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Free (Tulane) MBA Blog and Updates  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Aug 2019, 23:35
Free (Tulane) MBA Blog and Updates
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My Tips to Enhance Your Experience Abroad  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Aug 2019, 10:02
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: My Tips to Enhance Your Experience Abroad
Image

My name is Giuseppe Race, I am from Italy and I was a student at Tulane University for a five-month exchange during the spring of 2019. Prior to this experience, I studied at UCLA for a summer term, and between my bachelor’s and my master’s degree, I decided to take a gap year during which I traveled in the USA for three months and lived in Melbourne, Australia, for one year.

I also took my bachelor’s and master’s in two different cities in Italy (Naples and Bologna, respectively), so during the six years of my higher education, I lived in five different cities, and during my master’s I spent no more than six months at a time in the same place. While every experience and person is different, I believe that there are some good lessons I learned along the way that can help others make the most of their experience abroad.

Theoretical approach and a high degree of abstraction, a great empowering tool.

Since we are mainly talking about university exchanges, let’s start by addressing the academics. Here in the United States, business is often thought about in a practical fashion while in Europe, we have a much more theoretical approach.

Now there are pros and cons to this. First off, when you go to Europe, you may struggle a little in the beginning if you select subjects with a very high level of abstraction. In order to be happy with your experience, consider that, if you have a really bad relationship with math and algebra or huge manuals, you may need to put some effort in meeting the professors’ expectations in the beginning. Also, it is common that instead of having many different mid-term exams, the instructor wants you to be able to deal with all the course material at the end of the semester. This means that you will go through a long period of lectures and then you will be tested at the end of that period with one comprehensive exam. If you have some particular concerns and you aim to take advantage of the overall experience instead of the coursework alone, consider balancing your course schedule to take this into account.

A great pro is that if you are prone to accept a challenge, you can really benefit from this kind of coursework since it’s a great complement to what is common in the United States, and being exposed to different ways to tackle a subject can always be beneficial in the long term.

Image

International student? Don’t panic!

Another difference is that the professors are generally well aware of the unique situation of international students. This means that most of the time you can expect some flexibility (depending on the school you go to). It really depends on the instructor, but in my experience if you struggle with an exam you can always talk to the instructors and they will probably adjust their expectations based on your specific situation.

The world is becoming global, you have to be as well.

Especially in management but really in every field, you will likely interact with different people from different countries in your future life, and that means that you will have an advantage if you are able to relate to different cultures. I can say that living in Australia, the United States and Europe helped me in tons of situations both professionally and personally. University exchanges are a great framework to interact with different culture. First, because they happen at early stages in your life and are often very impactful, and second, because they give you the opportunity to interact with different kinds of people and professionals which is not very common when you just travel for pleasure or work. Here at Tulane I experienced an incredibly culturally rich environment populated with students from all different nationalities and a really diverse faculty. The university pays great attention in promoting this multiculturalism. Join the Global Café at the Lavin-Bernick Center if you have the chance; it is a great way to engage with different perspectives and make new friends!

The journey makes the difference.

When you travel and develop experiences, things become easier. While traveling you are exposed to new challenges every day, everything from finding a house or buying groceries to being able to independently work or study, make new friends or make life-changing decisions while far from family and friends. Your comfort zone will be pushed every day, and at the end of the journey you will find yourself capable of facing your previous life in a much more effective way.

Having a study abroad experience will also positively impact your CV.I believe that it is shifting from being a bonus to a must-have feature. At the end of the day what you really bring home are the new skills, experiences, network and perspectives you acquired while traveling, so be hungry and try to live them fully.

Image

New language, new opportunity

When making friends and creating relationships, there is something strange that happens when the people that we are talking with are able to understand our native language and to speak even just some of it. It is a great sign that you are aware of the environment you are in and make an effort to learn more about it. You can expect many people to talk in English in Europe, so you will probably find it easy to perform all the tasks that you need at the beginning but don’t let the comfort get in the way of taking a great opportunity. Learning a new language is an endless resource of richness that not only will make your experience amazing but will also help broaden your perspective.

The benefit of not being a tourist

I lived for one year in Australia and one cumulative year in the United States, and what I can say is that there is a huge difference between visiting a place and living there. This difference lies in the diverse perspectives that you develop engaging in the local habits.

In order to unlock this benefit you need some basic ingredients:

1) Make friends

They’re going to be the key to advance in your journey, the steroids for your discoveries and experiences. International students tend to stick together and it can be a huge deterrent from engaging in the local life. Since we are creatures of habit and it’s hard to fight it, my suggestion is to avoid going somewhere with friends. If you don’t feel like traveling alone or you just can’t, then try to be conscious about it. Check often if you’re spending time only with people that you already know.

While here at Tulane, I met two girls playing on the lacrosse team, Julie and Allie. They quickly became good friends, and thanks to them, my perception of New Orleans changed completely. I discovered new interesting places far from campus (they took me to “the Fly” for the first time) and started to be invited to many parties and events that were not even on my radar before. One night we ended up at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome thanks to their sorority formal party, something that would have never happened if I kept spending time with people that I already knew.

