Category Archives: Undergrad

Why I Went Brit, and Why I Don’t Want To Go Home!

DISCLAIMEHigh Tea from the National Portrait Gallery with Skyline of London- Perks I shall missR:  Written from Edinburgh, not London, because I cannot get enough of traveling!!

Well, this is the last time I will be writing from the Eastern Hemisphere:  my three month immersion in the culture of London and Queen Mary University has come to an end.

It is honestly the saddest feeling in the entire world.  When finals were picking up, I did have moments of homesickness; I wanted to be home for Christmas, with everything so decorated and pretty, spending quality time with family away from all the papers and obligations I had during the final week of the semester.  Yet, now my papers are finished, the feelings have reversed back; I do not want to go home at all.

Now I bet you saw the word immersion and thought “oh well it’s not like he’s really British.”  No, but some things do become ingrained in you.  Like what you may ask?  It can be anything as simple as the “proper” way of making tea (trust me, there is one, and we Americans always do it wrong) or listening to Radio One with lunch, or saying “lift” in place of “elevator” or common phrases like “to be fair” and other colloquialisms not so common in our homeland.  I know you’re all wondering about this and yes, it could happen:  your accent could slightly change.  It’s not a lot, it’s only in certain occasions like when you’re talking really fast, but the accent could come out.  Fashion, figures of speech, ways of life, all these things become a part of you during your time abroad.

It does seem a bit daunting then that we must go back to America, a land which initially has nothing in common with our homeland, spelling an imminent reverse culture shock upon our return.  However, we are so fortunate living in DC.  From all of my time abroad, I learned one thing:  DC is the London of the United States.  Why you may ask?  There are several reasons.  The sheer number of international people in its borders, the similarly structured public transport system, the being close to other major US cities like New York or Atlanta, the number of embassies, the number of famous people who have walked the streets, it’s all very similar.  There were so many moments walking down London streets where I forgot if I was in DC or London; so many of the areas look the exact same as well!

Of course I was not out exploring every second of the day; classes were an integral part of study abroad life.  Since lectures per module (oops I mean class) are once a week, it would be a bit silly to miss; you would learn nothing.  Through my time in lectures, I recognized some similarities with our homegrown GWSB system of education.  For example, in Consumer Psychology, a module for juniors, I learned about Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and psychographics, things we learned in Organizational Behavior freshman year.  In Persuasive Strategies in Marketing we analyzed mostly American advertisements and advice about creating ad campaigns from American businessmen.  In short, a lot of my education was based in American studies.  Initially, it was a bit of an annoyance, but it showcases how important leaders in the business field we truly are.

Each lecture had a seminar attached, kind of like a discussion section, and those made each class more fun.  It was great to interact with more British or international students and hear different perspectives on problems and see the different ways in which students in other countries learn the fundamentals of business.  Naturally, GW’s education methods are more familiar to me, but it was cool to be indoctrinated into another education system.

Lifelong friends made from Study AbroadSchools here condense a business education into three years and they have more electives; people can choose concentrations in their second year while having more business classes.  Things like liberal arts, science and language are not classes they take here.  Yet, from talking to many, they are jealous:  they like the idea of being able to take a class that has nothing to directly do with your major, yet you are interested in.  It makes me very grateful for the way our education is structured.

So maybe education is not the one thing I will miss the most about London.  I will miss, however, the close proximity to other places.  Over this trip, I visited Edinburgh (where I am now), Dublin, Paris, Oxford, Liverpool, Berlin, Venice, Amsterdam and Prague, and I will be visiting Cardiff, York and Canterbury in the next week (assuming you’re reading this before then).  So exciting and so cheap to travel to all these places many only dream of ever seeing.

I’ll also miss the people, the lifelong friends I have made, the city, the food, the general amazingness of London.  I mean it is home after all:  the longest time I have ever spent away from home in my entire life and it is my world, my life as of now.  It makes it a bit hard to comprehend going back to a “foreign” world of America and having to get reacquainted with the lifestyle.

