I’m about to embark on a global journey.
Allow me start with a call to action. If you are enrolled in an MBA program, or any program that offers a global learning component, go for it! I’m told that the opportunity to study in another country and immerse yourself in another culture is unparalleled. I’ve spoken with several prior participants who unanimously suggest is that it is a must have in order to round out your educational experience.
I didn’t have the means to study abroad when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. The reasons were numerous, and I won’t attend to them in this post, but suffice to say that it wasn’t a possibility for me at the time. Now, I’m pleased to announce that, after completion of my MBA program this last month, I’m just one month away from a Global Learning Opportunity in Hong Kong.
A Word About Millennials
First, let me explain that I am a Gen Xer in a Gen Y world. I’ve sat side-by-side with and marveled at the tenacity and determination of millennials. Often, they get an undeserved reputation from my vantage point. They are some of the most talented and determined people I have ever met. The truth is that they are unafraid of asking. They are unafraid of doing. As a result, they acquire experience more quickly than any generation since. As I sat in my classes, I became inspired.
I dodged suggestions to do a GLO during the first half of my program, instead substituting Global Business Strategy to satisfy the global business component of the program. That substitution created a problem for me.
What Changed for Me
I discovered that, for me, sitting in a classroom and talking about a hypothetical strategy is much different than immersing myself in an experience and seeing first hand what business in another country looks like. I decided that I wanted to see first hand how others lived. I spoke to other students who seized the opportunity and remarked at how much their perspective on the world had changed as a result: Simply from a short class abroad.
The GLO trip in the University of Iowa MBA Program is just that. It is a weeklong international travel class. Online information about the experience suggests that “You’ll gain a deeper understanding of how companies adapt to local business conditions and experience international business firsthand through economic, political, and cultural immersion.”
Data compiled from the State Department seems to suggest that the percentage of Americans who have a valid passport, according to the most recent statistics as tabulated by the State Department, is still well under 50%.
There is no substitute for first hand experience. Over half of us can’t even go to Canada, let alone China. We are perfectly comfortable listening to foreign policy decisions being made by our elected representatives on the news, but over half of us can’t even travel overseas.
Even if you aren’t associated with a higher education program, it isn’t too late to plan a trip overseas. There are a number of group expeditions available from private companies that would provide a wonderful travel experience.