Phone Home…

A fresh new week of school seems to have brought a surprising amount of pep in my life! After settling down from my vacations with my sister to Berlin and München, I have had the great experience of starting back up with all of the classes, all of the reading and preparation, and fortunately all of the beautiful weather! Today when I left for my Family Business class, the weather was around -2°C (27ish°F), but by the time my class was over, I was able to take a nice stroll along the River Rhein and enjoy some unseasonably warm 10°C (50°F) weather. I’m still learning to adjust to the metric system, but even though ten degrees sounds fairly cold, I would never turn down how beautiful the weather has been! It’s sad to say, but in times like these, I kind of have to appreciate global warming… 🙂 (oops… did I say that?! Just kidding)

German classes also started back up today. In my class there are about 8 students, coming from places such as Norway, China, Hungary, and of course the US! The entire class was taught in German, save two or three simple explanations in English. Impressively enough, though, I was able to survive fairly well. I’m picking up a lot more of this language than I thought I would be. In the beginning I told a few people that learning to read Braille with my elbows would be easier, but with each stride the language becomes easier to digest and understand. For tomorrow’s lecture, I have several assignments for homework: one is to fill out a map with all of the different German states and label their capitals, another is to complete a worksheet concerning the geography and climates of Germany and its surrounding countries (all in German of course), and finally the last is to make a journal of everything I’ve done tonight. Tomorrow we will begin learning the past tense, so all of the verbs in the journal will help segue into the new chapter of studies. I must say, the language department at EBS is very unique, inasmuch as it finds very creative ways to help teach a quite difficult language.

Today I also managed to purchase a phone number for my Internet telephone. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of my family and many of my close friends for very nominal charges. I was able to speak with several members of my church (which is also my work), who surprisingly enough are as anxious about my return as I am! The music minister posted a link on the website,, so that the members of Oak Park Baptist can stay informed as to what all is happening on the other side of the pond. I’m very happy to have spoken with everybody today, and hearing everybody’s voice really helped out on the homesickness.

Even though I do miss everybody a great deal at home, school, and at church, I cannot begin to describe how wonderful of an experience this has been so far. I can honestly say that this past month and a half has probably been the most exciting of my life. I cannot thank everyone enough for all of the support and encouragement that has placed me here! I also cannot fail to mention how appreciative I am to David and Betty Jones for their gracious contribution to the funding of this trip. Without them, I would not have been able to enjoy what all this wonderful country has to offer.

Despite the fact that Östrich-Winkel is quite the “thriving metropolis,” there have been a few nights with significant down time. And while I do enjoy reading and studying, sometimes it’s good to go out and try something new. Last night, I did just that. Several of the Tauschies were discussing a Salsa Dance class that was going on in town, and they invited me to come. At first, I thought it was the silliest thing ever — ME… DANCING?! But after second thought (and a little convincing from my friends), I headed off to Rüdesheim, a town just a few minutes outside of Oesterich-Winkel, for one of the most enjoyable evenings of my life. I had a blast with all of the other students, and since we were all beginners, there was practically no room for embarrassment. So while in a new country, I figure why not Carpe Diem and try something new? Who knows, when I get back I may be able to Salsa AND speak German. That, my friends, is going to be a marketable talent. I guess I’ll have to discuss that with the people in the Ulmer Career Center before I go ahead and post it in my resume…

It’s getting rather late now, and I must sign off to finish up some last minute work for my classes tomorrow. So until the next post, Tschüss!

Mark Ritter

One month and still going strong…

The last month here in Östrich-Winkel sure has been an exciting one, each day filled with all sorts of unique tasks and challenges. But overall, I can assuredly say that the knowledge I have acquired coupled with the stories and adventures that I have experienced have made this trip well worth packing up and leaving my comfortable old home in Louisville for five plus months!

The weather here is not usually the best, it’s rained about 60% of the time, with temperatures rarely above 10 degrees Celsius — it’s usually very gloomy. According to many of the locals here, however, I’ve learned that this region, the Rheingau (Rhine Valley), is one of the warmest in Germany. It is ideal for vineyards, thus it is certainly true that there are vineyards as far as the eye can see. I live in Hallgarten, which is approx. 3 kilometers from the Schloss (Castle) Campus of EBS. It’s on a hill, so from my flat I can see the Rhine in all its beauty, along with the countless vineyards. Most of the days one of my flat mates or some French students with cars who also live in Hallgarten will drive me to school, but I have had the pleasure of walking a few times. It’s usually chilly outside…. alright freezing! But nevertheless, it’s very scenic.