Nevertheless, I am extremely proud I survived the months.  I cannot begin to think how many times I thought I would want to buy the plane ticket home.  One or two times I did, but I never went through with it and I am so grateful I did.  London has been the most life-changing experience and one of the best experiences anyone could ever ask for.  I made so many new friends, saw so many places, ate so many great foods, had so many great experiences, I would not even trade in a single day for them.

The sum total of this is that YOU SHOULD STUDY ABROAD.  I know it sounds hardly believable but remember, I am just like you.  I am a business student, a junior, someone who has never been that entirely far away from home in my 21 year existence.  I survived.  If I can do it, you sure can do it too.  Study abroad is the most rewarding and unforgettable experience you will ever have.  It broadens your horizons; it makes new places feel like home and gives you new horizons for the future.  Hey, you could even end up settling in the city you study in for work.  For some of us, that is always the goal ;)  Remember to push yourself and don’t miss out on, as cliché as it is, the opportunity that will change your life.

Best of luck picking and bon voyage!

Jonathan Rice is a GWSB Junior pursuing a BBA with a dual concentration in Marketing and International Business.  To read more about Arcadia’s program at Queen Mary, click here.  

Networking Around the World

IMG_1010The Hong Kong Syracuse abroad program is broken into three modules.  The first being a two-week history based trip through South East Asia and the second being ten weeks of courses.  The full abroad experience is topped off with a five-week internship to shed greater light on doing business abroad and the differences that are associated with it.  Thanks to a GW Alumni event in Hong Kong I was able to secure my internship through David Williams (ESIA MA’02) at Big Ass Fans.  This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without the far-reaching network of the GW community as well as the countless networking incentives they provide.

The Big Ass Fans Hong Kong office was recently launched by David one year ago and has expanded into a five man staff that covers sales and service throughout East Asia.  As an international business intern I’ve been working to find and follow up on new leads while finding unique sites for future installation.  Beyond the basic differences in language and location, our office is most unique with the culture trends of Hong Kong, the melting pot of the world.  As new customers enter our showroom our style of sales, marketing, and communication must differ to ensure a seamless transaction.  I believe the culture surrounding local business as influenced me most during my internship and inevitably my time abroad.

IMG_1024Hong Kong is not all business.  When not working, the locals are the most inviting group of people.  The Hong Kong locals pride themselves on respect and Guanxi.  Guanxi can be described as a more-loose version of Western reciprocity.  Through such beliefs I’ve been able to become close friends with people of all ages and have had the chance to have a more localized abroad experience than some students.  The most rewarding part for me is knowing that someday if I end up in Hong Kong, these relationships will still be strong.  I do look forward to being home with family and friends in a week but I will miss Hong Kong.

Reid Breck is a GWSB Junior pursuing a BBA with a dual concentration in Marketing and International Business.  To read more about this semester abroad program in Hong Kong through Syracuse University, click here.  

Finance & Excursions in Paris

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIn the third and final chapter of classes with GWSB Paris, we took Financial Management and Markets. While I was nervous in the beginning, as this was my first (maybe last) finance class, the course was very interesting for someone who is not math and number minded like me.

While I can’t speak for finance courses at GW, in Paris having the course 3 hours each morning was very conducive to learning and I was able devote all my attention to the material. Finance was composed of 3 exams on smaller segments of the course (3 chapters each). My roommates and I would spend lazy Sunday’s sitting around the apartment studying and listening to all of our favorite holiday music. (Frozen is shockingly great to study to.)

GWSB Paris also takes students on site visits to further enrich us into the course we are in. First, we were taken to AXA a global insurance company where two representatives offered us a holistic overview (and croissants and coffee) of their company and AXA’s role throughout the world.

The second site visit took us to Brussels, Belgium to visit the European Exchange Commission. After an early morning trek via train from Paris, we arrived in Brussels after only 1.5 hours. A speaker for the European Exchange Commission came to speak to us for a few hours on the economy in the EU and many of the different factors which play into the overall global economy. Once we finished a question and answer period we walked to the small cozy restaurant where all the GW Paris students enjoyed great food before a walking tour of the city.

