Friday morning 8 am, almost all the students were in the classroom already,everyone was trying to make sure their project are ready to present, everyone kept practicing what they need to say. At 10 am presentations started, everybody was just sitting on their chair and breathing very nervously, because the name for the first group to present was going to be drawn after the first groups presented the tension in the room felt better. Except our group we were the last ones to present so we stayed nervous all through out the presentations. Since we were nervous all morning Shannon and me decided to go “shopping”, the last couple days we did not have time to go out, we were busy with the project, so of course the first thing that we wanted to do after the presentation, was to go out and buy souvenirs for our families and friends, and maybe just some present for ourself too.
Shopping was not the only thing that we expected after the presentation, the farewell party was also the one that we expected. I dont have to say, you probably already know that the beginning of party was awarding and pricing. And even though our group just got the third place, I am still proud of my team! After the rewarding and sad speech, the main part of the night finally started, dancing and drinking (of course it was only beers)! Lots of students were going to visit other country in Europe the next day, they had to get up early to get the train, so we were taking picture like crazy, because you’ve never know if you will see each other anymore. Jordan, Shannon, and me had to go catch a 4:00 AM train to go to Frankfurt to come back home, so we had to get up early too, It was sad that we could not stay until the end of the party.
After we finally got to the train station, we almost couldn’t get on the train, because Jordan forgot to bring the train ticket. Fortunately, the motorman said we could just show him the electronic file which was in my phone, so we got on the train, and got to the Frankfurt, and got home safe.
Two weeks is long but aslo short. I made lots of new friends in these two weeks, even learned how to make a business plan in two weeks. This is a really good program, thank Dr. Funk again for giving me the opportunity to attend this program. I love this program!
Everybody all seemed a little bit tired in the first day of the second week, because the passed weekend everybody just went out of town to look around and have fun, some of students went to Berlin, some of them went to Prague, and I went to Frankfurt to meet my friends. Although everyone were tired from the trip, but it sounded like they all had good time.
The first guide tour of this week was a wine tasting in Petersberg. This was my favorite guide tour in the whole program, it’s not because I am an alcoholics, it’s because we just needed to pay 5 Euro to taste all of their different types of wine, and we even got free bread and cheese. It was so cheap compare to America, because last year in spring break I went to California and we went to the Napa Valley in San Fransico, I had to pay 15 US dollars for wine tasting, and could only taste 5 different wine, of couse there was no free bread and cheese for us to eat.
The second day of the week we did not have class, we spent the all day in Oberhof, which is a winter sports center and health resort. It is visited by tenfold as many tourists every year. I am from Taiwan, which is a warm country, there is only snow in the high mountain, and it does not happen every winter. So I was really excited to see the snow over there.
The final projet had to be presented on Friday, after two days relaxing, our group noticed that we had to finish the project in two days, so we decided to stay in the campus to do it as long as we can, but unfortunately we always had one or two team members that would always get into something, and would not show up. Our group had 7 people, so we figured out if two people in a group and separate the work, it might be faster, and we just need to meet in Thursday night to get all the information together, we should be good. But after my partner Nyoman and me finished our part, which is Marketing, our group decided to change something for the project, although it was just a little bit changing, but we only had one night to finished it, we were just wishing that god could bless us to finish our project on time!
Our final field trip — and one of the more fun — was Tuesday, Sept. 4, to the winter resort town of Oberhof. A city of only about 1,500 residents, Oberhof is supported solely by tourism is is full of charming buildings and trees.
Oberhof is about an hour bus ride from Erfurt. Nestled among evergreen trees and mountains, it doesn’t take much creativity to imagine the scene covered in snow and bustling with skiers in winter.
Except skiers don’t have to wait for winter. Although it was barely September, we saw tourists with ski poles in tow. And one of Oberhof’s primary attractions is its indoor skiing facility, with machines that make snow!
Before we could get there, we did stop for a lecture on proposed upgrades to the city’s winter facilities. Then we got back on the bus for a guided tour throughout the city’s sports areas. One of the most impressive sites we saw was a huge ski jump. OK, maybe it was only impressive to me because I’ve never been skiing and have never been a ski jump. But seriously, it was big and tall! There’s another older, much small jump that is sometimes used for bike jumping.
