Kimberly Towers

Studying Abroad Imparts Unique Lessons

Friday, July 8, 2016

All Carlson School undergrad students are required to obtain an international experience. And while organizing the experience can feel daunting, studying abroad changes students for the better.

Lessons beyond business

While the Carlson Global Institute exists to offer business-specific international opportunities,  the Carlson School also encourages students to look beyond business to learn about new cultures.

That’s why Kimberly Towers,‘17 BSB, traveled to Bali, Indonesia, through the University of Minnesota Study Abroad Center’s May-term program: Globalization and Its Effects on Happiness & Culture. The seminar was part of her leadership minor. The program empowers students to learn about leadership in other cultures, see the effects of globalization, and explore Bali’s history, culture, and people.

When Towers reminisces, though, she talks about even more universal ideas: love, adaptation, and determination: “From the critters to the customs, nothing in Bali was going to adapt to me—I had to adapt to them." The kindness that her homestay family showed her right from the beginning helped her with that transition and boosted her resiliency.

“Pre-Bali, a trip where I sat on the beach and did my homework every day is probably what I was looking to get out of studying abroad,” she says. “Post-Bali, I reminisce on the display of pure endearment and my accelerated growth of internal strength, and I am inspired to continue that every day.”

A step back to reflect

New Zealand

A few months later and more than 4,000 miles away in New Zealand, Quoc Vu, ‘17 BSB , spent his free time exploring nature. He spent a semester studying at the top-ranked University of Otago, which was surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, hills and soft plains, and mountains with “the most beautiful paths in the world.”

During his five-and-a-half month stay, he was able to detach himself from the crunch and rush of school and find what he called “complete relaxation.” The perfect mix of nature, and new friends and experiences gave him the refreshing space he needed to self-reflect.

“I’m not a spiritual person, but whatever special presence there was in New Zealand really forced me to think critically about who I was as a person,” Vu says. “I thought about my career, what I wanted out of life, how I could improve myself and others, and overall, how to become a more exceptional human being.”

Different paths and different outcomes

Instead of traveling to the Eastern hemisphere like Towers and Vu, Madison Sorlien, ‘17 BSB, went to London and worked as a marketing intern for Prettly, a company that coordinated the delivery of beauty services. Akansha Ashokan, BSB ‘18, used her time in Toledo, Spain, to finish up her Spanish minor and tutored children at a local YMCA. Claire Dolney, BSB ‘17, immersed herself in Singapore’s culture and the curriculum's global exposure greatly enhanced her educational experience at the country's management university.

Every Carlson School students’ study abroad is different, yet despite all of these diverse experiences, each student offered the same advice: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. “The uncomfortable is where adventure and discover lie,” says Ashokan, “So embrace and love it. Once you do that, the world is yours!”