Tag: Outgoing (page 1 of 5)

Same same, but different – a semester in Berlin

My name is Naxhije Rexhepi. I live in Zurich in Switzerland where I am studying Industrial Engineering, with a focus on Economics and Finance. In my free time I like to eat and do sport. When I’m not at the gym, I go with my friends out, whether in the cinema, in a bar or in the theater. I am interested in many things, because I like to learn something new every day.

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IT geek? Go to California State University!

My name is Stefan, I live in Winterthur, Switzerland and study Computer Science at the ZHAW. I’m no CS student by accident – I like technology a lot and like to play around with gadgets of all sorts. To balance out my mostly urban life I like to hike in our beautiful countryside.

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Cincinnati Calling – Outreach Lecture Fund in Houston, Texas

Hello everyone,

Few weeks ago, in the framework of a second Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF), I had the opportunity to visit the Biomedical Department at the University of Houston UH in Texas. UH is a renown large university (more than 46’000 students) located in the city of Houston few miles away from downtown. The campus is beautiful, really green, with tropical plants and trees (there is almost no winter in Houston!). It was already really warm for spring and I was told that the university football team, the cougars, have to train inside in air-conditioned buildings during summer time 🙂

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Switching perspectives in Prague

My name is Pasha Naeem and I am studying Engineering and Management in Winterthur Switzerland. Besides that I like swimming, backpacking and skiing.

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Cincinnati Calling – Outreach Lecturing Fund in Cleveland

Hello folks,

I hope you are doing fine! Spring time finally reached the queen city… Winter was long this year! 🙂

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Kia ora from Christchurch

Hi my name is David, I was born and raised in Switzerland. After finishing my apprenticeship as a designer at Maschinenfabrik Rieter AG I worked one year prior to taking on a new challenge at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. I’m currently studying mechanical engineering and getting into my 7th semester. As a part time student, I’m working 60% as a designer for Stadlerrail. I like to spend most of my time off campus with outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing and sometimes in the gym. In the following paragraphs I’d like to tell you about my semester abroad.

Kia ora

These traditional Maori words, simply meaning welcome, greeted us students in Christchurch at the beginning of the semester. But this warm welcome did not just mark the beginning of the studies at the university, it actually encouraged me to explore and discover New Zealand. I’ve always been looking for an opportunity to benefit from a top-quality education in a first-class travel destination and found it in New Zealand. Its stunning and very diverse landscape plus English as the national language seemed to be ideal to further develop my personality and academic knowledge.

Since the University of Canterbury, which is located in Christchurch, maintains a partnership with the School of Management and Law of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences it was easy to find a suitable institution. A brief research about the university and its prestigious College of Engineering convinced me immediately to apply for a study abroad semester. I was considered a free mover and therefore self-responsible for the entire application process. But the very efficient and straight forward communication with the University of Canterbury as well as my early organization clearly facilitated the process. In order to profit as much as possible and to minimize a potential knowledge deficit, I paid high attention to attend courses that had a strong similarity to the ones I missed at my home institution.

I instantly felt comfortable at the university and got into a daily routine really quickly. Attending lectures every day and not being assigned to a class was unusual first but I adapted to it. It just took a bit longer to recognize all the faces and identify the students that attended multiple courses with me. Fortunately, I was able to connect with some local and other study abroad students during the first week. Especially the international welcome day, which was held prior to the semester start, helped me a lot to get social connections. Another great opportunity to connect with people is sport. It does not require that much effort either. Just be open minded and introduce yourself with a smile. During the semester connecting got harder since everybody was following its personal schedule, attendance was not mandatory and you could easily get lost in a lecture theater filled with 150 people.

From a scientific perspective it seems to me that lectures at UC focus more on details to prepare students for their master. At ZHAW on the other hand a more practical approach is chosen and students get well prepared to work with their bachelor’s degree. Some lecturers for example required us students to additionally read in a book and gain a more detailed understanding about the topic. The lectures therefore only taught the basics. Fortnightly quizzes were used as a feedback about the discussed topics and lab reports were always checked on plagiarism. I experienced the lecturer’s way of teaching as very successful and liked their interaction with the students. It is noteworthy to mention that such a semester abroad requires a certain level of English since its main purpose is to improve your academic knowledge rather than your language skills.

