Call It Vacation or Call it Business…Or Simply Call It Study Abroad

Although I’ve been working hard earning my MBA, I enjoy the occasional vacation (when I find time for it).  One element of travel I especially enjoy is experiencing new things, whether that’s eating new foods, meeting new people, or gaining exposure to a different culture.  Exposure to new event, peoples and activities through travel doesn’t need to be limited to vacations.  Even MBA students can use travel, through study abroad experiences, to see the wider world, gain exposure to new cultures, and expand their business knowledge and management skills.

Before I continue, I want to share that I experienced my own study abroad adventure while I earned my undergraduate degree.  I spent five months studying business in Newcastle, Australia, which is approximately a 3 hour train ride north of Sydney.  The opportunity to live and study in another country was one of the greatest events of my life.  Prior to studying abroad, I was extremely nervous, I lived at home throughout my undergraduate experience, and I didn’t like being removed from the comfortable life I’d created for myself.  But I learned a lot about myself when studying abroad, in particular just how far I could push myself outside of my comfort zone.  I had to learn how to fend for myself, I had to meet new people and learn about their ways of life halfway around the world, and I had to adapt to a tremendous amount of change and disruption.  All those event that were important for me are also important for managers working in global business environments, and it helps underscore why it’s important for MBA students to take advantage of their school’s international opportunities.

Lucky for Mihaylo students CSUF offers study abroad opportunities through The Center for International Business (CIB).  Even better, CIB offers study abroad opportunities of varying lengths, which help MBA students coordinate opportunities around their busy work and school schedules.  Opportunities offered by CIB include short-term summer excursions spanning 3 weeks, up to semester and full-year immersion trips.  I want to give a brief taste of the different study abroad opportunities available to CSUF’s students, in an effort to potentially jumpstart further research into these study abroad options.

CSUF’s international travel includes 3 3-week study opportunities in a variety of countries around the world: China, southern Europe, and Heidelberg, Germany.  Two of those options, China and southern Europe, involve travel to a variety of locations: Tianjin, Shanghai, and Beijing in China, and France, Spain, Italy and Monaco in southern Europe.  Long-term study abroad options (either for 1 semester or 1 year) span a greater variety of locations: Finland, France, Germany, Japan, and Mexico.  Some of the options appear open to undergraduates and MBA students, but some information is a lacking on CIB’s website.

Now I’ll admit, I haven’t met anyone in the CSUF MBA program yet who’s participated in any of these study abroad opportunities.  But I can speak from experience when I say studying internationally is something everyone needs to do at least once.  I personally learned so much about myself and was exposed to a brand new culture and way of life.  Those last 2 elements are especially important in our technologically-connected and rapidly globalizing world.  Future business leaders need to develop outstanding cultural awareness and cannot afford to focus their knowledge within the bubble of their own business or home nation.  If for no other reason, it’s important to be aware of potential business competitors halfway around the world, and it helps to understand how they tick and what makes them who they are.  Study abroad programs are a great opportunity to gain exposure to the wider world, and those experiences will help students grow as people and business leaders.

Have you every studied abroad?  Or have you been posted to a foreign county for a job assignment?  Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Here are a couple of articles I found especially interesting this week:

“Hiring Up, Salaries Flat for B-School Grads” – Worried about what the job market will be like once you earn that MBA?  Well there’s good news…and bad news.  The odds are good you’ll find a job and get hired.  But salaries have held steady recently, so you might not get that big signing bonus you were hoping for.

“Sheryl Sandberg’s Inspiring Speech at Harvard Business School” – If you didn’t already know, it’s been a busy week for Facebook.  COO Sheryl Sandberg took time out of her busy week to deliver the commencement address to Harvard’s graduating business class, which you can read for yourself (it almost makes it seem like you were right there with that graduating class).

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