How Johannes Schmied of UW – Oshkosh Blends in With His Environment

“Anything that’s local is something that I will try and mimic and blend in in order to learn more about a culture.” — Johannes Schmied 🦘

Johannes in the United States

Johannes Schmied is originally from Austria and decided to make a career out of studying abroad after his first trip to the United States at the age of 25.

As the Immigration Compliance and IEM Coordinator at UW—Oshkosh,
Johannes works with students who want to study in the United States without the high ticket price tag associated more urban environments.

If you peruse the infographic you will see that UW – Oshkosh is the perfect environment for an international student looking to save a few pennies.

In this interview we discuss minimalism, adapting to your surroundings, and international admissions.

“Collect moments, not things.” — Dany Dover

Johanne’s book recommendation:

The Minimalist Mindset by Danny Dover

Learn more about University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh in the links below:

Full Interview Transcript

Johannes Schmied
University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

Chris: Hello, everyone. This is Chris again. Welcome to another episode of the Study Abroadcast. I’m here with Johannes Schmied who does study abroad for the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, and who is actually from Austria and has quite a bit of experience. So, Johannes, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here. I was wondering if you could just maybe give a little bit of your background and what brought you here today, what got you into study abroad and why you kept doing it. And we’ll go from there.

Johannes: Sounds good, Chris. As you said, my name is Johannes and I’m originally from Austria. I studied abroad in the United States quite a while ago while I was a college student back in my home country. I was just studying for one year abroad and I really liked everything about my time being abroad. It changed my career focus quite a bit so once I graduated, I moved to the United States. I started working with international students and I’m actually helping international students coming to America. That’s my passion, supporting international students studying abroad in the United States. But students can go studying abroad in any country and, to me, this has changed my whole life. That’s why I’m really passionate about talking about studying abroad.

Chris: How old were you when you first left, when you did your first trip from Austria?

Johannes: I was 25 when I was studying abroad in America, but most students might be much younger, especially Americans. When they study abroad, they go as freshmen or sophomores. There are quite a few students who study abroad during high school so any age is essentially possible. The younger the better I would say just because it’s easier to pick up a language if you’re younger.

Chris: Ok, and maybe talk a little bit about the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. How did you land there and if I was a student living abroad, why would I come to the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh? What’s good about that school?

Johannes: Ok, our university has quite a few majors and we have international students from all across the world. And those students who come to us, they want to live in a smaller town, not big as like Chicago or east of west coast expensive cities. Our city is only 60,000 people and our university has just over 10,000 students. We have quite a few programs that are quite prestigious. For example, our nursing program is very well known in Wisconsin and the students who graduate from here are very likely to have a job right away when they graduate. Our MBA program, our masters program in business, is something that international students are seeking out, but also the undergraduate programs on the business side. All of this can be found on our web page. You just look for the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and if international students are interested in studying abroad for a semester, a year, or a full degree in America, or at any specific university, they just have to look for the international office or an email that guides them on what they need to do to apply to a university or to our specific university. Just look for admissions to any specific university. Every university has specific criteria they need to fulfill so that you can study abroad or study at the specific school.

Chris: So it’s up to the student to contact you and make sure they’re admitted, right.

Johannes: Yeah and there are many ways how universities reach out to students, as well. Sometimes, we get tours to our campus, groups from Germany, groups from China, groups from South Korea to get to know our campus. But then there are also international recruiters who go to any country in the world to meet up with students in their home country. You can go to a study abroad fair in your home country and meet with international admissions folks from a variety of universities from a variety of countries. I would think that most countries have some kind of study abroad fair in their home country and those are often organized by private companies. So it’s one major way how international students come to a different country, just going to a study abroad fair. Nowadays, it’s also often word of mouth. We have a university student from Pakistan here and he tells his family and his friends back home this is a great place, come here. Then he shares our email, how students could contact us to go through the process of getting admitted to our university. Once students are admitted to the university, the next step would be what they need in order to get their visa to enter the country the student is admitted to.

