A celebration of culture and humanity

Lithuania Smith for blog

Being a freshman from Utah, I chose to come to UTD because of the opportunity and resources provided to help students achieve. I could not have made a better choice. It was only the first semester of college for me, but I was fortunate enough to become friends with three very intelligent and encouraging freshmen in the business school at UTD. We formed a team to submit into an international social business competition called Creative Shock. A few submissions and all-nighters later, we were informed that our team had made it into the Top 10 submissions out of hundreds, and were invited to compete in the finals in Vilnius, Lithuania! It was the first time I had ever been out of the United States, and I truly did not know what to find on the other side of our eighteen-hour plane flight. When we arrived and finally got out of the airport, I was not disappointed.

Our short trip was largely consumed by the competition, which was hosted by ISM, a business college in Vilnius. Teams came from all over–Thailand, India, Germany, Norway, Canada, Georgia, and Lithuania itself. The competition was not all work though; it was largely centered around a celebration of culture and humanity. We had socials where we mingled, danced, sang, and educated one another about the different cultures we each came from. Guest business owners were brought in and each had a chance to speak in a conference about their businesses and how they were contributing to social entrepreneurship. Each business was trying to do something different for humanity–employ the blind and mentally disabled, house the homeless, and even put all profits towards providing clean water for those in Malawi. In America, people are more than willing to address social issues and are happy to cater to small businesses attempting to provide quality products. However, certain places in Europe, such as Lithuania, are still working on getting the public involved in these pursuits. Slowly, but surely, they are succeeding. It was so fulfilling to see that we as people are all quite alike, regardless of where we live. We want to help and serve others, and I was honored to be involved in the social business efforts of those at Creative Shock.

When we weren’t competing, we took every chance possible to go out on the city. Everything in Vilnius, from the people to the food, is down-to-earth and beautiful. Food and bought goods are cheaper, people drive compact cars, and the streets are cobbled. The buildings are often tall, old, and constructed in close proximity to one another. Christmas was alive there: The souvenir shops and restaurants were illuminated by the lights strung above the streets, and a humongous tree was erected downtown. The people had set up a sort of food rendezvous, where locals served authentic food from different cultures underneath separate tents. I had a Belgian waffle and potato cakes. To add to the excitement, the man serving wine was overly interested in my team members’ individual romantic lives…

Which brings me to the people! They initially give off a dignified and quiet vibe. Once you get them talking though (most of them know English), they are very real, honest, and friendly. Not even the constant snow keeps them indoors. They love food (their two traditional dishes are a pink, cold beet soup and potatoes stuffed with meat), and are humble in the lifestyle they live. They love to party, and drinking along with smoking is quite common. They find happiness in the simpler things in life–meeting and interacting with others, working a respectable job, and taking pride in their culture. I LOVE the people of Lithuania and thank them for all of their hospitality.

-Shay Smith, Creative Shock Finals in Vilnius, Lithuania, Fall 2018

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Lithuania – The Most Underrated Country in Europe

Lithuania for blog

Early December, I competed in Creative Shock’s International Social Business Case Competition against 400+ universities, 100+ countries, and 1,750+ participants. My team consisted of four freshmen competing in an undergraduate and graduate level competition. We spent 10 hours overnight on a social business case, and created a detailed advertisement campaign in 9 hours during the day.

The top 10 teams qualified, and my team placed 5th, thus advancing to finals in Vilnius, Lithuania. The competition was organized by students in the the International School of Management in Vilnius. Through the cultural presentations and networking events/opportunities, I was able to meet highly talented individuals from Thailand, the UK, Canada, India, Georgia, etc. It was truly the most extraordinary experience I have ever had, and I am so grateful to have been a part of this as a first year student.

– Lourdes Buksh, Independent Study in Lithuania, Fall 2018

Oxford Research and London Exploration

UK for blog Mathew (At Stonehenge before arriving in London.)

The opportunity to travel with friends overseas is an experience that will stick with me, and my new friends, forever. I would never have met most of the students who traveled alongside me if it weren’t for this trip to England and the chance, we had to present our research paper at Oxford. Not only did I learn the culture and learn some of the small differences in England. I got do it alongside my peers. Anything we noticed that was slightly different compared to the U.S. we all pointed out to each other. For example, customer service was much different, but the people were so kind to foreigners and knew where to suggest we visit for the true experience. The best views in England was seeing the mix and match of new buildings alongside the old ones, being able to climb to the top of a church and seeing the city.
The chance to present my research to both colleagues and recognized researchers at such an iconic building was an amazing experience. It was nice getting to see how important research is, not just for personal knowledge, but as it affects the global community. There was a lot I learned from being able to see everyone’s presentations, but the education wasn’t held to only that. While at Stonehenge I was able to learn about the extensive history England has. Seeing how far back some of the architecture and history goes as compared to America truly is extraordinary. One of the most impressive things that I had a chance to do was to visit the British Museum and then ride the London Eye. Not only was it fun, but the amount of priceless world treasures that you could see really surprised me.

