USA - #BIMdannmalinSouthCarolina
Podcast #BIM dann mal weg
Have you always dreamed of one day studying on a campus that looks like the one you see in movies? Then join Chris on his journey to South Carolina - to Anderson to be more precise. In addition to interactive lectures, there was also plenty to eat, as Chris couldn't resist the offer of an " all-inclusive meal plan" and went on a calorie hunt. Are you up for an adventure in America? Then listen to the new episode! Let‘s start the journey!
Moderated by Lara Yargiman
Produced by Lara Yargiman and Sonja Zügner in cooperation with the economics student body of FHWS
Sound and editing by Sonja Zügner
Lara: Hello and welcome to our podcast of the FHWS #BIMdannmalweg. Yeah, in this podcast we talk about students who have been on semester abroad and today here with me in the studio we have Chris - the 3rd Chris. This is a podcast of FHWS and is sponsored by the Faculty of Business and Economics.
Hello Chris, welcome here to my room. It's great to have you here!
Chris: Hi Lara, thanks first of all for having me!
Lara: You're welcome! Would you like to introduce yourself, what you are doing and why you are here?
Chris: Yes of course! I'm Chris, I'm 24 years old, I'm studying BIM in my 7th semester and I'm here because I want to talk about America today.
Lara: Exactly, because Chris was in America during his semester abroad and today you are the first one to talk about America in my podcast. So, I'm super excited! Maybe you can tell us why exactly America? Was that always your dream or what made you decide to go to America?
Chris: Well, it wasn't necessarily my dream. I looked at all the partner universities of our study program and then checked out what I was interested in. Asian culture, for example, would have interested me, but not as much as western culture, and I also wanted to go a little further away. In Europe, I would have otherwise found Lisbon quite interesting, but there were a lot of competitors. So, I thought I'd give America a try, and fortunately that's what I ended up doing.
Lara: What were the options for America? Were there several stations?
Chris: Fortunately, it was made quite easy for me, because there were only 3-4 possibilities. There was San Diego, but that was less of an option for me because I wanted to have the American feeling and San Diego is on the border to Mexico. Then there was North Carolina on the East coast and South Carolina in Anderson - where I was.
Lara: Okay and were there any costs for you?
Chris: Yes, so there were costs for me, but they were not as high as for example San Diego. I didn't have to pay any tuition fees because they were covered by the university because of the partner university contract. However, I did have to pay for housing. I was required to live directly on campus in order to be well integrated. So, I had to pay the fees for the housing and the meal plan.
Lara: How much can you expect to pay per month?
Chris: I had to pay about 4500 euros for the meal plan and housing for the semester, so about 1000 euros a month. The flight was also more expensive. So with all the trimmings (eg visa fee, etc.) I would expect about 6000 euros.
Lara: Did you get any support like „Promos“ or other scholarships?
Chris: That's right, we got promos and that was another 1300 euros - which paid the flight in any case.
Lara: You started here in August/September, right? Maybe you can tell us how everything went then.
Chris: I flew there from Frankfurt in mid-August 2019. The outbound flight was about 7-8 hours. On the plane I talked to a guy who then immediately recommended a sim card provider. Then was already the first Struggle: I landed there and wanted to meet there with Leon from our studies. But suddenly there was a huge rush at the passport control, and we missed our booked bus. Fortunately, I met a guy with whom I had already been in contact, because he was also at Anderson University and he helped us and offered us a ride to Anderson. On the way there he explained everything important to us.
Lara: How can you imagine the landscape? Many skyscrapers?
Chris: In Atlanta, yes of course! But Anderson is rather outside and a bit more country and just so southern. Because North and South Carolina are the beginning of the southern states - and I think the word "unfinished" describes it quite well. All the things just don't look finished, like in Germany for example. After we arrived, we were immediately greeted and welcomed by the resident advisors in our dorm. They helped us directly to load everything. What we have not considered that we have to take bedding (so to all out there: take bedding!), because it was not provided to us. And then they said yeah, no stress at all, we just go to Walmart, we take the credit card from the International Office and then we do the shopping first. Yeah, then we bought a lamp, because there was really nothing in this room, not even a window. That made me a little bit confused, actually! Yes, I didn't know that before.
