And so the semester begins…

I won’t bore you with my excuses as to why I have again fallen behind in my blogging so instead I will just jump right into the week’s activities!

Monday my first class of the semester was cancelled so Jennifer and I spent the day in nearby Feldkirch buying some groceries for the week, and exploring the city.  Speaking of groceries, I never expected that a college girl such as me could go through food so quickly!! I mean I always claim to eat a lot in the Caf, but here it is a completely different story.  Not only am I doing my own grocery shopping, but also I have to do SUPER budget friendly shopping, AND after I buy all of the food I have to cook it myself!  Now don’t get me wrong I love cooking and am not one of those spoiled children that has never cooked a day in their lives, but cooking three meals a day on a very tight budget (the more money spent on food the less there is for fun stuff!) and only a single refrigerator shelf to store things on presents quite the challenge.

I am actually rather proud of myself, because I have remained quite a lot under budget AND haven’t had to starve myself…I mean dinner the other night was a peanut butter, a piece of bread, an orange, and chocolate but it was food right?!

Enough already about food…the most exciting part of this week is that classes began.  Like I mentioned, my first class was cancelled so I got up bright and early on Tuesday morning for my first class of the semester, Private and Corporate Banking.  I had no idea what to expect so as I eagerly strolled in the classroom and took a seat I was thrilled to see that our first lecture would be led by Joerg Zeuner, chief economist at VP Bank in Liechtenstein, talk about starting the semester off with a bang!  This man meant business!  No longer could one sit in class and merely get by without listening or answering questions, ole Joerg would literally stare us down until someone was brave enough to take a guess!  I found myself very fortunate because being an Economics major and having recently taken a Finance class from Dr. Neely, I recognized most of the topics that we were discussing and was able to answer the lecturers questions when necessary.  The whole class I remember thinking “Thank goodness I just had Neely!”  For those that don’t know Dr. Neely is a Finance professor at Millsaps and runs a rather tight ship in his classes, which of course is not fun at the time, but…afterwards it is all worth it! Obviously.

Wednesday was my second class for the week, and since it didn’t begin until 5 pm again I had the entire day to explore the area!  Jennifer and I went to Feldkirch (and no not to buy more food) in search of train tickets to Vienna, Austria.  We are (along with 6 others) are planning a trip to the area next weekend, and of course details will follow for you to read! We were able to gather information; however, not purchase the tickets in time because we had to catch the last bus back to Vaduz to make it back in time for class. International Human Resources Management again blew my mind!  The professor was very interested in his work, in our studies, and in making the class as exciting and enjoyable as possible.  Plus, he is a manager at Swisscom (a rather large Swiss technology company) and in early May we are taking a class excursion to the company’s headquarters in Bern, Switzerland to meet with various executives and see a bit of the corporate world abroad.

Since each of my classes only meet once a week (for 3.5 hours) each of the professors hit the ground running on the first day.  Five pages of notes in one class, and already a group project assigned, these people mean business!  Since I haven’t been to classes since early December, it has taken a bit to get back in the groove of things, but I eagerly accept the challenge!

Like everything else, the classes have only reassured me that this was one of the best decisions I have made.  Being able to learn amongst people from all over the world, and get an experience outside of the United States is a blessing in disguise.  Until now I have never realized just how much of a bubble the US lives in.  Sure, we know about the rest of the world, and we somewhat concern ourselves with various world events, and some of us might even travel to places beyond the US border, but how much do we really know or care about the rest of the world?  I mean even the simplest things like the way we measure temperature or our refusal to use the metric system has already caused a number of cross cultural challenges.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has said “Oh you are from the states, I like you already” and not because I am an American girl, but because they say I am one of the few that has challenged the American bubble and experienced the rest of the world!  I have already realized that just because we don’t do it like that in the states doesn’t mean it is the WRONG way to do it; it is just a DIFFERENT way to do it!  Such a statement may seem so obvious to those of you reading this, but I can assure you it is much more complex than you think.  I have even had to train myself to no longer say “oh that’s weird”, but instead “oh that’s different” because after all it is not weird just because it is not the way we do things.

Well I am sure that was much more deep than you were expecting from this blog, but I feel it necessary to document any and everything that I learn throughout this experience, and perhaps the most important thing is that there is a way of life outside of the United States.  Now for the regular 5 interesting facts of the blog:

1.  Architecture students are some of the most brilliant people I have ever been around.  Not only are they fun and interesting, but their creativity and insight is something beyond belief.  This may not be true for all architecture students, but the ones that I have the privilege of studying with are definitely the best of the best.

2.  When tipping in Austria it is customary to add the tip in when paying the waitress immediately NOT to leave it on the table….oops.

3.  Fabric softener is absolutely necessary for these washing machines, unless of course you enjoy your towels being a brillo pad.

4.   French toast is one of the greatest foods ever.  Especially at 4 o’clock in the morning in a dorm full of college students!  Oh and I am apparently a speed French toast maker…10 pieces in 6 minutes yes I am a champ.

5. Classes here separate the men from the boys.  One exam at the end of the semester-you pass, you pass the class, you fail, and you fail the class.  That’s it!



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