As an undergraduate student, I never had the opportunity to study abroad. When I started the MBA program at USD, I knew that gaining exposure to international business and experiencing new cultures was something that I really wanted to take advantage of while I was completing the program. I also knew that I would probably never again have the chance to travel with a group of 30+ of my peers… I guess that could be seen as both a good and a bad thing. Choosing to participate in the summer study abroad program in Berlin and Istanbul through the Ahlers Center is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made (although I did eat enough bratwurst, pretzels, doner kebabs and baklava to last me for the rest of my life!).
We spent the first week of our trip in Berlin and the second in Istanbul. I do not speak any German or Turkish, and I was happy to find out that most people do speak at least some English. To be able experience these two different cultures back-to-back in one trip really shed light on how different the rest of the world is from the bubble that we live in here in San Diego.
We really did have to attend class for a few hours almost every day and do work for class as well (there were several papers and test to take). But, part of class was guest speakers, on-site company tours and presentations, and meeting an array of professionals during the trip, which was extremely unique to this experience. That exposure alone made the trip extremely worthwhile and definitely provided something that I would not have gotten if I had taken my courses in San Diego. In Istanbul one of our classes was actually held at Starbucks and had a presentation from the Master Franchisors responsible for developing this very successful location (and we were led through a coffee tasting and food paring!). Who knew that Istanbul is home to arguably one of the best Starbucks in the world?! It boasted two floors, was situated right on the Bosporus Sea, offered lots of comfortable seating and it served cocktails in the evening.
Even with class time, studying and other mandatory events, we still had ample time to ourselves to explore each city and experience the different cultures. In addition to the classroom learnings from this trip, the personal growth and memories that were created travelling with a group of my peers made this experience unforgettable.
Julie is a second-year MBA student. She went to James Madison University and spent the summer working in International Business Development at XTERRA Wetsuits. Julie is getting ready to travel to Rio for intersession.
Interested in reading more about the Berlin & Istanbul trip? Check out what the MSGL students thought here.