2) Location makes the difference

This is a hard one because it is strongly correlated with the budget, even if the purchasing power of the US dollar is strong pretty much everywhere else so you shouldn’t find much trouble. It is hard to know what the best locations to live are before going to a place. Research a lot and, if you can, don’t compromise too much. Again, we’re creatures of habit, and you can end up having an average experience due to logistical issues like living too far from the center or the places where people hang out. Also, the atmosphere that you are exposed to everyday plays a huge role on your mood and living in a place that reflects your expectations helps a lot with that.

Here in New Orleans, I found a nice apartment on Palmer Avenue. It is a five-minute walk from campus and it allowed me to take advantage of all the facilities that the university offered. I’ve been also able to have all my meals at home almost every day, which had a huge positive impact on my budget.

Location can be tricky too. One of our friends found a room downtown, close to the French Quarter, and while at the beginning we all were envious since we believed that he would have been able to have much more fun, after a while we all started to realize that even if there are a lot of activities downtown, our daily life was concentrated around campus and so was most of the entertainment. He ended up feeling isolated most of the time. The moral of the story is that there is no such thing as a “perfect” location, so you need to find a location that fits your needs and routines.Image

3) Habits, throw something new in the equation

Another great way to engage with the place and to expand your perspective is to try some new things that are strongly related to the place you go to. For example, when I studied at UCLA, I decided to start surfing and it really helped me to make new friends and understand the places that the locals prefer and why.Plus, it was a lot of fun! When I lived in Colorado, I started to mountain bike and in Australia I have been kayaking and paddle boarding. The benefit of those things are really unpredictable.You can make new friends, learn new things or discover new places even when you try to purchase a surfboard on Craigslist.

Being in the city of music and inspired by the jazz shows on Frenchman Street, I decided to start playing guitar again while I was here. It has been an amazing idea.I was able to find a used guitar that has been a great social catalyst on many occasions. Another thing that I started doing was going to NBA games. I’ve never been a fan and I honestly didn’t understand much at the beginning, but we liked the atmosphere and it seemed like a really American thing to try. At the end of the semester, we ended up going to seven NBA games and being strong supporters of the Pelicans. It made us feel much more in tune with the city!

Image

Manage your mood consciously

Studying abroad is full of stimuli and has a lot of ups and downs. Some day you will feel great and enthusiastic and some others you may feel nostalgic and out of place. No matter how strong you are, you will likely experience some moody days. My suggestion for this is to be kind to yourself. For me, it worked in a funky way. I spent periods of up to four months without hearing from my family or friends just because I wanted to deep dive in the reality around, but then I realized that it was completely unneeded. Keep in touch with your friends and family,. It will help you to face every challenge with happiness and courage. Another great tool that I found helpful is trying to somehow document your experience. You don’t need to become a YouTuber or a professional Instagrammer, but spending some time taking pictures that you want to show to people back home or figuring out a way that you want to narrate your experience once you’re back can definitely help to organize your feelings towards it. We are social creatures and we do what we do mainly to share it with others or at least based on how others respond to us, so it’s healthy and nice to keep that in the equation somehow.

A philosophic moment

At the end of the day, going really far from home and being able to achieve your goals is an endless source of liberation and growth. When you are surrounded by your family, friends and community in general, you benefit from a lot of help. I’m not saying that this is wrong, but to prove yourself able to achieve your goals without that support system will give you great confidence and new abilities.

Disclaimer: These are thoughts based on my previous abroad experiences. They can be very personal and arbitrary, so please reach out to me with any questions at racegiuseppe@gmail.com

Giuseppe Race was a spring 2019 exchange student from University of Bologna in Italy.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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My tips to enhance your experience abroad  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2019, 09:02
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: My tips to enhance your experience abroad
Image

My name is Giuseppe Race, I am from Italy and I was a student at Tulane University for a five-month exchange during the spring of 2019. Prior to this experience, I studied at UCLA for a summer term, and between my bachelor’s and my master’s degree, I decided to take a gap year during which I traveled in the USA for three months and lived in Melbourne, Australia, for one year.

I also took my bachelor’s and master’s in two different cities in Italy (Naples and Bologna, respectively), so during the six years of my higher education, I lived in five different cities, and during my master’s I spent no more than six months at a time in the same place. While every experience and person is different, I believe that there are some good lessons I learned along the way that can help others make the most of their experience abroad.

Theoretical approach and a high degree of abstraction, a great empowering tool.

Since we are mainly talking about university exchanges, let’s start by addressing the academics. Here in the United States, business is often thought about in a practical fashion while in Europe, we have a much more theoretical approach.

Now there are pros and cons to this. First off, when you go to Europe, you may struggle a little in the beginning if you select subjects with a very high level of abstraction. In order to be happy with your experience, consider that, if you have a really bad relationship with math and algebra or huge manuals, you may need to put some effort in meeting the professors’ expectations in the beginning. Also, it is common that instead of having many different mid-term exams, the instructor wants you to be able to deal with all the course material at the end of the semester. This means that you will go through a long period of lectures and then you will be tested at the end of that period with one comprehensive exam. If you have some particular concerns and you aim to take advantage of the overall experience instead of the coursework alone, consider balancing your course schedule to take this into account.

A great pro is that if you are prone to accept a challenge, you can really benefit from this kind of coursework since it’s a great complement to what is common in the United States, and being exposed to different ways to tackle a subject can always be beneficial in the long term.

Image

International student? Don’t panic!