Besides science there was plenty of time to pursue personal interests and widen the individual horizon off campus. The tragic history of Christchurch was still very present and clearly observable throughout the entire city. Roadworks and construction sites gave a small hint about the severe damage the earthquake has caused. New buildings opened almost monthly. At the beginning of the semester a brand-new research building, equipped with the latest laboratory technology, was introduced at UC and during the semester new office buildings with bars and restaurants opened in the city center. The city is obviously recovering and coming back to live. Sadly, earthquakes will always remain a part of Christchurch and therefore get addressed in lectures about material science or design.

Within a short drive Christchurch was left behind and the unspoiled nature at one’s feet. Unfortunately, the sighting of a Kiwi, which is New Zealand’s national animal, is very rare and a lot of luck is needed. But because a third of New Zealand’s landscape is protected by national parks there are plenty of opportunities to physically challenge oneself or observe other animals besides the Kiwi. This is why I spent 5 days hiking on one of the great walks in Abel Tasman National Park. I also visited famous spots like Queenstown, the Aoraki or went snowboarding in July and surfing on the 90 Mile Beach. From glaciers to remote and gorgeous beaches, New Zealand is able to please everybody with its beauty. With rugby as their national sport, also sport maniacs will be satisfied and there is a huge reason for that. The Kiwis, to which New Zealand citizens also refer to, are home to some of the world’s best rugby teams. The Canterbury Crusaders for example are domiciled in Christchurch and the famous All Blacks are New Zealand’s national team and reigning world champion.

Reviewing my time at the University of Canterbury I couldn’t have made any better choice. Not only did I got to experience and practice mechanical engineering from a different perspective, yet it reminded me once again how important it is to approach problems from different ways. The University of Canterbury is an outstanding institution equipped with the latest technology. I felt appreciated and welcome with the first touch. Christchurch itself is a lovely and charming city. Its location is ideal to start exploring New Zealand, particularly the south island which is most visitors’ favorite. The Kiwis are very friendly and welcoming people. By arranging about 95% of my accommodations through Airbnb I also experienced their great hospitalization. After the semester I took advantage of New Zealand’s excellent location to discover the south pacific. I travelled to Samoa, the Cook Islands plus Tahiti. In each country I spent roughly two weeks sunbathing under palm trees, on stunning beaches with crystal clear, turquoise water. I personally highly recommend to everyone giving such unique experience at least once a change. It is not just an opportunity to develop one’s individual character and scientific knowledge, but also to challenge and discover oneself. It has been my forth experience abroad that lasted for several months and was again a full success. I’m able to return to Switzerland with a bigger personal backpack, stuffed with new knowledge, fantastic experiences and wonderful moments.

The Abel Tasman National Park is named after the first European who landed in New Zealand, the Dutch Abel Tasman.
Like some lakes in Switzerland, the Lake Pukaki was formed by receding glaciers.

Anwesenheitspflicht? Wir haben den Sommer in Wien trotzdem genossen.

Wir – Somea Desarzens und Zino Grütter – sind Verkehrssysteme-Studenten der ZHAW School of Engineering in Winterthur und haben unser 4. Semester an der FH Technikum in Wien absolviert.

Da Verkehrsstudiengänge auf der Welt (noch) rar gesät sind, war unsere Auswahl an Fachhochschulen, die einen ähnlichen Studiengang wie in Winterthur anbieten, klein. Unsere Partnerhochschulen in St. Pölten und Erfurt kamen bei unserer Wahl zu kurz, da uns beide Städte nicht überzeugten. Schnell fiel unsere Wahl dann auf Wien, wo wir zügig und sehr freundlich angenommen wurden.

Ein Besuch im Wiener Prater ist ein Muss.

