My time in Madrid, Spain has truly been life-changing. It has opened my eyes to the beauty of cultural diversity and the interconnectedness of people from different backgrounds.

The vibrant and energetic atmosphere of Madrid has taught me to embrace spontaneity and live in the present moment. The Spanish culture’s emphasis on leisurely meals and late-night socializing has shown me the importance of work-life balance and finding joy in the simple pleasures of life. Exploring Madrid’s stunning landmarks, such as the Royal Palace and Prado Museum, has deepened my understanding and appreciation of history and architecture.

Some of my initial impressions of Madrid turned out to be accurate, such as the warmth and hospitality of the Spanish people. The vibrant street life and the passion for food and socializing were also in line with my expectations. However, I underestimated the size and diversity of Madrid. The city is much larger than I imagined, with numerous neighborhoods each offering its own unique charm. The sheer number of cultural events, festivals, and activities taking place throughout the year exceeded my expectations, making Madrid an exciting and dynamic place to live.

In conclusion, my time in Madrid has been transformative. It has expanded my understanding of different cultures, challenged my preconceived notions, and deepened my appreciation for history and architecture. This experience has broadened my perspective and left an indelible mark on my understanding of the world.

Categories: 2023, Spain

Conducting Business

After studying abroad, I learned that conducting business in France is quite similar to how it is conducted in the US. It is important to be professional and friendly and address with monsieur or madame. As for setting meetings and communicating, I noticed that the French are usually slower at responding to emails due to their work-life balance. The French prioritize living their lives overworking.

Engaging with other French people can be intimidating but trying to speak their language first is key. I learned that asking in French if people speak English is a good way to start a conversation. In my day to day, I noticed that learning to speak French conversationally will get you further along than only speaking English. The French respect those who take the time to learn the basics.


Engaging in Host Countries

My initial impressions were that the French were standoffish, but I realized you have to approach them first. If you try to speak French first rather than English, the French will be more helpful. Something I noticed is the people in the south of France are much warmer than those in the north. The French in Nice work very hard but also like to relax and prioritize going outside halfway through class for a break. This was something that I really enjoyed and that we don’t do here at A&M. They are also always outside going for walks along the promenade or at the beach, even in December.


Categories: 2023, France

Hello, my name is Megan Konvicka and I am a Management Information Systems junior studying abroad in Strasbourg, France for Spring 2023. I chose this exchange program because of its central location, established international program, the moderate city size, and I wanted to get to know the French culture more. My goal in this program is to immerse myself in the French culture, travel to nearby countries when possible, and meet new people from all over the world. I have not really been in Europe before, so travel is high on my priority list and I came into this study exchange prepared to see a lot of differences in the cultures here. This blog is representative of my first month of being in Strasbourg

City: Strasbourg is such a pretty town! The architcture is a beautiful French and German blend and walking the streets of cobblestone is both peaceful and lively. Strasbourg is the second biggest student city in France (Paris being the first) so the environment is super friendly and I have seen students everywhere. Everyone I have met so far has been super nice and I have felt safe walking around town. I love how Strasbourg is the perfect size town: big enough to have things to do but small enough to feel homey and manageable. The tram system is extensive, but easy to understand (make sure to go to the CTS store to get a monthly student tram pass because it makes it so easy to travel the city freely). The first two weeks, I was nervous to ride the public transportation alone, but the tram really is quite safe, and so now I use it alone! The weather here is super cloudy (consider bringing or buying Vitamin D pills to compensate for the lack of Texas sun!) and I believe the weather doesn’t hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit until the end of March, so make sure to pack clothes to bundle up correctly (and bring Vitamin C or other medicine in case you get sick). In terms of food, I’d say the food here is quite bland compared to the United States… and there is nothing spicy! Even the French grocery stores don’t have crushed red pepper and I have searched many, many locations. Additionally, ethnic food is not very flavorful unfortunately so if you love spice, I highly recommend you cook it. I have found that French grocery stores in town are typically small and have limited selections. I take a short tram ride to the neighboring town of Kehl, Germany for groceries at EDEKA and they have a super wide selection of products (including spices and international products), typically at cheaper prices than in France. Make sure to bring your own reusable tote bag to carry your groceries because disposable bags cost money! What can’t be beat in French grocery stores though is their Wine and Cheese selection. The Alsace region Strasbourg is in is known for their white wine and stinky cheeses; I’ve loved trying so many of the different types.