Lara: But you were alone in that room or did you share it?
Chris: No, I shared it with Leon. Well, first we bought a lamp, some chairs or something and then we set up shop. We arrived in the middle of the week or so and then we had an introductory day where they showed us everything. So that was then an introductory event, with so team building stuff, thus quasi like the first days here in Germany, only with less drinking.
Yes, but it was still funny to see how it all looks over there. I remember exactly when Leon and I finally arrived. Did you watch the show Zoe 101 back in the day? Well, this is really this typical American campus and we really had this Zoe 101 feeling when we walked over there. These, different faculties, buildings and so on are with these huge Roman columns in front and it's all so big and the grass looks like it's been treated very well.
Lara: So, it's really well-maintained and a really nice campus, like you imagine in the movies, right?
Chris: That's exactly what they're doing, they're pouring all the private university money into the campus. It was interesting to see. Apart from that, it started with the university and so on. The level of demand from the university was actually a bit like school. You didn't have an exam at the end of each semester, but you had midterms and finals and some other things between presentations and so on, so the courses weren't really demanding.
Lara: How many courses did you take?
Chris: I took Marketing and Sales and then I think I got credit for the two FWPFs. Yes, there was also a bit of a struggle, because somehow, they choose the courses much earlier than we do here and because the semester already starts in August and for us it doesn't start until October, we really didn't think much about it and were completely lost. But then we got it all managed. We got our 30 ECTS.
Lara: Yeah easy!
Chris: Yeah, sure, and we just didn't want to leave out so much. So, we didn't want to have to catch up later and so on, just because we are now abroad.
Chris: I did Marketing and Sales, then I did Management and Marketing - which was very cool. That was taught by a CEO originally from Greenville. In general, the courses there are quite different than here. There is no frontal teaching, but much more interactive and interesting. The marketing professor always showed bad advertising films, for example, how you shouldn't do it and how you should do it right and how much money it cost etc..
Lara: Yes, it's exciting! Then we can definitely recommend you, take the marketing course according to Chris! Did you then also do such leisure activities on campus?
Chris: I was often in the gym on campus, otherwise there were offers like football and many other things where I played 2-3 times.
Lara: Okay, were there many exchange students there?
Chris: Yes, a lot of them. There was also only one other German on campus. There were a lot of Brazilians, a lot of Iranians, a lot from France and a few from Italy.
Lara: Would you say you were such a “multi-culti” gang or were you always more with the Americans?
Chris: Well, I actually wish we would have done more with the Americans. We really tried, but what you have to say is that the contact was very friendly, open and nice - but still very superficial. For example, they always say "let's do something - come to our house" - but when it becomes concrete, they are often a bit more shy. However, we got along quite well with the resident advisors and made contacts through them, or through internationals who were already in contact with Americans. But you have to be a little bit behind, because when it comes to the college parties that the Americans organize, otherwise you don't get invited. So those are private parties, because there was actually a ban on alcohol on campus. So really drinking and college parties always celebrated privately then. Otherwise, you could go to party, also go to Greenville, because here were the discos. But I was almost never in the clubs but rather at private parties and therefore you are really dependent on the people who invite you. If you only have this room on campus, then you can't throw parties there.
Lara: Would you say it's pretty conservative?
Chris: Yes, I think so. But again, about partying: All the internationals who have scholarships are athletes and many of them are Israeli. And when we went to party we always partied with the Israelis and it was awesome! They knew how to party. We always drove to Greenville in a crappy car, listened to loud music and yes, that was a cool feeling!
Lara: Did you do any other trips or were you mostly on campus?
