Posts Tagged ‘study abroad’

#abroadproblems

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Major struggs.

Probably the most important aspect of the study abroad experience is the way in which you grow to learn and love a new culture and country.  Probably the most hilarious aspect is the constant slew of missteps and misadventures necessitated on this journey of cultural immersion.

Reflecting on my experiences and those of my friends studying abroad through BOSP, I’ve selected my favorite quotes from the amusing and humbling goof-ups we know all too well.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do – add your own in the comments!

  • Telling a pregnant women she couldn’t sit down next to me on the S-Bahn because I didn’t understand what she said and I thought she was trying to sell me a book.  (Mark, Berlin)
  • New definition of success – crossing the street without dying  (Hannah, Beijing)
  • Walking onto the FKK side of the beach before realizing what FKK means….  (Maren, Berlin)
  • Wearing pyjamas or work-out clothes into an Oxford dining hall for breakfast  (Christina, Oxford)
  • 1. Acquire globe. 2. Apply to forehead. 3. Let the culture diffuse along the concentration gradient!

    2 weeks after coming to China, I started hella craving Panda Express  (Brian, Beijing)

  • Japanese people don’t like spicy food, and I am Mexican  (Christian, Kyoto)
  • Asking for the trash can instead of the check at a restaurant in Paris because your French is really rusty….  (Kristi, Berlin)
  • Waiting for the street vendor talking about you in Turkish to realize you also speak Turkish  (Deanna, Berlin)
  • “Excuse me, I have a question” and “please kiss me” sound way too similar, especially if your tones suck  (Brian, Beijing)
  • Ordering Soup as your “Hauptscheiße” instead of “Hauptspeise” at a restaurant in Munich  (Bailey, Berlin)
  • “So those sea cucumbers I ate mistaking them for fungi were plants right?… (wishful thinking)”  (Hannah, Beijing)
  • Getting carded in Germany… for buying BEER [you can legally buy beer in Germany at age 16 (Maren, Berlin)
  • Thinking YouTube is universal…   (Christina, Berlin)
  • When they run out of tomato sauce for pasta, they substitute with ketchup  (Brian, Beijing)
  • [editor’s favorite]  Toilet shelves.  Despair.  (Ashley, Berlin)

 

Redefining “Far”

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Tokyo Subway

Attendants cramming people onto a Tokyo Subway (courtesy of Google). It's not as bad in Kyoto, but it gives you an idea of Japanese commuting life.

I thought I knew what the word meant; after all, I lived in Slavianskii Dom for the last two quarters. At the mention of Slav, people either smile because they like how far away it is, recoil because they hate how far away it is, or stare blankly because it’s so far away they’ve never heard of it.

But let’s take a second to consider just how far Slav really is. At the end of the Row, Slav indeed defines just how far away you can live while still remaining on campus. For me last quarter, “far” meant a hazardous, full-speed bike ride down the Row, through White Plaza, around the Circle of Death, left at the top of the Quad, right at the Bio building, and a final stop at Mudd Chemistry. Whew. If I successfully ran all the stop signs, ignored all the tabling student groups, escaped the Circle of Death with my life, navigated my way around the Marguerite buses by the Oval, and found a parking spot amid the throng of Chem 31B students, I could cut my travel time down to…7 minutes. If I felt lazy on the uphill ride home: 15 minutes. 15 minutes defines Stanford’s conception of distance. It used to define mine.

Coming to Kyoto on Stanford’s BOSP program four weeks ago rewrote my definition. No longer can I just roll out of bed, grab a quick bite to eat, and fly out the door a few minutes before class. I commute now. On every school day (and on most weekends), I wake up at 7:00 AM, eat breakfast with my host family, and leave the house at around 8. I bike for 15 minutes down a large hill to the nearest subway station, board and ride for another 15 minutes, then change trains and arrive at the school 10 minutes later. Including change times, the whole trip takes me around 45 minutes, triple the time it takes me to lackadaisically pedal across Stanford campus. The return trip takes longer. That hill I mentioned? It’s a single lane with no bike lanes or sidewalks, so cars, bikes, and pedestrians all battle for supremacy.

Do I have it bad? Not really. Some people on the program come from as far as Osaka, at least an hour’s train ride away. And this type of commute is routine for most Japanese college students: I recently talked with a girl who commutes for a total of 4 hours every day. That’s the equivalent of a 20-unit course load. Inconceivable!

What lessons can we Stanford students take from this commuting lifestyle?

– Taking more time to get to class can be enjoyable if we let it. Instead of dangerously racing against the clock, leave your dorm a couple of minutes earlier. Enjoy the sunshine. Listen to music (with only one earbud, of course). Observe people; Stanford students are fantastically interesting. Or take a few minutes more to walk to class, simply for the change of pace. You’ll see campus in a whole new light.

Yamashina, Kyoto, Japan

Sakura trees on the way to school. Walking instead of biking offers some great photo ops.

– Use public transportation; for those without cars, this opens up a whole world outside of Stanford. Ride the Marguerite (for free!) to get into Palo Alto for some delicious food or a quiet cafe for studying. Or take the CalTrain and get into San Francisco more! It’s an underutilized service that takes at most an hour and can get you directly to one of America’s greatest cultural centers.

– Most dorms on campus are really only separated by a 5-minute bike ride (or a 15 minute walk). In the grand scheme of things, that’s not so far. So when you’re looking to draw next year, add more weight to the community and amenities and less to the location.

Most people talk about how large Stanford’s campus is. But it doesn’t seem big at all anymore. Of all the things I miss about Stanford, the last thing I expected to miss was just how close and connected we all are.

Experiencing Abroad

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

As a sophomore, the past week or so my Facebook newsfeed has been littered with classmates’ statuses, rejoicing their acceptance to study abroad in the fall.  It has made me wonder: what is the real deal about going abroad?  How do you pick which program to attend? If you were wondering the same thing, you are in luck.  Thanks to the lovely student advisors at the Bing study abroad programs, who have volunteered to share a little bit about their study abroad experience in order the demystify it for the rest of us, I will be highlighting 2 programs every so often. So you will eventually get a peek into every study abroad program (except the Barcelona consortium cuz they don’t have peer advisors). Soooo to all you students thinking about applying second round to go abroad in the fall and don’t know if you should, this is for you!

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