School: At EM Strasbourg, the classes are structured in time blocks of three hours, and the schedule is completely up to the professor. Some classes start your first week of being in France, some start at the end of February! This ambiguity in scheduling means that every week is different… but also, it means that you might not have classes on Mondays or Fridays, giving you long weekends for travel. The first two weeks of being in Strasbourg, I only had one class period. One. So it felt like I was still on Winter Break. Don’t let the three hour time blocks intimidate you… the professors like to give a 15 minute coffee break halfway through! The building of EM Strasbourg is quite modern; each classroom has wonderful large windows and it’s relatively easy to navigate. Also – I cracked up when I found out that there are TWO student bars inside the Business School! You can go and order yourself a drink in between classes and can always find a group of students hanging out there. I was also surprised to see that most of the University Apartments are at least a 15 minute tram ride from the business school; the tram ride is not bad at all and when the weather warms up, I plan to walk to school! The international program at EM scheduled a couple of events in the beginning of the year to introduce us to French culture, which I appreciated. However, there are two international programs at EM (RUN BY STUDENTS) that do an AMAZING job at creating special, organized events for international students. Please go to these events (most of them are free!), as this is the one place, outside of class, where I have met other international students. The names of the student organizations are Bureau de l’International (BDI) and ESN Strasbourg. I have not really met any student yet who full-time goes to EM Strasbourg, I hope that in the future months, I will be able to mingle with the French students. I have noticed I tend to hang out with my fellow Aggies because it’s a touch of home and familiarity, but I’ve been reminding myself to reach out to other international students to hang out as well, since getting to know new people and cultures is a really special part of studying abroad.

Travel: The three hour class periods have allowed for me to schedule in a lot of travel! So far, I’ve traveled pretty equally by train and bus, and more rarely by plane. I know that there are a lot of strikes in France so I’m interested to see how that affects the public transportation. It’s important to check strike schedules to make sure you don’t travel on these days and get stuck somewhere! I spend most of my free time planning trips, typically up to three weeks ahread. Everywhere in Europe is still really cold, it being January, so a lot of locations have few tourists (and little greenery lol). One month into the study exchange and I’ve already gotten sick three times – mostly because of not bundling up correctly and not prioritizing my health while traveling. I’ve learned my lesson! It’s interesting to see other people make travel plans because you quickly learn that everyone likes to travel a little bit differently, whether it be budgets, time spent in one location, or the activities done in the location. Learning how YOU like to travel is part of the experience; try to travel with people who have the same preferences as you! I love how accessible reaching other countries is; I hope I won’t forget to explore the Alsace region around Strasbourg during my time here too (because again, Strasbourg and the cities around it are SO BEAUTIFUL)!

I cannot wait to continue my journey on this semester exchange. I miss my family, friends, and being back home, but admittedly right now, my excitement of being here in Europe and in new environments dilutes that feeling of missing home. I need to remember to call my family more often. I wonder when Strasbourg will start feeling like “home base.” Watch out for my blog later this semester 😉

