Northwood University

The Northwood University Study Abroad Blog


Day 1: Lamanai

Yesterday our flight landed in Belize, and ever since the arrival at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel we have all become friends and created many memories in only the beginning of our great adventure together. Last night Shawna, Ben, and Javon decided to take a little swim in the beautiful pool while Thavina and Patty dipped their feet and talked. And yes, it was raining and cold, but that made it even more exciting!

On this trip to Belize there is Professor Harris, Randy the tour guide, Patty, Lisa, Steven, Javon, Thavina, Shawna and Ben. We are driving up to New River Lagoon and riding a boat up to Lamanai then driving out to see Almun Ha. A few amazing things we did was hold a baby crocodile, feed bananas to Spider Monkeys, barter with the natives, climb steep temples in the rain, watch a Jesus Christ lizard run on water, slide down the side of a Mayan mound as a short cut and see a double rainbow.

Even though we were all exhausted from exploring the tops of many Mayan temples, the night is still young so we decided to all go swimming and eat by the poolside. After dinner Ben went and grabbed a deck of cards and him, Thavina, Patty, Javon and Shawna played a long game of Spoons, that was filled with many laughs to the point of tears and injured hands. The victor was Shawna with her quick ninja like skills, and her winning prize was to pick a victim to throw in the pool. Her choice: Ben. Now that the day is over we are all going to write in our journals and pack up our belongings for tomorrows adventures!

Quote of the Night: Inspiration – Forest Gump
“There are table spoons, soup spoons, tea spoons… that, that’s about it.” – Ben

Created by Shawna Grace

Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Our professor lives a German motto. The early bird catches the worm what means, if you get up early you can enjoy a longer day and you can see more things. We had to get up very early again and drove to Halong Bay. But it was worth to get up and to drive three hours. Halong Bay is Located in the northeastern part of Vietnam and constitutes part of the western bank of Bac Bo Gulf, including the sea area of Ha Long City and Cam Pha Town and part of Van Don island district. It abuts Cat Ba Island in the southwest. Halong Bay has twice been recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Area for its exceptional scenic beauty and outstanding geological and geomorphic values. We had a wonderful time on board on a very nice traditional boad were we got lunch, drinks and a lot of sun. The only thing what I didn’t like was the kind of dirty water but that didn’t hinder us to jump from the roof into the water for cooling down. We had a great day and got a nice tan and we are sure it was not the last day on this beautiful place.

We want to come back ☺

Posted by Michael Schenk & Philipp Spielbühler

Hoh Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Straight after arriving at Ho Chi Minh City, we started to head out and explore Vietnams biggest city. Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, is Vietnam’s biggest city with 8 million inhabitants. Our first impression: WOW is that city busy. There were motorbikes as far as we could see. There were also hotels, shopping centers and restaurants between all those vendors on the streets that caught our attention. Finally, after seeing all those luxurious cars on the streets we thought that our captain flew to a destination other than Vietnam.

But we were wrong; we really had been in Vietnam. Our conclusion of this city: “COMMUNISM DELUXE”. To us, it really didn’t look like a communist country. All the buildings designed in French architecture, the international banks and upscale fashion labels made us skeptical. But after taking a closer look we also could see the other side of the coin. Both the rich and the poor really do live very close to each other in this amazing city.

On our first day, we headed out straight after getting there, giving us plenty of time to see the city. We took a tourist bus to our first destination – the reunification palace. It was quite interesting to see where their former president, Ho Chi Minh, ruled the country.

The second destination was not as nice as the first since this was a war museum and memorial. But it was still interesting to see the reasoning behind the war from the Vietnamese perspective.

Posted by Michael Schenk & Philipp Spielbühler

Kuala Lumpur

On our third day in Kuala Lumpur, a full day city tour was on our schedule. We left our hotel early – which wasn’t easy for some of us after discovering the nightlife of Malaysia’s capital the night before. But still we were all on time and headed out to see some of Kuala Lumpur’s most beautiful landmarks. We saw amazing memorials such as the war memorial of Kuala Lumpur. But that’s was not all. We also got to explore one of the most beautiful Mosques we had ever seen.

