at the university are very helpful and most will work with international students to accommodate assignment dates if notified in advanced.

It is also worth mentioning that there are various interesting places around Madrid that make great one-day excursions such as Toledo and Aranjuez. I plan to travel around Spain and really immerse myself in its culture, and I’m excited to see what the next few months have in store for me.


Categories: 2016, Reciprocal Exchange, Spain

It’s the middle of my sixth week in Sweden and I love it! I am an exchange student studying at Jönköping University in Jönköping, Sweden. The week before classes started, all the new students participated in an orientation program complete with overalls (uniforms that specify what students are studying based on color), games, and groups. Think Fish Camp minus the Texas standard of appropriateness. The week was a well planned sequence of events that helped me meet people and learn about Swedish culture.

The second week I started my classes at the business school called JIBS or Jonkoping International Business School. There are a few blatant differences between JIBS and Mays:

1. We call our professors by their first name
2. Classes are at least 2 hours long
3. There’s a 15 minute coffee break in the middle of class
4. Class times are different every week
5. Courses are taught by a team of professors

Things that are still the same:
1. Tons of group projects
2. The professors are knowledgeable and excited about their subject matter

The semester is broken into quarters here. People typically take two classes each quarter. I’ve chosen pain and enrolled in three so that I can graduate on time. I appreciate that the classes here are focused on practical knowledge. In my entrepreneuring class we simulate the process of launching a business by creating a product, a pitch and lots of feedback sessions. In consumer behavior my incredibly enthusiastic South African professor does an excellent job of introducing new, controversial, topics. She never reveals her opinion, so we are free to explore and critically evaluate the new material. Finally my industrial distribution class keeps me on my toes. I hear everything from the “evils” of Walmart to the strategy behind Swedish grocery stores.
My favorite part about attending JIBS is that every day I interact with people from all over the world. My dorm of approximately 24 people houses over 10 nationalities, and classes are just as diverse. Seeing the world through another country’s perspective is a privilege more powerful than a textbook. Two weeks ago I grew frustrated when my international teammate did not seem to listen or participate in a group discussion. A few minutes after the event, he asked me what life was like in Texas. I was caught off-guard but I explained the incredible glory that is life in Texas. Then I asked about his home. As I explained and listened, my frustration faded. The event was not any less aggravating, but in that moment my teammate’s curiosity and willingness to share reminded me of his humanity. It reminded me of the capacity for humans to care about and appreciate others as an individual. We have more in common with our global peers and our neighbors than we realize.
My time in Sweden has made me desire that my American peers would take time to remember that we do have more in common with each other than we have different. I wish everyone in America would intentionally consider one another first as people with meaningful lives. I wish that we could shirk the fear of the differences that our global neighbors or our nation has. It breaks my heart to read the New York Times every morning and see the strife of race relations as headlines day after day. Yet it scares me even more to think that we might be waiting for the government or legislation to take care of a sensitive issue that neighbors can fix.
My classes here have given me the freedom to explore new subjects and the privilege to learn from global peers.


Jönköping Business School

Jönköping Business School

First day of school at Jönköping University.

First day of school at Jönköping University.

My Swedish family!

My Swedish family!

Jönköping University in the fall.

Jönköping University in the fall.

Categories: 2016, Reciprocal Exchange, Sweden