Interview: Griselda Matos Martinez

Griselda Matos Martinez is a junior currently studying business at LaSalle Barcelona, one of CBU’s student exchange institutions.

Griselda in front of the Sagrada Familia

Griselda in front of the Sagrada Familia

How is attending a university in Spain different from attending CBU? I would say that universities in Spain are more relaxed than in the United States. For instance, instead of having homework, various exams, a midterm and a final exam throughout the semester like in CBU, the Spanish university only has one or two big projects and possibly a midterm or a final exam throughout the semester. Barcelona, which is where I am, is a very popular destination for international students. It is considered a city for the youth where many cultures converge and mix. That’s the reason why, on average, 20% of the classes are usually exchange students from different parts of the world.

Why did you decide to study abroad? I’m originally from Panama City, Panama in Central America. I went to the United States to pursue a dream and a better education. The same impulse that made me leave my country and go to the United States is the same one that made me leave the United States and go to Spain. Studying abroad in the United States opened so many doors and opportunities for me that I would’ve never been able to get in Panama. In the same way, studying abroad in Barcelona, is opening many more doors and opportunities for my future.

Why do you think it is important to study abroad? I think it is important to study abroad because it helps you broaden your horizons and it makes you look at things from another perspective. It looks good on a resume, but the most important thing would be the experiences gained while abroad. It will certainly be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences in college.

Students listening eagerly at foot of professor.

Students listening eagerly to their professor in Barcelona

Tell us about Spanish culture. Spanish culture is very relaxed and informal. Since Spanish is my native language, it is easier for me to communicate with other people here in Barcelona. Although Barcelona’s most spoken language is Catalan, Spanish is also widely spoken. If a Catalan sees that you don’t understand Catalan, s/he will happily switch to Spanish or English if they know how to speak it. Since it is a popular tourist destination, English is common. I referred to Spanish culture as “informal” because of the way Spaniards communicate. A way of saluting or saying hello would be with a kiss on each cheek. That might come off as a culturally shocking experience for Americans because it is not a common practice in the United States. The way they address each other is also informal. Instead of saying “buenos días” (good morning) or “usted” (you in a formal way), they would merely say a simple “hola” (hi) and they would use “tú” (you in an informal way) to refer to people older than they are.

How has this experience affected you and how you observe the world? The biggest reward this experience has given me so far would be the possibility of getting to know myself a little better. When you find yourself in another country with another culture and having to do things by yourself without depending on others, you will get the chance to understand yourself better. I came to this country with a phrase on my mind: “Every adventure starts with a YES,” and I’m planning to make it count. Defeat fears, break barriers and explore every chance you get!

What are the best and worst parts of studying abroad? Why? The worst parts of studying abroad would be the feelings of being lost and uncertain that you get when you first arrive and the feeling of melancholy you get for being away from your loved ones for so long. Although you get that feeling of sadness, for me, the best part of studying abroad is being able to learn how to appreciate and cherish the time you have with those loved ones once you see them again.

A Letter from China

Brennen and classmate in Beijing

Brennen and classmate in Beijing

Greetings from Beijing!  After graduating from CBU with a business degree in 2014 and studying abroad in both Switzerland and China, I decided to do something a little more adventurous for graduate school.

I researched the best graduate schools in Asia and applied to their MBA programs.  Fortunately, I was accepted into the International MBA programs of the two highest ranked universities in China and am currently wrapping up my first year at Peking University in Beijing! It’s been an incredible year with lots of learning. Most of the professors are Chinese nationals that were educated in either North America or Europe, so class discussions often lead to really interesting discussions comparing and contrasting the Eastern and Western economies. Sitting in class with the brightest students in Asia every day is really eye opening and exciting because not only are our opinions diverse, but it seems as if we are all piecing the information together in a way that will benefit the whole world.

