Benefits of Learning International Topics While Abroad
Written by andrewgippert November 8, 2022
On the surface, one the primary benefits of studying abroad is having the opportunity to travel the world and explore new places with similarly minded friends. However, I’ve personally received just as much, if not more, satisfaction from being able to learn international topics in a foreign setting. In my three primary courses (Italy Live, International Marketing, and International Finance), we’ve had the opportunity to not only learn important concepts inside the classroom but to also apply them during our experiences outside of the classroom. And on top of that, each of our professors are extremely experienced with international business which lends to tons of insightfully interesting real-world stories.
In Italy Live, a course aimed to help students learn both the Italian language and the local cultural, I’ve been picking up the information quicker than expected. This is of course partially due to our wonderful Professoressa Marin who does an excellent job teaching us the most important aspects to the language, but I also give credit to the fact that I can apply what I learn and speak the language to locals as soon as I walk out the door. In high school and college, I’ve studied German but have had no practical uses for it outside of the classroom in the real world. While I’ve still enjoyed these classes, I’ll say that only speaking a language for just 45 minutes a day 3 times a week isn’t exactly effective for learning. Because of this, it took much longer for me to pick up concepts compared to my Italian experience. As soon as we learn in class how to introduce ourselves and order food at a restaurant, I can immediately practice in the real world to improve exponentially – and I love eating so at this point I’m a self-diagnosed expert in ordering pizza, pasta, and gelato.
In our International Marketing course, I think I’ve learned more from our immensely experienced Professor Negri’s personal stories than I have from the curriculum – which I think is awesome. Professor Negri spent many years prior to teaching as an international marketer and Vice President with Baxter International working everywhere from Latin America to Russia. Because of this, he has seemingly 3 insightful (and sometimes crazy) stories for each concept we cover. While I’ve certainly enjoyed learning from each of my instructors back in the US, I’ve never been taught by someone with such vast experience and knowledge of international business because of their own work history, and I didn’t realize until now how much that helps me both learn effectively and enjoy our class.
Finally, I think I’ve learned more about finance in our International Finance class led by Professor Kline than I have in any of my other finance courses. The class curriculum focuses a lot on international economics, foreign currencies, and global events impacting the shifts in exchange rates. For example, when coming to Europe back in September, I knew that the US dollar was becoming more valuable relative to the euro, but admittedly I couldn’t tell you why exactly – embarrassing as a finance major… However, Professor Kline has helped us understand that the change in value of a currency can be impacted by many things like import/export demand, production capabilities, etc. So now, I know that the euro is depreciating relative to the US dollar partially because the European energy crisis stemming from Russia is hindering the continent’s ability to produce goods at maximum efficiency and thus, there is less demand for European goods and more demand for goods coming from higher producing countries such as the United States. This means that more individuals and corporations are purchasing US dollars using euros which naturally shifts the value of both. And not only do we get to study this concept in the classroom, but we also experience it in our travels when exchanging currencies, when reading European news headlines, and when speaking with business owners who’s production capabilities and strategies are in fact being affected by the reduction of energy available to the continent. These are all things I would never experience or consider when sitting in a classroom in the US, and I am very grateful for having this opportunity.
Overall, I feel like I’ve learned just as much, if not more, about each of these international topics outside of the classroom as I have inside, and this is a benefit of studying abroad that I had never initially considered!