Making (simulated) millions at ICMA!

In March 2017, Dan from University of Mary Washington joined us for our Study Abroad Programme Trading Room Challenge at the on-campus ICMA Centre. Read on to learn more…

When most people talk about their study abroad they talk about the places they travelled to and the sites they got to see but a great experiences from my time at the University of Reading was participating in a trading room simulation at the IMCA Centre at the University of Reading Henley Business School. The IMCA trading room is a fully functioning and equipped trading room capable of simulating the real life market and training finance students at the Henley Business School. I personally am a Business major and was super excited to see what a trading simulation would be like.

Going into the simulation I had very little experience in a trading environment but never the less couldn’t wait to give it a shot. When I got there all the participants were seated and briefly explained the rules and how the simulation would work. I remember the teacher explaining the controls saying it normally takes students over a year of classes and training to get to the trading room but you all are going to learn in 15 minutes.

The simulation worked like this. We all had a starting amount of money and no stocks. We could choose from a limited number of stocks such as Google and Morgan Stanley to buy and sell. Every 15 seconds there would be a ‘call’ from another bank asking for a buying and selling price, and based off what you enter the bank either buys or sells stocks from you. The entire market was influenced by simulated news events. There was a contest amongst the group for who could make the most money and who could make the least money.

So, after very little explanation the simulation started and we were off. The whole hour long simulation passed in a blur. It seemed to only take around 5 minutes. The entire room was dead quiet except for the sound of frantic clicking and typing.

Looking back the trading room simulation was an amazing experience. As a Business major it was cool to experience how stock trading works in a real time environment. Study abroad is not just about the experiences you know you will have by traveling and experiencing new things. It is also about the small unexpected experiences you have along the way that you will always remember.

NB: The Erasmus & Study Abroad Office would like to thank Dr Michael Smith of the ICMA Centre for facilitating this event for Study Abroad Programme students.

Exploring far and wide in Enhancement Week…

Taylor from the University of Georgia used her Week 6 in February 2017 to venture to the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. How will you use yours? Taylor will likely give you some ideas!

At the University of Reading, Week 6 is known as Enhancement Week. Enhancement Week aka ‘Opportunities Week’ gives students time and hosts events to develop their study skills, personal goals, and employability. I choose to spend that week going on my first trip outside of England since arriving. Some of my friends chose to travel to Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy. I chose to start a little closer to Reading in Ireland and Scotland. Many people find they get the most out of a trip traveling solo, but I am a people’s person. I was able to find another study abroad student from Missouri to join me, Laura. Although Laura and I do not have much in common, it was nice to have a travel buddy. We made four major stops: Dublin, Glasgow, Isle of Skye, and Edinburgh. The total trip lasted for eleven days, so I’ll do my best to condense all my adventures.

Our first stop, Dublin, Ireland, was for three days where we met up with another study abroad student from New Jersey named Terry. Our hostel, Barnacles Hostel Dublin, was in the center of the area known as Temple Bar. We spent our time seeing sights such as Christ Church Cathedral, the Guinness Factory, and the Dublin Zoo. The Guinness Factory is a must and I recommend saving your free beer that comes with your entry ticket for Guinness’ Gravity Bar. One night, we went on a pub tour where we went to Whelan’s Pub, the pub where P.S. I Love You was filmed!

Next stop was Glasgow, Scotland. We only spent a night there to meet up with our tour bus the next morning. That tour bus, Rabbie’s, would take me on an adventure I will never forget. Over the course of three days, Laura and I became friends with ten strangers. We drove through the Scottish Highlands stopping in Glencoe where the James Bond movie Skyfall was filmed, Fort William, and finally landing in Portree on the Isle of Skye where we would spend the next two nights.

From what I had seen that first day, Scotland was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, but I would still only be amazed the next two days. Day two we started in the Fairy Glenn. I felt as if I had walked onto the set of Lord of the Rings in the hobbit’s Shire. It was beautiful and magical. After, we stopped on the shores of Glendale and Staffin Bay Beach where we saw real fossilized dinosaur footprints.

