Tag Archives: international activities

Chicks with Sticks

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 18 November 2017

My home country, the Netherlands, is very well known for its sports such as soccer and field hockey. Unfortunately, Dutch sports are not affiliated with universities like in American sports. At home, we represent a sports club and not a high school or university. For this reason, it is challenging for Dutch students to excel athletically as well as academically.

Combining sports and academics at the same place sounded ideal for me. When I became aware of this big part of the American college life, I decided to look into transferring to an American university. Now I am happy to say I am living the American dream thanks to Ohio University’s Field Hockey (OUFH) program as well as the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

Ohio University Field Hockey

I made the decision to transfer in the summer of 2015 and I immediately felt at home while wandering around the beautiful green campus of Ohio University. Playing a college sport is very beneficial for international students because we automatically gain 20+ sisters.

Over the years, my teammates—as well as my engineering friends—have become my family away from home. It is very special to realize how sports brings people together and creates strong relationships which are not limited by international borders. For example, OUFH currently represents five nationalities to compete at the highest collegiate level in the United States of America.

Ohio University Field Hockey

When we come in as freshman field hockey players, we start our collegiate career during preseason in the summer. Preseason usually lasts about two weeks and consists of multiple practices. These practices can range from one a day up to three, each lasting about two or three hours. After we get used to playing together, we play one or two scrimmages before our season starts at the end of August.

Ohio University Field Hockey

During the season, we sometimes play three games a week. Normally, we play about eighteen games a season which consists of roughly ten or more away games. This means we get to travel a lot with the team! Traveling with the team has definitely been one of my best OU experiences so far and it contributes to our strong relationships. For example, we got to visit New York City my sophomore year and we traveled to North Carolina my junior year.

Ohio University Field Hockey

On top of the games, we also practice 4-5 times a week depending on our game schedule. In the past three years, we have always had Mondays off for our required day off. Then, we would have lifting from 7:30 am till 8:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, we practice from 2:00 pm ill 5:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday—except for game days, of course.

Ohio University Field Hockey

Unfortunately, our 2017 season ended at the end of October and we are now lifting and running for up to eight hours a week max. I am really excited to start playing field hockey again this winter break at home and with the OUFH team in spring. Things will definitely be different because the Ohio Athletic Department recently hired a new head coach: Ali Johnstone. She is a former Bobcat standout and member of the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame which makes me really excited about all new athletic challenges in the near future!

Ohio University Field Hockey

Go Bobcats!

How I Became Part of the Bobcat Family

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 14 October 2017

On a Monday morning in September 2012, a 17-year old Dutch High School student decided to improve her English grade. She failed a couple of her English reading and listening exams. For this reason, she watched American TV shows like Pretty Little Liars to improve her English listening skills. Her grade still did not change much, but her love for America grew.

During this period, she became aware of American college sports and the way athletics opens up a world of opportunities because of scholarships for student athletes. Nevertheless, this Dutch field hockey player stopped dreaming about America because she was insecure about her abilities as an athlete.

This 17-year old, insecure girl was me about 5 years ago. Nowadays, I am like a butterfly that came out of its Dutch cocoon. A lot of things have happened and changed since that one Monday in 2012. I graduated High School with one C (English…) and I decided to take a year off to work on my languages. I was also denied by my med school in the Netherlands which made me doubt my decision to become a doctor. I always wanted to help people by studying medicine, but this childhood dream changed after my gap year and journey through Southern Africa.

In 2014, I traveled to South-Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique to volunteer at a Neighborhood Care Point for vulnerable children. During this 6-week teaching assistant job, I also partially-funded a construction project which made me realize one does not necessarily need to be a doctor to help others. I helped with the building process and I designed some murals to decorate the school. On top of that, I had the honor to paint them myself, so I saw with my own eyes how much it was appreciated by the community. This made me change my opinion by 180 degrees: I wanted to study engineering instead of medicine.

That Summer in 2014, I applied for a major called “Bouwkunde”—a combination of structural engineering and architecture— at Eindhoven University of Engineering and Technology. I got accepted and I started my next chapter of life as an engineering student in the Netherlands. It was a tremendous university with sophisticated students and teachers but ever since I started traveling I wanted more than the tiny Dutch cities surrounded by flat farmland.

