Why should you take part in travel abroad opportunities during your MBA studies? Well, why not? You'll meet people you never would have met sitting in a classroom. You'll gain new insights into different cultures, and you'll work through challenges, many of which may at first seem insurmountable. You'll make new friends, become closer to your professors and fellow students, and learn leadership, problem-solving and business skills which will stay with you the rest of your life. So, the question really isn't a question. You know you need it, you know you want it - so go for it!
Many business schools - like The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, among countless other programs - offer special opportunities for students to study abroad at partner schools located around the globe. There are many amazing opportunities to get into some great experiences that await those folks who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and dive head-first into an awe-inspiring, sometimes scary, yet always exhilarating study-abroad learning experience.
So, what are some of the most interesting opportunities awaiting prospective travelers? Just ask yourself this: how far off the grid do you want to go? And what do you want to accomplish while you're there? Think fun, friendship, sightseeing, higher learning and making a real world difference in the lives of others. Read on to find out how!
Italian exchange student Faustino Musicco spent his time on a rural development project in northern India. What made his experience different from your normal run-of-the-mill study-abroad trips, you ask? First and foremost, he lived amongst the villagers in an impoverished setting reminiscent of an earlier time: Musicco would fetch water from a nearby source, collect firewood and prep food, just like the villagers.
While it was almost certainly difficult for him at first, being uprooted from his comfortable home environment and dropped into, for him, a truly alien environment, Musicco said that it was actually quite peaceful once he got used to the rhythms and flows of his new milieu. He was allowed to move at his own pace and eventually become an integral part of the community during his stay.
In essence, Musicco discovered an experience like no other, meeting people he would never have met otherwise, understanding a place previously unknown to him, and learning as much about himself as anything else. For more information on Musicco's and others' experiences abroad, check out the blog post at the GMAT site.
The Far Reaches of Africa
A student blog from Duke's Fuqua School of Business offers insights into traveling - alone! - to the farthest reaches of Africa. Blogger and MBA student Anjali Menon traveled through Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya - solo - before starting her program at the University of Cape Town. Through her travels - and the educational opportunities they opened up for her - she gained valuable insights into cultures that were not her own and learned about many of the struggles inherent in African society. Just one of the more valuable lessons she learned during her trek: splurge on a business-class seat when you fly back home, so that you can stretch out.
The Middle East
The University of Washington's Foster School of Business offered MBA students a unique opportunity, and a first for the school: to voyage across the Atlantic, across Africa and across Arabia to Dubai, Muscat and Abu Dhabi, as part of their study tour. Multiple student stories painted a vivid picture of the trip: bonds grew stronger, new cultures were explored, and a sense of purpose was instilled in everyone on the trip. The MBA group took part in snorkeling, touring the desert, viewing impressive architecture and enjoying the overall opulence of their temporary homes. Most who took part in the trip were changed forever; to this day they still marvel over their experiences.
Kelley School of Business - GLOBASE Experience
Indiana University's Kelley School of Business offers an eclectic mix of coursework, internship and travel abroad, all rolled up into a ball: the Global Business and Social Enterprise Program (GLOBASE). Students enrolled in Kelley's full-time MBA program have a chance to participate in this multifaceted program that aims to tackle some of today's most important business challenges. They'll work side-by-side with nonprofit organizations or like-minded entrepreneurs to solve problems in emerging economies in India, Latin America, Africa and beyond.
Here's how it works: a student meets with a client on campus and works through the client's history, business goals and challenges standing in the way of success. Seven weeks is the time window for student and client to meet and talk; from there the student heads abroad for a two-week stint in the client's home country to perfect their leadership skills, better understand the new culture and become fully immersed in the experience in a way that couldn't happen in the classroom.
The student works through issues, troubles and roadblocks during the two-week stint, and after returning home, reports on the solution to the client's business problem. Not only will the student have grown in leadership, project management and business skills to boot - most important of all is the opportunity to affect people's lives in a positive way.
Kelley also provides an Emerging Markets Experience (EME) in which students pose a question about a business aspect in other parts of the world - say Brazil, Cuba, Indonesia, South Africa, Czech Republic, China, or Chile - and then spend their time trying to answer this question with the help of a faculty overseer. Students prep for a 10-day excursion to their off-the-map locale where they work with local companies and leaders in order to understand the real-world implications of their business question.
Thunderbird Online MBA
For online study-abroad programs, Thunderbird offers students a chance to participant intensive study-abroad international programs. Students in these programs have traveled to China, Africa, Europe and Latin America in order to learn more about other cultures, histories and politics. Students glean new skills and ideas from local companies, alumni, guest speakers and exciting cultural excursions. For more information on the Thunderbird online MBA, check out their website.
That should whet your motivation to get into a study-abroad program. It opens your eyes to the world around you like nothing else can. Take a look at what your university offers and step out of your comfort zone! You'll be glad you did. A chance to learn, grow and become a better you awaits!