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Monthly Archive for January, 2012

What We Learned in Fulda, Germany

It is time to say goodbye, the time to depart is drawing nye. From New Years Eve, to our classmate from Kiev. Our trip to Berlin was first class, to learning to drink from an upside down glass. We ate till we were full, with good food from Seoul. Now we thank each of you, while we were here at Fulda U. And as we depart, you will still be in our heart.

-Professor Mark Manske

After spending fourteen days in Germany with over twenty students from six different countries we learned a lot to say the least. Just to show how much we did take away from this trip, we wanted to make a little list. Here it goes.

1. We gained insights from international students

2. The importance of reconizing other cultures in a business setting

3. There are really no set speed limits in Germany

4. We got to become friends with people that we might not normally have the chance to get to know

5. One of the international students in our class, Roshanak, gave us a deeper understanding of her culture in Iran one day in class. Hearing firsthand about such a significantly different country was a once in a lifetime experience.

6. The MBA students in our class shared their current and past work experience

7. We were surprised by some of the similarities between German culture/land and some areas of the United States

8. Water costs money in Germany and is usually carbonated

9. We need to appreciate our freedom. The Dialog museum taught us this.

10. The buildings in Germany are somewhat new because everything got destroyed during World War II

 

Week Two in Fulda

Tour of the Stadtschloss City Palace

On Tuesday night the group took a tour of the Stadtschloss City Palace in Fulda. Before the tour we had a reception and speech by the mayor. After the speech we had about a one hour guided tour of the preserved area of the castle which was amazing.

Day Trip to Frankfurt

Class was done early on Wednesday to allow us to catch a train to Frankfurt. Traveling there only took about an hour and a half. Upon arrival the group was given roughly two hours of free time. Some went shopping while others got snacks.

When we all met back up near 3 p.m. we took a short trolley ride to the Dialog Museum. Unlike any other type of museum, the Dialog lets guests experience what it would be like to be completely blind. The museum has a series of about six completely dark rooms. Groups of five people at a time are taken through the different rooms by a guide who also cannot see in the darkness. The first room felt like a forest, the second was a music room and the third was a boat ride. After that we got to play soccer in the dark and then got to see what it would be like to walk in a city blind. Lastly, we had to order and pay at a restaurant in the complete blackness. This tour was unreal and it really gave us a new perspective and something to be thankful for.

International Cooking Class

Thursday night was another cooking class. This time instead of making German dishes we got to make dishes from all around the world. Before coming to Germany each of us was contacted by Gesa, the trip coordinator. She asked that we send one of our favorite recipes. Many of the recipes were picked and we got to make foods from America, South Korea, Mexico and the Ukraine. Each group of three to five people was responsible for making one dish. The person who submitted the recipe got to lead their group. After cooking for about two hours we all got to enjoy the food once again.

Closing Party

Tonight (Friday) was the closing party for the winter international study session. We had to get dressed up to attend a speech by the president of Hochschule University as well as the dean of the business school. After the speeches each student who participated received a signed certificate. Dinner was then served and while we ate we got to watch a picture slideshow from the entire time that we’ve been in Germany which was really neat. When dinner ended our group took about a million pictures with everyone to get some last memories before we depart tomorrow.

The group outside the castle

The room of mirrors in the castle

Outside the Dialog Museum

The Euro sign in the middle of Frankfurt, near the Commerz Bank headquarters

The baked macaroni and cheese group

Preparing the soup from Ukraine

Preparing the Mexican dish

Posing with the EU, German, Mexican and American flags

Presenting the gifts to the trip coordinator, Gesa

Professor Manske reading his poem about our trip

Weekend in Berlin

Traveling to Berlin

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be able to visit Berlin for the weekend. As the capital of Germany, Berlin is home to over 3.45 million people and is filled with exciting things to see. Our journey started Friday morning (12/6) at around 8 a.m. We met at the Fulda train station and boarded the ICE (high speed train). It took about three and half hours to get there. After arriving in the city we had to take the Berlin S-Bahn as well as the Berlin U-Bahn to get to the Meininger City Hostel, where we would be staying for the weekend. Each room had it’s own bathroom and would hold four of us. We would get a complimentary breakfast and also be able to spend time in the coffee shop on the main floor.

Tour of the City

After getting settled in our hostel, we went on a guided walking tour of the city that lasted about two hours. It was very beneficial to be able to see all of the amazing sites as well as get a feel for the layout of Berlin. On the tour we visited where the Berlin wall used to be, the Holocaust Memorial, Brandenberg Gate, the Reichstag and Museum Island.

After the tour the entire group went out to dinner at an italian restaurant. Typically we have to search for restaurants that are pretty large so that they can accommodate all 23 of us. The group ordered pizza, pasta, bread and wine. It was delicious and everyone had a great time.

Day to Explore on Our Own

On Saturday we were able to spend the entire day doing whatever we wanted. We split up into smaller groups of about 5-7. Some decided to explore the shops around Berlin while others visited the many museums that the city has to offer.

