Studying abroad presents an opportunity for students to plant themselves in foreign countries among unfamiliar cultures to experience something new and gain perspective, and many students find that experience here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
For some of the foreign students spending semesters abroad at UW-Madison, the cultural flashpoints come in fits and starts. For every moment frustrated by language barriers yet enjoyed despite them, there are smaller, less predictable revelations to be had in Madison.
It was Jonas Eriksen Roe’s godfather, a UW-Madison professor, who put Madison on his radar. Living in Trip Hall, he finds the dorm atmosphere a big adjustment from the apartment he lives in when at school in Norway.
“I met so [many] nice friends here,” he said. “At the dorm, [there are] a lot of activities you can join. There’s so much to do here, you can’t be bored.”
But there’s no telling what aspects of Madison will be most striking to the students over the course of their semesters, even to the students themselves.
Like all foreign students studying abroad in Madison, International Academic Programs gave Yael Maman, a student from the ESCP Europe Business School in Paris, France, a handbook of information and statistics. Though it mentioned the Wisconsin winter, it still took her by surprise.
“It was hard … because I was really far from my family, friends and boyfriend, and it was really, really cold! It was a big challenge because I’m not used to such a long and hard winter,” she said.
For Maman, like any student not used to the weather, surviving a Madison winter leads to an even greater appreciation for its end.
“[I have been going to] the Terrace at the Memorial Union,” she said. “There are the games, and going out, and meeting people from everywhere, and traveling…so many things to do.”
Parisian business student Xavier Malbec agreed the workload here is more than what he is used to at home. He also said the sheer size of the campus and the many resources it entails are a benefit to the atmosphere at UW, as his European school does not offer the same level of student services and facilities.
“The campus and all the facilities we have here are very convenient. We can do a lot of things, like the
SERF, which is amazing for us because in France we have very little space,” he said.
Malbec lives off-campus in an apartment with American roommates, something Susan Lochner said is common for many exchange students.
According to Lochner, assistant director of International Academic Programs, students are attracted to UW by its reputation for welcoming foreign students.
“The students who come here often know about the prestige of Madison and are excited to come to UW to attend our university,” Lochner said.