Summer study gives students coveted experience in lands far, far away

Juliet Balcony Verona insideA Juliet balcony in the city of Verona, a travel stop for Bunn's study-abroad courseBusiness students can gain experience employers value and fulfill their Collat Experiential Learning Requirement by studying abroad in three programs this summer.

Whether it’s combining public health and nonprofit management in Thailand, exploring international trade in China’s major cities or studying innovation and entrepreneurship in Italy, the faculty leaders all concur that there is no business learning experience quite like studying abroad.

“Students mature and gain insight through the experience,” said Michele Bunn, Ph.D., director of International Business Programs for the Collat School of Business, who teaches the study-abroad course on innovation and economic growth in Italy. “Just by way of applying to a program, they’ve taken a step that’s going to change their lives.”

Insights in Italy

This summer, UAB undergraduate students can study in Italy through CIMBA Italy, located in the town of Paderno del Grappa, and live in an authentic Italian village just 50 miles northwest of Venice.

Bunn will teach a course in the CIMBA program on the lessons about economic growth that can be learned in northern Italy, a hotbed of innovation and success for centuries. With each trip there, she forms more relationships with innovators at local companies and college campuses, arranging lectures and seminars that give students an inside look into what it takes to make innovation happen.

“We find that companies look favorably on students who have studied abroad.”

“Some pretty incredible innovations came out of Italy — the espresso machine, newspapers, blue jeans, banking, piano, radio,” Bunn said. “We immerse ourselves in Italian culture and then study the differences between Italy, the U.S. and other countries by studying the Bloomberg Index of Innovation and the Global Innovation Index. We also study how Italy can maintain its current level of innovation in order to keep growing.”

Perhaps most important for undergraduate students, Bunn said, is that studying abroad gives students experience that employers look for, even if it isn’t directly related to their field.

“We find that companies look favorably on students who have studied abroad,” Bunn said. “Companies like to see that students have done that. It opens many doors for career opportunities and really sets them apart.”

Costs vary depending on length of stay and other options, but need- and merit-based financial awards are available. The application deadline is Feb. 15. For more information on costs and dates, visit educationabroad.uab.edu.

Thailand River insideColorful houses line a river in Thailand.Travel to Thailand

Students can travel to Thailand with Annetta Dolowitz, an instructor for Management, Information Systems & Quantitative Methods, and learn about management styles of nonprofits and nongovernmental agencies (NGOs), specifically those that contend with male human-trafficking and schools that work with children orphaned or abandoned by parents or rescued from trafficking.

“Students will also have the opportunity to learn how Thailand deals environmentally with things like water conservation and air-quality issues often associated with the burning season in northern Thailand,” Dolowitz said.  “They’ll get to learn all aspects of the culture, plus how NGOs run and are managed. Ultimately, students will get to make recommendations about how NGOs could make their work more meaningful and get more citizens concerned about it.”

“From the moment you get off the plane, nothing is going to look familiar. The concept of space there is completely different. It doesn’t look like anything you’d see in Birmingham.”

Dolowitz added that Thailand provides an especially unique experience for students because its culture is so unique — often unlike anything students have seen before.

“From the moment you get off the plane, nothing is going to look familiar,” she said. “The concept of space there is completely different. It doesn’t look like anything you’d see in Birmingham. All the way through, it’s experiential.”

Need- and merit-based financial awards are available for the three-week program. The application deadline is Jan. 15. For more information on cost and dates, visit educationabroad.uab.edu.

China Bund at Night 2 insideThe Bund, a waterfront area on the Huangpu River in Shanghai, is one of China's most popular tourist destinations.Explore trade in China

Students can get an inside look at international trade in China with finance Professor Bruce Gordon, Ph.D., when they visit companies in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong involved with manufacturing and commerce and examine the ways U.S. businesses have adapted to sell products to Chinese consumers.

“There is no substitute for talking first-hand with people who are involved in international trade and learning about the challenges they face,” Gordon said. “Study-abroad broadens your horizons and helps you to think bigger about the world and the opportunities that exist in places other than the U.S. It teaches you to be aware of the customs in areas outside the U.S. so that you can effectively interact with people.”

Gordon echoed Bunn’s sentiment — that study-abroad experience makes students especially appealing to future employers.

“Study-abroad... teaches you to be aware of the customs in areas outside the U.S. so that you can effectively interact with people.”

“There are multiple advantages to studying abroad, and one of the most important to me is that it builds confidence in the student that they can travel and function in a foreign county,” Gordon said. “I’ve also learned that students get more out of an Education Abroad experience than they ever get out of a regular classroom course. There is a value to simply being there that you can’t get at a desk in Birmingham.”

Need- and merit-based financial awards are available for the three-week program. The application deadline is Jan. 15. For more information on cost and dates, visit educationabroad.uab.edu.

See more photos of Bunn's, Dolowitz's and Gordon's trips abroad in the slideshow below.

  • Director of International Business Programs for the Collat School of Business Michele Bunn, Ph.D., who teaches a course on innovation and economic growth for students studying in Italy, is also doing a faculty-led course during spring break 2018, where her students will get to see the Duomo di Milano,the cathedra church of Milan.
  • Bunn also takes students to the Lamborghini headquarters in Modena, Italy.
  • Management, Information Systems and Quantitative Methods Instructor Annetta Dolowitz pets an elephant, which are revered in Thai culture but also extremely exploited.
  • Thailand is a Buddhist country, so Dolowitz says its culture is quite different than one found in the United States, a majority-Christian nation.
  • Students on the study-abroad trip to China will get to see important cultural sites such as the Forbidden City in central Beijing.
  • Though students will be learning about international trade in China, they will also have the opportunity to experience local commerce as well.

 
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