Coming back to the U.S. from the most incredible experience of my life has been bittersweet. On the one hand, I missed my family and friends a ton while I was away, and am so happy to have them so close, as opposed to being time zones and an ocean apart. On the other, I think about how just a few weeks ago I was living, what felt like, a whole different life… speaking Spanish everyday and traveling somewhere new just about every weekend. I saw and experienced some pretty amazing things, like paragliding through the sky above Interlaken, Switzerland or hiking several miles in between all 5 towns that make up Cinque Terre, Italy. But still, when I find myself being asked by people I haven’t seen in months, “what was your favorite part?,” I can’t help but immediately think of the friendships. Mariana and Anna were pretty much strangers to me in the fall of 2022. We all were marketing students at Mays Business School, but it wasn’t until signing up for this semester abroad, that we met. We were all set to go to Madrid, Spain and looking for roommates and a place to live.

We met for coffee at Sweet Eugene’s and decided right then and there that we would do this together! From that day on, I prayed for the 3 of us; that our friendship would be a blessing to us all. Over the course of our 5 months abroad, we practically lived on top of each other in a pretty little apartment located in the heart of the city, navigated foreign countries, language barriers, transportation, school, and our real, personal lives back in the U.S., and we became each others home away from home. It really didn’t take long for these ‘strangers’ to become some of my best friends. We laughed and cried and grew together. They were by far the best thing that happened to me while I was abroad and I know they will stick by my side for a long, long time, even now that we’re back home. I am forever changed for the better by my time abroad, but more so by the friendships that came with it.

Categories: 2023, Spain

As I return to the states this week, I reflect on the past six months I spent in Vienna Austria. My experience was nothing short of amazing and exceeded all my expectations. Vienna is a beautiful city that brings together people from all different backgrounds and cultures, which enabled me to learn and make connections with other students and people from all over the world.

In my classes, I was able to experience a completely different class structure compared to A&M. All of my classes had an international focus and it was amazing to learn about the way businesses operate worldwide. Additionally, there were students in my classes from all over the world (Germany, Chile, Colombia, France, Hungary, China, New Zealand, to name a few), so it was incredible having discussions where we could compare and contrast how our own countries operate. In one of my classes, we took a field trip to Oracle’s office in Vienna and learned about the future of technology from the director of that branch. We also got to see the AirportCity Space and learn about the future innovations that were being experimented there. If I had not gone to Vienna, I would have never been able to experience that!

During my time abroad, I was able to visit 20 different countries, including 30 different cities, something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. Vienna was such a centrally located area, allowing me to travel any direction I wanted to. With the friends I made in Vienna, along with my roommate, Annie (also an Aggie), we got to learn and explore so many different cultures by making it a priority to go to museums, take walking tours with locals, and experience life through the lens of whatever culture we were in.

Throughout all the weekends and holidays I traveled, I was always ready to get back to what felt like home, or Vienna. It’s just a city where you can easily walk around, learn about the history, and explore new places. In my free time, my friends and I would have picnics in city parks, explore new museums, go to cafes, go to the Prater (the amusement park in the city), drink wine at the evening wine stands, grab a hot dog at the many hot dog stands, and so much more. One thing I loved about Vienna was how lively it was. There was always something going on, whether it be celebrations or wine festivals, we always found something fun to go do. One of my favorite memories was attending a Viennese ball with my friends. Balls are a major part of Viennese culture, so getting to dress up with my friends, enjoy a Viennese waltz, and celebrate a part of Vienna’s culture was definitely a moment I will cherish forever.

Out of all the places I traveled to, Vienna is definitely my favorite. I am thankful for the six months I got to experience there, the people I met, the things I learned, and cannot wait to go back one day!