Before the bus drove off, we saw skier ski down it – with no snow (again this is early September). At another stop, the students were allowed to get off and play around the bobsled area.
When we arrived at the indoor winter facility, we were given two options: We could go inside the ski area and touch the artificially created snow, or we could head to the “all-you-can-eat” buffet. Of course, the other Americans and I, along with a few others, went to the buffet. (Not surprisingly, the Germans have a different concept of “all-you-can-eat” from the Americans.)
The snow was a new experience for many of the students, like the Indonesians and Indians, many of whom had never seen much less touched snow before.
Those who chose to eat first could still go inside the center and view the ski area through glass. I’ve never been remotely interested in going skiing, but the flat areas and gentle slopes inside the snow center looked like it could be fun to try.
Pei and I – no surprise – took in a little shopping while we were there. I bought several postcards in one of the shops. As we were leaving, the shopowner gave me and Pei each a small, colored glass stone. “Little rocks!” we said to each other as we left. We had been asked a few days earlier the origin of the city name Little Rock, and well, I guess you just had to be there.
Although it is called “Mid-Term”, but it was just like a party! Students from different countries have to tell us the information about their country and also prepare traditional food.
I thought we just need to do the country that we are studying in, not the country that we come from, so I did not prepare anything before I left the States. Then I found out I have to represent the country that I come from, which is Taiwan, two days before the ceremony. I tried to find any Asian grocery store here, so I can buy the bubbles to make the “Bubble Tea”, which is original from Taiwan, but I could not find an Asian store. Then I found a bubble tea shop around the hostel, but the owner is from Vietnam, he only speak German and Vietnamese, so we had a little bit of trouble communicating with each other. Finally he understood what I meant, and he inform me that the bubbles he had where brought from the city of Berlin. Finding out of such bad news made me really sad and I was not able to buy bubbles from them either, I could only buy the whole drink bubbles and bubble tea . Each cup of bubble tea costs 2.80 Euro, therefore I decided neither buy the bubble tea nor make any food, just do the simple presentation with power point. Me and Neuvel, the student from Texas but original from Antarctica decided to do the power point together and make some videos.
Finally the day got here, and it was time for “International Food Party”. The event was programed at Synagogue, which is Jewish church. After we go there, the first thing that we got to do was eat, the German students made an apple pie that was great it was my favorite. The Indonesia students made spicy potato with chicken, and it tasted really good. After eating it was time for the presentation time, the first group was USA team. Shannon and Jordan told other students about the American football and even tought them how to “Call the Hog!” which was very interesting. Then me and Neuvel showed or power point presentation with information about Taiwan and Antarctica in the power point we included a great video that we wanted everyone to see, but do to some technical issues we were not able to show our video which included how the native Taiwanese sing and dance. Which my true plan consisted of asking Dr. Shao who is also from Taiwan to come to the front stage and teach everyone how to dance and sing.
We all had great presentations but the unforgettable one is the students from Indonesia. They were not only prepared PowerPoint and video, they also sang for us, which is awesome they sounded like professional orchestra. But not only did they sing,they also even show everyone their traditional dancing, which is incredible. I thinks this is the best day of the course.
We began our first day by a welcome speech in the Erfurt University of Applied Science. In the welcome speech we found out that the program focused on a business plan that helps promote the city of Erfurt. Erfurt is an old and small city , it just took us around two hours walking distance to walk around the whole city , but it was still very tiring. Everyone complained so much, but at least we got to see how pretty this city is. By the way, after speaking with everyone, I found out that no one knew that we have to pay for the wifi and the breakfast out of our pockets. The price for Wifi at the hostel is 1 Euro per hour, and the breakfast is 5 Euro every day and no one was happy to find out about it what made it better was finding out that the wifi internet provided by the University campus was free.