Another difference is that the professors are generally well aware of the unique situation of international students. This means that most of the time you can expect some flexibility (depending on the school you go to). It really depends on the instructor, but in my experience if you struggle with an exam you can always talk to the instructors and they will probably adjust their expectations based on your specific situation.

The world is becoming global, you have to be as well.

Especially in management but really in every field, you will likely interact with different people from different countries in your future life, and that means that you will have an advantage if you are able to relate to different cultures. I can say that living in Australia, the United States and Europe helped me in tons of situations both professionally and personally. University exchanges are a great framework to interact with different culture. First, because they happen at early stages in your life and are often very impactful, and second, because they give you the opportunity to interact with different kinds of people and professionals which is not very common when you just travel for pleasure or work. Here at Tulane I experienced an incredibly culturally rich environment populated with students from all different nationalities and a really diverse faculty. The university pays great attention in promoting this multiculturalism. Join the Global Café at the Lavin-Bernick Center if you have the chance; it is a great way to engage with different perspectives and make new friends!

The journey makes the difference.

When you travel and develop experiences, things become easier. While traveling you are exposed to new challenges every day, everything from finding a house or buying groceries to being able to independently work or study, make new friends or make life-changing decisions while far from family and friends. Your comfort zone will be pushed every day, and at the end of the journey you will find yourself capable of facing your previous life in a much more effective way.

Having a study abroad experience will also positively impact your CV.I believe that it is shifting from being a bonus to a must-have feature. At the end of the day what you really bring home are the new skills, experiences, network and perspectives you acquired while traveling, so be hungry and try to live them fully.

Image

New language, new opportunity

When making friends and creating relationships, there is something strange that happens when the people that we are talking with are able to understand our native language and to speak even just some of it. It is a great sign that you are aware of the environment you are in and make an effort to learn more about it. You can expect many people to talk in English in Europe, so you will probably find it easy to perform all the tasks that you need at the beginning but don’t let the comfort get in the way of taking a great opportunity. Learning a new language is an endless resource of richness that not only will make your experience amazing but will also help broaden your perspective.

The benefit of not being a tourist

I lived for one year in Australia and one cumulative year in the United States, and what I can say is that there is a huge difference between visiting a place and living there. This difference lies in the diverse perspectives that you develop engaging in the local habits.

In order to unlock this benefit you need some basic ingredients:

1) Make friends

They’re going to be the key to advance in your journey, the steroids for your discoveries and experiences. International students tend to stick together and it can be a huge deterrent from engaging in the local life. Since we are creatures of habit and it’s hard to fight it, my suggestion is to avoid going somewhere with friends. If you don’t feel like traveling alone or you just can’t, then try to be conscious about it. Check often if you’re spending time only with people that you already know.

While here at Tulane, I met two girls playing on the lacrosse team, Julie and Allie. They quickly became good friends, and thanks to them, my perception of New Orleans changed completely. I discovered new interesting places far from campus (they took me to “the Fly” for the first time) and started to be invited to many parties and events that were not even on my radar before. One night we ended up at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome thanks to their sorority formal party, something that would have never happened if I kept spending time with people that I already knew.

2) Location makes the difference

This is a hard one because it is strongly correlated with the budget, even if the purchasing power of the US dollar is strong pretty much everywhere else so you shouldn’t find much trouble. It is hard to know what the best locations to live are before going to a place. Research a lot and, if you can, don’t compromise too much. Again, we’re creatures of habit, and you can end up having an average experience due to logistical issues like living too far from the center or the places where people hang out. Also, the atmosphere that you are exposed to everyday plays a huge role on your mood and living in a place that reflects your expectations helps a lot with that.

Here in New Orleans, I found a nice apartment on Palmer Avenue. It is a five-minute walk from campus and it allowed me to take advantage of all the facilities that the university offered. I’ve been also able to have all my meals at home almost every day, which had a huge positive impact on my budget.

Location can be tricky too. One of our friends found a room downtown, close to the French Quarter, and while at the beginning we all were envious since we believed that he would have been able to have much more fun, after a while we all started to realize that even if there are a lot of activities downtown, our daily life was concentrated around campus and so was most of the entertainment. He ended up feeling isolated most of the time. The moral of the story is that there is no such thing as a “perfect” location, so you need to find a location that fits your needs and routines.Image

3) Habits, throw something new in the equation

Another great way to engage with the place and to expand your perspective is to try some new things that are strongly related to the place you go to. For example, when I studied at UCLA, I decided to start surfing and it really helped me to make new friends and understand the places that the locals prefer and why.Plus, it was a lot of fun! When I lived in Colorado, I started to mountain bike and in Australia I have been kayaking and paddle boarding. The benefit of those things are really unpredictable.You can make new friends, learn new things or discover new places even when you try to purchase a surfboard on Craigslist.

Being in the city of music and inspired by the jazz shows on Frenchman Street, I decided to start playing guitar again while I was here. It has been an amazing idea.I was able to find a used guitar that has been a great social catalyst on many occasions. Another thing that I started doing was going to NBA games. I’ve never been a fan and I honestly didn’t understand much at the beginning, but we liked the atmosphere and it seemed like a really American thing to try. At the end of the semester, we ended up going to seven NBA games and being strong supporters of the Pelicans. It made us feel much more in tune with the city!

