Summer Study Abroad Programs Change Thinking

Oct 27 2011

New Mediterranean program a big success


Reading headlines about the Greek debt crisis is one way to stay informed about current events. But for 28 Brigham Young University students, talking directly to a chief officer at the second largest bank in Greece seemed a lot more intriguing.

"You're definitely not going to get that perspective in the United States," quips Bruce Money, marketing professor and director of the Whitmore Global Management Center's new study abroad program to the Mediterranean.

Money's program was one of seven study abroad programs offered by the center this summer. Students were given the opportunity to visit prominent companies and meet with top officials in the business sector.

"There's no better way to learn international business procedures than from those who are actually practicing them," Money says. "Talking to the Greek banker, for example, was a thought-provoking experience that helped students better understand the Greek debt crisis from an insider's perspective."

The Mediterranean Business Study Abroad featured trips to Nike in Istanbul, DHL in Rome and a small side trip to the world headquarters of Nestlé in Switzerland — among many other business visits and cultural excursions. The Nestlé visit became a student favorite, and not just because of the free chocolate. Ryan Frome, an exercise science major from Albany, Ore., says he enjoyed learning about Nestlé's focus on serving customers and their nutritional goals, which applied directly to his major.

"I was able to get a feel of what it is like to work in business, which gave me some insight on my future career," Frome says. "One day I will be a business owner, so it was useful to see how corporations operate behind the scenes."

Experiences like these were frequent in each program including an accounting study abroad to London and a global marketing study abroad that stopped in India for the first time on their way through New York, Asia and Europe. There were also business study abroad itineraries to Europe, China, Italy and Asia where students were able to make an inaugural trip to Mongolia.

Troy Carpenter, director of the Asia Business Study Abroad, says he appreciates the new viewpoint a study abroad offers and uses his group's visit to Playco, a toy supplier to Walmart, as an example. The group was able to observe the ins and outs of a high-intensity labor environment with mostly young adult female workers. He says it was interesting for students to see those conditions and it definitely added a new element to their perspective.

"Students should take advantage of these opportunities simply because the experience widens their views of the world," Carpenter says. "It takes them out of their element and sometimes out of their comfort zone, and they are never the same again."

Philip Volmar, a senior from Fullerton, Calif., studying public relations, participated in the Asia Business Study Abroad and said that the experience left him with a greater understanding and context to the world outside of his textbooks. Because of the Playco visit, he says when he sees a "Made in China" sticker, he doesn't just think of affordable goods but of the faces of the workers who made them.

"My education was able to extend past the scope of a classroom when I studied abroad," Volmar says. "I came home with lots of pictures and souvenirs, but more importantly, I believe I am beginning to grasp what it means to be a global citizen in a flattening world."

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Contact Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938
Writer: Tori Ackerman