In Wien gefiel uns speziell die zum Verweilen einladende Donauinsel als Naherholungsgebiet, das man in anderen vergleichbaren Städten vergeblich sucht. An der Fachhochschule fielen uns als erstes die modernen Gebäude und Räumlichkeiten auf, welche im Vergleich zum Technikum in Winterthur ein paar Jahrzehnte neuer waren. Der grosse Unterschied zwischen den Fachhochschulen war die in Wien geltende Anwesenheitspflicht in allen Fächern, die wir so in Winterthur nicht kennen. Ansonsten waren der Aufbau der Module, die Unterrichtsart und die Prüfungen ziemlich ähnlich wie an der ZHAW.

Somea und Zino lernten Austauschstudenten aus der ganzen Welt kennen.

Am besten in Erinnerung bleiben uns die Leute, die wir in Wien kennengelernt haben, und die Zeit, die wir mit ihnen geniessen konnten. Dies waren sowohl Kommilitonen als auch Austauschstudenten aus anderen Ländern, mit denen wir schulische und ausserschulische Aktivitäten unternommen haben. An der Fachhochschule profitierten wir stark von den engagierten Dozenten, welche auf der einen Seite einiges verlangten, auf der andern jedoch auch viel von ihrer Fachkompetenz vermitteln konnten. Persönlich war es eine tolle Erfahrung, einen eigenen Haushalt zu regeln und Personen aus verschiedensten Kulturen kennenzulernen.

Schlechte Erfahrungen machten wir in Wien keine oder sie waren so geringfügig, dass wir sie bereits vergessen haben. Wir sind deshalb auch froh, dass wir den Schritt gewagt haben, ein Auslandsemester zu absolvieren. Eine solche Erfahrung können wir jedem wärmstens empfehlen.

Cincinnati calling – Winter time! Snow men, icy roads and government shutdown…

Hello folks,

Happy new year! I hope you had a good relaxing time over Christmas. Semester has started here at UC last week and everything is back to normal… well almost everything!

As you probably know the country is experiencing the longest “shutdown” of its history. To be honest, we have not noticed anything special here in Cincinnati except that this is the major news on television. Apparently, even the FBI is running short on budget and this might affect the national security… Let’s hope that a solution will be found soon and that everything will go back to normal.

Winter has also arrived here with the first “real” snow falls. 20 to 25 cm of fresh snow. This makes the city more beautiful and also way more dangerous because nobody has winter tires here! Incredible!

The snow makes the city even more beautiful.

I was even told you could ski in Ohio (but more north east from Cleveland which is a bit far away – Ohio alone is almost 3 times Switzerland!).

We had to relocate to another area closer to campus. It is called “Clifton Gaslight” and the street lights actually still run on gas! Let’s hope that there will be enough gas and that the new house furnace will not break down: temperature will drop up to -22 °C in the coming nights…

This is our new home.

What else? UC officially turned 200 years last week. There was a small ceremony with a huge cake and UC president Pinto gave a small talk about the university history. Was nice but to be honest I was more impressed by the 10 years of ZHAW! 🙂

Research is doing fine (I realized this is the first time I talk about my research here in the US). Two papers were recently accepted (but more related to my activities back in Switzerland) and several others are in the pipeline including joined publications Switzerland – USA.

New: I am also co-supervising a visiting student from China on a very interesting topic, but I cannot tell anything: top secret! My host lab has over 100 patents granted, published, or submitted, and has generated the most invention disclosures (more than 150) and patent licenses in UC’s history! IP is a serious business here.

In my opinion, we should take more care about IP at ZHAW and develop a “transfer office” to help ZHAW researchers commercializing their research findings wherever it is in the form of a startup, license, or partnership.

A more personal note: I can’t believe I already reached the middle of my stay in the US. It went so fast! I wish I could stay more. A very unique experience.

See you next time!

Mathias*

*) Mathias Bonmarin is a senior lecturer at the ZHAW School of Engineering. Recently, he was honoured to get a prestigious Fulbright scholarship and therefore he’s at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio for one year as a visiting Professor.

About the ups and downs of studying abroad

My name is Silas Rudolf, I am from Switzerland and I study at the ZHAW School of Engineering. My field of study is Engineering and Management with the specialization Business Mathematics. The exchange semester took place during the 4th semester of my bachelors’ studies. Some of my hobbies are climbing, hiking and kickboxing. In winter I spend most of the time in the mountains (one of the reasons to choose an exchange semester during summer) and work part-time as a snowboard instructor.