Chris: We took every trip that we could somehow. For example, we met people who had a house on a lake nearby. And we were often allowed to go jet skiing there. They were also very friendly and always invited us for dinner.
Lara: And they were also students?
Chris: Yes, that was one of the resident advisors with whom we got along well. Otherwise, we went hiking. There are many national parks and beautiful nature. However, we also had compulsory attendance, which factored into the grade, so you could almost only do weekend trips.
Lara: Do you have any recommendation that you definitely want to pass on? So, any insider tip?
Chris: Definitely make connections, because that more or less determines your party life over there.
Lara: But also, a place where you say you have to go!
Chris: Explore everything a little bit. I wouldn't say now that a place was super cool or something. But everything was just somehow interesting.
Lara: And what did you eat? Burgers every day or what did it look like?
Chris: Well, we were really spoiled a bit. We had this meal plan that I told you about before and we used it completely unlimited-all-inclusive. It was for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. We also had a chicken house and a bagel store on campus, which was also all free, and yes, I gained 10 kg because of that (laughs).
Lara: That' still okay!
Chris: First of all, there is always the number of calories in the display in front of the food. And then there is, for example, a small cake and then there are 400 kcal. And I wonder how you get that in there?
Lara: Butter, butter, butter!
Chris: Yes, it was really inevitable that you ate a lot. There were always "Taco Tuesdays" and "Western Wednesdays" and "Asian Mondays" so that was really funny and delicious - and a lot of effort was put into it.
Lara: Really varied, then? So fast food but diverse!
Chris: Yes, exactly. We really treated ourselves a lot, but even at the end we still had an ice cream. You could get your own ice cream from an ice cream machine - with Smarties and chocolate sauce, etc.
Lara: Wow! What were your expectations for the semester abroad and were they met?
Chris: Ah, that's always a question. I would give everything 8/10 points. That's because I didn't know that it was arguably conservative in the rural areas. For example, the rules of the "Dry Campus" that you are not allowed to drink on campus or in public. Otherwise, there are really high penalties if you get caught. In addition, I'm not extremely religious and that was just a Christian university, there was then also in Business Ethics talked about how you can transfer the 10 commandments to business. Since it's about ethics, religion is also included and since it's a private university, you're allowed to do that - in contrast to public universities. But the tasks were very easy, and you could get a good A. Those were the two points that annoyed me a bit. But my expectations were that I want to get to know the American culture, I just don't want to hear any German and I just want to go far away and improve my English skills, which have also improved. I wanted to make friends over there and have a cool time - and I definitely did!
Lara: If you could describe your semester abroad in 3 words, what would they be?
Chris: Ugh, difficult. Food-filled, exciting, and excessive.
Lara: Did you learn anything from it for your life? Or would you do anything differently next time?
Chris: I have learned, for example, to accept the practice of religion in other people, otherwise to stay in good contact with people.
Lara: Do you still have contact with them?
Chris: Yes, definitely to a few of them. Just now a buddy sent me something about a trip we made to Greenville 2 years ago.
Lara: Can you tell him right now that you're going to talk about it in a podcast today (laughs). Were there any big challenges or would you say it all went relatively smoothly?
Chris: Well, I would say everything went relatively smooth and there were no big disappointments, and everything worked out.
Lara: Yes, well then, we are slowly coming to the end. Do you have any advice that you would like to give to the students?
Chris: Just in general on the reference to a semester abroad? I would say that it is always worth the experience, once you have done it, no one can take it away from you - and it is a cool part of your life. Definitely do a semester abroad!
Lara: Were you afraid of it?
Chris: It was my first time away from home for such a long time, but I'm not that attached to my home country. I was a bit scared, but you get through everything. And if you're lucky, someone you know will go with you anyway.
Lara: Yes, I definitely thank you then. I think we got some good information from you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Chris. Otherwise feel free to write to us at the firstname.lastname@example.org or through our Instagram channel at fwiwi.fhws. Then I will say goodbye to you Chris, have a great day and see you next time.