Chris: Right. And so once they’re admitted I always like to talk about, to ask everyone if there’s some different little piece of advice as far as scholarships go and funding the study abroad. You’re obviously going to want to apply for scholarships when you do this process. What would you tell a student when they’re filling out their application or their essay for studying abroad? What would you talk about in your essay that may separate you from everyone else so you can get scholarships to study abroad?

Johannes: That depends completely on the scholarship the student is applying to. I can only refer to the scholarship our university is offering to international students. They have to complete an essay explaining why they would want to study abroad, what impacts they plan to make when they return home. So every essay might be a little different. I might not be the best person to talk generally about how to apply for scholarships. There are many places that students can apply, but you might need to talk to an expert about scholarships. Every university has some scholarships – at least that’s my assumption – and there might be different criteria for different scholarships you apply for. You might have to write several essays.

Chris: Right. What would you tell a student who’s sitting in your office and they’re on the bubble about studying abroad – I don’t really know if I should do it. We could sit and talk probably an hour about why you should do it, but what’s the reason? Is it to put on your resume, or is it for the experience, is it for the memories? What would you tell a student? What’s your number one reason why someone should study abroad?

Johannes: My personal reason was just I wanted to challenge myself, to improve my foreign language skills. I didn’t speak good English at that point when I applied to study abroad. So this was my personal reason – I wanted to challenge myself. But now that I look back at my study abroad experience and talk to other colleagues, studying abroad is spending a significant amount of time abroad. It’s just the best kind of education because you live in another country and you’re just immersed in a new environment where you have to kind of struggle through. Every day is so exciting because there are so many new things going on that you will never have problems falling asleep because you will always be so tired. And you’ll be all excited for the next day. It’s really a humbling experience to study abroad and spend a few weeks, or a few months, or a few years in a different country. It’s just a lifetime experience and I have not met students who didn’t want to talk about their experience afterward. It’s just something that really broadens one’s horizons to the world, especially to Americans. It’s such a big country, the United States, so sometimes it feels like it isn’t even necessary to go outside to see the world. But, there’s so much more to the world than the United States so I encourage anybody to spend time abroad, doesn’t matter what country you’re from. And if you look into scholarships early enough, it wouldn’t necessarily have to cost more than studying in your home country.

Chris: That’s a good answer. So now I’ve got a few rapid fire questions for you and if you get stuck on them, don’t worry. We can come back to them. You’re obviously very well travelled. Is there one epic travel story you can tell us – maybe something you’d tell at a dinner party, something funny about your travel experiences?

Johannes: There are funny stories and then there are stories of being out of your comfort zone. I’d like to share those because those are the ones I remember best.

Chris: Yes, by all means.

Johannes: There was one time when I was studying in my home country and one of my friends from Slovenia called me up and said, “I’m going in two days to Tunisia. Can you come along? The flight will be cheap.” I had nothing really going on because of the summer so I decided, yes, I’ll come along and I found myself in a country I had never been to. I had not researched much about it, I realized I don’t speak Arabic, I realized I also don’t speak French which was the second language there and I was dependent on two people. One was one of my best friends who spoke Slovenian and a bit of German and English, and the other person I didn’t know at all and he only spoke some English and I spoke some English. We were just traveling through Tunisia for one week on backpacks and there were times where I was completely on my own then because they would either go to bed or would be just talking to each other in their mother language which was Slovenian. It was something I had never experienced before and it was really interesting getting to meet the people from Tunisia, getting invited by families in their houses, spending time in their environment and seeing how people in different countries live differently. And what kind of food people eat. It was just a real eye-opening week for me. I was very tired and I was struggling during this week, but it’s something that I will always remember.

And I will always bring this up as a story because this is what made me curious to go to other countries. So that’s my story.

Chris: That’s good. Eating – I think that’s half of it. The most exciting part about traveling for me is the food. Not only what you’re eating, but when you’re eating and how long you’re eating for. It’s different everywhere. It’s interesting that you had to experience that, especially with the language barriers, too. If you have a book recommendation for everyone listening, is there something that you recommend for a good read?