–  Marilyn Mathew, Faculty-led in the United Kingdom, Fall 2018

Thanksgiving in the United Kingdom

One of the most prestigious, adventurous, challenging, and fun experiences of my life has Oxford for Blogbeen my one week in the United Kingdom. With the adrenaline rush, city lights, different culture surrounded by a great group of classmates and our professor, the UK regional management trip was a success! Exploring Oxford University and having the opportunity to present my research over Digital marketing in the United Kingdom has been an extraordinary experience that has changed my life forever. The presentation at Rhodes house gave me so much confidence in myself and knowledge I never knew I could ever gain. Research is a huge part of making our educational systems successful and is necessary to carry out courses, textbooks and information to grow the generation and keep on working for success. My research focused on Digital marketing compared between the United Kingdom and the United States. Also, on this trip I made connections with people that I met will change my life forever. Furthermore, exploring Oxford and London, and it’s culture has been extremely fun and adventurous, the appreciation of art at the museums, the appreciation of history in every angle that I turn. If I can ever reflect on this trip in more than one paragraph it would be a whole book of reflections! My life has changed forever after the UK regional management trip and I am proud to say I haven’t visited multiple universities in the United Kingdom and have presented a research in them.

–  Farah Nashat, Faculty-led in United Kingdom, Fall 2018

Fulfillment for having learned so much…

UK for blog Smith Upon touching ground on United States soil after spending a week abroad in the United Kingdom, there were two preeminent feelings that I experienced: one being sadness for having to had return home so soon and the other being fulfillment for having learned so much while away. There were countless opportunities while abroad to capitalize on and learn from, and I took advantage of every possible one. My study abroad group had the chance to visit Oxford and London while in Europe, and with it being my first time in the United Kingdom, I had very high expectations and an even higher level of enthusiasm to be able to experience an entirely new and different culture from Dallas, Texas.

The first portion (and majority) of the trip was spent in Oxford, England, where each student participating in the University of Texas at Dallas study abroad trip, were meant to provide a presentation based on their individual research. However, before the day of the presentation, we had a couple of days to soak up as much of the charming and historic city of Oxford as we could. The first day the group was in Oxford, the professor gave us a brief tour of the city center. After night came, we each went our separate ways, with myself deciding to hit up a pub by the name of The Grape. At this pub, I got the chance to converse with three English gentleman about several different topics, as they were interested in my being American, but mainly about what their favorite football club was. Confabulating with some British folk on the subject of European football was one of the foremost things that I wanted to experience while in the United Kingdom, and the fact that I got to be able to do so is extraordinary.

The second day in Oxford consisted mainly of sightseeing and trying as many delectable, British restaurants as possible. For lunch, the group went to a traditional, English sandwich shop, where I had the privilege of trying a lamb samosa, one of the best foods I have ever put into my mouth. The name of the sandwich shop was Taylor’s, and I found myself wandering back there multiple times throughout the trip for various meals. The next day was the day of our presentations, which lasted from early in the morning to late in the night. It was truly an incredible experience being able to even stand in the esteemed Rhodes House of the University of Oxford, let alone be able to give an entire presentation on a topic of our interest. Personally, I am egregious at academic presentations and this opportunity helped me improve my confidence and my delivery of information. The next couple days in Oxford incorporated a mixture of more independent sightseeing, but also some group excursions.

After having an outstanding time in Oxford, the group finally departed for London on the fourth day of the trip, which left us three full days to experience all we could in one of the greatest cities in the world. In London, I decided to spend the majority of my time with the rest of the study abroad group. Of the three days that we had to see as much of London as possible (a formidable challenge), we spent most of that time visiting the major attractions the city had to offer. Our personal guide took us on a detailed tour of the Tower of London, explaining the reason for why it was built like it was, who occupied it in different parts of history, etc., and then later went into even more detail at the National Gallery. After a day of seeing the major attractions, the group spent time at the prestigious University of Sunderland, where we were presented to by two, remarkable professors about business in China and the United Kingdom. These talks were incredibly informative on the practices of businesses in foreign countries, and brought to my attention the differences and similarities of overseas companies compared to companies in the United States.

Overall, the trip to the United Kingdom was an educational and beautiful experience, with countless opportunities.

