Foster alum Anna Demyanik reflects on her experience preparing to study abroad in the Netherlands.
Foster alum Benjamin Wood participated in the UW Exchange program in Germany in 2007. This is his personal testimony.
Studying abroad in Germany in the spring of 2007 stands out as the most defining and life-transforming period that I have experienced during my time at the University of Washington. From this experience I learned a lot about myself and about the people and cultures that I came in contact with. The lessons and life experiences that occurred during that time have played a pivotal role in making me into who I have become. Three specific areas that I grew in, and that I believe are of key importance for anyone who desires to achieve success in business or in any realm of life, were my interpersonal skills, my confidence and my problem-solving ability.
Regardless of one’s career goals, possessing strong interpersonal skills are essential to success in business and even happiness in life. Whether it involves communicating to co-workers or customers in the workplace or building relationships with people outside of work, being able to relate to others, understand their perspectives, and communicate one’s ideas is essential to successful interactions. Studying abroad provided me with the opportunity to meet other people from cultures that I had no previous interactions with and forced me to learn to adapt to these cultures and personalities. While in Germany I became good friends with students from all over the world, ranging from England, to Russia, to Palestine and Israel. Living in such a diverse environment changed the way I interacted with people and made me a much more effective communicator.
Probably the single greatest area of transformation in my life while studying abroad concerns how much confidence I gained from the experience. Living on my own in a foreign country, with no safety-net of people around me to help me make decisions forced me make tough choices and then live with whatever happened. Even when things did not turn out the way I would have hoped, this process taught me so much about myself and about what I truly value. Through this experience I became much more confident in myself and, consequently, much more confident in the way I interact with others and make every day decisions.
Somewhat as a result of the other two areas, my ability to problem-solve and look at issues from different angles increased dramatically. By interacting with people from all over the world I received fresh perspectives every day on how problems can be approached and solutions can be discovered. Furthermore, because I was living on my own, I had the opportunity to frequently practice the new problem solving methods that I observed. Overall, I became much more adept at facing complex problems and making confident decisions based on whatever information was available.
Going abroad has given me skills that I will carry with me and build upon for the rest of my life. Studying abroad, more than any other factor in college, has set me up for future success in business and in life. Not only that, but in addition to the great skills it gave me, studying abroad has provided me with an amazing global network of friends and future business associates who I continue to remain in contact with and visit. These relationships alone made the whole experience incredibly rewarding and worthwhile.
Annie Averett, Foster alum and recruiter for Microsoft, reflects on how her study abroad experience prepared her for the workforce.
Growing up, money issues have always been a problem for my family. Not in my lifetime did I ever imagine that one; I would go to college because of the expense and two; be given the opportunity to study and travel abroad for over a year in South America. I did the latter while working on my degree at a prestigious university and interning at the North American Chilean Chamber of Commerce in Santiago, Chile. Thanks to the Foster School’s extremely dedicated undergraduate advisers and scholarship opportunities, this one thought impossible dream, I lived to the fullest.
Being abroad in South America has done more than help my Espanol, it has truly helped solidify the academic, career, and personal paths I follow now and will follow for the rest of my life. This was a genuinely transformational experience that I recommend to all students.
I have learned that “The world is [truly] our classroom”. Not only have I been able to see the world through the eyes of professors in the areas of business, economics, and culture in Latin America in ways that I would have never considered, I have also discovered and explored the millions of details that distinguish each individual country as their own little satellite. I have done so while understanding what unites these countries to one world.
A week into being in South America I heard a phrase in a song by Bacilos titled “Tobacco y Channel” which I have used as a guide throughout my experience abroad; “Esto solo se vive una ves” (You only live this once). I challenged myself to take this quote of the song to heart and live it out; my same challenge goes out to you.
When I applied for EUSA’s study abroad program, I did it on a whim. One of my friends and I had toyed with the idea of doing internships in London through the EUSA program, and the day before our applications were due, we said, ‘were we going to do that?’ I set out working on a CV, an essay, and various other parts of the application that night. I thought, well I’ll turn it in if I get it done. I was a sophomore at the UW applying to the Foster School. I was a fairly confident person but not when it came to getting into the business school, picking a concentration, or deciding where I wanted my career to go.
The experience and confidence gained by participating in the EUSA internship program was life changing. I spent a summer in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, working on a multi-million dollar project at Barclays Wealth and being truly responsible for myself.
I feel like I “grew up” in a professional, mature sense. I learned so much about myself, my abilities, my interests, and really what I am capable of.
I returned to UW last fall confident in myself, the concentration I was picking, and my ability to start an exciting career in finance after graduation. When I look back at the personal development that took place in a matter of months, I am astonished. Interning abroad in London was a blast, and one of the smartest things I’ve done in college.
One of my college goals had always been to study abroad. I didn’t know where, how, or even why, but hearing EVERY single piece of advice from those who had previously studied abroad, it was clear that I should “just do it!” I admit that studying abroad presents many obstacles such as completing the application process, figuring how the credits transfer, and applying for financial aid and scholarships, but you will hear it again and again, “It is so worth it!”
If that doesn’t make you head straight to the Foster School of Business Global Business Center and sign up for their numerous programs offerings, here are my top three reasons why you should just “GO!”
#3: Apply your business skills firsthand as you micro-manage your trip itinerary project , effectively communicate necessary completion action items with your fellow study abroad buddies, and strategically negotiate the prices of souvenirs.
#2: Companies are eager to hire those who are adaptable to new and unfamiliar environments. Utilizing UW study abroad resources allows you to have an experience like none other. It is a unique opportunity to be a temporary local in a foreign country!
#1: No matter how much ethnic food you may eat on the Ave, nothing beats an authentic meal of hand-shaven noodles prepared right off the streets. You won’t understand until you get there.
All I have to say is “make it happen!” If you are on the fence for studying abroad and are overwhelmed by the many steps to get there, I encourage you to “just do it!” It is well worth it at the end.