Image

Manage your mood consciously

Studying abroad is full of stimuli and has a lot of ups and downs. Some day you will feel great and enthusiastic and some others you may feel nostalgic and out of place. No matter how strong you are, you will likely experience some moody days. My suggestion for this is to be kind to yourself. For me, it worked in a funky way. I spent periods of up to four months without hearing from my family or friends just because I wanted to deep dive in the reality around, but then I realized that it was completely unneeded. Keep in touch with your friends and family,. It will help you to face every challenge with happiness and courage. Another great tool that I found helpful is trying to somehow document your experience. You don’t need to become a YouTuber or a professional Instagrammer, but spending some time taking pictures that you want to show to people back home or figuring out a way that you want to narrate your experience once you’re back can definitely help to organize your feelings towards it. We are social creatures and we do what we do mainly to share it with others or at least based on how others respond to us, so it’s healthy and nice to keep that in the equation somehow.

A philosophic moment

At the end of the day, going really far from home and being able to achieve your goals is an endless source of liberation and growth. When you are surrounded by your family, friends and community in general, you benefit from a lot of help. I’m not saying that this is wrong, but to prove yourself able to achieve your goals without that support system will give you great confidence and new abilities.

Disclaimer: These are thoughts based on my previous abroad experiences. They can be very personal and arbitrary, so please reach out to me with any questions at racegiuseppe@gmail.com

Giuseppe Race was a spring 2019 exchange student from University of Bologna in Italy.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Oh right, I’m going abroad  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2019, 09:02
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: Oh right, I’m going abroad
Image
On June 2, 2019, I realized the next two years of my life were going to be consolidated within two suitcases. I was leaving to spend the summer away from home, spending my fall and spring semesters abroad, then spending the next summer away from home as well. I’d probably have a cumulative three out of the 90 weeks in Sarasota, the cozy beach town that I grew up in. I realized that until I returned to Tulane as a senior, I wouldn’t have a sense of ease. For a long time, everything would be new and unfamiliar. Life was going to be a myriad of different experiences, and the only thing I had was my two suitcases.

Like most students at Tulane, the summer before my junior year was spent at a fast-paced, demanding, full-time internship. I was working 40-50 hours a week, while some of my friends were clocking in 60-70. When you allot time for eating, sleeping and at least some fun, your schedule is already overbooked. I was living in New York City of all places, a world where “downtime” doesn’t exist (along with personal space and reliable air conditioning). Towards the end of the summer, people would ask me if I was excited to go back to Tulane. Then it would hit me, “Oh right, I’m going abroad.”

Image

Next semester – well in three days – I’ll be studying abroad at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. I’ll be living in exchange student housing, taking all of my classes in Spanish and working towards my goal of learning how to salsa without looking like a fish out of water. I’m writing this flying back from New York City. Two days at home, then on to the next adventure.

The thing is, this isn’t unusual for most students to do. My friend Alex Duffy spent her summer in Jakarta, Indonesia, came home for three days, and is joining me in Bogotá to begin the semester. Life comes at you fast, and all of us studying abroad are expected to undergo drastic, quick changes and adapt as necessary. If all we had to do for the few weeks leading up to our arrival was prepare for abroad, it’d be a piece of cake. However, most of us are at our first full-time jobs, attempting to learn the endless acronyms of the corporate world and make connections with people we hope to become our future employers.

Image

Pre-departure for abroad is all about multitasking. Most of the time, these tasks also come with different languages and different time zones. I watched another intern attempt to make an appointment with the Italian Consulate for three weeks, making sure to log on at the exact time people were waking up – in Italy.

As for my own course registration, I had a group chat with my other friends studying in Bogotá – of course we were all counting down the minutes until registration opened. I had already asked students from previous years what classes they recommended and my “peer buddy” from UniAndes had given me some advice on teachers. As much as I tried to control the situation, of course it ended up going in a completely different direction. Classes conflicted, teachers were changed and my computer froze at least three times, but it all came together quite nicely. This is pretty in line with the advice I heard about abroad: “It never works out the way you think it will, but it somehow works out just as well, if not better.”

Image

It’s a balancing act, thinking about the future while still trying to make the most of the present. Pre-departure feels as if your brain is constantly a mile ahead of your body, frantically attempting to think of everything you’re going to need to prepare for when you’re alone in a foreign country. Of course, I’m sure I’ll realize that no matter how well I think I’ve prepared, I can’t even begin to imagine what the moment I step off the plane will feel like (spoiler alert: I am not that well-prepared). The truth is, I hardly had time to think about my semester abroad during the summer. So in three days, I’ll be jumping in with two feet.

I’m living a quick walk away from the university, but in order to have fun you just have to step outside your door. Already, I’ve been getting posts about parties, sports tournaments and taste-testing events. Most of my classes will be in Spanish, spanning from business development in Colombia to derivative markets. I’ll be looking forward to street art, views of the Andes Mountains and stumbling through Spanish conversation for quite a few weeks. Here’s hoping that I’ll figure it out along the way. Buena suerte, as they say.

— Margo Schnapf (BSM ’21), a finance major, is studying at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, during fall 2019.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Adjusting to life in a Megacity: São Paulo, Brazil  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Sep 2019, 01:02
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: Adjusting to life in a Megacity: São Paulo, Brazil
Image
Above Avenida Paulista, the busiest street in downtown São Paulo
I knew from even before I started college, I wanted to incorporate international contexts and experiences to whatever I wanted to study. In a time when people and cultures all over the world are so interconnected, having experience outside the U.S. is vital.