The walking tour gave us all the ins and outs of the city and the tour guide answered our burning questions such as, “Where can we get the best waffles and fries?” So after the tour we made it our mission to find those very things. Shamelessly, we were successful. It goes without saying that you can’t leave Brussels without at least a waffle, with enough options to choose from, you could have a different waffle every meal for the week.

IMG_9244And just like that, finance ended as fast as it came. And now we’re nearing the end of our stay in Paris. For our third and final long weekend I traveled to the south of France to Nice and Monaco. It was a solo adventure for me, and ended up being some of the best 3 days I’ve had. (Traveling alone can be a scary but such a rewarding experience). The south of France is filled with color, life and great food and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of going.

After Nice, I traded French for English and hopped across the pond to London for 3 more days of excursions. Here, I got to tour the city and all the sites and enjoy the beginning of the holiday season, as London is really festive with lights on all the streets and a huge festival in Hyde Park.

The last month has flown by faster then I could have imagined, same as the entire semester! All that’s left now between me and heading back to the states is a few classes, some GW excursions in Paris and an extra week to travel! Overall Paris has been a thrilling and amazing time, and is an experience I won’t soon forget!

Justin Pollock is a Junior in GWSB pursuing a BBA with a dual concentration in Marketing & Sport, Event, and Hospitality Management.  To read more about GWSB’s Signature Study Abroad Program, Fall Business in Paris, click here.    

A Semester Abroad in Amsterdam is Coming to a Quick End

View of Vernazza in Cinque Terre, ItalySince my first blog post at the beginning of studying abroad in Amsterdam, I have completed half of my course load, traveled around Western Europe, and have formed a love-hate relationship with my bike. The past few months have flown by and I know the last few weeks will be no different. With one last trip scheduled for this Thanksgiving weekend to Geneva, Switzerland, it will be the eighteenth city in the seventh country I have visited. This has been a unique experience of a lifetime. I know that even if I return back to Europe one day, that experience will not be the same as the one I have had this past semester.

While abroad I have learned a lot about Europeans. But I think one of the common threads that cross all of the cultures I have seen here is that Europeans love to just enjoy life. A few months ago when I was in Paris, one of the most amazing things I had ever seen was the number of people hanging out, drinking wine, and just people watching on the grassy area around the Eiffel Tower. Then a few weeks ago while in Florence, I tried to see every basilica, climb every tower, and visit every museum in the day I was there. But when I visited Rome a few days later, I realized how that was such a big mistake as I deprived myself of just slowing down and appreciating the beauty of the city and the people. While visiting a friend from GW studying in Milan, one evening we enjoyed aperitivo for a few hours, without feeling rushed or needing to be somewhere. And while here in Amsterdam, having the ability to just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee at a café or ride my bike down a new street or along a canal has allowed me to just think about and appreciate where I am in the world right now.

As the spring semester quickly approaches and I begin to think about the 18 credits I will be taking, an internship I hope to have, and the daily college routine that I will get back into, it is going to be really interesting to notice the differences in lifestyles. I do not think back at GW I have ever just sat at a café for an hour people watching, enjoyed a meal at a restaurant without being in a rush or on my phone, or have gone out without having a final destination in mind. I hope that by taking what I have seen and experienced here back with me, it will deepen my appreciation of what GW and Washington D.C. has to offer.

Shawn Mok infront of the I amsterdam SignIn my last three weeks here as I reflect on my study abroad experience, I know that the last few months have been difficult, but yet so worthwhile. When I think about my time abroad, I think about the time I hiked for four and a half miles along the mountainside of Cinque Terre in Italy last month. I never hike, I was alone, I did not know what I was getting myself into, and I was not really prepared. It was one of the toughest afternoons I have had here, but when it was over, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride I do not think I have felt in a while. The hike was hard and at points I wanted to turn around and just use the train to get from village to village. However, I persisted and I am glad I went outside of my comfort zone because otherwise, I would never have experienced and seen one of the most beautiful places in the world.