Johannes: I have something that I find really an interesting concept. The book is called Minimalism – Live a Meaningful Life and it just talks about kind of cutting down on the stuff, on the materialistic things many people all around the world nowadays are drawn to. Trying not to own too many items and just trying to focus on the things that are really important to yourself. And that also plays along well with studying abroad because when you study abroad you cannot bring many things. You only have one suitcase or maybe two. You only bring the most important things. Living life in a minimalistic way and only focusing on the things that are really important to your life is a really interesting concept to me and, therefore, that is a really interesting book that’s called Minimalism.

Chris: Minimalism. Ok, I’ll put that in the link and maybe people can check it out. And then, the next question is about food – your favorite food from back home and your favorite food from traveling abroad. What is it?

Johannes: My favorite food from back home in Austria – I grew up in a rural area and our most important, the biggest, meal for me was a cold Austrian dinner which is just a multi-grain dark bread with butter and different kinds of spreads on top, or tomatoes, or pickles, different kinds of cheeses. You would just have this with family and friends, and you would sit at the dinner table for an hour and a half or two hours. So this is my food from back home. But nowadays when I travel, anything that is local, anything that people in the area I’m in are eating or drinking. If I go to Turkey, I might have a coffee. If I go to America, I might have a burger. If I go to Scandinavia, I might bicycle around. Anything that’s local that people do is something that I’m trying to mimic and trying to blend in. I’m trying to learn why they do these things and why they like them. That applies to food and it can apply to many other things. So I don’t have one specific food in my travel places. Every country has something new.

Chris: You just want to blend in with the environment and have whatever they’re known for.

Johannes: Yeah.

Chris: Then, when you walk into a bar – what will your order, what do you have when you walk into a bar?

Johannes: That again depends on what the locals do. Each place has their own specialty. I have to bring up Tunisia again because this was such an interesting place for me. We went to a bar there.

Chris: Sure, yeah.

Johannes: You could have any kind of drink, but they were different from European bars because you did not get alcoholic drinks. It was just the same as in North America or in Europe, but the drinks were just not with alcohol. It was the same thing, just without the craziness that happens when people are not sober. So no specific drink, just whatever the locals drink and that might be every bar had no specific drink.

Chris: Ok, I didn’t know that about Tunisia. Then, do you have a favorite quote, your favorite quote off the top of your head?

Johannes: Making connection to the book I recommended, the quote would be, “Collect moments, not things.” Focus only on the things that are important to you. Collect the moments, not stuff.

Chris: Right! Ok, perfect. Those are all the questions I have. Do you have anything else you want to add?

Johannes: No. As I already said, I would suggest anybody to study abroad and try to do it before you are bound down by family, or a marriage, or children. The younger you travel abroad, the easier you like it or the easier it is for you to learn the language. And the less worries you have about things that could go wrong. So I encourage everybody to travel abroad, study abroad.

Chris: Thank you very much, Johannes. We’ll put a link to his book and maybe get a little more on Tunisia when I post everything. Thank you very much and, everyone, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, it’s all on the website. So go ahead and do it there for new interviews when they come out. Thank you very much and we’ll see you on the next episode.

7 Unique Facts About UW – Oshkosh [Infographic]

Austrian Food Review Video

How To Study Abroad Twice as An Undergrad with Dilyn Riesterer

“It is for any student. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation or race is, anybody can study abroad.” — Dilyn Riesterer

Edgewood is truly a unique place in that they’ve got all the bases covered with elementary and middle schools, a high school, and college all on the same campus. So it is only natural that a college like this has a whip smart study abroad advisor to help facilitate the school’s global reach.

Not only did Dilyn study abroad twice (once in Austria, once in Germany), but she also holds a Master’s degree in Global Higher Education from the University of Wisconsin — Madison, so it is safe to say that she was a good fit for the show and someone who shares my passion for international education.

In this episode Dilyn and I discuss her own study abroad journey, overcoming fears while traveling, and learn about a European beverage that I did not know existed until now 🍌🍺.

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.— Anthony Bourdain

Full Interview Transcript

Chris: Welcome to the Study Abroadcast, everyone. This is Chris along with Dilyn Riesterer and she’s a study abroad advisor at Edgewood College. So, if you’re thinking about going to Edgewood College, or you go to Edgewood College, or you’re abroad and you’re thinking about coming to Edgewood College, listen up. We’re going to figure out how to study abroad in Madison, which is a great place to be if you’re a student or anyone. Welcome, Dilyn.