By the time my second semester of sophomore year at Tulane came, I had contributed extensive time into researching where I would call home for a whole semester. With so many great options, each with its own respective, mesmerizing culture, this was not easy-peazy. However, once I settled on my decision, I could not have been more excited and more enthusiastic to leave for my destination. Moving to New Orleans was one of the best choices I’ve made so far, but to move to another city/country for four-to-five months? The stakes were high.

Image
Take a stroll down Beco do Batman, a hub for amazing São Paulo street art.
I chose to study at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil, well, for many reasons. My fluency in English and Spanish wasn’t enough; I aimed to tackle the challenge and learn a new language from one of the world’s global superpowers in terms of economy and social impact. Portuguese is one of the world’s top 10 most spoken languages, so the privilege to be able to communicate to millions cannot be understated. Plus, the fact that the language itself sounds so beautiful really helped (sorry French!). Taking an introductory class to Portuguese at Tulane is something I’m grateful I chose to do, and my professor did an outstanding job in hyping us up to explore more about Brazilian culture.

I’ve always been a big city person as well, since I grew up in one. São Paulo is Brazil’s own concrete jungle – except that this jungle is the largest city in the southern hemisphere and home to almost 22 million people. New York City or Los Angeles are dwarfed by this megacity.

Image
Fundação Getúlio Vargas is conveniently located in the middle of São Paulo, so getting to class shouldn’t be hard
Another reason is the cultural plurality of São Paulo and Brazil entirely. Answering the question “who is Brazilian?” or “what does a Brazilian look like?” is just as complex as the same question we ask ourselves as Americans. Brazilian culture descends from the colonial-era foundations of cultures from Portugal, West Africa due to the slave trade, and the indigenous inhabitants whose land was “discovered.” However, huge waves of migrations from other regions in later centuries left their mark, as São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, and the same goes for populations from Italy and Saudi Arabia.

Image
Walk in the Liberdade neighborhood and you’ll see why this is a central point for the Japanese community in São Paulo
Packing for a semester abroad isn’t as smooth as packing for a semester at Tulane; there are SO many factors you have to consider, some of which I realized I didn’t think of myself when I arrived (don’t make the same mistake).

  • Weather,
  • What type of electric outlets the country uses,
  • Whether tap water is drinkable or not,
  • What clothes you should or shouldn’t bring to fit to the lifestyle,
  • Documents,
  • Making sure to carrier-unlock your phone

  • What tools or utensils don’t come with your accommodation.
These are merely a few factors out of many to consider when packing for your time outside the U.S.

Image
View from atop the Copan Building, seeming like a never-ending view of skyscrapers.
In addition to packing, figuring out where you are going to live is just as important. São Paulo, like any other big city in the world, has some areas that are not advisable to frequent, so with anywhere you go, your own safety must be the No. 1 priority. I was fortunate to meet Brazilian exchange students at Tulane from the school I would be studying at to grant me guidance on which neighborhoods to live in, and nobody knows the city better than the locals do after all. Also, another Tulane student who had completed the program before me recommended a certain apartment and I ended up taking the same flat she lived in during her time in São Paulo.

I left the States about two weeks before my program officially commenced, as I knew I wanted to have the time to settle in and get a feel for the people I’ll be interacting with for the next five months or so. In addition, my friends from Tulane who were on a summer program to study Portuguese had been living in the city for about a month, and having them guide me around the city and teach me how to navigate life in São Paulo is something I’ll always be very grateful to them for.

 

Hugo Fajardo (BSM ’20), a marketing major, is studying at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil, during fall 2019.

 

 
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Embracing a Place and its People: My Year Abroad in South America  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Oct 2019, 15:02
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: Embracing a Place and its People: My Year Abroad in South America
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In Guatape, near Medellin, Colombia
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Street art on the side of a restaurant in La Candelaria, the historic neighborhood in the center of Bogota.
 

Towards the end of my 10 months abroad, I made a list of things I had done for the first time. Some of the items were travel related — camped in the desert, swam in the Pacific Ocean, hiked in the Andes Mountains — while others were more related to personal growth — took academic subjects in Spanish, made friends from all over the world and went five months without seeing my family. Through this exercise, I realized the cliches about study abroad are true. I pushed myself emotionally, mentally and physically by living in two new countries, and I came out of the experience as a different, more well-rounded person. I embraced my adventurous, independent side and became more in touch with my own wants and needs, but I also embraced the people around me and created lasting relationships under unique, beautiful and challenging circumstances. 

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El Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia
When I decided to spend the fall of my junior year in Bogota, Colombia, I never would have imagined what the next year had in store for me. I was only planning to spend one academic term abroad but quickly realized I needed more time to experience new cultures and deepen my Spanish communication skills. To be honest, one reason I chose to go abroad was to take time away from Tulane. Sophomore year was challenging for me academically and personally, and I welcomed a change of scenery. However, when I started living in Colombia, I became much more drawn to the place I had arrived in rather than pushed away from the place I left. In a short time, I noticed the benefits of language and cultural immersion. I started learning how to express my sense of humor in Spanish, I grew (however marginally) more confident speaking in class in front of my Colombian peers and looked for the Eastern mountain peaks on my way to university each morning. After some frantic academic planning and conversations with friends and family, I applied to spend a second semester abroad, this time in Quito, Ecuador.

