Rosie Phan (4th Year MIS/Economics) & Zachary White (New Media Marketing/MIS '17)
1. Where and when did you study abroad?
I studied abroad at Bond University at Queensland, Australia during the spring semester of 2015. Rosie and I studied abroad at the University of Westminster in London during the spring semester of 2016.
2. What did you find challenging about the classes abroad? How did you cope?
I misread how the grading worked for passing the classes. Specifically, I read that if I had an overall percent in the class I would pass it, when in reality I had to have a passing grade on 3 individual exams. I spent a week freaking out about it, but then just studied as much as I could and passed all three.
3. How did you adjust to living abroad on your own?
I personally loved the freedom and chance to make new great impressions on a new group of students. It did feel like freshman year again since you have to really put yourself out there and meet new people. It helped since all the study abroad students were in the same boat, and once we all knew each other it was an amazing experience.
4. What did you miss about home or RIT?
I missed the rigor of the RIT classes by the end of the semester. When I studied abroad I took classes that were necessary for graduation, but not ones that pushed me extremely hard. By the end of the semester I was ready to be really challenged again.
5. Do you think your study abroad experience helped you (or will help you) in your career?
I fully think that the success that I have right now is partly from studying abroad. Studying abroad helped me find my passions in life and that helped push me to where I am today. The experiences abroad also helped me learn to plan, be flexible and push myself to get the most out of life.
6. When did you returned to RIT? Did you feel different? If so, how?
It definitely felt different when I returned the first time. I had all these AMAZING experiences, crazy stories and changed perspectives, but not much had changed with the people back home. Even now, to this day, I relate much more with die hard travelers than others. I find it a good thing though since travelers are often more open to ideas and perspectives.
7. You guys did a lot of independent traveling. Where did you go?
Together we went to these places:
• London, York, Lake District, UK
• Munich & Hamburg, Germany
• Lyon & Paris, France
• Innsbruck, Austria
• Dubai, UAE ( We stayed on the Palm Tree man made Island!
• Mumbai, India
• Athens, Greece
• Bern, Switzerland
• Milan Rome, Venice, Pisa, Florence & Palermo, Italy
• Barcelona, Spain
• Prague, Czech
• Budapest, Hungary
• Vung Tau, Vietnam (Rosie’s Home town)
8. What was your favorite country to visit? Why?
Italy- It had some of the best foods, beautiful weather, and speed of life.
9. What was your favorite memory from your travels?
Making a last minute, 24 hour, out of the way, trip to climb pulpit rock in Norway. It was unplanned, but one of my favorite experiences since it was so beautiful and last minute.
10. What was the most challenging thing you had to overcome during your travels?
When we were traveling, we sometimes missed trains or buses to the next location. The hardest part of the travels was figuring our how to deal with these situations the most fast and safe way.
Ex. A train came to a stop at 2-3AM in a small low-income area in Hungary on our way to the next country. They said we had to get off the train until the next train arrived at 6-7 in the morning. It was raining and very cold, plus we had our big bags on our back. Very few people spoke English or just didn’t want to speak to us at all. We didn’t have wifi or data in this country. So we decided to stay in the train station... Until they kicked us out for "cleaning." We decided to navigate to the closest hotel about a half mile away, trusting a man who spoke very broken English that was hanging outside the train station (We kept our distance and stayed extremely alert). It was one of the scariest nights of my life, but I look back and am proud of how we handled it together. We had to stay calm, aware, and confident that we were going to figure out a way out of that situation. And we did. Now, from all the traveling we have done, I honestly feel like I could go anywhere in the world and figure out how to find somewhere.
11. What say to students to convince them to go abroad?
The way I found out about studying abroad (and general traveling) was from speaking with people who have retired from their careers and/or were nearing the end of their life. Their number one regret was not traveling while they were young. They said once they started working, there was no time for traveling, adventure and newness. That was enough to push me to go when I did.. and it turned out to be the best decision in my life. You end up learning more about yourself in those few months abroad than you ever would have during years of work.
12. What were some challenges to traveling on this type of journey together and what did you learn about each other coming out of it?
Zach- There were times it was challenging since we both had things we wanted to go do and see. We learned to be patient with each other in the hard times and we learned to accommodate in times that we had disagreements on locations we wanted to go to.
I personally felt at some times I had to step up and act like a “tough guy” or be overly aggressive in situations I would usually have not. Like one night we were out late (referring to the train situation in my last response) and there were a ton of drunken people. I tried to step up and act tough so no one would take advantage of us. I had to be flat out rude to some people to make sure hey would leave us alone and know that we were not going to be taken advantage of.
We learned to be free together though, which is what I loved the most. We could change our plans at the drop of a hat to visit another country and it made us have a passion for going out and getting the most out of life. We truly didn’t waste a minute when we were traveling together.
Rosie- For me I was glad that Zach and I got the opportunity to travel together. We really learned new things about each other that we wouldn't know without traveling. For example, I like setting up a list of things I want to see whenever I visit a city and planning out a whole day. For Zach he prefers to relax and go by the flow. At first we didn't really know about this, so when we were in Milan, I found out you could buy tickets to see Da Vinci's original painting "The Last Meal", but it was too late so the tickets were sold out. I was very upset thinking that if Zach planned it ahead, we could have seen the painting. But after that we worked together and rotate who would plan what during our backpacking trip, and it went smoothly. I think we've got our traveling skills down now so it's so much easier for us to plan a trip together.
Other thing I have learned is that how much I enjoy traveling with Zach. I wouldn't be able to do the backpacking trip without him to be honest. During the trip I did a detour to Istanbul, Turkey for 2 days by myself, although it was fun, I didn't enjoy it as much. I think after you've been traveling together like that for so long, you can figure out if that person is the one or not. I think that's one of the reasons why Zach proposed to me a few months after our trip (Zach can correct me if I'm wrong though.