I highly recommend undergraduate students at Christian Brothers University to explore their study abroad options early in their academic careers. Starting early means having time to tailor your bachelor’s degree exactly to your needs by making sure you have time to spend a semester (or two) abroad- hopefully studying something different and enlightening that will set you apart from your peers in the future. Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do for a career, open as many doors as possible and make decisions NOW that will give you the tools and experience to accomplish anything in the future.

Good luck,
P. Brennen Reynolds (Finance ’14)

Student Spotlight: Stancia Harvey

When I first started college, or even before then, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. It was just always something I wanted to do. I always wanted to see the world and learn about different cultures.

ormskirk3

Ormskirk, England

So, when I learned that an international experience was required for my major, I knew right away I wanted to study abroad instead of taking one of those short trips. That actually gave me the initiative to go ahead and do it, since I was not sure I was going to have the time. Also, I was a little wary of the process. I anticipated it would be long and quite difficult. But, the process was actually relatively easy since the Study Abroad Program was there to guide me through the whole process.

Of course, I was excited at the prospect of leaving the country for the first time! But, I was not anticipating the nervousness that came along with it. I was constantly transitioning from being excited to being nervous and also very scared at some points, but I knew that if I did not take this opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life.

I don’t think I really had any expectations from the experience except to leave home with an open mind. I knew I was planning on traveling to at least a couple of other places while I was in Europe, but I didn’t really have any preconceived notions about leaving. However, I know that when I leave England I will miss all of the friends I have made, and I will cherish the experiences and all the places I have seen while here. I won’t take this experience for granted, and I am definitely coming back. — Stancia Harvey (Interdisciplinary Studies ’15)

Life Is the Key Lesson

Picture9Adrianna Smith of Georgetown University, who spent six months in Spain studying abroad, explains in her article for The Washington Post that she faced her fears while she was in Spain. She stepped outside of her comfort zone to immerse herself in the culture. What impacted her the most was her interaction with the natives of the country.

The time she spent there was a huge culture shock given she was still in the Western world, but she did have to become accustomed  to the small details of daily activities. “Everybody’s study abroadexperience is intensely personal,” says Smith. The trip started as just an escape from her normal run of the mill life, but it ended up being an experience that deeply changed her life.

Smith, Adrianna. “Studying Abroad: Life Is the Key Lesson.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 08 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 Nov. 2014. Read the whole article here »

Student Spotlight: Anna Baumheckel

Picture8 RomeI can honestly say that being a part of last spring’s study abroad trip to Italy was one of the most defining times in my college experience. I was able to immerse myself in a new culture for a week, bond with some amazing classmates, and take cooking lessons in Italy; what could be better? As we traveled through Rome, Florence, and Bologna we soaked up the local culture — enjoying all the history, arts, architecture, and delicious meals possible.

My favorite stop on our whirlwind tour was definitely Florence. The charm of the city’s cobblestone streets and gelaterias on nearly every corner was captivating. The shopping was second-to-none, too!

I’m very proud to have been born andRome raised in the South, but I am so grateful I was able to take advantage of this unparalleled opportunity CBU provides to expand students’ horizons. Not only did the Chemistry of Cooking trip through Italy open my eyes to new, and old, ways of life, it also gave me a sense of empowerment. After conquering five airports, three hotels, and countless Metro stops and taxi rides within 10 days, I feel as though I could take on the world — and I just might! — Anna Baumheckel (Chemical Engineering ’15)

 

Student Spotlight (& Advice): Bijou Coulibaly

Bijou Coulibaly

Picture3 France is a beautiful place, I am glad to have been raised and educated there. But when people think of France, they usually think of Paris, or stereotypes of the cold, rude, and distant Parisian. However, just like America, France is quite big and diverse.

I was raised in Montpellier, South of France. Located on the south coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, it is the third-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice. People in Montpellier tend to be very outdoorsy because, let’s be serious, if you live in the most beautiful Area of France, why would you want to spend time inside?