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Hiking in the Desierto de Tatacoa, Huila, Colombia
My two semesters abroad were different from one another and I learned a lot from each. I lived in a very social building of international students first semester, while second semester I lived with a host family. I made all my trips with friends in Colombia, whereas in Ecuador I made solo trips for the first (and second) time. In both countries, I learned that each person’s experience is a gateway to discovering a culture. Most people like talking about themselves (this usually transcends cultures!) and if you show an interest in their culture or background as a foreigner, it demonstrates curiosity and respect. I had in-depth conversations with Uber drivers, with my building manager and with my group members in class. I heard a huge range of political opinions, regional loyalties and (unsolicited) perceptions of the U.S. I became accustomed to different Spanish accents from immigrants and people who moved to the capital from smaller towns. Overall, I began to understand the diversity of the places I learned to call my home. 

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Volcano Antisana as seen on a clear day from Papallacta, Ecuador.
Another big skill I learned arose mainly from bus travel in my host countries. I learned to balance patience and adaptability with assertiveness. Bus schedules are not always exact, bus stops are rarely defined and usually not announced, and travel, like many things in life, is very unpredictable. When my plans changed, I quickly moved past frustration and on to charting my next steps. When I got on a bus, I overcame my shyness to ask bus drivers for help and clarified that I needed my stop announced. I asked for very clear explanations of where a bus stopped because sometimes bus drivers want you to take a partial ride just so they can collect your fare! Despite this adaptation, taking buses of varying distances was a highly enjoyable part of my time abroad. It allowed me to get out of my communication and travel comfort zone while seeing mountains and jungles, riding along the coast and observing the little towns along the way. 

Even with all the amazing experiences I had, mentally and emotionally, moving abroad — especially to two countries in one year — can be quite challenging. One of my classmates in the Newcomb Scholars program, Sarah Jones (SLA ’20), recently gave a presentation on Communities of Care and how one’s support network changes their life, including during her study abroad in South Africa. When you pick up your life and move it thousands of miles away, you may still communicate with loved ones back home, but they aren’t there for you in the same way.

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Walking with friends along the beach in National Park Machalilla, near Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
You won’t know who will be there for you and in what capacity, but if you’re lucky you will piece together a web of people who support you even after a short time. In Colombia, my housemates and some friends from the university — both local and international — became my rocks. My more adventurous housemates would convince me to take a break from studying for social time, my friend Becca from Tulane cooked dinner with me almost every night, and my Colombian friends Juan David and Juanse would listen to my cultural missteps and give me tips for life in Bogota. 

In Ecuador, my host family provided a warm and inviting environment for me, asking me questions about classes, joking at the dinner table and supporting me through a ton of Skype interviews for summer internships. My friends Will and Natasha are from Wisconsin, where my mom is from, which made me feel like I was with family while I traveled with them all over Ecuador. My friend Eduardo, who works for the U.S. government in Quito, showed me around the city and taught me a lot about military life, something I knew very little about previously.

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Floating in a canoe down a mangrove ecosystem in the Colombian pacific, near the town of Jurubira. (w/ Becca Stelman, BSM ’20).
In March, while still living in Ecuador, I traveled back to Colombia to celebrate my 21st birthday with friends I made the previous semester. While deciding whether or not to book the flight to Bogota, my friend Imran gave me some advice: “When in your life will you be able to casually fly to Bogota and stay with people who care about you like you’re coming back home?” Thinking back on his words, I feel so grateful for the experiences I got to have this past year. Not only because of all the traveling, dancing, studying, eating and laughing I did, but because of who I did it with. Of course, I was challenged along the way and had moments of doubt and insecurity, but I made my own new Communities of Care and realized how much more I have to learn about the world. I plan to keep traveling and learning but also to value all the people in my life in the U.S. who make me feel loved and supported. I will also continue taking an interest in the people I interact with daily, because you never know what you will learn by asking a person about themselves.

 

 

 

Sophie Drew (BSM ’20) is a management major with minors in international development and Spanish. She spent the fall 2018 semester in Bogota, Colombia, and the spring 2019 semester in Quito, Ecuador. Sophie is a student worker for the Freeman Abroad and Exchange office and can be reached at sdrew1@tulane.edu.
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Increasing Mindfulness with Student Startup Mind  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2019, 15:02
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: Increasing Mindfulness with Student Startup Mind
It can be overwhelming to discuss a week’s worth of events in a one-hour therapy session, so many therapy patients resort to jotting down notes of events over the course of a week. For student startup founder Joel Hochman, this tactic was just not cutting it.

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“I was walking to therapy one afternoon almost two years ago,” Hochman said, “and I just thought, ‘what if I could track my mood?’” Hence, the birth of Mind, a mental health app that allows patients to visualize, rate and share their moods securely with their therapists.

Mood tracking itself is not a new concept, but Mind is unique in that patients’ moods are shared with their therapists in real time. This helps to remove recency bias, the tendency to place greater emphasis on events that have occurred recently.

“What we’re trying to do with Mind is remove that recency bias and allow for a more holistic view of someone’s mental health to improve the quality of the interactions that they have with their therapist,” Hochman said.

The process for creating Mind was not as simple as it may seem. While studying abroad in Lisbon, Hochman decided it was time to go all in, and he started coding a beta version of the app.