On the second day we got to meet members that would be in our group, the nationalities that our group consist of are German, Indian, Indonesian, Russian, and Iranian, and of course me Taiwanese representing USA. I liked all my group members, because in the afternoon played a little game, we had to figure a question out from Dr, Schwandt, who is a Psychology Professor, and we got to know each other. everyone communicated very well even some of the members that did not speak English very well did there best to communicate. That was the my favorite part that everyone tried to talk to each other, I like it a lot!
On the third and forth day, we just had two lectures in the morning, then we had tour in the afternoon. After every lectures we had some discussion problems for our group. I noticed the Russian girl in our group seems like she wants to be in charge of everything, because she just kept talking, sometimes she did not even wait until the other teammates would finish talking, she just interrupted and said what she wanted to say or after she would ask a questions to someone, she would not even pay attention when the person was explaining to her,she would turn around to talk to the other teammate. So I am a little bit worried about what will happened to our final project. The tours for those two days were just boring, sometimes I felt like they were just making us waste time in the tour, and I wish they would allow us to have more time to look around the city or do my homework. The only interesting thing during the tour was the professor from India, Dr. Gupta, was dancing on the bus when we were on the way to go to the Golf court.
I apologize for the lack of posts in the last week. Our time here as been crazy and packed with activities and other adventures.
Last week continued with more lectures, guest speakers, and field trips. On Friday night, we had our mid-term ceremony (more on that in a following post).
Last Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 29), we all went outside to the university’s courtyard for several organizational behavior-related activities. In one, we were divided into the groups we were going to be in to create our business plans. But instead of working on a business plan, we were each given four or five pieces of paper, each with a clue. We were all to share our clues with each other — by telling, not showing each other our slips of paper — so we could put the clues together and solve a problem. The ultimate goal of the exercise was not the math (which was a good thing for most of the groups) but to see how we all work together and communicate within our groups.
In another exercise, we were all given slips of paper, but this time with the name of an animal. We were told to close our eyes, make the noise of our given animal, and find the others making the same noise. My animal was a bird. I’ll admit, I had to open my eyes part of the time — I didn’t want to run into something or fall over. I finally found my group despite the the differences in our calls; I was saying “tweet tweet” (perhaps indicative of too much time on Twitter?) while the others went “chirp chirp.” (Another bunch of students had the challenge of determining what sound a fish makes.)
On Thursday (Aug. 30) we visited Erfurter Sportbetriebe — a multi-use sports arena which included a large ice skating rink, a speed (ice) skating track, an indoor arena, and an outdoor arena. An Olympic medalist even made an appearance. Daniela Anschultz-Thoms, 2006 Olympic speed skating champion was kind enough to join us at the arena.
On Friday (Aug. 31), we traveled about an hour to a golf resort in Blankenhain. It was gorgeous out there. We were all even given brief golf lessons — a try at the driving range and then putting. I’ve been to a driving range once and have played miniature golf many times, but this was my first trip to an actual golf course. And surprisingly, I wasn’t bad! (Well, when my club actually came into contact with the ball.)
Today I experienced my first case of major miscommunication brought on by cultural and language barriers. I won’t get into the specific scenario so as not to offend anyone further, but I decided to make a handy guide for people coming on this or a similar trip in the future:
1) Be prepared – If your trip is only two weeks, you can easily avoid situations that require help from other people if you are sure that everything is prepared and ready to go before the trip. Corrections that can be made extremely easily in a domestic trip (toothpaste, power converter, acquiring money) can either be unusually difficult or cause unneeded friction between you and your classmates/teachers.
2) Be thorough- Any situation with even the slightest ambiguity can lead to a major miscommunication. Body language is NOT the same in other cultures and sometimes you can offend people and be completely unaware. If you get the slightest hint that something you said may have been offensive, drop the subject. If you are in a situation where you can ask for clarification, by all means, do it! I can’t stress this enough. If you do not know, ask. Everyone here understands that you are attempting to understand and learn their culture and are usually happy to educate you on proper etiquette if asked directly. The things left unsaid are mistakes that happen just as frequently as the things said
3) Do not be offended – Having said all this, there have been several instances where I have been treated in a manner that I would have taken extremely offensively if I were in the United States. The best thing to do is completely ignore it (if possible). If that is not possible, it is important to articulate to the other person that you are offended and why you are offended.