When checking for the available options, one of my priority was to visit a country where speaking German was no option. With addition to that, there were things like affordable living costs and a good University reputation, so that the Charles University in Prague suited best for my requirements.

As first impression upon arrival, people can be quite rude and unfriendly (this needs some time to get used to in shops and restaurants) and the farther away you get from main touristic areas, the less they are willing to speak any other language than Czech. However, after my experience, most of this applies to the older generation. Almost all of the young local people and students speak English and are very friendly after you get to know them. Other than that, their culture is very similar to our Swiss culture.

Silas Rudolf and friends visiting the St. Vitus Cathedral.

The first impressions of the school were already before my arrival in Prague. After countless emails to the local Erasmus coordinator about my Learning agreement and the “student residence”, which I chose to stay in, it was the weekend before start of the semester and I still had no definite confirmation of anything. So, I just took a flight and hoped for the best. Upon arriving at the “student residence” (which was literally in a construction site) and talking with the receptionist, which spoke no word English, I received a document for an Introduction day later that week. There, we all found out that lectures had already started and we missed most of the first lectures. Summarized, I had not the very best impressions about the organization and flow of information of this school.

On my arrival I was very impressed of the architecture and the public transportation of Prague. With Metro, Bus and Tram available almost every 5 minutes, this still is one of my favorite things about this city.

The architecture of Prague is very impressive.

One of my most memorable experiences was the yearly Ball of the Charles University which I could visit due to some Czech friends that I got to know here.

The Charles university helds a yearly ball.

Academically, this exchange semester helped me a lot to work on my discipline in studying (most of the information of subjects here are obtained with reading books). The more theoretical teaching style of Charles University forced me to go deeper into topics which I otherwise wouldn’t have, which in hindsight was a good thing. Personally, I enjoyed getting to know many people from different backgrounds and cultures. This exchange definitely helped me to get more independent, able to handle situations with language barriers and managing time and budget.

I think one of the things I liked most about living in Prague is that, if you want, there is always something to do. Shops, restaurants and bars are open from Monday to Sunday, there are activities organized from the university and Erasmus groups every other day and sport centers (like climbing gyms) are open till 24:00 or longer every day. Another thing I really enjoyed is that there is almost no commuting time to get to the university or other locations. With metro and tram, you can get from one part of the City to the other end in minutes. And of course, there is the Czech beer. With prices at about 1.- for a beer in a restaurant, this is definitely something everyone remembers from Prague.

The only thing that was at times quite unpleasant for me was the “theory-only” teaching of the university. Coming from the ZHAW I was quite used to being able to utilize the learned topics in practical projects, so learning mostly proof of formulas and theorems with no connection to real-world problems was exhausting at times.

In general, I would definitely recommend this experience to everyone for getting to know a new environment and culture, learning about other education systems, improving languages and finding new friendships and maybe even career opportunities.

Von Plato nach Konfuzius – Mit Schirm, Scham, Schande, Schmutz und Schutz, Teil 1

Bevor ich über die US-Amerikaner und Koreaner auf die Koreanerinnen zu sprechen komme, die bei starkem Sonnenschein tatsächlich Schirmchen mit sich führen oder Schirmhütchen tragen – wie Gegenstücke zu den Bräunungsreflektoren westlicher Frauen, weil sie ja auch das Gegenteil bewirken sollen, fange ich einmal mit den Deutschen an. Als es in Europa noch keine festen Wechselkurse gab (also deutlich vor dem Euro-Bargeld) standen die Industriearbeitsplätze in Deutschland unter permanentem Druck einer besonderen Produktivitätssteigerung, weil die europäische Konkurrenz nach Gutdünken ihre Landeswährung gegenüber der D-Mark abwerten konnte. Die Findigkeit der Ingenieure richtete daher ein starkes Augenmerk auf Effizienz durch Produktionstechnik. Fertigungsstrassen für Automobile «Made in Germany» sind noch heute mindestens so gefragt wie die Fahrzeuge selbst, von denen hier erstaunlich viele und die meisten davon in Edelausführungen unterwegs sind (gefühlt nur «M», «AMG» und «RS»). So waren «die Lohnstückkosten nie das Problem» (Oskar La Fontaine).