“I was like I’m going to do this; I want this business to exist. I’ve been told it’s a good idea, and I’m going to figure it out,” he said. So after coming back to Tulane, he used his beta version to compete in Lepage Center’s Pizza Pitch competition. Hochman tied for first place with another student startup, and used his earnings to hire a freelancer who helped him finish that beta version.

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Joel Hochman, standing with Professor Rob Lalka and alumni judges at Lepage Center’s Pizza Pitch competition
Although the beta version was not as pretty as he would have liked, it did give the Mind team new insights into the app. Besides Pizza Pitch, Hochman says he learned so much from Professor Rob Lalka’s Student Venture Accelerator Course and meeting with the Lepage Innovators-in-Residence.

“The ability to meet with people who have a lot of experience has been immensely helpful in refining my business idea,” he said.

As for the future, Hochman hopes that Mind will generate enough revenue so he can pay himself to continue working on the project full time. The Mind team ideally wants to put out a working prototype by the end of the year so they can get the app in the hands of clients and therapists.

On Friday, October 18, Hochman competed once again in Lepage Center’s Pizza Pitch, and this time he won the whole thing!

To learn more about Mind, you can subscribe to their mental health app newsletter at mindapp.co.

Article by Neera Kennedy (Tulane, class of 2023)
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A Trip to Tatacoa  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Oct 2019, 06:29
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: A Trip to Tatacoa
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Just recently, the four Tulanians studying abroad in Colombia went on a weekend excursion to el desierto de la Tatacoa. Located about 175 miles Southwest of Bogotá, this arid natural wonder is not actually a desert in the traditional sense but rather what remains of a tropical rain forest that gradually dried up to become a desert. The beautiful paisaje is divided into two halves: la parte gris y la parte roja.

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Our desert accommodation
One of the best parts about studying abroad in Colombia is the opportunity to travel within the country. While it can be a bit difficult and costly to travel between countries in Latin America, it is relatively affordable to travel internally. While my travel experiences may differ quite a bit from my peers studying in Europe, I am enjoying the opportunity to get to know one country very well. At the end of the semester, I think I will leave with a very complete and complex understanding of Colombian culture, geography, history and, of course, people.

Our first evening in the desert we enjoyed simple but classic Colombian fare at our homestay, chowing down on rice, patacón, and carne de res. As the daughter of a chef, I have always had an appreciation for food as a part of culture, and as I have traveled more, this interest has deepened even further.

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As the sun set, we made our way towards a nearby observatory. The stars were breathtaking. Located so far from any large city the sky was magnificent, and, serendipitously, we planned our trip the night of a new moon, meaning that the sky was at its darkest. The guides arranged telescopes through which we observed Saturn, Jupiter, and several stars. This was one of my favorite parts of this trip because the entire presentation given by the local astronomy gurus was in Spanish, giving us the chance to practice our language skills and to experience the night sky alongside Colombian visitors. One of the major reasons I chose Colombia as my study abroad destination was to pursue fluency in Spanish, so opportunities like these are always very rewarding.

The next day we awoke bright and early ready to traverse the desert. We began with the larger grey half of the desert called Los Hoyos. Despite running into a few difficultiesImage
with directions, the views were incredible. When I was first considering Colombia as a study abroad destination many of my friends and family expressed doubts, their perceptions of the country colored by the its tumultuous history. Spectacular sights like this desert are just one way to show to those back home that Colombia is so much more than its past.

After a long and tiring hike, we made a pit stop at a small restaurant on the side of the road and decided to buy a Colombian dessert sampler as a treat. This region of the country is known for its goat milk, so we enjoyed assorted dulces made from this famed milk. The arequipe, similar to dulce de leche, was some of the best we’d tasted.

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La Parte Roja of the Tatacoa Desert
We also stopped to chat with the owners of the restaurant, learning that most of the people residing in the desert had lived there for generations and had no intentions of uprooting. Conversations like these are another one of my favorite parts of traveling—I have found that talking to locals is often the best way to learn about a new place.

Exhausted, we relaxed in the hammocks at our hostel before beginning the trip home.

Short but sweet, this adventure is definitely one of my fondest memories in Colombia so far.

Alex Duffy (BSM ’21) is a junior majoring in finance and international development. She is studying abroad in Bogota, Colombia, for the fall 2019 semester.
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The Art of the Struggle  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2019, 02:02
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: The Art of the Struggle
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In Minca, Magdalena, Colombia.
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In the historic center of Bogota.
In my last post, I mentioned that I would probably be stumbling through Spanish conversation for a few weeks. Well, I’m proud to announce that after living here for three months — I’m absolutely still stumbling. I still have to practice my order at restaurants before I actually say it. There’s no way for me to “just wing it” with my class presentations. Simple things that I took for granted, like bantering with a barista, become that much more difficult when everyone speaks a different language.

I came to Colombia with an intermediate-advanced level of the Spanish language. The first thing everyone said when I told them I was studying abroad was, “Oh! Your Spanish is going to improve so quickly!” Everyone made it seem instant, as if within minutes I’d be smooth-talking my way through any situation thrown at me. The reality is much different. Yes, my language abilities have improved significantly. However, it still takes me twice the amount of time to do my homework. My vocabulary is wonderful or abysmal, depending on the context. (I never learned the words I’d need for a conversation about urban farming.) Sometimes, I completely blank on a word I’ve known for years.

