My Semester Abroad: Yannick @ Boston University

MBS Yannick Manuel Ramcke BU

Yannick Manuel Ramcke, Master Sports Business and Communication student at MBS, has just headed to the US to do his studies abroad at Boston University (BU), and obtain a Dual Degree along the way. Here, he regularly shares his experiences.

Update: The First Semester Is Coming to a Close

What experiences have you had since the last blog update that were particularly memorable or surprising?

Since you have heard from me the last time, we had our Spring Break here at Boston University, marking the mid-way point of the spring term. Originally, I had planned to leave for a sunny location on short notice, but just with the start of our one-week break, another so-called “nor’easter” winter storm crippled the entire US East coast north of Philadelphia. Thousands of flights were cancelled and it was virtually impossible to leave Boston. Therefore, I spent my Spring Break in snowy “Beantown.”

Otherwise, one of my highlights in the recent weeks was the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The sports technology and sports business conference is the world’s biggest summit of its kind. Fortunately, I was able to connect with some like-minded students from the MIT and Harvard, but also with students from all across the United States, as well as some industry leaders and media personalities whose content I consume on a daily basis. I also greatly enjoyed the visit from my family shortly after the Spring Break. Reconnecting with them and trips to cities such as New York made it a good time.

Something that I already mentioned the last time continues to be one of the biggest changes compared to my first weeks in Boston: living nearby the university’s campus. In this regard, it should be mentioned that Boston’s subway was the first in the United States and is often called “America’s First Subway” as it opened its first line back in 1897. However, since it still relies on that old infrastructure nowadays, congestion in the subway is a common thing here in Boston and it is extremely time-consuming if you need to take the subway to get to classes.

Therefore, I purchased a one-year subscription from Hubway, the city’s bike-sharing service, right from the start. Although being a pretty good deal for $ 99 per year, it still has not been the most convenient way to move around in Boston during the winter at the US East coast. I am looking forward to further experience the city by bike during the summer, though.

What are some things you still have planned?

I am looking forward to traveling the entire West coast (e.g., San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas) in May. I also have to start to think about how to advance after finishing my degree at BU in August. Staying for at least one more year in the United States is one option I am currently seriously considering.

Update: a New Semester Begins

How were the first weeks abroad?

MBS Yannick Boston University
George Thurman Center at Boston University.

I have already experienced many interesting adventures and got introduced to many new and fascinating people. However, my first weeks in Boston were also full of challenges, and it certainly has been cold as I arrived right during the winter at the north-east coast of the United States. Missing my luggage for almost two weeks, which mysteriously went lost during my flight from Berlin to Boston, is one noteworthy challenge.

Otherwise, I moved here with three fellowMBS students, and we decided beforehand to bridge the first several weeks with an accommodation via Airbnb in order to check out apartments on-site and in-person. Since we are all going to stay in Boston for eight months, feeling comfortable in our housing was a priority, and we did not want to commit long-term from abroad based on some pictures.

Just a quick note: if you think rents are high in Munich, come over to Boston. The city not only hosts the Boston University, but also other large and highly regarded educational institutions such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northeastern University, and Boston College, amongst others. After some time, we found a tremendous apartment right next to the campus and we have been in the process of furnishing it for the last several days.

The university itself does a great job supporting international students, and the range of offered services is breath-taking. There has even been a little bit of an overload of mandatory events at the beginning, but now international students can really pick and choose in which events to take part (e.g., get-togethers such as bowling events, pitch competitions, wide range of student organizations) according to their personal interests!

Have there been things that surprised you?

MBS Yannick Boston University
Marsh Chapel at Boston University.

Given that Boston University is a major institution with over 30,000 attending students, I expected a much less familiar setting during classes and lectures. However, I was surprised quite positively that the learning environment is much closer to that of MBS. In terms of differences to MBS, weekly assignments and readings are much more prevalent and time-consuming. However, the academic level is actually not overly high; therefore, I am happy that I chose courses which cover topics I have never attended academic courses in before.

Have you joined any student organizations or gone on any trips?

Indeed, I joined an intramural soccer team at BU with training and games on a weekly basis. The season is just getting started, but it already has been a tremendous way to get to know new people. While also finishing my Master thesis over the last few weeks, there was not much time to venture out of Boston. However, given my interest in sports business and media, I took the chance to drop by a major eSports tournament: The ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018, which was hosted in the Agganis Arena right next to my gym on the campus.

My take-away: I am certainly no expert in eSports; in fact, I have never watched a second of competitive gaming either via stream in the Internet or in real life before. But the “eventization” and “medialization” of the tournament inside the arena was spectacular. Although I did not get much of the gaming itself, and often couldn’t even identify why a player won or lost, I certainly see potential for eSports as an event sports – checking out streams in the internet to follow the “sports” is still another thing as far as I concern.

Why did you select your host university?

There was not a question to which country I wanted to go: after having spent a term abroad at University of Michigan during my Bachelor’s degree in 2015, I have been intrigued to experience the American culture, sports, and lifestyle for a longer period of time. Thus, my upcoming stay at the Boston University is just the next step to figure out whether I can imagine living in the United States even after I finish my current studies. I looked at locations like Texas or San Diego and the weather certainly was enticing. However, after having visited Boston for a one-day trip in 2015, I knew that it would be my favorite option. The opportunity to combine my spring term abroad with summer school at Boston University to obtain a second Master’s degree in “Innovation & Technology” topped off the package.

What do you think might be different than at MBS?

The classes at MBS – especially in my Sports Business and Communication program – are very small and therefore quite interactive and engaging. I certainly expect larger audiences in the lectures at BU. In contrast to MBS, I am also going to have classes primarily in the evening, which I really like since I will have time to explore the city and surroundings during the day. Also, the campus of the university is spread over a large area of Boston and creates great opportunities to come in touch with other students, especially with students from other majors. So far I solely studied at business schools where you are constantly surrounded by like-minded people – time to break out a little bit.

What do you hope to gain during your semester abroad?

I have two primary goals during my stay in the United States: first, I really like the course selection I was able to make. I think getting a better understanding of fields like the digital world, e-commerce, and modern marketing techniques will be tremendously beneficial regardless of what I am going to do later on and is quite different from my previous concentrations; secondly, I want to get to know the field of sports business in the United States. I already tried to connect with some people and am looking forward to get in touch with interesting people. Like the ‘MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference’ in Boston, the United States host some of the world’s most renowned conferences and networking events of this industry.

What are you excited about as you begin your semester abroad?

I don’t know whether “excited” is the appropriate word, but I really enjoy to challenge myself with unfamiliar settings. Trying to figure out where to go shopping, go to the gym, or the best places to eat is always interesting and it clearly takes some time to find a certain daily routine. But I am looking forward to that and already count the days until it begins.