Another great thing about Montpellier is that it is really close to Spain, like we are good neighbors. So it will only take you a few hours by TGV train ride to get to Spain. Words can’t express how much I love Montpellier. But I am a big traveler, for my mother is from Morocco and my father from West Africa/Mali. I had been to both places and to other places in Africa like South Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Burkina-Faso.

Picture4

I’ve also been to a lot of places in Europe like Spain (our cool neighbors), Rome, London, Paris (now I’m laughing), Switzerland, Monaco (so far my favorite), Amsterdam, and Berlin. Most people like me who have a diverse background due to both parents, who are from different countries and tend to travel a lot, but I think that being raised in a place like Montpellier also has something to do with it, because in Europe places are so close to one another that most people tend to travel to different countries taking the TGV almost every other weekend.

I would encourage CBU students to enjoy this experience, because traveling has done so much for me. It helps you know or discover different people, and trust me when I say this: you will be amazed by how people are different in both good and awkward ways. For instance: Moroccans would be really offended if you walked into their living room with your shoes on, and a Spaniard would feel insulted if you asked them do any task during Siesta time. And, of course, a typical person from Montpellier (myself) will be disappointed if you have no diverse background and have no interest in traveling around the world. So travel, explore the world, and come back here and let me know how it went! — Bijou Coulibaly (Business Administration ’16)

Stop by the Study Abroad Office and visit Bijou and discuss her adventures and upcoming trips for CBU.

Travel Testimonials: Student Standpoint

AN INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA WAUFORD (Mechanical Engineering ’15)
by Keyara Baltimore

Becky

What were you most excited about before the trip?
I was excited for the overall experience. I love traveling and seeing new places and meeting new people, so I was excited about everything, really.

Describe how this study abroad trip has helped further mold your college career and ultimately your life experience in general?
I want to do something with my life that will be able to positively affect the world. I want to help solve the world’s problems. The trip inspired me to look for ways to take what I am studying and try to find a way to help people.

How did the trip affect contribute to a new potential outlook on life?
After I was treated with such kindness, I try to be very welcoming to people who are visiting — from anywhere, not just from out of the country. I also saw just exactly how fortunate we are in the U.S.

What do you feel that you gained while studying abroad through CBU?
Because I studied abroad through CBU, I got to meet other Lasallian students and teachers. The Lasallian connection that we have through CBU is incredible. We have friends all over the world. Also, because the group I was with was so small, we got to know each other, the professor, the people we met, and probably even the places we went, on a much deeper level.

What did you discover about your own culture while on the trip?
I discovered that engineering students internationally have the same personality types. I discovered how blessed we are in the US. I discovered that other countries have healthier (and really yummy!) food choices than we do. In both Mexico and Spain, people were a lot more family-focused. We sometimes take our families for granted in the States.

Editor’s Note

by Melanie Horne 

blue-grotto

The Blue Grotto

I am often flooded with questions about my experiences abroad. Therefore, I thought I would include a journal entry from my time spent in Italy this past summer. While it is impossible to gain as much insight from reading versus firsthand experience, I hope this opens your mind and broadens your awareness of the world outside our own.

Friday, June 21, 2013
“I had been looking forward to visiting the Amalfi Coast all month. Some say it’s always necessary to take a little vacation for a vacation. Driving into the Province of Salerno, I was unaware that it is the second most populated region in Italy. Judging from the location, I figured these islands became pertinent for their coastal trading. Yet, why is it that this particular coast is more famous than any other in the country? After some research, I found that the Amalfi Coast was actually popularized by a single fan — the writer John Steinbeck published a short story/article entitled ‘Positano’ in Harper’s Bazaar in 1953 and made everyone aware of its coastal splendor.

The highlight of my weekend was a trip to the Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzura). From our tour boat, we were transferred to a smaller rowboat, only seating five people. The rowers instructed us to literally lie down in the canoe-like construction. I soon realized the reason for this extreme precaution.

