As they left they told us to keep our horizons open and cease opportunities. That is what studying abroad is really about: broadening horizons, going to places you might never have gone to, doing things you might never have done, and at last meeting people and creating friendships across cultures. The world is a big place and this program allowed me to explore it in a way that was culturally enriching and educationally stimulating.
I have learned the importance of gaining knowledge of the background of places outside of America and how crucial it is to become familiar with the world as a whole.
Nick took us on a tour of some of the major battlefields from World War I in addition to taking us to several cemeteries of various nationalities such as English and German. Throughout the experience, I was completely bewildered by the impact the war had on the terrain.
In my mind the most beneficial academic aspect of the program was the program to NATO SHAPE or Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers Europe. It really opened my eyes on security threats from a European aspect which seemed much direr than ours.
. At the Parliament, I learned that each representative can speak and listen in their own language. This makes 28 official languages. At each of these visits, the guides who spoke to use discussed how their own institution was the most important, but that they all worked in conjunction.
Honestly, for me the best part about traveling is meeting new people. One thing I learned about myself, is that I am more outgoing and independent than I thought I was. I loved spontaneity, everyday there was something to do and explore and I was all for it.
Being able to speak with someone who is actively involved in decision-making in Europe gave me a much deeper understanding of European culture and the role of the European Union than I could have ever grasped from a textbook.
The first stop was Cannes, France. I learned more in this area than all of the others because we were extremely lucky and were able to attend the famous Cannes Lions Festival for an entire week. During this festival I was able to hear stories from some of the most powerful and important CEOs in the advertising and marketing field.
My favorite project was when we had to create an advertisement by taking a picture anywhere in Paris and using the atmosphere and culture to represent whatever brand you had chosen.
I got to visit NATO headquarters as well as the European Union Parliament, European Union Council, and International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. I was able to speak to people actively running these organizations, hear how they think and ask them questions.
As an Animal Science student interested in the dairy industry, it was unbelievable to see how other farmers operate and live. From the time I landed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, I knew that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
These are experiences that will be engraved in my head forever, and the best part of each memory? I was learning and taking classes at the same time, surrounded by Michigan State students and representing the remarkable University all over the world
In my opinion, this was a spectacular project because my group and I were literally thrown in a real-world situation and had to determine how to penetrate a new culture.
The study abroad learning experience went beyond the courses. Everyday I woke up to a culture different than my own and it was incredible. With foreign smells deliciously filling my nose, music with soft beats I’ve never heard before, and beautiful old architecture surrounding us, it was hard not to enjoy even walking down the street and people watching.
The amount of enthusiasm and excitement Dr. Harrell expressed about the future experience made me realize that this was something I couldn’t afford not to do. From that moment I knew I had to take a leap of faith.
Though I was initially upset that I was forced to spend time alone, I learned to appreciate the uncomfortable feeling of roaming an unfamiliar city without being able to speak its language.
We went to a total of five countries and eleven cities and it blows my mind that I experienced all those places within a month.
Companies that we have visited include the European Union Court of Justice, Luxembourg Stock Exchange and even Skype!
Places we visited included: Coca Cola, the Diamond District, Duvel Brewery, the European Investment Bank, J.P Morgan, Microsoft, Skype and more learning about the ways they do business internationally. Listening to the discussions at the companies was a lot more enjoyable than sitting through a normal lecture and we got a way more in depth and hands on look on how they were ran.
I loved the flower market and cheese farm visits because it gave us a great inside view of not only business but culture as well and over all great experiences in Western Europe.
This was one of the first times that I realized studying abroad was not just an academic learning experience. Throughout my three weeks on the International Business Management program I learned that studying abroad was more than the six credits I was getting and something to put on my resume.
After visiting the European Union Parliament and Commission, my fascination for international business has grown tremendously.
Inevitably I am familiar with the Holocaust that had occurred in Europe. Everything I knew, I had learned ahead of time in books and documentaries. However, not one picture or graphic documentary could ever compare to the experience I took away from Struthof Concentration camp that we visited on our study abroad.
Academic immersion is in fact what I signed up for. In this sense, my program to Brussels could not have been better.
We were able to visit key institutions that make up the European Union and we found ourselves in the center of EU politics just as the future of the EU was in question. Every day we could pick up a newspaper and read about the European financial crisis while it was being dealt with in government buildings just across the city from us.
With many of the European Union institutions housed in Brussels it allows the students on this program to get a first-hand look at how the EU operates.
It was a lot of fun being able to get involved and ask the dairy farmers questions. Being able to visit the farms helped me to learn and retain more information than I would have been able to if I had been studying in a classroom the whole time.