In the meantime, I was playing field hockey on the second-highest level in the Netherlands which opened up some opportunities in the United States of America. Since my English skills were still below average by the time 2015 came around, I started to look into some transfer options to continue my studies in an English speaking country. This was when my “American Dream” appeared once again. The 17 year old High Schooler was now a confident 20 year old young adult ready for the next step in her life.

After a roller coaster of field hockey recruiting events, recorded games, Skype conversations, and loads of paperwork I finally got my American visa to continue my academics and athletics at Ohio University in Fall 2015.

It was a huge step for me to transfer to an American university but I am extremely happy that I did. Choosing Ohio University was quite a risk because I did not visit America before let alone Athens, Ohio. Nevertheless, the conversations I had with my head coach, teammates, engineering teachers, and even current students on top of the beautiful Google Maps pictures made my heart race.

The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.” —Sarah Bombell

I always say I rather try than regret not trying at all, which brought me to Athens this time and who knows what is next. Overall, this is my journey to Ohio University and now I will help you find your journey back hOUme.

Studying in Greece

Emily Morello

Emily Morello,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 11 September 2017

This past summer was probably the best summer I have ever had. The first month of May consisted of traveling to Greece with my best friend for a study abroad internship. This happened through the OU Global Consulting Program which Dr. Costas Vassiliadis, from the electrical engineering department, supervised.

It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. The program was two weeks long and took place in the city of Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is located in the upper peninsula of Greece right on the coast. The city is beautiful!

During the day, all the students met at the American College of Thessaloniki (ACT) to work on our consulting projects. We were split up into groups of 5-6 students and 2-3 of those students were from the ACT. Each group was pared with a different company to consult.

My team was pared with the Chalkidiki Flour Mills. This company is a global flour mill company that produces specialty flour blends that they ship out to other places. My team had to implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program for the company. It was a great learning opportunity.

Other than the project, we had socials, special dinners, and traveled to other cities in the free time. I also loved shopping in the city after class. Another great opportunity was being able to tour monasteries and Mount Olympus on the weekend.

After the two weeks were over, my friend Gabby and I island hopped for an extra week. We visited Ios, Santorini, and Mykonos.

Ios was incredible because it was a mountainous island that a lot of college students liked to travel to. It was cheaper than the other islands, so we stayed for three nights. We did not want to leave. We stayed at a family-owned hotel that had a gorgeous view on top of a cliff. One of our favorite things about Ios was renting ATVs to ride around the island on.

Santorini was our next stop, but we only stayed for one night. Santorini is located on a cliff and it was not what I expected at all! When looking at the city from the water, it looked like little bird nests were located on the peaks of the mountains. As we moved in closer, we were amazed by the beautiful architecture and colors of the buildings. I loved this city, but it was very touristy.

Our last stop was Mykonos before heading to Athens. Mykonos was my favorite island. We met students from the University of Barcelona that hung out with us every day. I think being with a fun group made this island the best. Mykonos is very hilly with a beautiful town located on the shore. I loved all the white
buildings and beautiful beaches. I definitely want to travel back to this island.

Athens was our final destination. Dr. V was our tour guide since he lives near Athens. He showed us the Parthenon, monuments, and the museum.

Studying abroad was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.

A Summer Abroad

Brandon Mahr

Brandon Mahr,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 6 September 2017

This past summer, thanks to the Cutler Scholars Program here at Ohio University, I was able to study abroad in Sorrento, Italy for 5 weeks. In Italy, I studied a Business/Sustainability course in order to fulfill a requirement for my minor.

My experience in Italy was absolutely amazing, and I would advise any college student to at least consider studying abroad. For engineering students, it’s often difficult to find a program that caters to your major and needs, but Ohio University’s Office of Global Opportunities (OGO) is absolutely amazing and offers an extremely wide variety of programs/courses. From working with a manufacturing company in China, to applying engineering solutions in Ghana’s impoverished areas, to studying fine arts in Great Britain, and everything in between, OGO has it.

When you are studying or volunteering abroad, not only do you have to the opportunity to grow and learn in the classroom, but you also can grow as a person. I learned a lot about business and sustainability this summer, but I learned even more about myself.


I became a more confident and adventurous person, and I did a lot of things that I may have never done before, like cliff diving off a Roman Villa into the Mediterranean, or swimming a couple of miles to visit several underwater sea caves, or engaging with complete strangers in deeply personal discussions. I really challenged myself this summer when I was in Italy, and grew a lot from it. Study abroad this summer certainly changed my life, and I would advise anyone interested in studying abroad to do it, and you definitely won’t regret it.