But one of our personal favorites was still yet to come: The tower “Menara Kuala Lumpur”. The Menara is a 421-meter high tower that is located on the pineapple hill in the center of Kuala Lumpur. What is worth mentioning is that the pineapple hill is already 94 meters high so that on the top of the tower we were almost as high as Kuala Lumpur’s highest building: the “Petronas Towers”.

Upon arriving at the top we got a MP3 player. Equipped with this MP3 player we could explore Kuala Lumpur from a remarkable perspective and in addition received helpful information about Kuala Lumpur’s history. And as a highlight we could locate all the places we had been to shortly before.

Generally speaking, we were really surprised about Kuala Lumpur. It is already a well-developed city with all the conveniences of a city in the western hemisphere, where we would even consider living some day.

Posted by Michael Schenk & Philipp Spielbühler

Kuala Lumpur: The Jungle City

Upon departure of Malaysia  I was thinking of how I would ever describe the past few days there. The city of  Kuala Lumpur is undoubtedly something I’ve never seen before. This urbanized city is filled with skyscrapers that tower over you. It is now home to the tallest set of twin towers in the world. The Petronas Towers are filled with businesses, amazing retail shops, and a variety of restaurants with every kind of cuisine imaginable. So as you can assume, with some of the best shopping and food, the city’s nightlife is also incredible! The streets of Kuala Lumpur are filled with local venders alongside the multitude of different hot night spots that stay open into the wee hours of the morning. This being said, sleeping gets bumped down a little lower on the priority list. 

It’s within the light of day that this fast paced urban city reveals a different side. Mixed between the concrete and growing industrialization the city also has a deeply preserved history and lush greenery. Kuala Lumpur sits in one of the worlds largest untouched jungles. It  has done an excellent job of  safeguarding the environment and using its allure to enhance the  city. We got to see this raw beauty firsthand by taking a short ride just an hour north to the Genting Highlands. After a 12 minute ride on a sky tram looking over the rolling jungle mountains you arrive at the world’s largest hotel and casino. This resort/theme park was built by  Lim Goh Tong, a man who came from nothing, but with passion and a dream created something amazing. As you can see from the photo, the view from the top is breathtaking!

 Looking back on the past few days spent in Kuala Lumpur, I have concluded that it’s really a city that never sleeps, yet lies in the most natural, tranquil jungle imaginable. Like any jungle ecosystem, it’s made up of all kinds of species of plants and animals. Kuala Lumpur is no different with its wide variety of history, culture and ranging ethnic groups. It is truly something special with this mix of growing urban industrialization and mother nature acting as a strong root system grounding it’s growth.

Malaysia is a place that embodies both the nature and the urban vibe, so I was temporarily baffled by an accurate description. After some thought, I’ve determined that it’s nothing short of The Jungle City.
– Madison Dooley

Experience of a Lifetime

I have been given the wonderful opportunity to participate in the 2011 Study Abroad Trip to Asia with Professor Robert Harris and 8 other students. Although we are only a little more than half way through this trip, I have enjoyed the overall experience and new adventures we have daily, whether it’s touring factories, learning about the different cultures, or exploring on our own.

Our first stop was Thailand, where we got to have a look at many things such as: temples, Hellfire’s Pass, the grand palace, and the Jim Thompson house. We got to hear about a couple of businesses such as a rubber plantation, Danakin (air conditioning factory), TKT (Toyota manufacturing plant), and the Mahanakorn project (my favorite by far). In Thailand, their food is a bit spicier than some of the other places we visited and a lot spicier than anything I’ve ever had in America.

Next we headed over to Malaysia, where we only spent two nights and three days, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Our hotel was located in the downtown area, so we were surrounded by so much to do. We learned about Islamic banking one day at the local university and took a tour of Genting Highlands the next day.

Now we are in Vietnam where we have visited Ho Chi Minh (South Vietnam) and Hanoi (North Vietnam). I thought it was very interesting how different the north and south are from one another. In the south it seemed much more diverse, where the north seemed to be mainly locals but more developed overall. The highlight of Vietnam for me would have to be a tie between the Cu Chi Tunnels in South Vietnam or the cyclo tour we took around town in North Vietnam.

The remainder of the trip will consist of stops in China, to see the Great Wall, and Hawaii, where we will visit Pearl Harbor. I am so excited and I can’t wait!!!