Unfortunately, day three came and it was time to leave the Isle of Skye. We would catch a ride to Edinburgh, but on the way back we stopped for a tour at the Eilean Donan Castle and walked around the Loch Ness for lunch. My words do not do justice to the beauty I experienced in the North. If you ever get the chance to go, you will not regret it. The last five days, Laura and I would spend in Edinburgh. By this time, we were exhausted, but still wanted to see more. My favorite part of Edinburgh was the Zoo. It was incredibly open and interactive. I walked through a marsupial exhibit and stood two feet from a wallaby. All in all, I am forever grateful for this experience and look forward to more trips during my time abroad.

A myriad of experiences on Reading’s doorstep…

Cameron, who joined the University of Reading Study Abroad Programme from the University of Florida in January – June 2017, found there were so many experiences to be had within a short journey from Reading. Join him as he takes a trip to the British Museum in London…

One of the experiences that I have had during my time at the University of Reading was a trip I made to the British Museum in London. While I’m aware that museums are not exactly a great many people’s cup of tea, I for one love them. I think it comes from being someone that has always loved history. The British Museum is particularly interesting in that there are numerous artefacts from across the world that are on display. For one they have jewellery from Sumer that is close to five thousand years old, as well as sarcophagi from Ancient Egyptian tombs. Not to mention a rather impressive collection of Ancient Greek sculptures.

To me perhaps the most striking were the carvings on display from the Ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud. These carvings were actually part of the interior decoration of the royal palace and depict scenes from the daily life of the rulers of Assyria to their military conquests. Also, for anyone with an interest in medieval history like me, they have numerous artefacts from the Saxon and Viking period in England. This encompasses artefacts from the 7th century Sutton Hoo burials, including the ornate and famous helmet. In all honesty the British Museum is a must see for history buffs, but keep in mind that the place is huge and it would take most of a day to actually enjoy all of it.

Finally, if anyone is interested in visiting the Museum, it’s only a half-hour train ride from Reading to London, and a ticket for a train ride covering both the round trip to London and unlimited trips on the London Underground for a day costs only about £20.

Do you want a cuppa tea?

Well by all means sit back and relax with a cuppa as Sarah, studying abroad from the University of Mary Washington from January – June 2017, reflects on the British food and drink she encountered while here, and a whole lot more besides…

Yes, the Brits do drink tea as much as you think. It has only been a few weeks since I arrived at the University of Reading and I am loving every minute of it! Before I arrived in the United Kingdom, I had never been to the UK or mainland Europe. So when the University of Reading Erasmus & Study Abroad Office offered a trip to explore the sites within the UK I jumped on the chance to explore! One of my first trips within the United Kingdom was to the little village of Bourton on the Water and the Blenheim Palace!

Bourton on the Water is your quintessential English village with traditional cottages, elegant low bridges, and beautiful parkways. Here, I experienced my first full English breakfast at an English tea room!

I also got to tour Blenheim Palace! The Palace was built for the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, in the 18th century. It is also the childhood home of Winston Churchill. The Palace was an incredible sight to see! The Palace was filled with decorative china and intricate portraits, paintings, and tapestries. There were also vast areas of gardens (including a waterfall) and land for grazing sheep.

This was an amazing first trip after getting settled into my accommodation in Windsor Hall. The best part about living in Windsor Hall is the close knit community of study abroad students. Being so close allows us to bond over our study abroad experiences and creates an amazing way to make new friendships. Living right outside of Park Eat also has its perks. Park Eat is truly the life of the campus. It is a place where people gather to watch sports games and highlights, meet up with friends after modules for food and drink, and prep for a fun night at the Union! I can’t wait to see what else awaits during the rest of my study abroad experience!

 

 

Creating friendships that last a lifetime…

For Michaela, from the University of Rhode Island, its the people she met at the University of Reading that made her Study Abroad Programme experience here a home away from home. Join her as she reflects on January – June 2017…

When you take part in a study abroad program, you sign up for more than what’s proposed in the name “Study Abroad’. Not only do you leave an academic system that you’ve already adjusted to, but you leave your old university home and respective social groups.