Upon the arrival to the Grotto, one could only enter and exit through a minuscule entryway — so small that the rowers had to lean back, held up only by the support of a chain that helped reel us into the cave. Once inside, I didn’t even notice the surrounding boats or the close proximity of the cave walls. The piercing blue color ignited within the depths of the water is a mystery to the senses. How can something this beautiful be hidden within the confines of a mountain?

Our rower allowed us to “fall out of the boat,” letting us dive into this earthly wonder. While wading, between bursts of thrill and adrenaline, pangs of guilt also came to mind. I too had just succumbed to a wave of tourist influence, obstructing the grotto’s natural beauty for the envied experience of saying I had left my mark. I suppose I can blame Christopher Columbus for this idea.”

Student Standpoints: Traveling Testimonial #1

by Jahleel Nelson (in Austria at FH Joannuem)

jahleel
I was initially nervous about traveling by myself to a country that I knew nothing about. They speak German in Austria, so there was the issue of language barrier. Furthermore, I was nervous about my courses (i.e., difficulty, curriculum, professors, etc.)

In fact, I didn’t actually choose Austria! I am studying Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality and Tourism Management. The Hospitality concentration is fairly new to CBU’s School of Business, and CBU has a partner school in Bad Gleichenberg, Austria called FH Joannuem. In order to graduate with the Hospitality concentration, you must attend classes at FH Joannuem for a semester to receive your electives.

Bad Gleichenberg is much smaller than Memphis — maybe 2,000 people in the entire town. They love pork like us, yet they are more health-conscious. Furthermore, since the town is so small, everyone walks! The similarities between Memphis and Bad Gleichenberg are that everyone for the most part is really nice and friendly, the radio stations play American music, and everyone knows Elvis Presley. My favorite experience thus far has been meeting new people everyday. I have hour-long conversations about America, Memphis, and CBU with people who are amazed by what life is like in the U.S.

Study abroad is not just a period where you just go to school in a different country — it’s much more than that! The opportunity to learn about a culture that’s different from your own is one of the greatest things you can experience. Study abroad gives you the chance to find out who you really are as a person. Meeting new people, trying new food, sightseeing, and traveling to other countries are some of the perks as well!

Jahleel Nelson (Business Administration ’16)

Student Standpoints: Traveling Testimonial #2

by Abigail Stovall (in N. Ireland at St. Mary’s University College)

stovall
I was a bit nervous to travel abroad. I had been out of the country before, but never for an extended period of time — and especially not by myself. I chose Ireland because my favorite literature teacher in high school, Susan Berry, introduced me to the world of Celtic mythology, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, W. B. Yeats, and many others. The opportunity to be able to see ancient Irish archeological sites like Newgrange and Tara, while having access to the Queens University library and online archives, was not one I could pass up. Additionally, I was excited for the opportunity to take international business courses in Ireland, to learn how European economies emerged out of post-soviet Europe.

My favorite thing thus far has been the Literary and Scientific Society (also called Literific), which is the Queen’s University debating society.  I was able to ask the students in Literific questions about Northern Ireland’s politics and listen as they spoke wisdom.  The last Literific debate was actually held at Stormont, where Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from Northern Ireland’s biggest political parties participated in the evening’s debate. After this, there was a cocktail hour with the MLAs.

This experience was invaluable to me as an aspiring law student, interested in international law and politics. When I think about it, I cannot even believe I have shared in this experience. It is truly an honor to stand with these Queen’s students and converse and debate. I have tremendous respect for the Literific. I look forward to bringing back some of what I have learned and implementing it into CBU’s own fabulous Debate and Law Society.

To any incoming student, I would say to make you sure you read about Northern Ireland’s culture before you come here. To fully engage with these people, you must understand their past. Additionally, put yourself out there. People are extremely friendly; you can’t take yourself too seriously.  My experience has been incredible so far.  It is such a blessing and amazing learning opportunity.

Abigail Stovall (English for Corporate Communication ’16)