Preparing for Summer

Brandon Mahr

Brandon Mahr,
Junior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 27 March 2017

The cherry trees are blooming, the birds are singing, and fest season is upon us, which means one thing: summer is right around the corner. This semester has absolutely flown by, and my plans for this summer are finally starting to come together. This summer, I plan to study abroad in Italy for six weeks studying business, hopefully intern for a couple of months, and also spend some time relaxing with friends and family.

This summer I have to travel abroad in order to fulfill a scholarship requirement. After months of planning, I finally decided to go to the Santa’Anna Institute in Sorrento, Italy to study business in the European Union. The Office of Global Opportunities (OGO) here at OU is top-notch, and they helped me throughout my search. I eventually came upon the Sorrento program through OGO, and I never looked back.

As an engineering student, it is often times difficult to find an abroad program that caters towards your program, but studying abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and has many, many benefits. Think outside the box, and think of taking classes abroad that could perhaps help you achieve a minor or certificate.

I am also hoping to co-op with Toyota for a couple months before I travel abroad. I am in communications with them currently, and am trying to work out a position that lasts for only two months. Remember that intern or co-op terms typically last 3-4 months, so keep this in mind for summer plans.

Also, don’t forget to relax and spend some time with your family and friends over the summer. You only have 4 summers until you are thrust into the “real world”, so enjoy them.

Global Consulting Program

Emily Morello

Emily Morello,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 19 February 2017

Out of all the courses I am taking this semester, my favorite is my Global Consulting Program Greece Course. It’s not that I don’t enjoy engineering–I find all my courses very interesting and have great professors. It is, however, refreshing having a class that is not math or science based.

I will be studying abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece for two weeks in May for a global consulting internship through the College of Business. Before we leave for the trip, it is required for all students to attend a course that teaches us about the program.

The class meets every Monday from 6-8 pm. The first hour is dedicated to learning everything we will need to know before starting our consulting project in Greece. We were each assigned a team of four or five students to submit mini assignments throughout the semester. Some of our assignments include a team charter; country and city report; pestle analysis; decision matrix; and a presentation at the end. This course is set up similar to a “cluster”, which are team based courses that business students take for a semester at Ohio University.

The second part of the course is to learn the Greek language. This is my favorite part of my Mondays. Our professor is very personable and passionate about this trip. He makes the class fun so everyone is willing to learn. We started out learning the Greek alphabet and then learned how to spell our names. Next, we were taught simple words to hear how Greek sounds.

Each week we add on to the previous week’s topics. We learn a little about the history, cultural differences, and enhance our vocabulary. Our final exam for this course is to be able to say each phrase on a sheet that is front to back that we received the second week of class.

I am very interested in the business section of class. Ultimately, I would like to earn my Masters in Business so I can become an Engineering Manager at some point in my career. I believe that these courses and this internship will help prepare me for my MBA in the future.

I am also very excited about the travel. Like I’ve stated in my previous posts, I do enjoy traveling a lot. I cannot wait to see a different part of the world and grow as an individual. Lastly, I am very excited for all the great relationships that I will gain due to this experience.

Travel Opportunities

Emily Morello

Emily Morello,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 13 November 2016

One passion that I have always had is traveling. Ever since I was little, my family has always loved going on vacations to interesting places. My family is from Warren which is a smaller city located in northeast Ohio. There really is not much to do in this area, so any chance we get, we like to go places.

My mom’s side of the family is from Quintana, Spain. Some of my Spanish family lives in Ft. Lauderdale so we go there quite a bit to vacation. I always loved listening to their stories about living in Spain; it made me want to visit the country very badly.

One summer, however, my mom decided to switch up our usual Ft. Lauderdale visit. She is a Spanish teacher at the high school I used to attend and she organized a school trip to Europe for all of the students. When she told our family this news, we were extremely excited.

During this trip, we traveled to Spain and Italy, specifically Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Capri, and Pompeii. I was fifteen at the time and will never forget the amazing experience I had that summer.

Now that I am twenty-one and in college, all I want to do is go back to Europe to travel more. I recently applied for a study abroad program to visit Greece in May. It is called the Global Consulting Program, which even includes an internship opportunity. I am supposed to find out if I was selected for the program sometime before Thanksgiving break. Hopefully it works out!