Coming from the University of Rhode Island, where the campus acts as a student city filled with familiar faces, I knew no one here. However, I soon realized that didn’t mean I was alone. Since the first day of orientation, I’ve met countless other international students which turned into a close group of friends. I’ve also become friends with my English flat mates, as well as the English flat mates of my international friends. With their help, I have created lifetime friends and experienced the social life they have to offer.

The Erasmus and study abroad team has helped expose me to new places around the UK and test the waters of exploration through the comfort of the University. The picturesque Whiteknights campus continuously gives me a friendly and safe atmosphere while its location gives easy access to England’s capital and a subsequent gateway to all over Europe.

In a time where everything is new and you’re forced to immerse yourself into a culture that is unique to your own, the University of Reading and its community has managed to make it a home away from home.

Reading: location, location, location and so much more…

Just what is it about Reading? Hedyieh from Colorado State University, who studied abroad with us from January – June 2017, tells us more…

I took a chance with Reading and chose this school out on a whim. I knew it was super close to London and that the academic program at the university was very good for many courses but little did I know how thankful I would be for Reading. With the 5 months I have had here, Reading has grown on me each day and I am so glad that this was the place I decided to make my home.

Lets start with academics. So many programs here in Reading are flourishing. I have been challenged studying for exams and essays due to the rigor my professors provided for me. I loved the practicals offered as well. I am a biomedical science major and neurobiology had a really cool practical. I have never dissected a brain and having that opportunity was incredible. Professors here are really passionate about their work and give as much information as they can throughout their lectures.

Location, location, location. Reading is the perfect place to be honest. It is a thirty minute train ride to London and nearly an hour or two to other cities and places like Oxford, Dover, Cambridge, Stonehenge, Bath, etc. It’s amazing! Besides London Stansted Airport the other three airports are super close and choosing any of them for a cheaper flight was perfect. While traveling Europe I never had a plane ride longer than two and a half hours which was so nice, England is so central. With so many friends who were also studying abroad I was able to go to London and back as often as I would like for a very reasonable price.

Living in Reading was perfect because it was not as expensive as living in London. What is there to do around here? Everything. Town center is awesome and its where my flatmates and I found ourselves with any downtime in Reading. You could walk or catch the 21 bus and get to town in fifteen minutes. Any home goods and groceries needed throughout the term were easily accessible and there was a variety of stores to choose from. Popular shopping stores and restaurants are everywhere. Bars, pubs, and clubs are open every night and provide an evening filled with dancing or cheering on a football team.

Reading has a small town vibe, it is not very big and most of it can be visited within a few hours but that is the best part of it. There is not a certain type of people living here, it is a big melting pot of diversity so every person you will see has a different style in clothing and you will run into people of all ages. Everyone here is so friendly and it is so nice having that kind of environment when going out or just spending a day in town with friends. I could not be more comfortable in this awesome town.

 

Reflecting on the distant (and not so distant!) past…

Join Dan from the University of Mary Washington (January – June 2017) as he reflects on his study abroad at Reading, as well as further back in time…

As my time studying abroad at the University of Reading draws to a close, when I look back and reflect on my experiences, one of my favorite aspects of studying abroad at the University of Reading was the guided trips put on by the study abroad office. The study abroad trips were wonderful because the study abroad office provides transportation and an itinerary of ideas of what to do. The study abroad trips consisted of many members of the study abroad program visiting some place in the United Kingdom all together. All of the trips were amazing because on my own I may not have ever found out about the places we visited and got to hang out with the rest of the study abroad group.

My favorite trip put on by the study abroad office was the trip to Stonehenge. Stonehenge to me is one of the must see places when visiting the United Kingdom. Coming from the United States, it blows my mind just how old the site is and how people from thousands of years about managed to move such large rocks.

The Stonehenge trip started out on a cloudy day with around forty members of the study abroad group waiting for the bus to arrive. The first thing I always enjoy about the trips is that you get to hang out with and talk to members of the study abroad group that you would not normally do so. Talking with other members of study abroad is honestly one of the best things about the whole experience because typically in my everyday life I interact with the same people. It is a fascinating experience to branch out and talk to people from other countries and cultures.