Dilyn: Thank you.

Chris: Yeah. Just a little background actually. I just read that Edgewood College got ranked on Money Magazine’s Best Value, or something, for a school. That’s pretty cool for 2018-2019. So, we’re here in Madison on the gorgeous campus of Edgewood College and thank you for being here.

Dilyn: Of course. Thanks for having me.

Chris: You’re welcome. So, Dilyn, you’re obviously involved in international education and we’ll get a little more into that, but why don’t you take us through your first time when you were a student studying abroad and the process you went through and where you went. Tell us about that trip.

Dilyn: I was studying at St. Norbert college in De Pere, Wisconsin. I was studying communication media studies, as well as just taking a few classes in the German language, and I came across an opportunity to do just a summer program in Strobl, Austria, and so this was a five-week summer program called Summer hochschule, which is basically a program that is sponsored by the University of Vienna that brought together students from 30 different nationalities to discuss and study European law, media and privacy, as well as the German language.

Chris: Wow!

Dilyn: Yeah, it was an incredible experience, so after that, I knew that studying abroad for a full semester was going to be the next step for me.

Chris: So you did the whole semester them.

Dilyn: After that, I went back to St. Norbert for one semester and then prepared to leave for my second study abroad experience, which started out with two months of intensive language training back in Vienna, Austria. Then, subsequently following that, I moved to Germany and did

A semester of studies. So that was aq really neat program that I got to spend two months in Vienna, Austria, which is just an incredible city, preparing for the language components of my university classes that I’d then be taking in Germany.

Chris: So can you speak German the, a little?

Dilyn: No, I can struggle through it.

Chris: That’s how I am in Spanish. Well, ok, so two times studying abroad. Then you got back and you went to graduate school and you did global education here in Madison?

Dilyn: Yeah, so I had a year back at St. Norbert trying to figure out what to do.

Chris: Like everyone.

Dilyn: Yes, exactly.

Chris: Ok.

Dilyn: And then the track that I chose was global higher ed, which was a cohort model where I got to study with other students who were either international students or have had great international experience, as well as engaging together to learn about the field of international higher education.

Chris: Nice. Until I talked to you, I didn’t even know that was an option for a major. I mean I know when you get into graduate school there are different facets and avenues you can take, but I had no idea you could study global higher education.

Dilyn: Yeah, it’s a very new program, but just incredible. I think this field is growing and so it’s important now to have the focus on that area of study.

Chris: Yeah, it’s definitely growing. That’s awesome that you went twice. I always say that just for getting into graduate school or getting a job after school, it makes poor students good and good students, great, etc., etc. I mean that’s why we’re here doing the podcast. So, you’ve been at Edgewood College now for a while and you mentioned the program you did to study abroad in vienna, Austria. Could you tell us, if there are any students listening who would be interested in coming to Edgewood, the best path to take in order to get here, or what’s the best way to do it.

Dilyn: Are you talking about degree-seeking or exchange or anything?

Chris: Anything.

Dilyn: Anything, yeah. I mean we have here in the center for Global Education, we’re very dedicated to making sure that students can have these experiences and we’re an extremely welcoming campus to international students. So myself, the two co-directors of this office, as well as our admissions team are happy to engage with anybody who has questions about coming to study here at Edgewood.

Chris: Ok, so just contact you guys.

Dilyn: Absolutely, yeah.

Chris: And so then from when you studied abroad, could you tell us, well it doesn’t have to be from studying abroad, but could you tell us a travel story or something you might tell at a dinner party or to someone. .

Dilyn: There are so many great stories of things i’ve seen, things i’ve done. Just so many experiences. But, I’m gonna talk about maybe just one of the more unfortunate experiences i’ve had.

Chris: Ok, those are good to hear, too.

Dilyn: Yeah, I feel it’s important to recognize. So, flying, this was my second time studying abroad, we arrived in – and we I mean students i didn’t know yet – we all met in Vienna, Austria, and it was a snow storm and so we just briefly walked through the city center and then were taken to our apartments and left there. I was living alone in my apartment at this time and I went to the bathroom and when I went to open the door to get back out, I could not get it open.