Categories: 2023, France

Hello! My name is Daniela and I am currently studying in Barcelona, Spain. When I initially got to Barcelona, it felt a little overwhelming because it was my first time in Europe and I was in a very different environment. But once my roommate arrived and we explored the city, I felt very happy to be where I was. Barcelona has so many unique and fun sites to explore, the food is very tasty(they have lots of fast food restaurants like McDonald’s if you want to be reminded of home), fun nightlife, and a beach! Communication in Spain has not been very difficult since I speak Spanish, but either way most people speak or know English. I arrived a few days before school started, which I highly recommend because it allowed me to rest after the jet lag and get familiar with the city and transportation services! The first day of school we started with the program’s orientation where every student doing an exchange attended. There were a huge number of students from all over the world! The people presenting seemed genuinely excited to welcome us and wanted us to learn more about their culture. In all, I felt very welcomed and excited to start my program! There are many differences between Spain and the U.S. For example, the food is different, there are usually no dryers to dry your clothes, and to get your groceries to your place is a hassle especially if you don’t live on the first floor or if there isn’t an elevator, there is coffee shops and convenience stores in every corner, and there are people walking or taking public transportation everywhere! It has been an adjustment but I absolutely love everything about Spain. It has been very exciting to go to different ERASMUS(International students) events and meet new people from everywhere. I hope to gain knowledge from studying in a different university, gain new friends, gain business skills, and make memorable memories!

Categories: 2023, Spain

This is my second time abroad and going into this experience I did not know what to expect. I arrived in Strasbourg, France on New Year’s Eve, so it was crazy to experience the last day of 2022 and the first day of 2023 in a new country.

I believe that Strasbourg is the perfect study-abroad city. There is a unique history because of its French and German roots, it has all of the amenities of a big city but still feels calm, and it is centralized in Europe so it is easy to travel.

One of the first places I saw was the cathedral in the city center and it was so beautiful. The architecture is stunning and you can even climb all the way to the top for a gorgeous view of the city. Arriving in January most of the decorations from the Christmas markets was still up and it is so fun to walk through the streets, feeling the Christmas spirit.

The structure of EM Strasbourg is quite different than what I am used to at Texas A&M. Classes vary in start time, and how long the course goes, and are typically three hours long once a week. Grading is also quite different. Grades are decided on two-three factors (exams and a group project), and there is a lot of group work.

So far, I am loving living in Strasbourg and going to EM. There are a few things that I hope to get out of the next four months. I hope to increase my fluency in French and take advantage of living in a country where it is the main language. I hope to travel to as many countries as possible in order to increase my understanding of different foods, cultures, and history. I plan on making friends with the people in my classes who come from all over the world. I look forward to the group projects and a better understanding the French higher education system through my coursework in different classes. I am also hoping to gain a better understanding of myself through living alone for the first time, interacting with people from different backgrounds, and experiencing new things. Overall, I am very excited to see the lessons I will learn and the growth I will experience through being a student at EM Strasbourg.

Categories: 2023, France


I have just arrived in Strasbourg, France and will be living here for the next 4 months. Upon arrival, things were different here than they are at home right away. In order to travel around the country, you must take trains, which was a new concept for me. After arriving in Strasbourg, I know I will love my time here as it is a beautiful and lively city. The people of Strasbourg have been kind to me, even when I can’t communicate with them perfectly in French. They are also very eager to help me when I need it.

My international program at the EM Business School has had orientation events for the group this week, for us to meet others from around the world doing a semester exchange. It has been a very unique experience so far getting to meet other students from different countries, who I am more similar to than I would have imagined.

Although the French get stereotyped as being rude to foreigners, I have not felt that in the time I have been here. The culture in the country has been remarkable and I have loved trying local foods, my favorite being the “pain au chocolat.”

One of the biggest differences I have noticed this week is the means of transport in Strasbourg. Biking, walking, and public transport is the most common form of travel for locals and tourists here, which is different from the US as cars are heavily used there. Another difference I have noticed is the laid back culture of the French, the mornings start slow for the people here and evenings are social. This has been different to see compared to the hustle culture I am used to in the US.

This semester, I hope to gain a new sense of independence while I am here as I will be navigating every aspect of living in a foreign country. I would also like to become more open minded to different ways of living in the culture I see here, knowing it is completely different from what I am used to back home. I hope that throughout this semester, I am able to develop new skills and make lasting friendships with those I meet here.

