For my 6th post I’d like to start to write a HEC how-to guide that I wish I had before coming here. There are about of things about HEC itself that I wish I knew earlier. The first thing is that HEC Paris is actually 1.5 hrs away from Paris by train and about 30 min by car. The cheapest way to get to the city is by the Savac shuttle (HEC only), but the hours can be weird. Next cheapest is the RER trains, uber pool is good if you are going with a friend, or uber x for bigger groups. There is also a HEC Facebook group, where you can request a ride, or respond to an offer for a few euros. Also, if you plan on traveling in Europe, don’t book a flight with Ryanair because it only leaves Paris from Beauvais, which is SUPER expensive and time-consuming to get to.
My return home has not been as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. I have only been home 9 days but it feels like forever. I thought it would feel really weird to be home but it honestly has not. Besides being a bit bored, I’m not sure I have really processed the fact that I lived in Copenhagen for four months and now I am home. I think I am still experiencing the initial excitement of being home and seeing everyone I missed.
After reading my letter, pretty much everything that I thought would happen did end up happening. I learned a lot about entrepreneurship and corporate impact strategies in school, I didn’t pick up that much Spanish, I saw a lot of people pronouncing their “S’s” like “C’s”, and I traveled a lot. One of the things that did surprise me is something I wrote about in my last blog post, which is that Spain and other European countries are not as unified as they seem. A thing that I and my parents are still shocked about is the immense amount of money that I spent on this trip. One thing I will say is that if I could do this whole thing again, I would definitely budget my money a little better.
It is amazing how quickly the semester has flown by. I have less than a week left in Denmark, and I feel like I just arrived! As I reflect on the past four months, I am so grateful for the time I have spent in Europe. Saying goodbye will definitely not be easy. In one of my classes we have discussed endings all semester, so this week we focused on ending this abroad experience. The teacher suggested that we visit all of our favorite places a final time to say goodbye. With under a week left in this amazing country, I am struggling to narrow down all of the places in Copenhagen I want to visit before I go.
It’s been a week since our classes ended. My flight leaving Spain isn’t until May 17th, so I’ve got another ten days or so until I head home. I have, of course, taken this free time as an opportunity to do some last minute traveling while I’m still here in Iberia.
These first few days off I’ve spent with my mom, who’s come to accompany me in my travels. This is her first time in Spain, so I’ve been taking her on a “highlights” tour of Spain–Madrid, Cuenca, Valencia, and Barcelona over ten days.
I have been home for nearly a week now, and have had time to reflect on my semester abroad. I arrived in JFK with mixed emotions- sad to be leaving my home and new friends in Barcelona, but excited to come home to the things I am used to. I wondered around JFK, killing time before my connecting flight, feeling a sense of relief that the voice over the loud speaker was talking in English, I could read all of the newspapers and magazines, and prices were in dollars. It was refreshing to walk into a store and not have someone glance at my hair color and height (I am six feet tall) and immediately know I was a tourist.
I’m leaving tomorrow!!! How scary is that? It feels like these four months absolutely flew by and I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that I’m actually going home. My bags are packed, my room is clean, and I had my last dinner with some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of spending four months with. I’m excited to go home and see my family, sleep in my own bed, and get into a routine; however, I’m not so keen on leaving Copenhagen. I’m not sure the next time I’ll be back and I feel like I’m scrambling to say goodbye to everything I love so much here.
My semester abroad in Copenhagen is coming to an end. With only a week left, I am turning in my final projects and taking my final exams. One of my classes was revolves around an internship with a start-up in Copenhagen. My final project for this class requires me to reflect on my experiences with the internship. When starting to brainstorm, I have realized there are many differences with this internship than any of my past internships in the United States. For example, the power distance was very different. My boss, Inger, spoke with me like I was an equal, asking for my advice and thoughts on different projects. Our conversations were very casual. In my past internships in the United States, the power distance was much greater and I would never have been so informal with my boss. Inger also gave me more responsibility in a short amount of time than previous bosses. She gave me full rein of their social media accounts and didn’t ask me to get posts approved by her before putting them up. This made the process go a lot faster.
Spending a few days in a foreign country versus spending two whole weeks or longer makes a huge difference in how well you can get a feel for a country’s culture. Obviously only two weeks is not nearly enough time to learn how people anywhere truly live, but a recent two week trip through Indonesia – the longest I’ve spent in one country in SE Asia besides Singapore – hugely lit a passion in me to continue traveling and learning.
I’ve gotten a lot of exposure to what it would be like to live and work in Singapore. Being a major financial hub for Southeast Asia, this city boasts the kind of opportunities for young professionals that you’d see in many cities in the U.S.
Students at NUS compete for the same internships and jobs that American students strive for and feel a lot of the same pressures for success. My fellow Singaporean classmates have to balance a full slate of classes, extracurriculars, and interviews/job applications like many of my friends at UVA. It’s funny how you can come to the other side of the world and experience a very similar culture of competitiveness and determination that you would see at UVA.