I am very thankful that I had this opportunity to go abroad, as well as the opportunity to share my adventures with my family, friends, and the GWSB community. You have all helped me greatly in acclimating to being away from home and I hope you have all enjoyed the stories.

Happy Holidays!

Shawn Mok is a junior in GWSB pursuing a BBA with a dual concentration in International Business and Business, Economics, and Public Policy.  He is currently studying abroad in Amsterdam.  To read more about the CIEE Business & Culture program in the Netherlands, click here.


The Fowler Coordinator Blog – 5 Apps Every Intern Needs

Five Apps Every Intern Needs:

By Maurissa Walls

Often as an intern you will be forced to find solutions to office problems while also juggling your personal life. Luckily in today’s world there’s an app to help solve nearly any problem or reach any personal goal. Here is a list of five intern-friendly phone applications, that will help make great impressions in the workplace and help manage your personal life.


Like many interns, you are probably running through the day adding items to a to-do list in your head. This interactive app puts a spin on your classic pen and paper to-do list by holding you accountable for what is not getting done. Users are able to add task onto a calendar by the day. If a task goes without getting crossed off it is carried over into the next day’s task list. Your TeuxDeux list can be seen by logging onto the website or app on any connected devices. There’s also space to add “look-ahead” items to your TeuxDeux for things that you want to try to do in the future, like trying out that new restaurant near the office.


Flipboard offers a creative way to compile and discover top news stories within your industry of interest. Not only can you browse through other users’ magazines of industry weekly news, but you can create your own by putting together news from your favorite publications to share with other professionals. This is a great resource for interns to keep current with topics that come up in the workplace and impress your boss elevator small talk.


This is a must have app for interns juggling a lot of paperwork on the go. The CamScanner app converts physical documents to PDFs through taking photos. The app makes it simple to pass along documents that need to be signed or quickly send a contract across town. You can also use it to send yourself PDF versions of your own handwritten notes or keep track of your receipts digitally.


It’s probably a good idea to try to do some saving while you are making money at your internship. Mint is a great app to help you start building good spending habits and tracking your personal expenses. This app allows you to see all of your bank transactions in one place and provides a breakdown of where you are spending your money. This app can help you finally can start saving up for that iPad or trip you’ve always wanted to take.

LinkedIn Connected

LinkedIn Connected App is an extension of the social media site that focuses on the building professional relationships. This app is great for interns looking to sustain relationships made in the office and through networking. The app acts as a pocket office guide sending you background info about your co-workers before meetings, reminding you of office birthdays, and tracking your network growth over the period of your internship. Using the LinkedIn Connected app could make you one of the most thoughtful interns in your department.

For more about the Fowler Coordinators click here.

Deloitte’s 2014 Battle of the Beltway a Success for George Washington University!

A record-setting participant list in Duquès Hall set the stage for this year’s Deloitte Battle of the Beltway Case Competition on this past Monday, November 10th.  Fifteen teams representing schools from all over the east coast competed in the annual event.  The winner of this year’s Case Competition went to the team representing American University’s Kogod School of Business, pictured below.
Team From American University's Kogod School of Business
The team representing the George Washington School of Business came in second place with a convincing presentation on improving the affordability of college by increasing the number and types of science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) programs, thus improving the marketability of students on a global level.  Pictured below from left to right are  Hassan Haider, Shahzeb Mirza, Cory Shaffer, and Hannah Sassi, accompanied by Dean Linda Livingstone.


Third place went to Princeton University and fourth place went to the team of students from Wake Forest University.

The students that participated in the event, the representatives from Deloitte, and the staff that supported and produced the event demonstrated an outstanding level of professionalism and enthusiasm.  The case competition has become a mainstay at GWSB since its inception in 2009, and will surely remain part of the University’s landscape for years to come.