Saturday night several of us had the opportunity to visit a bar called The Berliner Republik. This bar is extremely unique because beer and drink prices are determined by “the market”, or those ordering. Whenever more people started to order a specific drink or type of beer the price of it would rise. If not many people ordered a type of drink then the price would fall. Every few minutes the current price would refresh on television screens around the bar so that prices were known. The bar was definitely something different for all of us to try.

Tour of the Reichstag

Early Sunday morning, around 8 a.m., we all packed up our things and checked out of the hostel. Then we headed to the Reichstag (German parliament) where we had a 9 a.m. reserved tour. Everyone had to have their passports prepared to show security. After making it through the checks we met with the tour guide. He showed us through the parliament building and explained how parts of German history were incorporated into many aspects of the architecture. After the hour tour we got to go to the very top of the Reichstag to view the dome. The dome allowed us to see a 360 degree view of the entire city which was beautiful.

When the tour was complete the group went out for lunch. Then, we went back to the hostel to pick up our luggage and get ready to board the 2 p.m. train back to Fulda. Another three hour train ride got us safely back to the Fulda train station.

The train station when we arrived in Berlin

Our tour guide along with the some of the guys who were listening closely

A piece of the Berlin Wall

Riding the U-Bahn

The stock (drink) prices at the Berliner Republik

Some of the girls posing for a picture in the dome of the Reichstag (German parliament)

 

The First Week in Fulda

Hochschule Fulda: University of Applied Sciences

Last Monday morning we started our classes at Hochschule Fulda. The university campus is about a twenty minute walk or ten minute bus ride away from our hotel. Each day class starts at 8:30 a.m. The first session, taught by Professor Manske, goes until noon and centers around the cultures of the different students attending our class. We had students from Iran, Ukraine, Germany, Mexico and South Korea. It was a unique experience that many of the American students have never had.

After lunch at the university cafeteria, which is affordable and delicious, we have German class until 4 p.m. During this session we learn basic language words and phrases as well as the culture. We are split up into a more advanced class as well as a a beginners class. Last week the advanced class was able to take a field trip to a local beer market and a cafe to practice speaking German. The beginners class will be doing the same thing in the coming week. Overall, the first week of class was a success.

Salsa Dancing

Almost every night we have a planned activity so that we stay entertained. The activities are scheduled by our host university, Hochschule of Fulda. On Monday night we had a salsa dancing lesson. This would be the first of two and we had a great time. It lasted around two hours and took place on campus. The group had a bunch of laughs and will be able to use the moves after one more lesson at a local salsa club.

Cooking Lesson

On Tuesday night we got to experience the German style of cooking. Our group of about 25 was split up into smaller groups of five. We then got the recipes for three different dishes. They included schnitzel (breaded turkey or pork), flammkuchen (type of German pizza) and a Frankfurt green sauce with potatoes. Each student got to keep a copy of the German recipes to make at home. The dishes took about an hour to cook and then we got to taste our work. Everyone seemed to really enjoy eating what they had created.

Tour of Saint Boniface Cathedral

After class on Wednesday we got an hour long tour of the Saint Boniface Cathedral. It was beautiful and we learned how it fit in with Fulda history. Over 1,000 people can attend mass at the Cathedral each week.

Cannes Lions Film Festival
Thursday evening called for the group to dress up and attend the Cannes Lions Film Festival at the university. This event was put on by the business program and was a showing of the award winning Cannes Festival commercials. Commercials were mostly shown in English but were from several various countries. Drinks and appetizers were available during the two intermissions. During this time there was also a live band. Even though there were hundreds of students and faculty at the event, students from our group managed to win two out of the three prizes that were given out.

Building that we attend class in at the University of Hochschule, Fulda

Students hard at work preparing their German meal

Schnitzel and potatoes with a Frankfurt green sauce

Saint Boniface Cathedral

Alex and Nick showing off the prizes that they won at the Cannes Lions Film Festival

The entire group posing for a picture at the Cannes Lions Film Festival

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Katie Rasoul, Target

I am Katie Rasoul, and I have been working at Target for over 6 years now following my December 2005 graduation from UW Oshkosh.  I finished my Bachelor’s degrees in Finance and French, and I am currently a Store Team Leader running a Target store in the Milwaukee area that does about $40 Million in sales per year with an average of 200 team members.

How I Joined Target

I went to an internship career fair on campus with the plan to land one internship in particular.  While at the fair, I saw the Target table and it looked pretty popular.  I went to my Target interview thinking I was just doing it for experience (because I really wanted this other job), and I had so much fun at the interview that I knew immediately that was the company I preferred to work for.  I struggled with the decision because it was not directly related to my major, but decided it was worth the risk.  I completed the internship, took an Executive Team Leader position following graduation, and have been at Target ever since.  It was the best decision I have ever made!