Wie wird man eigentlich findig – oder fündig – in Belangen der Produktionstechnik? Ein «Grad Student», den ich in South Carolina kennen gelernt hatte, verriet mir mal eine Weisheit von seinem Vater, der Leiter einer kleinen Produktionseinheit gewesen sein muss: «You know what to do with a really tedious work process? Would you give it to the most diligent, serious worker? No! Give it to the laziest guy in the whole company! Not too long, and he will have found a way to cut this process down». Das erinnert an den genialen Albert Einstein: «Make it as simple as possible – but not simpler!» Dafür, dass sie so viele kleine und grosse Einsteins in ihren Reihen haben, muss man die Amerikaner einfach lieben. Genauso wie für die poetische Eindringlichkeit mancher Liedtexte ihrer Singer-Songwriter, die sich kunstvoll jedem einfachen Reimschema entziehen.

Unlängst habe ihm einer, sagte mir der äusserst sympathische junge Koreaner (etwa mein Alter 😉), den ich einmal im «Guest House» und ein anderes Mal im «Faculty Dining Room» antraf, zu Hause im US-Bundesstaat Washington, wo er nun seit einiger Zeit als Professor an der dortigen State University lehrt und mit seiner Frau lebt, dazu geraten, sich bei neuen Bekanntschaften auf Englisch doch als «Chain Key» vorzustellen, wenn er sichergehen wollte, dass sein Gegenüber seinen Namen nicht früher oder später verhunzt. Da war sie doch wieder, diese Felddiensttauglichkeit amerikanischer Didaktik, mit der man tatsächlich den Aufbaukurs in Phonetik im nächstgelegenen Eisenwarenge¬schäft abhalten könnte – der Verkäufer als Dozent, und die Studenten seine Kunden. Ein Lehrstück. Jedenfalls musste ich «Chain Key» umgehend beichten, dass ich seiner Frau neulich im Hauseingang womöglich insofern etwas zu nahe getreten sei, als mir aus lauter Anschlusshandlungsunfähigkeit keine bessere Floskel eingefallen war als «How do you like it over here?», denn die beiden waren ja im Unterschied zu mir an der INHA-Universität sozusagen auf «Heimaturlaub». Es müsste mich mal in Winterthur auf der Marktgasse ein Brasilianer fragen, was ich eigentlich so von den Lebensumständen der Nordschweiz halte. Es war mir, so stellte sich heraus, peinlicher als ihm, dass ich seine Frau irgendwie dazu veranlasst hatte, mir anzuvertrauen: «Not so much as at home in Washington. It’s kind of dirty here and, you know, Koreans are always busy». Dabei klang ihr «busy» mehr wie ein «bitchy» – «fleissig, sehr fleissig» hätte ich gesagt, aber «zickig» oder «kratzbürstig»? niemals! –, nur kennt das Koreanische eben kein stimmhaftes «S». «Ja», meinte er, «damit hat sie doch recht. Der ganze Müll und Dreck hier an jeder Strassenecke!»

Die offene Anklage der Verhältnisse in jenem Land, in dem die beiden ihre früheren Jahre verbracht haben mussten, schien mir später mehr ein Gefühl zu überdecken, wie es der episodenweise schwer drogenabhängige (etwa Opioide?) Johnny Cash in seinem «…what have I become, my sweetest friend?…» anklingen lässt. Was ist nur aus mir, uns oder dem Unseren geworden? Die koreanische Nationalhymne singt unter anderem davon, dass sie dieses Land in seiner Schönheit kommenden Generationen weiterreichen wollen, bis dass ihr heiligster und höchster Berg (der auf der nordkoreanisch-chinesischen Grenze liegt) ins Meer gewaschen sei. Und nun: «Wie konnte uns das nur passieren? Die Dinge sind doch gar nicht so, wie wir das immer gewollt hätten. So ist es kein Land mehr, in dem wir gut und gerne leben würden». Weiterreichen? Na, wenn’s einer so noch haben will, wohlan! Eine solche Abrechnung mit der früheren Heimat muss selbst einen Gast betroffen machen.