–  Scott Smith, Faculty-led in United Kingdom, Fall 2018

The Benefits of Studying Abroad as a Pre-Health Student

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset   As a pre-health student, I would watch all my non-pre-health friends study art history in Paris, learn Spanish in Barcelona, and experience authentic Italian food in Rome. I envied them as I spent any free time I had taking science classes, shadowing health professionals, or volunteering at local organizations. At first, I thought I wouldn’t have time to study abroad, but by being proactive and planning in advance, I was able to study abroad for a month in Seoul. I opted out of doing a program that focused on pre-health and instead took a class on the Urban Sociology of the Subcultural Neighborhoods in the City of Seoul, which was completely unrelated to my biology degree and my career goal of becoming a physical therapist. However, I gained numerous benefits that I would not have been able to gain from spending my summers taking science classes or shadowing health professionals.

So what are some of the benefits of studying abroad as a pre-health student? Here are some of the most helpful skills I gained while abroad:

1. Communication Skills

While studying abroad in a country where English isn’t the native language it is inevitable that you’ll hit a language barrier. I had learned how to read and say the most common phrases in Korean but many times that wasn’t enough and would lead to a game of charades as I tried to communicate with the locals. The absence of a common language made me more cognizant of nonverbal communication and how powerful it can be when communicating with others. No matter what healthcare professional you aspire to be, there will be times where verbal communication will not be enough and being able to use nonverbal communication is what will make you a more effective clinician. By studying abroad, you really get the opportunity to practice and build on this skill, especially in a country where English isn’t the main language.

2. Cultural Competency

I was surrounded by a culture that was completely different from the culture back home both inside and outside of the classroom. My peers were from various countries like Singapore, France, and Mexico, which fostered diverse perspectives in class. Due to the multicultural nature of my surroundings, I ended up gaining a better understanding of various cultures and came back with a more global perspective. As a pre-health student and future healthcare professional, it is important to have this skill since the patient population is extremely diverse. That being said, being culturally competent is an extremely useful skill and it’s directly cultivated by studying abroad.

3. Ability to Persevere

During the short time I was abroad, there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t faced with a challenge. I faced both major and minor challenges such as culture shock, difficulty navigating the subway system, and a language barrier. At first, these obstacles made me want to stay in my dorm rather than explore the city. However, I knew I had to overcome them to experience everything Seoul had to offer. As a result of overcoming the numerous challenges, I got to experience Seoul to its fullest and gained more self-confidence and the ability to persevere. This is probably the most important skill I brought back home. Instead of being intimidated by obstacles, I see them as an opportunity for personal growth now and embrace them. Having this mindset and the ability to persevere is a skill that will help any pre-health student make it through graduate school to enter their desired healthcare field.

The experiences, skills, and knowledge that I gained in South Korea have helped shape me into a better pre-health student. These are just a few of the skills that I thought were directly important for a pre-health student to have. However, studying abroad fosters a plethora of skills, which is why I encourage every pre-health student who thinks they don’t have the time or doesn’t see the importance of studying abroad, to actually do it.

–  Shraddha Bista, exchange at Sungkyunkwan University,  Summer 2018

My International Internship Experience

In the summer of 2018, I got a chance to complete an international internship as a finance intern in a company located in Pune, India. The interesting aspect of this internship experience was not the traveling or residential experience in India but increasing my knowledge about corporate Finance. You may be wondering as to why living in India was not the highlight of my trip! I have lived in India for nine years. My family owns a house in Pune. So, though I got a chance to complete an international internship in my home city, I did not have to worry about any transportation or residential issues. However, does that mean that my trip was boring. Of course not! I got a chance to meet all my school friends and most importantly my relatives. I also enjoyed eating street food as I was craving it since I came back to the US. I even got to enjoy the night life in Pune. While these were the things that I did, I would also like to talk about my internship experience.

I was offered the internship through an official network connect. Having just completed my freshman year, I was not sure what to expect out of the internship as this was my first opportunity as an intern. With multiple discussions about the internship tasks with my undergrad advisor, I finally decided to take a leap into the opportunity. I also received a scholarship from my university which was a feather in the cap and my journey to India began.

Throughout the course of the internship, I got a chance to interact with the CEO of the company, the President of the US company and even the financial head of the US entity. My internship experience included tasks of analyzing excel spreadsheets to setting up meetings with 3rd party vendors. Throughout the internship my mentor Richa Singh played a key role in assigning me tasks and explaining me what output was expected.

As a part of my internship, in my first assignment I had to research and find out how the credit rating of a company is determined. This also included obtaining a DUNS number for the company. A DUNS number helps a potential client determine whether the company it wants to do business with, is financially stable or not. It also gives ratings based on awards won by the company and present number of employees. As a part of this assignment I got a chance to set up a meeting between the CEO of e-Zest Solutions Ltd and some representatives of the credit rating issuing company, Dun and Bradstreet. As a part of the assignment, I even got a chance to get an overview of how a corporate company’s financials are interpreted.

