This is the second in a series highlighting how various programs provide students with global learning experiences.
A common misconception is that rigorous academic programs leave no time for the classic college experience of studying abroad. At Findlay, not only is studying abroad an option, it is built into many of our academic programs so that our students can experience cultural diversity while still graduating on time. Our students aren’t just taking general education classes online while in a different country. They have the opportunity to study material relevant to their future profession on an international scale.
At the University of Findlay, study abroad opportunities are not just limited to the courses and experiences that fulfill CORE+ requirements. Students can travel internationally and gain valuable insight and experiences in their specific areas of study. In May 2019, a group of seven business students traveled to Prague, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; and Steyr, Austria where they attended the Cross-Cultural Business Conference at the University of Applied Sciences, Upper Austria.
While at the conference, the first half of their days were spent at the university, where professors from around the world gave presentations on a variety of business topics. During the second half of their days in Steyr, students went on city tours, attended group dinners with students from around the world, toured the BMW facility, and attended the closing ceremony in an Austrian castle. The group also attended an international fair at the university, where students from around the world shared their culture and cuisine.
The group’s time abroad was divided between Prague, Vienna, and Steyr. In Prague, a tour company showed the group around and educated them on the city’s history and culture. They also explored the city on a bike tour, visited a local brewery, and went on a scavenger hunt. In Vienna, the group visited some of the major buildings, ate at a local market, and visited an amusement park. Most of the time was spent in Steyr, learning about the latest developments in the fields of global business, marketing, sales and service management, higher education, and HR management, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship at the Cross-Cultural Business Conference.
The 11-day, 3-city trip was senior accounting major Natalie Regula’s first experience traveling internationally. Before the trip, she was very excited to get her feet wet and soak up the different cultures, languages, and ways of doing business. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am really hoping it will open my eyes to all the world has to offer professionally and in general,” she said. Her experiences on the trip exceeded her expectations, describing them as absolutely incredible. Her favorite part of the conference was the international fair. “It was really cool to see all of their different cultures in a ‘one-stop shop’ event,” she said. “Meeting students and professors from around the world really opened my eyes to all the opportunities that can exist in the future.” Outside of the conference, she enjoyed sightseeing in the beautiful cities and learning from the tour company.
Overall, Regula’s education and college experience at Findlay were positively impacted by this trip. “I saw how many more opportunities exist in this world outside the small bubble of Findlay, Ohio,” she said. “There are so many more ways to grow in my education by studying abroad and learning from others in different areas of the world,” she said. She learned not only about business, but also about culture and relationships. She learned how global companies handle day-to-day business, business habits that regionally vary, and the social norms when talking about global business. She also learned how Americans may be viewed in other countries and how to adjust to this when speaking with people from other countries. “Mostly, I learned about the value of making connections and building relationships with new people and the people in the group from Findlay,” she said.
This trip sparked an interest in not only going back to the cities Regula visited, but also in exploring other countries. “I can honestly say it was the best experience of my life,” she said. “I saw beautiful architecture, learned from other business professors and students from around the world, and gained even better relationships with the people in the group from Findlay.” Regula encourages all students to consider going on a study abroad trip. “It opens your eyes to so many opportunities and shows you sites that you may never see again in your life,” she said. “The architecture and environment abroad are breathtaking and an experience of a lifetime.”