My Life as a Tea-Drinking Castle Dweller: Adventures in Britain and Beyond

Meeting the hairy cows of the Scottish Highlands! This is one of my favorite memories so farHi there GWSB community!

My name is Kaley and I am a junior concentrating in marketing. I am currently spending my semester at Royal Holloway University of London! Royal Holloway is located about 40 minutes outside of London, in a small town called Egham. The campus is green, spacious, and self-contained, which has been a big change from our beautiful urban Foggy Bottom campus. I’m also just a short train ride from London, which has been really fun to explore.

One of the reasons I chose to study at Royal Holloway was because I wanted to immerse myself in British culture by living the life of a British “uni” student. I literally live in a castle with first-year Royal Holloway students, better known as “freshers.” I eat in a dining hall and chat with my new British friends about current events and other random topics. I learn most about British culture from these conversations because out of no where, we’ll just start talking about the difference in our political systems, our healthcare, our education, and other interesting topics. I’ve become much more aware of my American perspective, which is something I never thought about before.

Since I’m an international exchange student, I take classes right along with other Royal Holloway students. The normal course load is four classes, and I am taking Marketing Strategy in Context, Marketing Research, International Human Resource Management, and The Individual at Work. I really like all of my classes, but I think my favorite class is The Individual at Work, which focuses on identity in the workplace and how to create a productive environment for people to work in.

The British university system has been a major change from what I’m used to at GW. For each class, I attend a 50 minute lecture and a 50-minute discussion section (called a workshop) just once a week. The rest of the week, it is up to me to keep up with reading, work on my papers, and teach myself a lot of the material. Also, my entire grade in each class depends on only two papers!  I have a lot more free time, but also less structure, which can make things a bit stressful if I don’t plan my time out well.

Another great thing about studying outside of London is that it is relatively easy to travel to other parts of Europe. I made trips to northern Spain, Budapest, and Edinburgh, all of which gave me interesting insights on other cultures. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while abroad came from my trip to Spain. I was visiting a friend of mine who is studying in a small city called Santander, which is typically only a tourist destination in the summertime for people in Spain. Therefore, there aren’t really any English speakers. I had never been in a situation before where I could not communicate with the people around me. It was honestly very intimidating, and I had to rely completely on body language and translations from my friend. At the same time, it was an eye-opening experience. Even though I was only there for a short time, it gave me a new perspective on language barriers. As someone who is interested in HR, I thought about the role they might play in companies and multi-national corporations. I have an even greater respect for people who work or study full time in countries where they don’t speak the language.

Standing with the Tower Bridge in London- what a great city! (this should probably be the cover photo)A couple of weeks ago, Royal Holloway had a Study Abroad fair and asked the exchange students to represent their schools. It was strange to be on the other side of the table, encouraging British students to come study at GW because it still feels like just yesterday that I was contemplating studying abroad. It was great to be back in my buff and blue mindset, telling them everything I love about my school and my city.

Studying abroad has been one of the best decisions of my life. It sounds cliché, but it really is an eye-opening experience! I’ve learned so much about myself, and about other cultures. My perspective has expanded in ways I never expected. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and see some of the most incredible sites, while stepping outside of my comfort zone.  I ate a plate of sardines in Santander, bathed in the thermal pools in Budapest, got up close to a hairy cow in the Highlands of Scotland, visited more castles than I can count, and more.  Every morning when I wake up and realize where I am and what I’m doing, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.

I have a little over a month left here in England, and while I’m in no rush to leave, I am also really looking forward to getting back to my GW community.  Until then, I’ve got plans for a trip to Paris, a tour of the Harry Potter Studios, and of course, about six more papers to write! Enjoy the rest of your semester, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions about Royal Holloway, England, or studying abroad in general. Raise High!

Kaley Pomerantz is a Junior in GWSB pursuing a BBA with a concentration in Marketing.  To learn more about GW’s exchange program with Royal Holloway, click here.