Categories: 2023, Austria

I just got home from my six months living in Barcelona and already miss it so much. Going on a semester exchange abroad is definitely the most impactful thing I have ever done for myself. Academically, the classes we took at UPF were very interesting. The class structure is very different from A&M as well as the culture that surrounds the topics. We worked on a lot of group projects and got to learn about the different markets/business cultures from all over the globe. It felt more valuable and hands-on to learn about global marketing from the other side of the world.
Before this semester, I was never able to call myself a traveler, nor had I ever been to Europe even though it had always interested me. Now I can say I have traveled 32,000+ miles in Europe alone in a six-month time span. Living in Barcelona made it so easy to see as much of the world as I was able to in such a short amount of time. I was able to visit 12 countries as well as multiple different cities across Spain. One of my favorite things about these excursions was how unique each country was from one another. My roommate/best friend/travel partner, Grace (another Aggie), and I always made a point to learn as much as we could on each of our trips whether it meant signing up for free walking tours, visiting lots of museums, or reading up on the incredible historical sites before traveling. The history that surrounds these places is absolutely amazing and are experience I will never forget.
Barcelona was also the perfect place to call home. Even after a perfect weekend spent exploring another European city, we were always so happy to come home to Barcelona and see what the city had in store for us that week. The city is so exciting and diverse as it has aspects of a large urban city along with close access to beautiful beaches and mountains. It seemed as though every week there were festivals and celebrations of Catalan culture happening in the streets. One of my favorite memories in Barcelona was Sant Jordi’s feast day which is dedicated to the patron saint of Catalonia and a celebration of love and culture sometimes known as “Catalonia’s Valentine’s Day”. The tradition on that day is you exchange a book for a red rose with the people you love so the streets are filled with books and roses to buy. I found that there was always something to do or a new area of the city to explore, so much so that I can’t wait to go back and try all of the experiences I wasn’t able to get to in my time there! These six months flew by and I am so grateful for my time spent abroad and so happy I was able to call Barcelona home for a short period of my life.

Categories: Spain

Howdy! As I finish up my study abroad experience and in the midst of finals, I have been able to reflect on what these past four months have meant to me. Being abroad for these past four months has been one of the most incredible experiences I have had. Through my exchange I have been able to grow in so many ways professionally and personally. Growing up I have always had a global perspective as my family is from Mexico and I have grown up traveling with them to different parts of the world. What I did not come to realize is that having a global perspective does not mean you know everything, it only means you are open to continuous learning as every culture has a uniqueness of its own.

During my time abroad I met this one girl from Brazil who I grew to be very close with by the end of my time here. She had such a different upbringing than me but what stood out the most about my time with her is that we are still the same. Two 21 year olds in a foreign country constantly learning and growing. Moreover, the more places I went to, the more people I met and the more interactions I had. While these interactions ranged from all kinds of scenarios and conversations, the interest in each stayed the same. If one invests in trying to understand a person from a different place or even the way of life in a new culture, then one will. All it takes is to be interested and open and with that alone, you will be able to grow your perspective and understanding of the world we live in.

In my first impression, I found myself very focused on the details of this new culture. Trying to distinguish the big differences and the culture shocks but little did I know that it was the similarities that stuck out the most. While the lifestyle in Spain does seem to be at a slower pace, the themes in life don’t seem to be so different. My favorite activity in Madrid was simply to go to Parque de Retiro and observe people. My roommates and I kept this theme of going to parks almost everywhere we traveled to. From all these observations, I came to one conclusion, people around the world are all the same. They will walk through parks with their families, with their significant others, and with their friends. They will sit and enjoy the weather and the nature that surrounds them. Kids will run around a playground and play with curiosity. A park is still a park, no matter where we went, and all of them consisted of all types of people simply enjoying the moment.

My experience abroad truly taught me so much and it allowed me to appreciate the life I live so much more. As I go into my senior year at Texas A&M, I am ready to be fully present in every moment and enjoy every bit of it. For this, last year won’t last forever but change and growth will continue to come as I take on life outside College Station.

Categories: 2023, Spain

I am so glad I was able to study abroad in Milan. I grew as a person because being on my own for a whole semester in Milan made me more independent and resourceful. I also learned so much about Italian culture and other cultures in Europe by visiting historical landmarks, museums, and by conversing with locals. Moreover, I came to appreciate the rich history and culture Milan and many places in Europe have going back over 1000 years. I forget how young of a country the United States is compared to some of these places in Europe.

Some of my assumptions about Milan have been right. Pretty much everyone I talked to was willing to help me out if I got lost or if I was looking for something. Also, throughout my time abroad not many people spoke English which surprised me because I thought English was taught to most students. Lastly, I was right about the lack of options for food. After a while, I got tired of eating Italian food, McDonald’s, and KFC. I was wrong about the size of the city. The city was much larger than I thought it was going to be and it took a while to get from one side of the city to the other side.

After being in Milan for a few months, I learned that Italians take their time to do things as they prioritize the work-life balance and are not always rushing from place to place like most Americans. For example, many Italian restaurants are closed in the middle of the day and lots of museums are closed on Monday. Also, I realized that when I emailed Professors or other Italians they wouldn’t respond as quickly as my professors at Texas A&M. Overall, however, conducting business in Italy is very similar to how it’s conducted in the United States.

Categories: 2023, Italy

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