I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, even in high school. So the summer after my junior year I packed up my bags and headed off to Paris, France for a two month term abroad. Leaving behind what you know in exchange for a term in a foreign country is challenging to say the least, but it might just be the best thing to ever happen to you. Here are the top 5 reasons that I believe every College of Business student should study abroad:
- To Study a New Subject:
- You have a major to help you on the career path you want but maybe you want to also study something a little more specialized, perhaps a specific industry. I personally want to work in the fashion industry and while I am getting the perfect marketing education at the University of Wyoming College of Business, I knew I needed to head somewhere else a little more geared towards fashion in order to learn the most about the industry.
- That’s how I ended up at Parsons School of Design in Paris. I had the opportunity to study business in the fashion industry from a world-renowned design school all while still earning credit from UW. Nowhere else could I have had the opportunity to visit a haute couture atelier, or meet with the previous International Communications Director at Chopard Jewelry. Our COB has a lot to offer but sometimes you need to be right where it all happens in your industry in order to learn the most.
- To Bring a New Perspective to Your College of Business Studies:
- At our College of Business, you learn all about how important it is to have a global perspective in business today; how business can vary across countries and continents. I now believe you can’t truly understand these concepts though until you witness them in action. After living and studying in another country for two months I learned about the differences in how the French view business and approach their business practices.
- One of my teachers was a professor from Italy and another was from Switzerland. This showed me just how much business can vary even in a small area; the customs, perspectives, and specialties. While traveling after my studies ended I saw the differences in culture from one city in Spain to another. The world is so incredibly diverse and until you’ve seen this in action, talked with business owners overseas and listened to their perspective on the United States, you can certainly understand what has been taught to you but you can’t fully grasp it.
- Since coming back from my study abroad I’ve had a new perspective to apply in each of my COB classes. When we discussed the Paris Vélib bike program while learning about sustainable entrepreneurship in my Sustainable Business Practices class I had been there and seen it in action. Nothing can compare to that.
- The People:
- There’s nothing quite like meeting people from all over the world with different backgrounds than your own. You likely won’t be the only international student in your classes. My classmates were from Dubai, Venezuela, Australia, Canada, China, Lebanon, Italy and Singapore. Every class discussion was fascinating because there were so many different cultural perspectives. Hanging out with them outside of class I saw American culture in a whole new light. Things that we don’t think twice about to others seem totally foreign. I now have a network that spans all over the world.
- That doesn’t even begin to include the people you have the opportunity to meet while on the street, if you only look around. Every café, shop, or monument is another opportunity to meet someone new. One of my favorite moments was my last night in Paris when I went to see the Eiffel Tower one last time. As I was standing under it taking pictures and listening to a street musician nearby two guys next to me began to speak to me in French about the music. I explained to them that I spoke “un peu français” and they expressed their lack of English but we still managed to have a conversation just connecting over the music and a summer night in Paris.
- The Sights:
- This one practically speaks for itself. Every country and city has something different to offer those who take the time to look. London is full of museums and has a rich musical history. Berlin is a history buffs dream. Paris is full of buildings that have been standing for centuries upon centuries. Seeing these things in person is unlike anything else, giving you a cultural perspective unlike any other. You can watch the travel channel all you want but it won’t quite compare to seeing the Berlin Wall, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and Sagrada Família in person.
- I now tell everyone that says they want to explore Europe but don’t think they can afford it that the only part that has to be expensive is getting there. Once you’re there, a train ride from Paris to London can be as little as 50 euros, train rides in Germany are even less. Hostels are cheap and safe if you do your research and there are hundreds of sites dedicated to telling you were the cheapest and best food is at. If you’re in Germany or London on a UW exchange, that means if you budget it right you can see even more of Europe for little additional cost.
- The Food:
- Be honest, you know you were thinking about it. Who doesn’t love trying new foods? Escargot? I would never have tried it if it hadn’t been for the convincing of one of my new-found friends but it. Is. Amazing. Fish and chips in London? Yes, please. And of course, we can’t forget the amazing food outside of Europe if that isn’t your dream study abroad destination. Wouldn’t you like to try the local cuisine in Thailand or Peru? The possibilities and the dishes are endless.
- Study abroad is certainly an investment of money and time. It can be scary to leave behind what you know, your friends and your family. Going somewhere completely unknown on your own can be daunting, especially if you don’t know the language well. As a matter of fact, as soon as I got into the security line at Denver International Airport, I was completely terrified and wondering what I had gotten myself into, but as soon as I landed I fell in love the city.
Don’t let your reservations stop you from what could be the best experience of your life; make friends from all over the world, learn new perspectives to apply to your College of Business studies, fully grasp a global business mindset. And oh yeah, don’t forget to take in the views from the top of the Eiffel Tour in between study sessions.