Unexpected Exposure and Life Lessons on the GWSB NYC Marketing Trek

By Zach Rosen

The New York City Marketing Trek, offered to students in the GW Business School, has been an eye opening experience; I was able to find the little answers I was looking for in marketing, but a whole new set of questions has emerged.

I find myself wanting to know more about strategic planning, copywriting, and account management with focus on B2B or B2C, and less of “what exactly goes on in marketing?” A week prior to the trek,  these terms and concepts would have been a foreign language to me and in some sense they still are, but my intellectual curiosity and desire have fixated on a concentration I never dreamed of pursuing.


Last month, I was in route to the city of bright lights in a packed bus with my fellow trekkers not too sure of what we were getting ourselves into. Our bus arrived at midnight and we set our alarms for 6:30 AM – the first time since high school.


Our first day in NYC was packed with site visits from 8:00am to 8:00pm. On paper it looked like a long day, and it was, but it went by super fast. Each site visit was about an hour and a half and it seemed like we were running from one side of Manhattan to the other. On the first day we visited OgilvyOne, Dentsu Aegis Network, Gallup, BBDO, and Deep Focus.  The second day of site visits included Michael Kors, Deutsch, Macy’s, and Blue Fountain Media. Each firm had their unique appeal and atmosphere – one of the best parts of visiting firms was the opportunity to see their office and company culture.

Team ABrainstorming Branding Activity at Blue Fountain Media-1

No longer do the stereotypical offices with closed doors and established hierarchies exist. The new normal for ad agencies is glass walls with sliding doors and short cubicles allowing more light, openness, and conversation to flow freely. Scooters and ping-pong tables with eccentrically bright colors were more common to see than a closed-off room. Deustch, BBDO, and OgilvyOne looked like cut outs from magazines. Each time we entered their space we couldn’t help but gasp and ask ourselves, “Is this real?

Team B

The wide variety of office spaces and cultures from each office was more than skin deep, each glimpse into the advertising firms resonated differently with each student. My values and goals aligned well with Dentsu Aegis and Deep Focus because of their relaxed atmosphere, while others connected with Gallup and BBDO. My individual experiences whether through the GWSB, internships, organizations, etc. have prepared me for the moment when I ask, “Is this place right for me?” The most important lesson I learned on this trek was no matter the salary or prestige of an internship or job, I need to love where I work and for whom I work. I need to share the similar goals and interests of a company in order to prosper and grow as a young professional. And for this I am beyond grateful for my experience on the GWSB Networking Trek.

MKTG Trek Group Photo at Deutsch

I now have the contacts and background knowledge to move forward whether with informational interviews or to be able to intelligently talk about the marketing industry. I would recommend this trip to anyone and everyone who is interested in marketing, consulting, finance, real estate, or sports management.

The Fowler Coordinator Blog – Online Media: Pageviews, User Interface, and User Experience Rule!

By Kathleen McCarthy

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to work at USA Today in the Travel Media Group. I was able to see first-hand how business and editorial departments work together as well as learn about the diverse jobs that they each perform. This was my first experience working in media, and it was definitely a learning experience. There were so many aspects to working in media that I had no idea existed before interning at USA Today! 

First and foremost I learned that content isn’t really king—online is. The majority of the activities that go on in the Travel Media Group at USA Today revolve around our online products. One of the things that I learned early on in my internship is that the bottom line of any project in online media is going to come down to page views. The goal of all of our online products is to get people’s eyes on them and keep them on our page as opposed to someone else’s. That means that the first question following any idea proposal is “How much will it increase page views by?” If there is no guarantee of generating more page views, an idea will have a hard time getting off the ground. This is why it is helpful to know not just if something will generate more page views but to know how it will generate them and where they will come from. 

Another important lesson that I learned about working in media is the importance of user interface and user experience. A media outlet can have great content, but if they don’t have the kind of user interface that makes their site appealing enough for people to stay on, that content is wasted. Likewise, without the kind of user experience that allows visitors to navigate through the site for a considerable period of time, a site won’t reach its potential in terms of page views. This makes it important for business people working in media to have basic knowledge of web design so that they can effectively communicate business necessities with designers and developers. 

