Carlson students stand out because we are required to have an international experience. The requirement may lead some to worry about completing their major on time, or the amount of money the experience might cost. Rest assured; Carlson's amazing resources will ensure that studying abroad will fit into your graduation plan, and you will have the time of your life. Here are a few pointers to optimize your experience before, during and after you leave the country:
Where do I start?
Carlson Global Institute is your best resource to begin planning your experience. They offer business exchange programs, which mean you can enroll in transferable business courses and continue to pay the same U of M tuition when you go abroad. You can set up an appointment with a CGI adviser, who can help you decide the location, length, and goals for your experience.
If the Carlson programs aren't quite what you're looking for, head to the Learning Abroad Center (LAC) to get access to hundreds of other programs. The difference between CGI and LAC is that Carlson programs will cater to your business learning, while LAC programs may not offer comparable business courses. You can always petition to have your courses transfer, and I know many people who have done this successfully!
What kind of experience will fulfill the requirement?
You can make your experience anything you want it to be. Carlson offers semester, summer, or two-week programs that fulfill the requirement. You can also opt to intern or work abroad. Here's how I've always thought of it: If it gets you out of the country, it counts!
What about culture shock?
As shown above, I studied abroad in Venezuela where the culture is much different than our own. I was speaking Spanish the entire time I was there, which is a sort of culture shock in its own right. The U offers a one-credit online course that helps prepare you for the differences. It gives you an idea of some cultural issues you may face before you leave; targets problems like homesickness while you're there; and toward the end of you experience it will help you start to think about how you could use your international experience as an advantage during interviews.
Will I enjoy my time in another country?
Yes!! I have never, ever talked with someone who told me they didn't enjoy their experience abroad. Even if it wasn't perfect. In Venezuela, there was a lot of political unrest; I had the opportunity to visit during a presidential election. So am I happy to be back in the states? Yes I am. But would I ever regret going to Venezuela and all of the experiences that came with it? Not for a second. I know all too many people who want to go back to the countries they studied abroad in. Many still keep in touch with their host families or friends from that country. Some even narrowed their job search to companies that would allow them to travel abroad. My only regret is that I only went abroad once! I would have loved to keep traveling throughout college.
Can I afford it?
I would highly recommend doing whatever it takes beforehand to keep your mind off of money while you're there. You will never regret gong abroad, but you might regret missing out on opportunities to travel while you're there. That's not to say you should live extravagantly, but keep a budget for the trips or experiences that are most important to you. In Venezuela, I was able to go paragliding, climb The Andes, visit the beaches in the Caribbean, stay in "Los llanos" -the plains- and get hands-on with wildlife, and take a week-long trip to the tallest waterfall on earth: Salto Angel or Angel Falls.
Don't miss out on these kinds of experiences! The best way to fund your trip is through scholarships. Carson Global Institute will help set you up with several different scholarship opportunities. There are also many other scholarships not offered through the University that will help fund your studies abroad - but start looking in advance!
What happens when I get home?
You are going to want to tell everyone about your experience. So go for it! You may want to think about joining student organizations that share the same love of culture as you do. GLOBE is a program that pairs you up as a buddy to our incoming exchange students. You can request to be paired with someone from the country you're interested in. It's a wonderful opportunity to re-live your experiences, and help someone out who is in the same position you were just in when you went abroad!
I could talk for days about my time in Venezuela and have lots more advice for things you can do before, during and after your trip to make it the best it can be. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!
I am a senior majoring in Entrepreneurial Management and minoring in Marketing and Spanish Studies. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org