Categories: 2023, France

Howdy! My name is Mariana Martinez and I am a junior marketing major studying abroad in Madrid, Spain at UC3M. I have been in Madrid for a couple days now and it is safe to say I love it here. When I first got here, I expected to have multiple culture shocks and thought it was going to take me a while to adjust but I am surprised to say Madrid has not been as different as I thought. The biggest difference I have noticed is everyone here tends to enjoy a slower paced life. While living in the center of Madrid, you see many people rushing to get places but if you step a foot outside the center hub of Madrid or into a plaza, you will notice people will sit at a restaurant for hours enjoying some good tapas with friends. The city of Madrid is very clean and the buildings here are beautiful. Everytime I walk somewhere, I constantly catch myself staring up at the buildings everywhere I go because the streets are filled with simplistic detailed buildings with beautiful colors. I also adapted the sense of transport here which is walking, metro and train. Living by the Sol station, I am able to catch the train every morning to go 25 mins out of town to go to campus at Getafe. UC3M is a decent sized campus but in comparison to A&M it feels small. My first impressions of the school is that while it is a rigorous school, the professors are very kind and helpful with the students. The school also has a big international presence as they are known for hosting many exchange students every year. It is pretty clear the Spanish students tend to keep to themselves and their friend groups as they all take classes together and spend all four years surrounded by the same people. However, I have had the opportunity to meet so many international students from around the world. Moreover, another difference is in the Spanish culture, athleisure does not exist and so they dress more professionally and modest on a daily basis in comparison to America. Lastly, people in Spain eat small portions at random times of the day rather than 3 large meals. Overall, I have felt the Spanish culture in Madrid is not that different to that of America which has made it easy to adapt to life here. I am so in love with Madrid and Spain and am excited to see more of this country in my upcoming months here!

Categories: 2023, Spain

Hello! My name is Gloria, and I am studying abroad in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology(HKUST) this semester! I have been here for almost two weeks now, and started school last week!

The city has been pretty easy to navigate, with the subway lines being connected throughout the city. Hong Kong is also very walkable, so I’m able to get around just by walking and taking the subway. Everything here is pretty cheap compared to America, and they also don’t have sales tax!

The business school sits on top of a hill and overlooks the campus and the bay. My classes here are pretty similar to classes at A&M, where they’re usually around 1.5 hours for classes I attend twice a week, and 3 hours for classes I attend once a week. We get a short 10-15 minute break for my 3-hour courses, so it’s not too bad. I’m taking 4 classes here, and the layout is pretty similar to courses at A&M, with homework, quizzes, participation, presentations, and exams. However, a big difference I noticed is that courses here are graded on a bell curve rather than a standard grade that students have to achieve.

Some culture shocks I have experienced while being in Hong Kong:

  • People usually dress up to class and wear long sleeves and long pants.
  • Hot tea is served at restaurants instead of cold water. You have to pay extra for cold water.
  • Hot water that is served at restaurants is usually used to wash your bowls, plates, and utensils

Categories: 2023, Hong Kong


Vienna, or Wien as known by Austrians, is like a dream. After officially being here for a little over a week, I have been able to explore various areas of the city. In the first few days, we were welcomed by the incoming team at WU who introduced us to Austrian and Viennese cultural norms, foods, and history. The welcome events were attended by all of the incoming exchange students at the university, therefore it was a unique opportunity to interact with individuals from all over the world. I have met people from Canada, The UK, France, The Netherlands, Turkey, The Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, Sweden, The Bahamas, Italy, Ukraine, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand, and many more locations. Within the first few days, I have already made many new friends. Additionally, we were able to be given a tour of the university by WU students. The campus is much smaller than Texas A&M but is extremely modern and well-constructed. You have the opportunity to sign up for a pre-semester cultural program in which 2 weeks are dedicated to exploring many of Vienna’s cultural landmarks and nearby cities. Next week some of our events include learning the Viennese Waltz, visiting the United Nations, touring Schönbrunn Palace, and attending a chocolate factory in Linz, Austria.