In addition to being exposed to the online side, I also learned about some of the challenges that the media business faces. Part of the allure of working in the media industry is being surrounded by creative people. While working in a creative environment is a lot of fun, there are also some challenges to doing business in this type of organization. It is always difficult to reconcile the interests of a media company’s creative branch with the side tasked with generating revenue. Many decisions, such as introducing sponsored content on editorial pages or SEO activities, demonstrated the internal push and pull inherent to the media industry. As I watched these decisions unfold, I learned not only about how the media industry operates, but also about the controversies that arise when editors are asked to take part in these activities. This taught me about the need to approach issues diplomatically in order to make sure that all parties are comfortable with a decision. 

Working at USA Today was definitely an eye-opening experience that taught me a lot about working in the media industry. Even though there are a number of unique challenges that this industry presents, it is also incredibly exciting and fast-paced. Now that I have a more in-depth understanding of what working in media is like, I can’t wait to take the things that I have learned at my internship back into the classroom for my final year at GW.

For more about the Fowler Coordinators click here.

The Uniqueness of Hong Kong

PanoCausewayProtestI want to begin with a wide angle to understand Hong Kong.  This is not China, despite what many friends have called my “Adventure in China”, Hong Kong has a separate administration, culture, and language.  At the same time though, China would prefer to have control over Hong Kong’s decisions and ultimately keep them on track to be a stable entity.  For this reason, protests have begun to populate the usually busy streets of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, the two main islands.  The Chinese government is planning to choose the potential candidates for the upcoming election rather than allowing a fully operational democracy.Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.29.07 AM

Sunday, September 28th, I was having dinner with friends a few blocks north of the center of Hong Kong.  The restaurant was full of families, young and old, enjoying their last meal together before the always-busy workweek.  The room slowly became quiet and conversations were drowned out by the sound of hushes and gasps.  We were witnessing on TV the initial round of riot shields, tear gas, and pepper spray being used on the “peaceful” student protesters.  Up until this point, the streets were calm, the only sight of a non-peaceful protest was the outlying perimeter of police officers to contain the students, but even they did not holster their guns.  That Sunday was a turning point for our time here and for Hong Kong’s global image.  By Tuesday the Chinese government in Beijing denounced Hong Kong’s police for the actions used and with such news settled the vibrant (more negative word?) emotions of the student activists, still holding their ground in the streets.  Even though the violence was temporary, it became the focus of worldwide media and effectively became the talking point for every conversation I had with non-local people.  The pictures you see here are from the main protest area in Causeway Bay consisting of over 100,000 people.  As you are reading this today, there are still people eating and sleeping in the streets but it has become a part of the ever-changing culture of Hong Kong and we have adjusted around it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.24.53 AMThe city may be dense with over 7 million residents and thousands of tourists but there is always an opportunity to escape.  Most frequently we visit the New Territories, the outer islands of Hong Kong, to go hiking and camping.  In just under an hour in a taxi, far cheaper than any DC cab, we are let off at a trail sign with one arrow.  After 10km we arrive at the most surreal view, not just because of the uninhabited beach or 5-mile view, but because of how close a tireless city is from us.  Despite being a protected natural forest the wildlife is limited to giant spiders and cattle strewn over paths and trails.   Another trip we were fortunate enough to take this past month was to Ko Phi Phi, Thailand.  A great experience of local Thai culture but too vast to explain within this blog.  The picture included shows you the cliffs on the water and the original Long-Tail boats.  Hopefully the next time I write I will bring greater detail into our traveling and non-city experiences throughout my abroad experience.

Reid Breck is a GWSB Junior pursuing a BBA with a dual concentration in Marketing and International Business.  To read more about this semester abroad program Reid is on in Hong Kong through Syracuse University, click here.