-Iesha Renee
top picture: statues of chinese warriors
bottom picture: sky tram to Genting Highlands

INTI and MSU in Malaysia

After visiting a Hindu Temple (see photo) and Northwood University’s offices at the INTI affiliate in Kuala Lumpur for a remarkable lecture on Islamic Banking by Ms. Subithabhanu Bt Mohd Hussan, we had the additional opportunity of visiting MSU-Management & Science University. It is a school of business with heavy Islamic influence including practices relating to Islamic Banking. We had a lecture from Prof. Dr. Mohd Zainul Fithri Bin Dato’ Othman. We also had a Q & A session and Dr. Othman was very knowledgeable and generous in answering all of our questions. My questions in particular were geared toward business opportunities, terrorist threats, economic stability in Malaysia, government incentives, and anything and everything I would need to know and research to do business in the country. For anyone who wants a good education abroad, I recommend INTI and MSU.

– Javon Martin

Life Lessons From Business in Thailand

While in Thailand, we went to Burapha University. We spoke with their dean and a couple of professors there. After hearing a lecture and practicing a traditional Thai dance and song, (so much fun!) they accompanied us to a global air conditioner manufacturing business – Daikin Industries (Thailand) Ltd. With worldwide locations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China, Asia/Oceania, North America, Central & South America, and Japan, let’s just say they knew a little something about international business.

We toured their training facilities, assembly line factory, and got a personal presentation on the company and international business from upper management. There were several things that I found interesting about Daikin Industries. First, there were a LOT of women that worked in the factory. When I think of assembly lines and factories, I automatically think of them as being men’s jobs. But there were actually more women working there than men – crazy! One of the speakers actually admitted that women had a better skill for some of the technical work than men did and that they “took great care”. Watching them in the factories, I was awestruck. They prided themselves on being able to spit out 20 units an hour. I watched a man that moved so quickly and seamlessly in his department on the line that you would have swore he was a robot. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the Asian culture, they’re perfectionists. They practice until they’re the best. And they are the best – at a lot of things.

The next day, we went to a rubber factory. We got to see the process of making rubber from beginning to end. We saw the trees they came from, the process of mixing the sap from trees with acid and other ingredients to make the actual rubber mix, the pouring of it into individual slots, the removal, flattening, smoking, and hanging of it to dry before it was finally loaded into trucks.
I had no idea that there was such a long list of things to do to make rubber. The place we visited was family owned. The man who showed us around was the owner’s son, and it was his grandfather who had founded the company. He wasn’t afraid to get down and idrty as he explained each step to us. I figure he probably worked there as a child and young adult, like many other children of business owners.

The atmosphere at the rubber company was completely different from that of Daikin. This one was more laid back, easy-going, and the workers seemed happier. The funny part is, the working condiditons weren’t nearly as nice as those at Daikin. So it makes you wonder if there’s some value in keeping things small and family-centered. I’d say yes, definitely.

Applying this principle to everyday life is good too. Small, simple, easy-going, and happy. Sounds like a life plan to me.

-Paige Eldridge

(Top Photo: Northwood University students along with Daikin management outside of their factory. Bottom Photo: Our guide showing us how the rubber is removed from the trees at the very beginning of the process.)

Religion in Malaysia

The variety of religions found in Malaysia is a direct reflection of the diversity of races living there. Although Islam is the state religion of Malaysia, you have the freedom to practice any religion you choose. The Malaysian people are almost all Muslims. While there, we got to visit a mosque, which serves as a place where Muslims can come together for prayer. Before entering the mosque, there was a place where worshipers could leave their shoes and put on a robe that we are all wearing as seen in the picture above. Most of us were not familiar with the religion, so it was nice to learn from this experience. One interesting fact that I learned was: Women can attend mosques, but when they do, they must sit separately from the men.

-Lisa Nguyen

The Twins

The Petronas Twin Towers are claimed to be the tallest twin buildings of the world! Located in Kuala Lumpur, the Twin Towers undoubtedly are the pride of Malaysia. It is one destination many tourists would love to visit whether its for the shopping or to see Malaysia from stories high. Unfortunately, we did not come early enough to get a ticket to see the city from up high, but we definitely got to shop. There is a sky-bridge which lies between the two towers on 41st and 42nd floors, making it the world’s highest two-story bridge. We were all amazed by the architecture and beauty of the Twin Towers.

-Lisa Nguyen