Chris: So you were in the bathroom.

Dilyn: I was in the bathroom, stuck in this bathroom.

Chris: Oh no!

Dilyn: I was pounding on the door, trying to kick it and everything. It took me an hour to get out of the bathroom. I was screaming because then i started to freak out, why can’t I get this door open. And i had locked it.

Chris: Did you guys have cell phones yet? You had just gotten there…

Dilyn: We just got there and, you know, I still had my jacket and everything, not settled at all and first thing that happened to me is I’m locked in this bathroom for an hour.

Chris: Ohhh…

Dilyn: And so now I have this fear of locking doors.

Chris: Yeah, or just getting trapped anywhere.

Dilyn: Or getting trapped.

Chris: So when you got out, did you figure out what it was? It wasn’t open or obvious, was it? What happened?

Dilyn: The lock got jammed. I never locked it again. I was the only one living there so it didn’t really matter, but, yeah, it wa just a faulty lock. I just started rattling it back and forth, and eventually I got it to loosen.

Chris: Did you know and no one heard you?

Dilyn: I was screaming, knocking. Nobody came. You know, you start thinking well, ok, maybe tomorrow if i don’t show up for class, somebody will come look for me. These kinds of thoughts started coming through my head. It was a really scary experience that didn’t really start the experience off great. But I followed that up by traveling to budapest with a friend to kind of get over this fear and went crawling through caves. And so lots of tight spaces, being underground and I mean i was just shaking going in the experience. But, all in all, it was so incredible and such a fun day of adventuring and trying to conquer that original fear of it.

Chris: Nice. Ok, so a little advice to everyone – if you’re leaving to different country, make sure that you don’t get locked in somewhere, or make sure you can get out before you lock the door. Thanks for the cautionary tale, Dilyn. Here on campus, if I was a student at Edgewood College and came into your office, what would you tell me. Like, I’m thinking of studying abroad, but I don’t know if i can afford it. What would you say to a student just thinking about it?

Dilyn: I would definitely, at that point, I would get to know that student. Maybe what their goal is for studying abroad, why it came to mind in the first place, is there any part of the world they’re really interested in going. And then i would encourage them to set up a meeting with our peer advisor, which is a student who works for the Center for Global Education who has studeed abroad.

Chris: Oh, that’s really nice. My school didn’t have that.

Dilyn: Oh, really? Yeah, t’s really great because they get to talk to somebody who is on the same level as them as being a student here and can talk about how did they afford studying abroad versus me telling them studying abroad is affordable.

Chris: It’s a fallacy.

Dilyn: Exactly.

Chris: Students think you just have to be loaded in order to do it. You can get away with – as far as your college education goes and that cost – you can get away with going for the cost of a plane ticket, everything being equal. And, especially if you[‘re going to a private school ike Edgewood, or paying out-of-state tuition, it can b even be cheaper.

Dilyn: We truly do make it affordable and, you know, those are discussions I’m willing to have with students, as well. If they’re worried about finances, I’m not going to say you should study in Australia, or something, where the cost of living is so extreme. We can find programs where it might be even cheaper for you to study abroad than be living here in madison.

Chris: Right, yeah. So if you’re on campus, come and visit Dilyn and she’ll set you up with a career advisor and you’re off and running. Ok, a few rapid fire questions, Dilyn, so everyone can get to know you a little better. What would be a book you would recommend?

Dilyn: I just actually finished a book called American Radial which looks into the life of an American Muslim who moved here from Saudi Arabia. He is an FBI agent in New York and has to go undercover to look into terrorism. I just kind of really opens your eyes to some of those beliefs of Muslims, because I’m not Muslim so I wanted to learn more about it. This book was really great because it was his perspective of being an American Muslim, as well as the Muslim perspective from Saudi Arabia, kind of in the framework of 911.

Chris: Post-911, right? So it puts you into the shoes of this American Muslim.

Dilyn: The book kind of starts off when 911 happens and his reaction to it – ok, because I‘m American Muslim, what am I gonna do about this.