All in all, it is more likely than not that something will happen where a miscommunication occurs on this trip. But we are here to learn, after all, and these cultural miss-steps are better to make in this environment than another.-
Wow, what a great trip. Before I type anything I just want to say that there is no way to explain how incredible of an experience this is unless you experience it yourself. The warmness, humility, and openness of every single country represented here has far exceeded my expectations. On Friday, each country was tasked to demonstrate their culture through creative activities and by cooking food. It was such a wonderful show. The Indonesian, German, and Indian groups all danced. The Indonesian’s especially were incredible doing their native ritualistic dances. The Iranians, Germans, and Americans played live music. The Russian group had a presentation that made me laugh so hard I almost fell out of my chair…and the best part is that these people are so quickly becoming near and dear to me. We have had such a good laid back time.
The week itself has been packed full of activities. I am just now getting my first opportunity to write because I have been working and playing so hard starting the first minute of being here. I am getting an average of 4 hours (or less) of sleep per night. The scheduled school activities take up about 10 hours each day, then add the group meetings (for the final assignment), then trying to continue my work in the USA, then wanting to go out with your new-found friends every night….WOOF!
I have to say I am impressed by the preparation from the University of Erfurt led by Dr. Kraus. The students have been able to see and do things that were certainly beyond my expectations including meeting the Mayor, meeting multiple Olympic athletes, and touring world-class athletic facilities. Several of the students made headlines in the local newspaper including a full color photo on the front page of one of the sections. The best part is that we genuinely believe that our final assignment may help create ideas that the city of Erfurt will employ to increase its tourism industry in the future. I am excited that our second and final week starts tomorrow, and look forward to seeing how much further we can go with our relationships and assignments-
The summer school officially started today, so we should probably tell a little more about us and about the purpose of this trip.
I’m Shannon Frazeur and I am a Master of Business Administration student at UALR. I love to travel and have been to many places in the United States, but this is my first trip out of the country.
My two fellow UALR students are Jordan Haas and Pei Hsieh. Jordan is also an MBA student. He’s been to many places around the world, including Rwanda and Ethiopia, but this is his first trip to Europe. Pei is an undergraduate student, studying international businesses and marketing. Pei is from Taiwan. She has already been to Germany, having spent two months in Dusseldorf four years ago for a school program.
UALR and several other universities around the world partner with the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt, Germany, which hosts the international summer school we are attending. Students from these universities are put into five teams, seven or eight students per team, with roughly one student per country on each team. Each team creates a business plan on a different topic relating to a particular theme. This year’s theme is sports and event tourism in Thuringia, the state in which Erfurt resides. The teams present their plans on the last day of the summer school, and judges rank the plans.
This year there are about 40 students from seven countries — India, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Russia, Germany, and the United States. The entire program is conducted in English — but of course, the English proficiency of the participants varies.
Most of the partner universities have a professor who comes to the summer school, and every day features a different a lecture from one of those professors or a guest lecturer. Dr. Otmar Varela is the UALR professor lecturing here this year, and he will be joining us next week. Jordan, Pei, and I have all had Dr. Varela’s organizational behavior class and he’s one of our favorite professors at UALR.
All of the business plans every year involve helping to grow and promote the city of Erfurt. Erfurt is an old town — especially by American standards — founded in the 700s. Martin Luther lived and studied here for about 10 years, and Johann Sebastian Bach’s family is from the city.
Anyway, we began our day by going to the university, where we had a welcome speech and two guest speakers. Then we visited the university library before having lunch in the university canteen. The food was, well, basically of the same quality as the food served in the cafeteria of where I attended as an undergrad. But German, of course.
Then we headed downtown to Erfurt’s city hall. The mayor welcomed us with a speech given in German; we had a translator.
We then went into the city council chambers, a grand room that felt more like a court room than a meeting room. City administrators gave a presentation on tourism and industries in Erfurt and the city’s recent marketing campaigns.
To finish the official school day, we were divided in two groups and costumed tour guides took us around downtown. (More on the sights of Erfurt later.)
Most everyone is tired and hurting from walking, but this is only the first day!