Not many students can say that they traveled the world with their college dean, but four business students can after spending a week in Europe with College of Business Dean Kevin Renshler, Ph.D.
Future Leaders Initiative, a one-year program comprised of faculty-selected College of Business sophomores and juniors, held a meeting near the end of the school year when Renshler introduced the Europe opportunity. Following the meeting, Tyler Adkins, sophomore marketing major; Natalie Swift, junior marketing and sport and event management major; Parker Nash, junior economics and equestrian studies major; and Louisa Woltermann, junior marketing and finance major, knew they had to participate.
One of Renshler’s goals for the trip was to diminish any wariness they had of studying abroad by introducing them to different cultures overseas. The group covered a lot of ground with a cross-cultural conference and tour of the BMW Plant Steyr in Austria, and research in Venice. The trip had many components, but the most vital aspect was becoming familiar with traveling and communicating within other cultures abroad.
“Students are sometimes apprehensive about going abroad. Until they go and experience all of the opportunities and benefits they can, it’s hard to understand,” said Renshler. “I can talk about it, but they must go first-hand and actually immerse themselves into the culture to realize there really are no barriers in this day and age.”
With Google Maps on the students’ cell phones, the four students successfully made their way to each destination, and when facing language barriers, Google Translate put them at ease. Swift lightheartedly recalled a moment where Google Translate came in handy while a cab driver started to drive away without one of their passengers.
“The business network is expanding more and more each year to include more countries and cross-cultural travel, so it is important to learn how to travel and handle yourself both personally and professionally in different environments,” said Swift. “Traveling also breaks down walls that we create in our head about other nationalities. Business gives us a common bond.”
In Venice, they experienced different modes of transportation and researched topics such as flood mitigation, cost of living and tourism. The data gathered will allow these students to serve as mock clients in Renshler’s upcoming seminar in entrepreneurship course where the class will learn about a problem the mock client faces and create a solution.
“I enjoyed imagining the logistics of living and making a living in a city like Venice as there are no cars and just canals for transportation,” Swift explained. “Brainstorming things like that and seeing how different everything is from how we do business here in the U.S. was most interesting to me.”
Following a week abroad, the group realized that studying overseas for a longer period of time was no longer as stressful as it once was.
“Being in the middle of my college career, I love seeing how one opportunity can open the door to a path I would’ve never dreamed about,” said Adkins. “One great opportunity that stemmed from this trip was networking on an international level and developing relationships with schools from around the world.”
Several of them are already looking ahead to their next excursion and plan to share their experience abroad with peers in order to increase interest in travel opportunities offered by the College of Business.
“Being exposed to a new culture is such a special experience,” Adkins shared. “The best part of this experience was letting ourselves become completely immersed in another culture. From getting lost in the twists and turns of the streets in Venice to trying foods I couldn’t pronounce, these experiences brought us all closer and really widened my worldview.”
For more information about study abroad opportunities, contact Chris Sippel, assistant dean for international, intercultural and service engagement at 419-434-5467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.