EWU Dual Degree Across the Atlantic Ocean
By Kaylie Phan
On a clear night most of us can see 2.25 million light years away and take ourselves into the Andromeda Galaxy by simply looking directly up. Looking out at the galaxies and the world can be intimidating and fascinating all at the same time. Sometimes taking ourselves to a different longitude and latitude can change our views. Two graduate students at Eastern Washington University, Galen Hyatt and Bryan Lilburn, were the first to enroll in the study abroad program that EWU offers to MBA students. After two quarters in Schmalkalden, Germany, they learned how life-changing it can be when you leave your comfort zone and move into a different time zone.
Mixed with feelings of anxiousness and excitement the evening before their 11-1/2 hour flight to Germany, they weren’t sure what to expect but believed this was one of their best decisions. Hyatt began his submersion into the German culture by rushing to his first train ride right after he landed in Germany.
Hyatt was born and raised in Washington state in an area where diversity was prevalent but not fully accepted. He describes himself as simple and outgoing with no German experience; he didn’t even know a single word of the language. He was drawn to the experience because of the accelerated pace of the program and was pushed by his dad’s encouragement.
Lilburn on the other hand, a reserved and hardworking California-bred graduate student, already had previous experiences with the German culture. His sister and brother-in-law live in Germany. Although Lilburn had no prior preparation, he at least had his sister for transportation once he landed. He began his journey sitting next to a German woman on the plane; sharing no common language, all they could do was smile at each other and use hand gestures.
Every day in small and quaint Schmalkalden, Germany, with its historic charm and medieval cobblestone paved streets, students from around the world gather to earn a master’s degree in international business while they learn how to be a part of a community and a culture away from home. At the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule Schmalkalden, FHS), an EWU international partner university, students are given the opportunity to study for two consecutive quarters in addition to their EWU MBA coursework. Directly enrolling in this program is significantly less expensive than the cost of a third-party study abroad program; tuition for each credit is simply the tuition for a credit studying at home at EWU.
Once Hyatt and Lilburn arrived at FHS Schmalkalden, they were surrounded by forested mountains and history from St. George Church with stained glass windows dating back to the 15th century, to Wilhemsburg Castle resting by the river. They were in a town where nougat candy and bratwurst are loved, and where beer is an afternoon snack considered by Hyatt’s German friends as "liquid bread."
It’s difficult to say exactly how people have changed or how two quarters studying abroad can open your mind, but for Hyatt and Lilburn studying abroad was "life-changing." Hyatt described the experience as a combination of seven classes taught in English and an "eye-opening" opportunity to gain new insights and new friends from different continents.
Now they are back in the states and enjoying the things they’ve missed, but both miss the food in Germany as well as the challenge a routine task becomes in a foreign place. Hyatt reminisced over simply grabbing food and having beers after class with his new friends. Lilburn bonded with his Brazilian and German roommates over fitness and soccer, and even picked up his Brazilian roommate’s habit of playing soccer barefooted.
As they work to complete their MBA here at EWU, both say they would do it again in a heartbeat. Perhaps next time, Hyatt said he would find out more about what to expect and Lilburn said he definitely would prepare better for the little things. Their advice to prospective students would be to learn phrases and to bring a pocket dictionary in case you need to ask for something. A pocket dictionary could save you from the hours they spent searching the whole town for a towel. They encourage students to take a stroll around the clusters of neon-colored and earthy-toned markets that are rich in culture and robust flavors. They both also advise students to use the abundant resources available at both EWU and FHS Schmalkalden.
Today there are more than 5,000 languages, and millions of us go to bed while others are waking up. As you look out on the world and notice the differences in lifestyles, learn to listen to suggestions and know that there is "more than one way to do things right" as both Lilburn and Hyatt learned. EWU encourages students to keep an open mind and embrace diversity and differences as you strive to achieve your goals. Be aware that we are not that different; learning how to work with others from different cultures with different perspectives, whether in the states or 4,000 miles away at FHS Schmalkalden, is a valuable experience.
For more information about the dual-degree, please contact the MBA Program director at 509.828.1248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.