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The Old Quarter of Cartagena has almost identical architecture to the French Quarter in NOLA. We felt even more at home when we found a Bourbon St. themed restaurant!
What they don’t tell you is that it’s a constant struggle. American culture is hyper-focused on instant gratification. We take an exam and we want the results immediately. We order our food and it better be plated and piping hot within minutes. We call an Uber and if it’s more than six minutes away we cancel it and check Lyft. So naturally, we study abroad and want things to click right away.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like to not be good at something. However, as I was struggling through a 65-page paper on the Argentinian cattle industry, I realized that maybe the struggle is what it’s all about. Looking back on my three months abroad, I’ve come to appreciate the things that don’t come easy to me, the things that challenge me and make my brain feel like it’s working in complete overdrive. When everything around you is unfamiliar — a different language, culture, style of life — it’s more than hard work, it’s a struggle. And yet, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Not to sound cheesy, but every single experience is an amplified opportunity to learn about myself and the world around me. Not necessarily because I’m abroad — I think anyone and anywhere can teach me a lesson, even the town I’ve lived in for years. I think when you study abroad, you feel motivated to pay attention to the little things and what they can say about the bigger picture. You feel inclined to go to that museum, see that festival or take that random trip to a small town. It’s an attitude that I’d like to bring back to the U.S. with me, a sort of eager, adventure-seeking spirit.

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The best arepas around! From a cart on the Uniandes campus.
So, while the pictures I post on Instagram are mostly smiles, the real abroad experience is so much more than that. I’m absolutely struggling every day, but I’m so thankful to be doing so. Achieving a substantial goal requires persistence and resilience, and the ability to laugh at yourself along the way. Like when I said I thought about dyeing my skin (piel) pink instead of my hair (pelo). Nothing comes easy, and this experience is a testament to that. So, yes, the art of the struggle is something I’ve come to welcome, appreciate and embrace during my time in South America. And arepas, those are a close second.
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Navigating the Transmilenio – Bogota’s Rapid Bus Transit  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2019, 07:37
FROM Tulane Freeman Admissions Blog: Navigating the Transmilenio – Bogota’s Rapid Bus Transit
[img]https://i2.wp.com/freemanblog.tulane.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/158/2019/11/IMG_2080-800x534.jpg?resize=700%2C467[/img]

To become a true bogotano, you have to familiarize yourself with the famed bus system, el TransMilenio. While Bogotá may lack an MRT system, it “boasts” an extensive bus system that can take you anywhere in the massive city of over 8 million.

I have the fortune of living within a 10 minutes’ walk of my university in the lovely neighborhood of La Candelaria, so to explore the city I haven’t had to venture far. During my first few weeks in Colombia, I contained my adventures closer to the city center and became accustomed to Ubering when traveling into the north of the city where more shops and restaurants are located. Thus, my first adventure on the TransMilenio came later than most. Determined to join a CrossFit gym [img]https://i0.wp.com/freemanblog.tulane.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/158/2019/10/10644480_10101329425981717_8491994670025483369_n.jpg?resize=300%2C225[/img]
while abroad, one of the many things I miss about NOLA, I decided to join a nearby gym but with the knowledge that I would need to make a rather lengthy commute via bus each way.

My first time on the bus went off without a hitch. I bought my bus card and loaded it with money at the nearby station. After waiting just a few minutes, I hopped on my bus and was even lucky enough to get a seat. I may have gotten a bit cocky about my bus navigation skills because my return home did not go as smoothly. Taking the advice from a friend at the gym, I decided to try a different route home. Moments later, I found myself pressed shoulder to shoulder in a crowd of Colombian commuters, clutching my heavy backpack between my legs and hanging on to the rail overhead for dear life. As we approached my stop, I was uncertain how to properly exit and momentarily considered staying aboard until the next stop.

[img]https://i1.wp.com/freemanblog.tulane.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/158/2019/10/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_6290-e1571411754235-300x287.jpg?resize=300%2C287[/img]
As the bus pulled into the station, I made the last-minute decision to exit. I barely made it onto the platform before being swept away by the masses impatiently awaiting the next bus. I swam against the crowd and reached the exit only to realize that I was not in the best part of town. Attempting to disguise my obvious gringa appearance, I walked home with haste.

Fortunately, since this initial bus experience, I have begun to blend in slightly more. Now, I actually quite enjoy my commute. I have found that using public transit is an incredible opportunity to get to know new parts of the city, and now that I am more comfortable navigating the bus system, I have seen more of Bogotá than ever before. I also enjoy the feeling of being part of life in the city rather than an outsider looking in. Though sometimes Bogotá traffic can be a pain, I am overall grateful for the time I spend on the bus because it gives me the chance to absorb Colombian culture and society in a completely different context than my university classes. I have found that the more I integrate myself into life in Bogota, may that be by visiting new neighborhoods, attending festivals and concerts, or taking the bus, the more enriching and transformative my experience has been.

Alex Duffy (BSM ’21) is a double major in finance and International Development. She is studying abroad at [url=https://freemanabroad.tulane.edu/?go=uniandes]Universidad de los Andes[/url] in Bogota, Colombia for the fall 2019 semester.

 
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Navigating the Transmilenio – Bogota’s Rapid Bus Transit   [#permalink] 22 Nov 2019, 07:37
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