Sometimes connecting your major to study abroad can prove difficult. Before I applied to school I knew I wanted to study abroad, so I struggled to pick the right major. In the end, I settled on International Business, which matched with what I wanted to study and required me to study abroad. For two years my classes were picked and centered around the fast approaching trip. I was excited, but not as eager as most because I thought I knew what to expect. I knew two things: First, I had to study abroad. Second, It was going to reinforce everything I was learning in my classes. After actually studying abroad, however, I realized it supported my major in ways I could never have guessed. Keep reading to see just how wrong I was about my first two thoughts as an International Business major.
“I had to study abroad”
Yes, my major required me to study abroad. I had to take language and culture courses. I had to immerse myself in the culture by rooming with someone who didn’t speak the same language. I had to go to a country that spoke the language I chose to study. I was required to do all of those things, but I also chose to do all of those things. I willingly chose to go out of my comfort zone, first by studying abroad and second by willingly doing all the things mentioned above. These requirements not only describe the type of people who study abroad; it also prepares you for your experience.
Whether you study abroad to fulfill a requisite like me or you willingly choose to study abroad, you’re taking a giant step forward in setting yourself up for success long-term. Study abroad, although very fun, has some hardships. Overall, I would say it does wonders for your personal development and improvement. Cultural immersion not only gives you time to figure out who you are, it is also great for your professional development. How you ask?
Studying abroad allows you to try new things outside your comfort zone. It allows you to quickly experiment and figure out what you really love. You know from the start that you only have a short time in the wonderful country you chose, so you do everything you can to make the most of it. This exploration helps narrow down exactly what you’re passionate about. An out-of-the-classroom learning experience gives you a chance to really hone in on what makes you tick and what gets you excited. An experience like this will help you to figure out how to find a job that connects to what you found abroad as an International Business major.
“Its going to reinforce everything I learned in class”
Also true. As an International Business major, one of the best parts of studying abroad is being able to interact with so many different people and different cultures. It’s interesting to see how a different country operates both on a common level and a business level. I interned at Clark Associates over the summer and I can’t help but think about the products they would sell if they started operating in China. Every time I walk into a local business I take note of the way they interact with customers, the goods they are selling, and their focuses on common practice.
Interacting with Chinese businesses isn’t all I do though. I also talk to students, both Chinese and International, about everything. We talk about culture, business, economics, and more. I love sitting down and having a conversation where I can learn so much about new cultures. International Business is all about interacting with other groups of peoples and learning how to work with them. Studying abroad has been perfect in teaching me what is appropriate and what is not. The BCA culture class that I took with the resident director also helped open my eyes to hidden cultural differences, in China particularly.
Overall thoughts as an International Business Major
Clearly, study abroad connected to my major. The courses I took and the things I did forced me to get out of my comfort zone, but also helped me to find out more about myself and my interests. I learned how to interact with different cultures and perspectives, but overall I would say that time was the biggest concept I learned about. I read multiple books before coming to China that talked about the differences in a country’s perception of time, but actually spending time in China gave me a real-life perception of how time runs.
I have made friends from Switzerland and Mexico, two places with totally different time schedules. My friend from Switzerland is always on time, not early or late. The minute something starts, he is at the door. My friends from Mexico, on the other hand, are always late. Once when attending a movie party, I asked Evelyn ( a friend from Mexico), what time it started. She replied with “It starts at 9:30, but in true Mexican fashion I will be there at 10:00.” She showed up at 10:30. Being able to experience this difference and so many more has helped me gain the patience necessary for working with people from other cultures and has taught me how much I love it.
Studying abroad is a big, wonderful decision that so many people choose to make. Those who do, have the opportunity, like me, to explore themselves and their major. I thought I loved my major before I landed in China. I was wrong. I love being an International Business major so much more now that I’ve been in China for over three months and I can’t wait to go home to keep learning!
Emily is a sophomore, International Business Major with a Finance concentration at Elizabethtown College. As a BCA Storyteller studying abroad in Dalian, China, she is excited to experience anything and everything China will throw her way!