Amongst many other tasks, I also was told to create a sales report for the US entity. This sales report helped me analyze the funds a company is willing to invest on business trips. I got a good overview of how a company distributes its work by analyzing work orders. This analysis included making key changes to pre- made working orders like adding jobs offered by the company based on a project and the salary offered for these jobs. It also included analyzing grammatical errors. This task helped me improve my knowledge of Microsoft Word; overview of the shortcuts used in word which would particularly help me in my completion of a MS Word certification.

At the end of the internship I realized my decision to take up the opportunity was indeed the best one. I will be able to apply the knowledge gained in 6 weeks throughout different courses in the curriculum.

–  Abhishek Joshi, Internship in India, Summer 2018

London School of Economics (LSE)

London LL 2016    Having lived in Europe for thirteen years I was no foreigner to to the UK, but all my previous visits had been for leisure. I had always stayed in a hotel or a day trip, this however was going to be a two month stay in one of the largest cities in Europe. The largest city I have ever lived in was Dallas, but London was different from the moment I Landed. I took a taxi, not to a hotel or a popular tourist destination but to my accommodation at Sydney Webb house on the Southern Bank. I was about twenty minutes away from central London were all the hustle and bustle was going on. It was a bit daunting at first to get used to the fact that I was going to be staying in this room for two months on my own, the longest I ever have been away form family.

But the classes left no time for me to get homesick, from day one the program started with no intention of slowing down. The professor was engaging made the three hours go by in a flash, when I initially saw the timetable I thought “there’s no way I’m going to be able survive two months of this!”. While the lecture was engaging the class wasn’t a cakewalk, we had a paper due immediately for the second week, a presentation during the first two weeks then a final for the third and final week. Luckily the professor and the two TA’s were extremely helpful when it came to any questions relating to the course and the LSE facilities were amazing as well. This was the same for all sessions, the professors knew we only had three weeks to digest a semesters worth of material and they themselves tried to be available late into the night to help us succeed. It didn’t feel like a chore but a challenge.

London itself was amazing the summer I was there, no rain in sight and the atmosphere in the city was awesome due to the world cup going on at the same time. The city was full of people from all over rooting for their teams and you would not have a hard time to find fans from your favorite team.

Transportation in the city is what makes me miss it when looking at the DART system here in Dallas. It may be crowded and the tube can get delayed quite a bit, but the convenience is amazing and affordable as well. No matter where you needed to go either a bus or tube stop was there, and if that was not to ones liking then renting a bike or simply walking is also a possibility.

Of course I can’t talk about London without talking about visiting some tourist spots. I went to and recommend the Tower of London, for around 25 pounds you get to see three different museums, which include the iconic crown jewels and the crows of the Tower. Once you are done you can then walk over the London bridge and over to the eye of London. I also visited the Shard, the tallest building in London, from which you can admire the skyline of London.

The two months went by way to quick, but thanks to the time I spent there I was able to make friends from Korea, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Columbia, Austria and Australia. The amount of nationalities you meet in this program is incredible, even if you don’t learn much from the classes you will at least be meeting people form all over which easily was one of the more fun parts of the program.

I’d love to go back once more, but I hope others from UTD would make the trip over their and represent our school.

–  Eric Wiggins, Summer School Abroad, Summer 2018

Research Abroad in New Zealand

Research Abroad

[Photo Caption: Me in a clean room wear outfit in a dedicated photo lithography wear]

This summer I was able to do research in New Zealand. I reached out to a New Zealand university research laboratory that I was interested in (and was also a very good reason to travel) and the PI warmly invited me to spend the summer in her laboratory. I was placed under the graduate student who was excited to have me join his project.

As this was not a formal research program with no planned poster or paper due at the end, I had to monitor myself and my own achievements and goals. The goals I worked for were; getting a degree of responsibility and freedom in the project, and learning the various theories encompassed in the project. As my hand skills increased, I was given more and more responsibility with the project as I was trusted to be able to go through the steps alone- allowing the graduate student to work on other steps. Learning the theories of direct writing and polymer properties were difficult, but learned mostly as I worked with it. Learning that different temperatures and humidity affected the water evaporation rate which affected the success of the direct writing was learned through reading but seen in the practice writing.

I wasn’t just confined to the laboratory during my time in New Zealand. My graduate student encouraged and let me take time off to visit incredible parts of the country. In my first time traveling abroad, I was so excited to see so much and learn about this place on the other side of the world. The other people in the laboratory were not only able to give me advice on a research career and research topics and trouble shooting, but as well as direct me to different sites to see.

Traveling abroad isn’t delegated to those who are able to spend a couple months traveling without any responsibilities. You can pick up experience- tailored to your interests and not just within a program’s confines as UTD works with you to help you get there.

-Amanda Bacon, Independent Study in New Zealand, Summer 2018

As I Travel

Adiva Sahar - Ornamental Traditions   In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan in order to intern at the emergency room of the Shifa International Hospital. In hindsight, summer was not the best time to travel to a country with a continental climate, for the blistering heat and suffocating humidity made it difficult to fully enjoy the experience. However, the enriching hospital environment and the country’s rich culture made the experience worthwhile.

