Study Abroad Student Profile
Name: Jake Fields
Major: Accounting and Information Systems, International Business Minor
Engagement on campus: Kolodzik Business Scholars Association, Sigma Chi, Mentor/Buddy for Incoming Exchange Students, Inner City Youth Opportunities
Coop Placements: Kroger – Tax Intern and Internal Audit rotations
Graduation year: May 2018
Location where you studied abroad: Fall 2016 Semester Exchange in Linz, Austria
Describe the location you studied abroad for someone who has never been there.
Linz is the third largest city in Austria and the capital of Upper Austria. Located in the middle of the country, Linz is only a few hours away from the cities of Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. Linz is also just an hour away from Die Salzkammergut (Lake District) which has plenty of opportunities for hiking and swimming in the summer. As Austria is a central European country, traveling to cities like Munich, Prague, Budapest, and Ljubljana is very easy from Linz.
Why did you choose your program?
Coming into UC, I knew that I wanted to do a semester abroad. I choose to study in Austria because it was a country that I didn’t know a lot about, and I wanted the opportunity to learn a new language and experience a new culture. Another reason I choose to study in Austria is that its central location makes it very easy to travel around Europe.
What was your best memory from your time abroad?
A few of my favorite memories were going to Oktoberfest in Munich, skiing at Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in the Austrian Alps, and spending a week in Barcelona before classes started.
How did you afford an international experience?
A lot of people think that study abroad is really expensive, but with planning it can definitely be affordable for anyone. I received grants from the Marvin P. Kolozdik Business Scholars Program, Lindner College of Business, UC International, and the Sigma Chi Fraternity to help me afford this experience. Between grants and money I had saved from co-op, I was able to pay for my semester abroad entirely on my own.
What was your favorite class or academic activity abroad? Why?
My favorite class that I took abroad was called International Market Entry. The course focused on the internationalization process of companies and different modes of international expansion. During our last class session, we were split into teams and completed an online simulation where we had to make decisions about entering the Latin American toothpaste market over a 10-year period. The simulation was a really interesting way to let us to see how different methods of market entry work and apply the topics we had learned in the course.
What was the biggest academic challenge for while abroad?
The Austrian education system was very different than what I’m used to in the United States. In Austria, classes meet in different rooms and at different times from week to week which was difficult to get used to at first. Some of the classes I took only lasted for 2 weeks while others lasted for 14. In addition to the class structure, the grading system was very different than that in the United States. Grading in Austria is primarily based on papers, group projects, and case studies more than homework and exams.
Prior to travel how did you prepare yourself to experience a new culture?
Prior to traveling to Austria, I met with my friend Tobias to learn about Austrian culture and try to minimize culture shock that I would experience abroad. Tobias is an Austrian who did an exchange at UC and is a student at the school I studied at in Linz. During our meeting, Tobias told me about different aspects of Austrian culture such as their food, government, and social interactions which helped prepare me for my semester abroad.
If you were gone for a semester, what activities did you do while abroad to meet new people outside of class?
While in Austria, I lived in the Julius-Raab-Heim Dorm on campus. Since most of the international students live in the Raab-Heim it was really easy to make friends outside of class. The Linz Erasmus Student Network (ESN) put on tons of events for international students to get to know each other. Some of the events included bi-weekly dinners, Thursday night parties, and trips to Prague, Hallstatt, and Budapest.
How have you stayed in contact with your classmates and overseas friends since returning to the US?
During my semester abroad I became really good friends with a group of students from not only Austria but also Ireland, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, and the Netherlands. I still talk to most of my friends every week either on FaceTime or Facebook Messenger. One of my Austrian friends came to visit for New Year’s and my German, Hungarian, and Irish friends are also coming to visit over the next few months.
What is something you learned from studying abroad?
Prior to studying abroad, I had never been away from Cincinnati for more than 3 weeks at a time. Raised on the Westside of Cincinnati, I’ve never lived more than 20 minutes away from my parents or most of my friends. After spending 4 months in Austria, I am confident that I would be able to move away, whether across the country or outside the United States.