After getting on the bus it was around an hour journey to Stonehenge. I always enjoy the bus rides because I like to just look out the window and see the country side of a country I am not from. When we arrived at Stonehenge the bus dropped our group off at the visitor center and we all had the option of take shuttle or walk a little over ¾ of a mile to get to the rocks. I decided to walk. I think it is always important when visiting to see as much as possible because that is of course what I am study abroad to do.  To see new places and have new experience that I typically wouldn’t have in my everyday life. The walking path took me through beautiful landscape of green open fields filled with sheep with little patches of forest scattered here and there. The fields were also dotted with large mounds, which after reading several signs I found out were burial mounds from around the time after the completion of Stonehenge.

After walking a bit further I got my first sight of the famous monument that is Stonehenge. The first thing I noticed is how big the rocks actually were. All pictures I had seen don’t give credit to the scale of the actual thing.

That is something else that I learned while on my study abroad. You can watch videos of a place and see tons of pictures but you don’t ever fully experience a place until you are up close to it and get the feeling of the area around it. Stonehenge was an amazing place to visit. It is a great experience to see a place that I have heard people talk about all my life.

Study abroad is a great idea because you have experiences and create memories that you will have for the rest of your life.

How my study abroad adventure at Reading began…

Taylor from the University of Georgia studied abroad with us at Reading from January – June 2017. Here she reflects on her first few weeks at Reading…

The greatest part of studying abroad is making your own adventure. Here is the story of how mine began.

When I left home at the end of December, I first went to Germany to visit my best friend. I met her when she studied abroad in my American high school 7 years ago! Yes, we kept in touch. I spent an amazing week with her in Dortmund.

Eventually it was time for me to check into the University of Reading; I flew from Düsseldorf and landed in the London Stansted Airport. Little did I know just how difficult it would be to get from Stansted to the city of Reading. A bus, an Uber, a lot of recently converted pounds, and three hours later I arrived at Northcourt outside Benyon Hall. To my dismay it was 10:00pm at night. It appeared to be empty, but a nice security guard who shared my name, Mr. Taylor, kindly helped me check in and walked me to my building. I was exhausted, lonely, and completely bored unable to connect to wifi. I remember laying in bed that night thinking “what have I done”. Despite realizing I left my boyfriend and dog (you can see where my priorities are) for six months, I didn’t cry. I was hoping things would turn up and this would become one of the best decisions of my life. I was right, within that first week I met several friends who would quickly become my “family” here. They were also study abroad students from all over: America, Italy, Ukraine, Australia, and Turkey. These people have become my lifelines here. We travel together, party together, even have chill nights just watching movies in the common room.

My first week at the University of Reading I learned two important things. One, plan ahead especially when traveling, but don’t get discouraged when it takes longer than expected. Two, be outgoing, talk to everyone you meet and really get to know them. That is how you make friends that will last a lifetime.

 

Adventure of a Lifetime

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Jake studied abroad at the University of Mississippi in the USA as part of his History degree at Reading. A few months on after returning to Reading after a semester abroad, we find out how he made the most of his time there. 

So my study abroad experience is finally coming to an end. I absolutely cannot believe that my time in the United States and at Ole Miss is pretty much up, and that soon I will be boarding a plane headed for home. These last few weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of exams, parties and visits to other parts of the nation. Recently, I endured the stress of finals week and the novelty of juggling writing essays, studying for tests, and attending classes as well as the other million things I have had to do. But after those were done with it was time to celebrate and look forward to enjoying some well-earned time off over Christmas. Then came the dreaded last day in which I had to bid farewell to Ole Miss, my fellow international students and American friends. This was much more difficult than as I had imagined it to be a few months ago and indeed I am fairly reluctant to leave. On the bright side I have made many good friends from all over the globe whom I plan on staying in touch with, and while not overly enthusiastic to return home I am excited to see everybody there.