Interning in the emergency room was a unique experience. The socioeconomic gap in Pakistan is very large, and a major part of the population consists of the lower class, who usually do not have access to education. This became very apparent to me in the hospital setting. Because Shifa is a private hospital, the patients admitted were mainly of the upper class. The few members of the lower class that unknowingly found themselves at Shifa would end up having to refuse treatment because of the high costs. Often, it would be difficult for doctors to communicate the importance of their advice to the uneducated.

Besides my newfound cultural awareness, I also deepened my understanding of international hospital systems. The hospital followed the British system in much of their hospital organization, including the triage system. It was interesting to observe the differences between the American healthcare system and the one Pakistan has adopted.

Outside of the hospital, the streets were rich of Pakistani culture. Islamabad’s street food is delicious, and surprisingly very cheap. I often found myself on the side of the roads snacking on samosas, chaat, and meat rolls. Along with the numerous food stalls, the streets are lined with bazaars. People can be seen bargaining over a variety of items; from shoes to common household items, from jewelry to personal care products. For international tourists, everything already seems pretty cheap, or we don’t know about the culture of bargaining, so we tend to not bother with it. However, it makes you stand out amongst the common crowd if you don’t argue for a cheaper price.

Throughout my stay, I did a lot of shopping. I especially bought cultural items and enjoyed dressing up in traditional clothing. I visited places with historical and cultural significance and beautiful architecture, including the city of Lahore, Pakistan. And I ate a lot of food that I probably shouldn’t have.

By the end of my stay, I realized why study abroad is so important – you completely immerse yourself in a different culture, one that you are not at all accustomed to, and return with a newfound awareness and perspective of the world around you. I know I did.

–  Adiva Sahar, Internship in Pakistan, Summer 2018

What’s a better time to travel abroad?

Traveling thWeissfield for bloge world on your own could seem intimidating at first but what a better chance to do it when you’re still young. Interning abroad in Israel this summer gave me an opportunity to get professional experience outside the US, travel Israel, and form friendships that will last for years. The opportunity to go explore a new country on the weekends was incredible. Taking trips by myself, and with friends had a different dynamic than I initially anticipated, which taught me a lot about myself, creating memories for a lifetime. Traveling to the dead sea (the lowest place on earth), the western wall, swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat, and getting my scuba diving license at the 2nd most northern reef in the world have been incredible, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.

Please do yourself a favor, seize this amazing opportunity and go travel!

– Adi Weissfield, Internship in Israel, Summer 2018

Ciao Italia!

Ciao Italia!

Every tourist I met that had traveled to other countries always said Italy was their favorite. And now I see why. Italy has everything you could want in a study abroad trip. I mean can we just talk about the food for a quick second? I could not wait to wake up every morning and eat. The food is so authentic and rich with flavor; it is worth every calorie. It is fresh and even though you are eating lots of carbs it does not make you feel bloated or guilty. Every city has something different to offer. From the street food in Florence, to the sauce in Bologna, to the pasta in Verona, everything was life changing. Ten out of ten would recommend going out of your comfort zone with food in Italy.

Along with the food, comes the beautiful people who create it and serve it. Every one in Italy loves their country and could talk endlessly about it. The culture in Italy is so much more relaxed, completely opposite of the United States. Italians like to really appreciate their food and socialize so meals can last from two to three hours. Stores close everyday from one to three thirty in the afternoon and almost all stores close Sundays. There is also a huge tradition of having aperitivo in the evening everyday. Which is when friends come together to socialize over a drink and enjoy a dinner after their workday. This was one of my favorite things to do in Italy because you can see locals truly value the time they have to spend with close ones. Every Italian is so sociable and eager to make connections with new people.

Everything you think studying abroad will be is true! From the beautiful scenery, the delicious food, to the unforgettable people, it is all true. I never realized just how much studying abroad would change my life. With strangers, who ended up becoming life long friends, I made unforgettable memories. Everyone will experience different things like culture shock, homesickness, difficult people or even uncomfortable situations but that’s the beauty of getting to be in foreign country. It can help you appreciate the beauty of not knowing anything and leaving with a whole new perspective of life.

The little city of Verona will always have a place in my heart. And I will always recommend studying abroad to anyone who is looking for an unforgettable adventure.