Aber die USA sauberer und weniger «busy»? Dort, wo ich während knapp zwei Jahren, wenn ich nicht Acht gab, mit meinem Mountainbike auf dem Heimweg den immer gleichen Kadaver eines Opossums überfuhr, bis der, kurz vor meiner Abreise 2001 papierdünn geworden, weggeweht wurde? Dort, wo Schulklassen und Burschenschaften Highway-Abschnitte «adoptieren» müssen, damit überhaupt jemand die Segnungen der Fast-Food-Industrie aus den Böschungen fischt? Kleinstädtisches Leben in den eher nördlichen Bundesstaaten muss so etwas Properes und Nachbarschaftlich-Entspanntes haben, wie wir es auch noch kennen und wie es unter den immer zahlreicheren riesigen Wohntürmen in Incheon bald gar keinen Platz mehr haben zu haben scheint.

Sittlichkeit, und die wird bei Konfuzius sehr grossgeschrieben, gebietet Abstand zum Unreinen. Solan¬ge der Abstand mit Vermeidung erreicht werden kann, spielen den Koreanern ihre bis ins Sterile reichende Pingeligkeit und ihre Emsigkeit in die Hände. Atemmasken allerorten. Schilder mit «…take all your trashes (sic!) with you…» noch auf 1’600 m ü. M. Und es wirkt: Achtlos weggeworfenen Müll am Strassenrand, auf Wanderwegen oder in Bussen und Bahnen müsste man detektivisch suchen gehen. Dabei gibt es kaum Mülleimer im öffentlichen Raum, und so ein Wegeputzfahrzeug wie bei uns habe ich hier noch keines gesehen. Auch wo das nett Hergerichtete, das Aufgeräumte, schön Drapierte nur durch millionenfache Handgriffe erreicht werden kann, finden sich immer Heerscharen von Arbeitskräften, meist Frauen der älteren Generation, die unermüdlich Unkraut jäten, Gemüse auf gleiche Länge schneiden und entfitzeln, um es dann auf Knie- oder Knöchelhöhe im offenen Verkauf feilzubieten. Obst im Supermarkt? Etwas für Snobs, möchte man meinen. All diese Formschalen, Pölsterchen und mit Monster-Klarsichtfolie bespannten Panzerkoffer. Alles, was schlechter als makellos aussieht, gilt als minderwertig. Auf diese Makellosigkeit achten sie auch bei ihren Gesichtern und Händen, was ihnen diesbezüglich eine fast porzellanartige Anmutung verleiht. Bei einigen Koreanerinnen erlebt man, wenn sie in einem öffentlichen Transportmittel platznehmen, dass sie ihre Puder- und Schminkedöschen aufklappen und – ich übertreibe nicht – eine ganze Fahrt mit nichts anderem verbringen als dem Sich-noch-schöner-Machen und sehen dabei am Anfang wie am Ende aus wie aus dem Ei gepellt. Und das (Sich Schminken) ist nicht etwa verpönt oder ein Zeichen ungehörigen Benehmens. Kombiniert mit allem anderen ergibt sich so ein ausgeklügelt wirkendes, kulturell gefestigtes System gestaffelt aufsteigender Reinlichkeit, die auf dem Boden und bei den Schuhen, die man sich im Eingangsbereich der Wohnungen auszieht, bevor man seine Füsse auf den um einen Absatz erhöhten Wohnbereich setzt, beginnt und sich über Hausschuhe, Küchenschürze, Wegwerfhandschuhe und Kopfhaube bis in die Fingerspitzen fortsetzt, so dass Lebensmittel auch nach ihrer Zubereitung so gut wie keimfrei sind. So manches wird kalt oder lau gegessen. Magenverstimmung? Unbekannt. Das koreanische Essen liegt und trägt auch kaum auf.

Von Prof. Dr. Markus Weber Sutter, Institut für Energiesysteme und Fluid-Engineering (IEFE)

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