New study abroad programs in Africa and at sea offered for College of Business students
By Jacob Hammes, Allison Krosnoski, and Courtney Skoog with contributions from Gretchen Hutterli
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Center for International Education (CIE) is regarded as one of the best in the state. Recently CIE added the University of Botswana in Africa and the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea to its list of study abroad options. UW-Eau Claire students Samantha Rasmussen and Jade Schantzen participated in these new programs.
Interesting Things to do in Botswana
• Travel to neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa
• Visit Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall.
• Raft the Zambezi River, Africa’s 4th largest river system
Life in Africa
Samantha Rasmussen, a business administration major from Cornell, WI, studied in Botswana at the University of Botswana during the spring 2011 semester. The university is located in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, a city of approximately 300,000 people.
Rasmussen chose Botswana because she wanted to experience a completely new culture and lifestyle.
"I wanted something different, something that not many people get to experience," she said.
In addition to going to school, Rasmussen and other exchange students went on day trips in the surrounding area. During the week-long break at mid-term, participants have visited Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and/or visited Botswana wildlife areas. See sidebar.
Students also could volunteer at orphanages, HIV/AIDS programs, business organizations, and various community groups addressing problems of poverty. As a person who loves helping others, Rasmussen appreciated the opportunity to give back to people who needed it the most. She also enjoyed networking with local business people which gave her a better understanding of international business.
One of Rasmussen’s greatest challenges was the language barrier. While many natives know English, most Batswana prefer to speak Setswana, the national and majority language of Botswana. A required beginning course in Setswana helped her better understand the language and the culture.
Rasmussen’s semester at the University of Botswana had a huge impact on her. It made her see how Americans live in such a materialistic world with a different set of priorities.
"My experience changed my life completely," she said.
Life at sea
Jade Schantzen, finance major from Lake Elmo, MN, participated in the University of Virginia's Semester at Sea program last summer. Schantzen embarked on a 66-day journey on a cruise ship which traveled to Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Morocco.
While at sea, she took a Mediterranean art history course, a business negotiation course, and an Italian renaissance history course for a total of nine credits. Class typically ran for four hours a day. The rest of the day Schantzen had the time to study or attend activities on the ship.
The ship had many activities for students to do while at sea. Schantzen participated in yoga, game night, and a ship-wide scavenger hunt. She also attended a number of seminars, which included "Dining out in Spain", "Learning Italian", and "Travel Photography".
For Schantzen the most challenging part of her experience was time management. With fun daily activities on the ship and a new country to visit every week, she found that it was difficult to focus on schoolwork.
One reservation many people have about studying abroad is that it may delay graduation. But Schantzen proved you can study abroad and still graduate on time...or even earlier. By working with the study abroad office, she was able to get all of her credits to transfer. She will be graduating in three and half years.
In the process of learning about the countries she visited, Schantzen learned something about herself.
"Semester at Sea made me realize how much I love to travel and experience other cultures," she said. "Because of this experience, I decided to continue with my international business minor and would like to work for a large corporation in the future to conduct business overseas."
An experience of a lifetime
The study abroad programs at the University of Botswana, Africa and the University of Virginia Semester at Sea are two new programs that will spark the interest of College of Business students. But no matter where you go, studying abroad is an opportunity of a lifetime that shapes the lives and education of the participant. It is also a great resume builder. It shows a prospective employer that the student is able to step outside of his or her comfort zone and experience life in a different culture. These skills are valued by many companies.