Chris: All right. I’ll have to check that one out. Thank you for the recommendation. And then, the topic of food, which is a big reason why I studied abroad and why probably a lot of people do travel – to try different food. First of all, for international students listening, what’s your favorite food here in the States, or from home?

Dilyn: I’m a huge soup person. My mom makes this fantastic chicken noodle soup, which is a classic, and just a very homey soup where, you know, on those cold winter days, especially here in Wisconsin, I think it’s just such a classic for the American culture to have homemade soup.

Chris: So if you’re an international student listening, we’ve got great chicken noodle soup here. You’ll just have to head to Dilyn’s house.

Dilyn: Yes, all are welcome.

Chris: Like she said, the foods change with the seasons actually, so if you’re living in a climate where the seasons don’t change too much, you can check out Edgewood College for a taste of the four seasons which, in Madison, is beautiful. It’s a great place to be if you’re thinking about coming to the United States. When you were studying abroad in Austria or Germany, what’s something that you remember from there that you wish you could have here?

Dilyn: Well, being in Austria, I have to say wiener schnitzel, which is a very traditional dish. For those of you who don’t know what wiener schnitzel is, it’s a thin cut of veal that’s breaded and then fried an garnished with a lemon. It’s just very, very good.

Chris: I wish I could have one of those for lunch today. Ok, if you walk into a bar, what are you ordering?

Dilyn: Did you want here in the States, or abroad?

Chris: Both.

Dilyn: Here in the States,. I would have to go with any sort of cocktail that has gin in it. I really enjoy gin. Or wine. But abroad, living in Germany, I really enjoyed the beer there.

Chris: Of course.

Dilyn: One in particular is called bananaweizen. It’s basically our wheat beer, well their wheat beer, with banana juice.

Chris: Oooh, I didn’t even know banana juice was a thing.

Dilyn: We just don’t have it here and so if you go to Germany, just try it. Don’t knock it til you try it because it’s actually really good. If you’ve had wheat beer before, it already has that hint of banana flavor, so this just kind of exemplifies it a little bit more.

Chris: I want to go there. The stuff there sounds better than the stuff here. I want wiener schnitzel and a banana beer. What’s it called again?

Dilyn: Bananaweizen.

Chris: Bananaweizen – ok. All right, do you have a quote you’d like to tell?

Dilyn: I was a big Anthony Bourdain fan so in honor of him, he has this quote that says, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly. You leave marks behind, however small, and in return, life and travel leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks on your body or on your heart are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” And so I find this quote really interesting and I try to internalize it. I do a lot of journaling and writing my perspective on how travel can be something so beautiful, but how it does hurt, because for me hurt truly is engendered by travel. It’s this realization of everything that you have learned while traveling, but everything that you’ve yet to come to know and realize about the world and experience in the world, as well as once you have that travel bug – that constant desire to move, to keep traveling – but then finding peace of mind at home. I think in particular that’s one that really stand out to me.

Chris: I still can’t believe he’s gone now. He’s got a ton of good quotes actually. Think Exist or that quote page. Is there anything else you’d like to add to the students listening? Just to give you a little… the reason I started this is because if you’re thinking about studying abroad, you can look at travel blogs and advice for travelers until you’re blue in the face, but there’s nothing really geared toward study abroad students in the way of a podcast. But there are blogs, so I’m basically trying to shift that copy into audio and that’s why we’re here. You obviously recommend doing it for any student, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Dilyn: Yeah, if I could study abroad a hundred times, I would. But truly, I just want to emphasize, and you’ve already said it, it is for any student. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation is, what your race is, anybody can study abroad and we truly, truly in this office here want to help students have those experiences and make sure that it’s the best possible fit for each student.

Chris: Well thank you very much for being here. You guys, if you don’t want to keep coming to the website to look at new interviews, I’ll post them all on social media so you can follow us ther. Otherwise, take care and we’ll see you next time. Thanks a lot, Dilyn.

Dilyn: Thank you.

Chris: Bye.

Edgewood College By The Numbers INFOGRAPHIC

Austrian Wiener Schnitzel Video

Bananaweizen: German beer cocktail