-Vanessa Ortiz Non-Affiliated Program in Italy, Summer 2018

I Love Chinese Food

Chinese food for blog

Before I had the opportunity to visit China I frequently ate asian foods at ethnic restaurants in the United States. However, those experiences pale in comparison to going to China and eating traditional Chinese cuisine. In Nanjing I tried many foods I had never heard of or thought I would be eating. I enjoyed eating the dumplings, buns, noodles and rice dishes that had new flavors which were often quite spicy. I went to hot pot one night with a student volunteer and ate stomach intestine that I cooked myself in a hot soup. Nanjing also had a variety of soup dumplings that were made of shrimp, duck and pork. I learned the art of holding the dumpling with my chopsticks and sucking out the hot liquid before taking a bite of the delicious insides. The desserts were vastly different and often less sweet than American style treats. I had sesame ice cream, matcha frozen yogurt (frozen to pieces with dry ice) and hawthorn fruit coated in sugar. I also had a wide variety of boba teas that were all unique and I learned that people often go out and purchase milk tea and bring it along to food places to accompany their meals. At restaurants people would rarely drink any drinks from the actual restaurant especially not cold water like Americans have at every meal. I drank ginger milk tea, strawberry ice cream tea and lime kumquat tea. Then there were snacks. Never thought I would say that I love spicy dried tofu, sweetened dried plums or Chinese rice cakes covered with a glaze. I cannot do justice in describing how much eating your way through China is an essential aspect of traveling there. I cannot wait to go back and try more. The photo is shrimp soup dumplings and I hope it inspires you to head to China straight away to try these foods for yourself.

-Samantha Bell, Faculty-led at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, Summer 2018

 

Learning Mandarin

Bell for blogI think the biggest barrier for people learning Mandarin and attempting to communicate with natural born speakers is the different tones. In English we do not use tones as extensively and in China one voice inflection creates a different meaning. In class on the trip when we would practice tones it also seemed as though some of my classmates could not pronounce the Chinese tones because they could not hear the subtle differences. When I first began learning Mandarin someone told me that if you do not learn Mandarin before the age of 5 you will never be able to correctly hear and speak the tones like a fluent speaker does. I whole heartily believe this. On the trip there were times when I knew a Chinese word and would ask a student volunteer about the word and they would look at me with a blank face. I would repeat myself a few times and then they would finally repeat the word themselves with the correct tones and ask if that was the word that I intended to say. Overall, before the trip I knew that tones were an important part of the Mandarin language but after going to China and witnessing real time communication I saw just how vital they are to speak.
Since high school I have been interested in Asian culture and the Mandarin language but having the opportunity to visit China heightened that interest. Eventually I hope to be fluent in Mandarin even though I know that will be a tough task to accomplish. However, seeing the student volunteers be able to communicate effectively in English makes me believe that I have the capability. One of my biggest realizations from the trip is how far away I am from being fluent in Chinese. When I took Mandarin classes the hardest part for me was speaking and pronouncing the tones correctly. After spending a lot of time with fluent speakers I know that in order to accomplish my goal of being fluent I need to work on speaking the most if I truly desire to be able to communicate effectively. I would like to go back to China in the future when I am a strong speaker and be able to navigate the cities by communicating with locals in Mandarin.

-Samantha Bell, Faculty-led at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, Summer 2018

Making the Most of Traveling While Abroad

Esther Goldstein

People have different preferences for traveling, and you might discover yours while abroad. I realized that I like a combination of going on trips by myself and going with a small group of friends. I enjoyed traveling to places like London, Amsterdam, and Brussels by myself, but I realized that it’s less stressful to have a friend with me. This is because we can look after each other’s stuff at places like the airport. They can also help in researching sites to visit as well as how to get there. My travel buddies were my friends from China and South Korea that I met during my time in Liverpool. I was also fortunate that my friend from UT was studying in Edinburgh, Scotland at the same time I was in England!

Since I lived on campus, I was able to take part in trips organized by the residence halls for a discounted price. I went to Cambridge, The Beatles Story museum, and the Lake District on these trips and enjoyed meeting new people. A bonus of studying in the UK is that the universities’ spring breaks tend to last longer than in the US. Mine was three weeks long, and I traveled for almost all of that. While I got to see some great places in Italy, Greece, Scotland, and Ireland, it was also exhausting! I went with some friends on student tours in Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland I came down with strep throat and had to go to an urgent care center. My international insurance through UTD really came in handy here, because I was able to get reimbursed me for the medical care that I needed.

When traveling around Europe, I tried to plan things ahead of time to save money. Train tickets in the UK especially are less expensive if you buy them online and in advance. The catch is that you have to buy them for a specific time, which can be stressful if you’re not good at being early. I used a website called the Trainline to look at train times and prices throughout the UK, which is a great resource. In addition, when I flew on planes I always figured out how to get from the airport to my accommodation in advance. It can be disorienting when you’re in a place for the first time and have to navigate the public transportation there. One thing I learned from staying in England is to always pack an umbrella, because it can rain at any time!