Overall, Vienna is a classical dream mixed with a modern touch. The city is incredibly well connected by public transport and dedicated towards sustainability. Although I have only been here a week, this experience has already been extremely eye-opening. This was my first time in Europe and this opportunity has allowed me to make connections with individuals who are incredibly diverse in nationality and thought. I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing about everyone’s stories of navigating life before and after embarking abroad. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity and I cannot wait to develop my skills individually and professionally.

Lastly, the food has been amazing. Vienna is a coffee lover’s dream and the assortment of pastries and cakes is astonishing. It is the cafe capital of the world and one of the Viennese specialties is the melange. Some of my other favorite meals have been Wiener Schnitzel, Goulash, Appel Strudel, and Sachertorte. The grocery stores here are very reasonably priced and of great quality. My classes do not begin until early March, therefore I am going to visit Budapest, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Prague. I am currently missing Tex-Mex, my dog, and my family. However, I am grateful that I am able to video call them frequently and share my updates on life in Vienna. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead as I continue to navigate this journey abroad.

From Vienna,

Anneliese Cook

Categories: 2023, Austria

It has been over a week now since arriving in Vienna, and I am in awe of the beauty of this city. I had come up with ideas in my head of what my experience would be like before coming, and wow, has Vienna already exceeded my expectations. Every day, I wake up in what feels like a dream, but I quickly snap into reality that this is my real life. In only seven days, I have seen so much Austrian history and culture, which has been so fun and exciting.

My first two days in the city involved an orientation program at the Vienna University of Economics & Business (or WU for short). There, I was able to meet other incoming exchange students from all over the world and get integrated into the academic lifestyle in Vienna. With still a month before classes actually start, I have been able to explore so much in Vienna. WU is an amazing university with over 500 international students each semester, so it is nice not feeling alone being in a new place and new school. One huge culture shock of school life in Vienna is the academic schedule. Rather than your typical American fall and spring semester, Vienna has a summer and winter semester. So although I am studying abroad in the Spring 2023 semester at TAMU, it’s really summer semester in Austria, where classes begin in March and end in June. Also, classes do not extend for the whole semester period. Some classes are only half the semester, or are complete within two weeks or on weekends. Additionally, classes do not typically follow a consistent weekly schedule (ex: every Monday and Wednesday), rather they occur on random days and times, with some weeks having completely off from a course. So, creating my class schedule was definitely more of a challenge.

On another note, when exploring the city, everywhere you walk, it looks like you just walked into a fairytale or into some historical time period. There are gorgeous, historic buildings everywhere you walk. I have been able to see so much including the famous Vienna Opera House, Mozart’s apartment, the Hundertwasser House, the Schönbrunnm Palace, the city of Graz and the Zotter chocolate factory. Additionally, the Vienna public transportation is the best in Europe. For 75 euros, I can take public transportation all semester (which is the equivalent to about one tank of gas for me in the U.S.).

Another aspect of Viennese culture I have fallen in love with is the cafe culture. Actually, UNESCO added Viennese coffee house culture to the cultural heritage list for Austria. When you go into a cafe or restaurant, there is no rush or order more or move on. You can spend hours in a cafe without the servers hovering your table throughout your stay. If you need anything, you have to flag the waiter down yourself to get the bill. As that seems more rude in the U.S., it is completely normal here. I have already spent many hours enjoying a Melange (classic Viennese coffee) and Sachertorte (famous Viennese chocolate cake) in many of the cafes that line the streets.

I have absolutely fallen in love with Vienna, Austria. One reason I picked this location is because my mom studied in Vienna in college, so it has been so sweet getting to share some of the same experiences with her and even recreate photos. I am already having the time of my life and have met so many amazing people!


Categories: 2023, Austria