As you can imagine, the first week I was here was jam-packed with introductory activities. There are about 50 Tauschies (exchange students); we come from many different places: Canada, China, Korea, Uruguay, Norway, Chile, France and the USA. As planned by EBS, we took several trips. So far I’ve seen Wiesbaden, a very popular shopping district where I had the opportunity to try out my less than desirable German skills ordering coffee and Schnitzel, Mainz, where we saw the Gutenberg printing press museum and the only standing building in that area after WWII (a cathedral, spared because its sheer height served as a point of orientation for the pilots), Frankfurt, where we visited the Anne Frank museum and took a bus tour of the city, and good ol’ Oestrich-Winkel, the area where we live. The EBS took all of us out our first night to a nice Italian restaurant and bought us all food and drinks. It was amazing. Although they have quite a few problems with class scheduling and IT issues, they are very kind to their students. I feel very welcomed and at home here.

I’ve made a lot of friends here, and we’ve taken several trips ourselves to varying cities. Koblenz was one of my favorite cities. There we walked along the river and saw monuments and buildings that were so architecturally amazing, they’re not even fathomable in the US. We saw the oldest church in Koblenz, founded in 836 AD. In 842 AD discussions took place within the church which eventually led to the division of the Franconian Empire–basically the establishment of Germany and France as separate entities. Basically, it was an amazing trip (even though we got lost on the way home!) Also, I’ve taken a trip to Köln (Cologne), where I was able to visit Fantasialand!, the most amazing amusement park in Germany. I went with 3 other Americans; we rented an apartment for 2 nights and had an unbelievable time sightseeing and just learning about the area.

My sister flew to Germany last week to visit me — that’s what happens when you can find flights as cheap as $400 on! Fortunately, I had almost the entire time off of school, so we were able to travel to Berlin and Münich, seeing relics of the wall that formerly divided the city into the Communist East and Democratic West and Castles such as Schloß Neuschwanstein, the inspiration castle for Disney’s Cinderella Castle, which is tucked away in the Bavarian Alps. We had an amazing time visiting all of these places. We spent last night in a Frankfurt hotel close to the Airport because my sister had an early morning flight back home. On Sundays there is only one bus that runs through Hallgarten, and it passes around 10:45-11:00 PM, so staying in Frankfurt was practically our only option.

On a slightly more academic note…My classes are always a blast here at the European Business School, although I really miss the scheduling of U of L. We don’t have any two weeks that are ever the same, and classes sometimes run for a few days and others for a few weeks. It is important to daily check online to see where you’ll have to go next because of how frequently they rearrange the classes. I have very knowledgeable professors who teach outstanding lectures, although, some tend to be more outstanding than others (of course :)). I have enjoyed taking a Strategy Development class, part of a Strategic Management module, which includes parts of Business Ethics, Socio-Scientific Functions and Strategy Implementation — Adam Hanzalik and I take that class together and have been able to demonstrate a lot of the concepts we’ve learned from classes at U of L. I am also fond of my Family Business class, which has turned out to really allow me to critically think and analyze a lot of important factors in successful family businesses. I suppose the reason I like it so much is because of my interactions with my family’s business, Bowles Mattress Company . Surprisingly enough, Microsoft Excel is just as popular here as it is at the Business School at U of L — who would have guessed?! My Investments class is constantly referencing formulas and functions (the only problem being the lack of translation of German functions!!!) Also to my surprise, after a month of being in the country, I can speak a significant amount more of German than I ever expected. I’m not good by any means, but I can sure ask for a ride “nach Hallgarten” in the cold weather like none other! I believe I can attribute some of that good fortune to the amazing teachers at EBS’ language department. So as you can see, overall, great classes!

It’s approaching 6:00 PM, and I have a few things I need to do to prepare for tomorrow’s lectures, so I should sign off now. Until next post, Tschüss!

-Mark Ritter

Study Abroad


Berlin Wall

EBS Update

It’s been over a month now and I finally have started to adjust to life in Oestrich-Winkel. There have been so many obstacles to overcome, but things are becoming much easier. Let begin with the commute. It’s been quite the change to go from driving to school everyday to hoping on a bike in the mornings. It’s still a little too cold out for my liking but you can’t beat the view. Next there is the need to eat. This seems to be a simple task but trying to find food in the grocery store when you can’t read german makes certain items had to find. For a while I stuck to eating at the pizza place next door but now I have some german studies under my belt so the grocery is no longer a daughting task.

Another different thing about living here is the schedule of classes. I have already completed two courses and in another I just have to take the exam before it’s complete. Attached you’ll see a picture from the first course I took in Asset Backed Securities. (Future CEOs) You’ll notice what a large variety of international students come to EBS. While there are lots of French students there are also students from Canada, Sweeden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Norway, Britian, Uruguay, Chile, Spain, Italy, and many more.

My trip has been a blast so far and I’ll post again soon. For now, I’ve gotta run and get ready for my trip to London on Monday.