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

International Students

Since my last post I met up with my Dad, Brother and American family in New Orleans, Louisiana and explored the historical town. We enjoyed a few drinks on the world-famous Bourbon Street and took a tour of the Mississippi river on a traditional paddle steamer. The city certainly has a lot of character and is incredibly lively at all times of the day, particularly in the French Quarter where were staying. Then over Thanksgiving I decided to take a last minute hiking trip to Colorado and see the Rocky Mountains for myself. This was been something I had always wanted to do and so this week-long break provided the perfect opportunity to tick something off of my bucket list. I can safely say that the views did not disappoint even slightly. The mountains, forests, and the hiking trails were all breath-taking, beautiful and something I am never likely to forget. Despite the freezing weather and snow (-10 °C at one point!) the warm reception I received from the people of Denver made the trip all the more worthwhile. Again this was just another amazing thing I was able to do as part of this whole experience studying abroad and I feel very lucky to have been able to do so.

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Paddle Steamer on the Mississippi river in New Orleans

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Colorado Views

I am currently staying in Memphis, Tennessee for a weekend before I fly back home next week and I’m taking this time to relax and do a few touristy things. I managed to catch a Grizzlies basketball game last night and pretend to know what was going on, and today I visited the home of the King himself, Elvis Presley’s mansion and estate at Graceland. This weekend has also provided an opportunity to reflect on my time here. Studying abroad in the United States was something that I had wanted to do well before I even applied to university and all of my expectations have been met and then some. To anybody reading this debating whether or not to sign up for a semester or year abroad, I have said it before but I’ll say it again, just go for it. Take the plunge and go on an adventure of a lifetime.

Jake

Missed Jake’s last blog post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2kWn3eU

Upgraded to Business Class after the Goodbyes

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Harriet is studying abroad at the Colorado State University (Fort Collins) in the USA as part of her English Literature Degree at Reading. After spending a semester abroad, this is her last post covering her last month in the USA!

So my Study Abroad experience has finished and I can honestly say that it was the best experience of my life so far. In my last few weeks at CSU I experienced Thanksgiving – it’s basically just Christmas but without any presents. I spent the week with my friend and her family and it was great to feel involved with the true American culture. The food was also amazing! When I was at my friend’s house we visited Denver one night, which is the capital city of Colorado. We went to the Aquarium and also just explored downtown a bit, so it was nice to see other parts of Colorado. It was also great to just have a week of no work after having eleven solid weeks at University without a break!

After Thanksgiving I had a few more weeks of classes before finals week, and it finally snowed! It snowed a lot more than it usually does in England, and the snow stayed for about a week before melting. It was so cold but worth it because Colorado is really gorgeous in the snow, especially the mountains.

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Soon enough it was finals week. I had been dreading it, however exams were not even nearly as hard as exams in Reading – I got 2 hours for each exam to answer short questions without writing any long essays. I finished really early in every exam and I think my grades are looking okay. One of my exams was also online so for this we were allowed to look at our notes whilst we were taking the exam! It is definitely easier to get good grades in America than it is in the UK!

After finals week I went to Seattle, Washington with my roommate and my friend from Reading. We stayed with my roommate’s family who were really accommodating and made us feel incredibly welcome. We had an amazing week and saw sights such as the Space Needle, Gas Works Park, the famous gum wall, and took a ferry across to Bainbridge Island. On our last day in Seattle we went Snow Tubing in the mountains, which was incredible. You basically sit in a rubber ring and go sledding, but being in the mountains made it an even more amazing experience. Seattle is a beautiful city and it’s very historical so it was interesting to visit, and it was also great to get to spend more time with my roommate before having to say goodbye.

Leaving the US and my roommate was most definitely the hardest part of my experience – I just did not want to leave, and if I had had the option to spend the entire year in America I would have. Our flight home was quite eventful as we arrived late to our connecting flight so had to be rerouted through New York instead of Georgia. But we were upgraded to business class because of the delays, so it could definitely have been worse!

I have been talking to my roommate every day since leaving and have already planned my next trip to America, as well as when my friends from Colorado will visit England. Study Abroad was a truly awesome experience and I would not change a second of my time.

Harriet

Read Harriet’s last post here: http://bit.ly/2iL05Jc