I had never seen such vibrancy from the doors and windows of each small apartment and townhouse to the hustle and bustle of people running their errands or heading to work.
Not only do you learn about the country and how it is right now, but when we toured various places and monuments, you get to learn about the past. Seeing all of the historic places in Paris allowed me to get an idea of how and why humanity has progressed.
This program has opened so many doors to endless possibilities and I hope to have the opportunity to participate in some of them.
When I arrived at our first location, Barcelona, Spain, I had no idea what to expect from the group I was traveling with or the places I was going. I signed up for the study abroad not knowing anyone and never having traveled to Europe. Our study abroad group of 33 individuals bonded quickly.
It is here that I began to realize that I was learning so much more than just Marketing 300/310. I started to comprehend that I was learning in a new way, and I found a confidence in myself that I had not recognized before.
My experiences in a different cultures dairy farm will help me to better understand the industry here in the United States and better manage a dairy farm here.
With the opportunities it presented for us to visit numerous well known corporation’s headquarters and facilities as well as to meet, quite literally, CEO’s and executive teams of these entities, we had access to network with people most students will never meet.
This experience helped me develop myself even further with diversity in education, culture, language and relationships.
What I had expected to get out of the program only scratched the surface of the true rewards I would gain from my academic work in the Benelux countries.
Overall, studying abroad was worth two weeks of my summer. Although I was slightly homesick, I had an experience that I remember for the rest of my life.
We were told that the Center would actually look at our work and consider using our ideas. This caused our group to work harder than any group I have ever been in before. We did research, created our material, and practiced our presentation together in a room at the Novancia Business School in Paris.
There are very few farms in the United States that utilize robotic milking systems, which made this a very unique opportunity to see so many dairies that converted to this system and how it has changed the way they run their business.
After speaking with business professionals in the region it is pretty easy to recognize that they realize the importance of understanding the cultures in order to do business across borders. Many of the individuals in respected positions were fluent in three or four languages, and had educational backgrounds in a number of different countries.
Just by living across the Atlantic Ocean the names and numbers of divisions like the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” are relatively unknown, but here in Europe U.S. flags fly with the names and numbers of division, regiments or units and often names of soldiers to go with. The Europeans know more about WWII than us Americans who majorly fought it, but they don’t forget like we often do.
70 years later their memory remains in the minds and lives of Europeans as it should for all Americans, though it seems that education in this topic for American students is too limited as the places, people, ad events we learned about were often unfamiliar.
The program in which I participated allowed me to see five different countries. In these various cultures, I was able to learn about business from a range of perspectives. The study abroad program brought material that I have learned in the classroom to life and gave me a solid global business perspective.
Lear Corporation designed a great day program for us to be able to get a great sense of how their business works – in all aspects! They took us to the lab where their technology is developed. Then, they equipped us with lab coats, glasses and even electrical static protection on our shoes to tour the manufacturing factory where that same technology is then produced.
I was constantly being challenged to go beyond my comfort zone as I explored new foods, languages, and a world entirely different from what I had ever known. Not only did I discover a lot about new cultures but also discovered a lot about myself.
My first day in Paris was surreal. Upon my arrival at the airport I began to take in everything around me. Everything amazed me from the elegantly pink restrooms in the airport to the subtlest of things like the fact that they used hand clothes instead of paper towels.
I cannot emphasize enough how this program furthered my academic journey. I learned about collaboration. I learned about being observant. But most of all I learned about cultural differences. In the international business world, it is absolutely essential to be prepared for cultural differences. There is a vast difference between conducting business in metro Detroit and conducting business in Rome.
We not only learned how to navigate a foreign city using the subway and non-English directions, but also got a firsthand experience at partaking in international business. The class structure was perfect for this type of program. We spent some hard working hours in the classroom as well as listening to very intelligent speakers who taught us about their culture and the way they interact in an international setting on a day to day basis.
This study abroad gave me, as a scholar, some very unique opportunities and chances to enhance my academic experience. Traveling abroad allowed me to experience life in another country and opened my eyes to a whole new way of living. All of my life I have had a strong interest in dairy, and traveling to the place where it originated from was insightful.
Each and every country we visited in Europe was so truly European. Not only were the cities filled with history, but also rich culture. Many people who haven’t been on a study abroad or never traveled outside the United States have a lot of preconceived notions as to what Europe is like.
By taking on these other cultures, I was able to see the beauty of another culture, something that most people of the world never get to partake in. I was able to realize that my way of life is not necessarily the only way to do things.
Studying dairy husbandry and environmental stewardship in Europe was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and grow as both a person and a future dairy industry leader. I feel that going on this trip helped me to see more issues involving dairy cattle and farming than I ever knew existed, and also to learn how the European Union is handling regulating these issues.