When I first began to travel, I went to London for the weekend and came up with a long list of things I wanted to do there. I ended up packing too many things into my schedule and felt exhausted. As a result of a few trips like this, I realized that it’s not about the quantity of places I visit, but the experience. I began to appreciate the places I was able to see. It is okay to leave things “for next time,” even if that I might not get to visit again. Traveling is about enjoying whatever you get to see, and not about trying to shove everything you can into your agenda. After incorporating this idea, I felt less stressed out and was able to enjoy my travels more in some amazing cities.

– Esther Goldstein, exchange program, University of Liverpool, Spring 2017

London’s Calling

Sarah Kraman

I went abroad to Oxford and Cambridge to present my research. I want to start by saying, when I first found out about the opportunity, I scoffed. I thought there is no way I was going to get up in front of a room of people at Oxford or Cambridge and present my research. However, the harder I worked on my paper and the more time I thought about it, the more I thought when else in this life am I going to have this kind of opportunity? So, I decided to put my feet in the water and apply for a scholarship which would seal my fate, going or not. A few weeks later, my professor reached out and said I would be awarded the scholarship… there is was, I’m going.
A few weeks after that, my research was finalized, and I was heading to the United Kingdom for the first time.
The trip changed my life. I met some of the smartest people I have ever met on the trip. I learned from my peers, made new friends and most importantly discovered things about myself I didn’t know. Before the trip, I didn’t know that I could pack lightly. I didn’t know that I could present research and warrant applause from it. I didn’t know that I love London, I am fascinated with Oxford and Cambridge on a Saturday night can be a little dodgy. I am forever grateful for Dr. Carraher for organizing the trip and making each and every experience so memorable. Thank you and as they say in London, Cheers!

– Sarah Kraman, faculty-led program, Regional Management Area Studies – UK, Summer 2018

Seville Complete Blog

Carolyn Nguyen

Studying abroad in Seville, Spain was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever partaken in! I went with a group of friends from UTD using a program called GlobalED. This program was able to set up a custom wintermester program and provided an internship that rotated students through a hospital in Seville. We got the opportunity to shadow doctors, learn about the healthcare system in another country, as well as watch surgeries! The Office of Education Abroad was so helpful in setting up a way for us to receive credits for our study abroad internship!

Besides the internship in the hospital, we also got to take an intensive Spanish course. As a pre-med students living in Texas, medical Spanish is quite essential for proper and efficient patient communication. Even learning just conversational Spanish is enough to establish a sense of rapport with your patients. I can guarantee you that at my medical school interviews, my interviewers were looking for personal growth in the candidates. This program was always a conversation starter, especially since it shows a love for learning in order to better yourself as a future doctor. What better way to do so than to learn medical Spanish in its country of origin?

My favorite part about my entire study abroad was the cultural immersion! I got to live with a host mom that took care us as if we were her own children. She cooked us home-cooked traditional meals, packed us sac lunches for school and even got us gifts for the holidays. She was the one of the sweetest and kindest soul and I’m so glad I got to meet her during my trip. Experiencing Christmas in another country was also a wonderful experience! In Spain, they celebrate 12 days of Christmas. December 25th only marks the beginning of the festivities! On January 6th, the children receive their gifts from the Three Wise Men, thus marking the end of Christmas. But before that, there are beautiful parades where the children get to submit their wishlists and candy/toys are throw into the crowds. These parades were so exhilarating! Even though I am not Catholic, I attended mass during Christmas. It was one of the most beautiful processions I have ever participated in. The Seville Cathedral was otherworldly and it is the resting place for the remains of Christopher Columbus. It was so amazing to see the way the Spanish celebrate and worship during the holidays.

During the weekends, we took the opportunity to travel to other cities within Spain. I got to go to Madrid, Barcelona and Granada. Planning the trips were kind of stressful but completely worth it! My advice is to download the expedia app before leaving the US. That way you can get airplane tickets and hotels with US Dollars rather than having to deal with the exchange rate and foreign currency charges on using cards internationally. Each city had it’s own culture, traditions and atmosphere. Each was breathtaking in it’s own way. Seville felt safe, homey and traditionally Spanish. Madrid was like the Washington DC of Spain. It was filled with city life, lights and historical monuments/museums. Barcelona didn’t even feel like Spain anymore. They spoke Catalan and it was so artistically metropolitan. And Granada was a predominantly Arabian area with a lot of Moorish Empire influence still present. We tried to maximize our time in Spain and traveled like mad women. My feet were pretty much destroyed after the whole ordeal, but I can not emphasize enough how worthwhile each trip was. From the museums in Madrid to Park Guel in Barcelona to the underground Arabic spa in Granada, everything was life changing from start to finish.

If you get the chance, please study abroad! It is so eye-opening. If you choose to go to Spain, I highly suggest doing so in the winter. You’ll get to see the holidays and can even go skiing in the Sierra Nevadas. The summers can get up to 120 degrees so be aware! Take advantage of scholarships provided by the Study Abroad Office and have fun!

