Exchange students share experiences

A diverse population is a point of pride for Tech. Tech is active in exchange student programs with other colleges and universities in different parts of the world. Here are two students’ experiences travelling abroad as international exchange students at Tech.

Sarah Rooney

Rooney, who is pursuing her MBA, is an exchange student from New Zealand. She grew up in Wethersfield, Conn. and went to Syracuse University to complete her degree in Musical Theater. While she was at Syracuse, she participated in a study abroad program in London, England, where she developed a love for traveling. After she graduated from Syracuse, she moved back to London to purse further studies. Then she lived in New York, Oregon, Australia and finally Wellington, New Zealand.

Rooney’s motivation to pursue her MBA at Tech was to get a perspective from Australasia and the U.S. in a growing global economy.

“I hope to be able to reciprocate the hospitality I have received while here at Tech in the future. I also want to experience…all that Atlanta has to offer in terms of the arts and culture. Getting to spend time with my family here in the U.S. is also very important to me. New Zealand is a long plane ride, so sadly, I don’t get to see my family very often,” Rooney said.

Rooney said the general curriculum, class size and workload are similar to her experience at the University of Victoria, Wellington.

However, Rooney noted that Tech has a stronger commercial presence and big business trend while University of Victoria, Wellington has a broader range of business and government pprograms, not profit coverage, and she is glad to be exposed to both worlds. While in Atlanta, Rooney is working as an intern at the Woodruff Arts Center.

Rooney’s ultimate goal is to be exposed to the American business culture at the MBA level and to make a meaningful network of professional relationships that can open doors and create future opportunities.

Rooney also hopes to establish a long-term relationship with friends and colleagues at Tech.

“Breaking out of routines and comfort zones can be risky. However, this experience has made me more knowledgeable. I have met many great people and been able to ‘reconnect with my American culture,’ which is something that I have missed living overseas for seven years,” Rooney said.

“Experiencing the challenges and success of another culture is rewarding and humbling at the same time,” Rooney said.

Rooney highly recommended students from Tech to trade places with her and experience life in New Zealand. She is expected to finish her MBA at Tech in 2011.

Katrine Bundgaard

Bundgaard, who hails from Aarhus, Denmark, is an ARCH grad student for a semester at Tech.

Bundgaard describes Aarhus as very different from Atlanta. In Aarhus, she can walk almost everywhere without a car. The middle of the city has cafés that are good weekend hang-out spots. Denmark is most known for the capital, Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid, Lego and the beer Carlberg.

In Atlanta, Bundgaard has been surprised that she has to drive everywhere and that it is not safe to walk alone on the street.

As far as making the transition to America goes, Bundgaard said she learned English early in school in her home country. Although her native language is Danish, she has not had any trouble communicating.

The opportunity to experience another type of studying and another country motivated Bundgaard to come to Tech. Another thing she mentioned was that it would look very good on her CV, and her English would likely improve.

At Tech, Bundgaard is volunteering at the International Community School as a tutor for a 10-year-old girl from Iraq. She also likes hanging out with her friends and her roommate.

“While in Atlanta I have made a list of things I want to see and do and I try to do as much as possible and new things all the time,” Bundgaard said.
She enjoys taking courses not available in Denmark and meeting well-known professors.

Another difference is that in Denmark, students call their professor by their first name even the first time they meet, while in Atlanta, students call a professor “Professor Last name.”

Bundgaard also appreciates Tech’s college spirit.

“Here, [the] campus is like a small community, and a lot of people live on campus. Everyone walks around in their [Tech] sweatshirts and eats in the Student Center. It’s like the university is a part of your identity and your every day,” Bundgaard said.

She has not faced any noticeable challenges yet. She said it always takes some time to get used to a new university system’s basic functions, such as how to use Tech’s plentiful resources.

“A great thing about Georgia Tech is that you don’t have to stand on campus with a map in your hand for more than two seconds before a student walks up to you offering to help you,” Bundgaard said.

Exchange students’ contributions to Tech are not negligible. Their diverse background and personality represent an interactive and dynamic community at Tech.

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