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November 2011 Archives

Ehh Bonjour!

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 Here's a picture of me at the D-Day beaches in Normandy!
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As I approach the end of my study abroad experience (with about 20 days left) I can't help but be a little nostalgic remembering how I first walked around not knowing where anything was sweating in the summer heat of southern France to now watching the leaves fall and the seasons change. There are a lot of people I have met through this experience that have shared the ups and downs of life abroad with me that I will be close to for a long time, but I remember on my flight over I kept thinking and stressing about how I was going to make friends in a foreign country.

Luckily for me my program had a pre-session which consisted of two weeks of intense language immersion while all 35 of the students in my program were staying in the same hotel. This created an immediate group of people for me to call my new friends but alas, they were learning French too and I was hoping to meet some native speakers to really improve my language abilities. 

So when classes started up at my university, I tried chatting with people in class which is actually a little difficult when you are like me and don't know a lot of as the French would say "la langue courante" (or what people actually say in day to day life) instead of my practiced phrases which came out of textbooks...so meeting French people in that situation turned out to be a little stressful.

The thing that really helped me, as it does for any college student, is to join something. With common interests, the dialogue is already started making the transition a little more seamless. I joined a conversation group on Wednesday nights which is an exchange of English and French. So while I speak French someone else speaks English...which ends up working out quite nicely as both of us would stumble our way through phrases and unfamiliar pronunciations.

I think the main thing is that you can't be afraid like I was in my first week of classes - students throughout the world (wherever you might happen to study) are just as interested in you as you are in them. It is that sort of innate curiosity about the way other cultures live that drives young people to study elsewhere. So don't feel pressured to fit in perfectly or speak the language exactly like a native...because odds are you won't...and that is just fine because the best learning opportunities come from understanding those differences that make us special. So throw yourself out there because you've got nothing to lose!

Career Skills

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BA 3000: Career Skills is one of the initial building blocks of a Carlson education. It's a 1-credit class required for sophomores that teaches you all the basic skills necessary to take that first leap into the business world!

My favorite part about BA 3000 is that the assignments are all super practical things like creating your resume and writing a cover letter. In class, we get to go over what to do (and what not to do) when writing both, as well as have a chance to get them critiqued. More than anything, BA 3000 teaches us how to best take advantage of all the resources offered at Carlson. For example, The Edge Assignment is an introduction to Carlson's online internal recruiting website for internships and job postings. 

If you walked in on the middle of a BA 3000 class, you could find anything from a business attire how-to to a panel of recruiters from the area's various Fortune 500 companies answering any questions you have about the interviewing process. It's a safe environment for sophomores like me who may not yet be familiar with the ins and outs to ask questions and gain insight into the process. 

The handbook for the class is probably one of the most practical textbooks you'll get over your four years, too. It has examples of cover letters, resumes, a chapter on building your interview skills, strategies for successful job searching, guides on business correspondence, and the list goes on. I've talked to Carlson alumni that still have (and use!) their handbook often. It's an invaluable tool that I plan on keeping for a long time! 

Lastly, though, the class is fun. Resumes, cover letters, and job interviews may not be the most exciting topics, but the class makes all these topics infinitely more accessible and interesting!

Coming into college a lot of students have the idea that studying abroad will add another semester to their four years of college and that after they come back they will find out that most of the credits they just completed won't count. Well dear readers, I am here to tell you that those ideas are false, false, false! I have two majors from two different colleges, am studying abroad on a semester long program, and still managed to do it all in four years. So don't let this mentality set you back from what will be one of your most incredible college experiences.

The best piece of advice I can give you about studying abroad is to choose the program that is the best for you and start planning for it from your first semester on campus. Personally, with two majors I have I wanted a program with a lot of support in France and at Minnesota to know exactly what I should take for my major. With the hoards of French majors that have done this program before me, I knew exactly how to plan it into my four years. These types of programs aren't perfect for everyone though. Say, for example, you want to be the only person on the study abroad from the University of Minnesota...you are still in luck! Students have been going on many of these programs for years so both offices have extensive records about what classes transfer back to the University. 

So whatever program you choose, you can be set with a little bit of planning to go on the trip of your life. Carlson does extensive work in helping with planning study abroad and there are myriad resources for you! Your advisor will start talking about it with you from day one, there are other advisors in both the international programs office and learning abroad center, study abroad fairs, and information sessions about what you need to do to plan for your big adventure. Before you know it you will be saying bon voyage!

As for me, my program is almost done. One more month and I shall be stateside for Christmas! Below is a picture from fall break in Rome at the Colosseum! 


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Studying Abroad

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One of the best things about Carlson is the vast number of opportunities to study abroad.  Every Carlson student is required to study abroad at least once during their time here, and they have countless options of where, and how long they want to be abroad.  Carlson offers two main different program options.  The first option is a two week program in which you would take a class for the second half of a semester and then travel abroad for two weeks either in January or May.  This fits really well for students who don't want to, or can't afford to, spend a whole semester abroad.  I am planning on spending next January in Brazil after taking a management class based on innovation.  I am very excited to get a nice warm winter break and learn about Brazil and their exciting economy.

The second option is taking a full semester abroad.  There are a ton of different options that can take you to anywhere in the world (except Antarctica!).  Some of the more popular choices are Australia and Spain. Sometimes your study abroad opportunity will include not only your classes, but even an internship.  This is an exciting opportunity to really immerse yourself into a the way other cultures conduct their business, which in this increasingly global economy is a great experience.

On top of the business based study abroad trips that Carlson offers, the University offers a staggering amount of places and opportunities, some of which are very structured and others not quite as much.  The most difficult part about studying abroad is deciding which trip is best for you.  Your freshman year you are required to complete a helpful tool called International Experience 101 (I.E. 101.).  This introduces you to the process of choosing your study abroad goals and really gets you started thinking about what you want.  On top of that the Carlson Global Institute staff is always ready and willing to help you figure out how going abroad best fits each student.  With all the possibilities, the hardest part is deciding which one fits you best!

Future Fright Week!

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Picking a major can be a pretty intimidating thought. Some people just know; others not so much. Some, you could even say, are frightened by the idea. Well, have no fear, because Future Fright Week is here!

I think I'd safely put myself in the last category of people, which is why I've been eagerly anticipating Future Fright Week here at Carlson. All week there have been programs designed to help freshmen and sophomores like myself get a better idea about which major is right for us. There are info sessions for every major, all including a professor that teaches a Carlson class within the major and a panel of people who actually work in that career! The professor starts off giving a bit of information about the different kinds of topics you'd be studying and the different potential career paths available to you. Then the panel of professionals answers any and every question you could have! This week I heard everything from questions about starting salaries in Human Resources and Industrial Relations-related careers to a question about the possibility of having a family while also having a successful career in consulting. 

Although Consulting isn't a major at Carlson, it's a career that many of the students here are interested in. But, after Future Fright Week, I know it probably isn't right for me! Which is pretty exciting. Actually, after Future Fright Week and comparing information from a couple of majors I thought I'd be interested in, I'm pretty sure Marketing might be the right major for me. And I can assure you, finally knowing that is exactly the OPPOSITE of frightening!