– Carolyn Nguyen, Independent Study/Third-Party Program, Fall 2017

From Culture Shock to the Best Semester Ever

 

Esther Goldstein

When I arrived in Liverpool, I exited the train station and got hopelessly lost trying to find a place to convert some money. After that, I found a place to buy a British SIM card and went off to find my new home for the next semester. The day was a whirlwind of getting lost several more times, moving into my residence, and meeting my new flatmates. It wasn’t an easy first weekend because I had to find a bunch of new things for my place, such as bedding and groceries. I wondered if I was cut out for life in Liverpool. I just needed some time to adjust, however.

The day before classes started, I met some people at the study abroad orientation session, and things started to turn up. I continued to explore the city more, and I really enjoyed how compact and walkable the city center was. Along with all of The Beatles attractions and strange accents, there were tons of shops, pubs, and restaurants to visit. I navigated my way through Albert Dock, which has an amazing view of the River Mersey on a sunny day. Although it was usually windy and cloudy in Liverpool much of the time, it made me appreciate the sunny days even more. Throughout my time there, I became friends with people from around the world. My closest friends came from China and South Korea, and I was able to learn more about those countries’ cultures through them. In addition, the University of Liverpool assigned all of the exchange students a study abroad buddy. My buddy introduced me to life there and was an awesome resource during my time abroad.

I loved how I could easily walk to the train station in Liverpool, and from there I could travel just about anywhere by train or plane. During the semester I went to the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Scotland! I had never been to Europe prior to my semester abroad, and I saw lots of amazing places through my travels. Overall I had a great semester, and I cherish all of the memories I made with my friends and while travelling.

Some of the things I learned were…
•   Take advantage of travelling to different countries while in Europe, because many of the countries are close to one another
•   Traveling can expensive between bus and train rides, plane flights, and eating out, so make sure to budget accordingly
•   Try to make friends with locals so you can learn more about the people living in your area
•   Take a light course load so that you have enough time to make travel plans and are not bogged down with homework

– Esther Goldstein, exchange program at University of Liverpool, Spring 2017

From“Hi” to “你好”

chinablog

“Welcome to China” I was officially 7,350 miles away from anything I have known. In a new country, a new culture, and a new language. Inside of me, there was a mixture, of excitement and terrifying emotions, but there was no turning back. I knew whatever would come I knew my new home would be overall an adventure.

Throughout my courses, I was able to learn about business in China and also internationally. It was incredible learning how China’s business relations are important and how it works with different countries and companies. I was able to experience in person Multinational Corporations (MNC) global strategy such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Forever21. Looking at the bigger picture made me realize how connected we are a planet. For this past century, we have increased connectivity more than any era before not only in business but politics, negotiation, social media, art, and other essential ways.

Interacting with students around the world and from China, with professors, and local individuals in the country showed me despite the differences we may all have at the end of the day we are all humans and how connected we are. Building friendships and relationships with people of a different culture and language opened my mind that we have to stay together to have an impact on global issues.

This journey was a growing path, an adventure of a lifetime and one of the highlights of my college career. This opportunity exposed me to a different part of the world, and this exposure challenged me to know more about the world. A Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Jennifer Garcia, exchange at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Fall 2017

Left My Soul in Seoul…

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Photo credit: Cindy Phong

I never imagined that a little country called South Korea would completely capture my heart. It was my first time ever visiting the country and I instantly developed an affinity for the bustling city. I lived in Seoul, a city rich in culture and modern technology, and couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend my semester abroad.
There are so many fun things to do in Seoul, from visiting all the cute coffee shops to picnicking on the Han River to singing at Noraebangs (Karaoke) to shopping at trendy boutiques …(the list goes on) and it’s dangerously easy to get carried away from school. My advice is to live your best life but prioritize! It’s no fun spending your last week abroad confined in your room studying 😦

Of course with moving to a foreign country, there are things no one tells you and that you have to learn on your own. From my experience a few random observations I made that I think are worth noting are:
· Learning Hangul, the Korean Alphabet, is the key to success
· It’s all about the Iced Americanos, Iced coffees don’t exist
· The man with the fruit truck has the cheapest fruits
· Korean beds are rock hard
· Dating culture is huge
· Drinking culture is huge
· Puffer jackets are a necessity in the winter

Overall, my time in Seoul was incredible. I’ll never forget the friends I made and the memories we made together, and the sweet souls that welcomed us strangers with kindness and love. From a business standpoint studying abroad is the easiest and most enjoyable way to broaden your experience and expand your network. From a student’s standpoint it was the funnest semester I have ever had and am so grateful for the memories and skills I gained abroad. Studying abroad was worth every minute and every dollar and I highly recommend it to anybody who has an opportunity to go.

– Kim Killen, exchange program, Korea University Business School, Fall 2017