What I Learned from College

Even though my degrees weren’t exactly in retail, I can assure you that simply investing in myself for a 4-year degree was what I needed to be successful in a career out of college.  Looking back, here are some of the things that I learned in college that had nothing to do with the subject matter of the classes, and are among the most important skills I have for my job today:

□     Organization and Time Management: How to use a planner, and juggle multiple responsibilities competing for your time.

□     Conflict Resolution: Two words for you…group work.  I disliked it just as much as the rest of you, but believe me, it taught me how to talk to people who were not pulling their weight in a manner that is respectful and impactful.

□     Communication: Speaking to others, especially in front of groups, became much easier through college, and I use this all day, every day.

My Advice to Students

Take leadership opportunities everywhere, and work on your skills to lead yourself, lead a team, put together strategies, and get results.  These present themselves daily, and if you are not taking advantage, you won’t have much to show for it when you get to the workplace, or to the interview.

Also,  As you are interviewing, look at the company culture that matches you, not just the position.  The company culture has always impacted my day more than the job has.  My boss, the people I work with, and the fact that I am appreciated for my individuality makes me excited to go to work in the morning!

Ringing in the New Year in Fulda, Germany

Traveling to Fulda

Early Friday morning our group of around 18 business students left and made our way to O’hare International airport. We arrived in Chicago a little before noon to a mixture of snow and rain. After everyone got through baggage check and security we had about a two hour wait until take off. The eight hour flight seemed rather short because of the dinner, breakfast and movies that we were lucky to get. We landed in Frankfurt at 5:23 a.m. Germany time (10:23 p.m. US Central time).  It was still dark and raining when we arrived. We went from the airport to the train station where we took two trains from Frankfurt to Fulda.  When we arrived in Fulda (at about 8:30 a.m.), it was just starting to get light out.  We walked from the train station to our hotel, which took about ten minutes. When we arrived at our hotel, our group, consisting of 15 undergrad, 3 graduate, and one professor, met in the conference room to get our keys and cellphones. We met two girls from Iran, two girls from Germany, and our German professor. After eating a quick lunch and traveling to the local Aldi to get some groceries, we all went back to our rooms to take a nap before going to the New Year’s Eve party that was planned for us.

Ringing in the New Year

Our party was located at a small bar/restaurant five minutes from our hotel.  The German professor that is hosting our study group provided us with chicken, steak, schnitzel, potatoes, dumplings, noodlesand vegetables. The food was amazing! After eating, we decided to sampling the German beer and eventually turned the bar into a dance party. As midnight approached, we gathered our group along with some champagne to ring in the New Year. In Germany it’s legal to carry open bottles of alcohol wherever you go and on New Year’s Eve fire works are also allowed. We met in the Fulda town square with hundreds of other Germans and watched fireworks while enjoying the champagne.After we were done celebrating, most those in our group walked back to hotel to sleep for the first time in 36+ hours. Others decided to go out and experience the German nightlife.  Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Germany was a once in a lifetime experience!

Visiting Point Alpha

Although the group was very tired from traveling and the New Year’s Eve party, we had a full day planned. Around 12:30 p.m. we went to visit Point Alpha about 30 minutes from our hotel in Fulda.  Point Alpha is the area where Germans and Americans were holding their ground from the Soviets in the 1960’s during the Cold War.  Point Alpha overlooks the Fulda Gap, which is an area where the Germans and Americans could see if Soviet troops were closing in.  The main story behind Point Alpha is that if the Soviets were to defeat the German and American troops at the Fulda Gap, American Armed Forces were going to use nuclear weapons to defeat the Soviets.  The use of nuclear weapons at the Fulda Gap would have meant that the city of Fulda and its surrounding areas would be completely demolished and World War 3 would have began. Because the Germans and Americans were able to hold-off the Soviets, WW3 was prevented.  We traveled by bus to Point Alpha and met our tour guide.  She showed us around the memorial, which is located right on a portion of where the Berlin Wall was located (the memorial building actually sits right on top of where the Berlin Wall was). We took many pictures of the area and learned a lot about the events surrounding the Cold War.  A US military base was located 55 yards from where the Berlin Wall was located, and we were able to walk right through the base.  An interesting fact that our professor brought up while walking through the base is that the American soldiers staying at the base near the Fulda Gap may have had no clue that the US was planning on using nuclear weapons if the Soviets had pushed through the Fulda Gap.  This would have completely wiped out the base and its surrounding areas.  The time we spent at the Fulda Gap was really interesting and gave us great insight into the events that took place 50 years ago.  We returned to our hotel at about 5:00pm after touring the Fulda Gap. School started the next day so we all had to get some rest!

New Year’s Eve Meal

Celebrating in the town square

Point Alpha/Cold War Memorial

Students on the Germany Study Tour

Students that are studying in Germany during January 2011 will be posting about their experiences frequently. They are traveling right now and will post once they get settled in Fulda, Germany.

Please check back.


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