Seventeen undergraduate students traveled to Spain early this January as part of a university sanctioned study abroad opportunity offered to those enrolled in a Global Economic Issues course.
The trip spanned seven days and included excursions in Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Tarragona and Barcelona, where students toured various contemporary and historical landmarks and experienced many aspects of Spanish culture such as cuisine, dancing, language and worldview.
The course is one of several offered by the University that combines an overseas trip with classroom learning. Previous trips have been to Turkey, France, Ireland, and Switzerland.
The Spain trip was supervised by Dr. Tahereh Hojjat, a professor of economics and finance in the division of business, and aimed to expose students to the increasingly relevant tasks of bridging cultural gaps and further developing independent and critical thinking skills.
“To become global citizens, students must have opportunities to interact and immerse themselves in foreign cultures, and this can easily be achieved with educational travels,” Hojjat said. “Businesses are serving an increasingly globalized set of customers, placing a greater value on international knowledge in the work place. Traveling allows our students to gain such skill and become an increasingly more attractive candidate for the market place. ”
Hojjat, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Tehran University in Iran, focused the course on income inequality, the effects of a high unemployment rate and debt crisis, among other issues over the duration of the fall semester, all of which students were able to observe in practice while in Spain.
“This was my first experience traveling abroad and it was great to have traveled with one of my favorite professors and was able to make memories and create friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime,” said Michelle Foster, a senior accounting and finance double major. “I learned a lot in regards to income inequality during this experience, as we were able to witness firsthand the hardships many individuals have to face in today’s economy.”
The expedition also served as an opportunity for undergraduates to travel abroad who would not have otherwise been able to do so for a whole semester.
“Before I came into college, I promised myself I would go abroad in some way before I graduated,” said John Bayeux, a senior finance and marketing dual major and Spanish minor. “But it always conflicted with cross country and track, as well as with internships during the summer, so I haven’t been able to do it. So when I saw that this class had the international component, and that it fulfilled a finance elective requirement, I knew it was the perfect opportunity.”
Several other overseas trips are set to take place during the coming spring and summer, including jaunts to Rome, India and Ireland.
“Exposure to another culture can have a huge impacts on students’ lives by expanding their horizons and changing the way they see the world,” Hojjat said. “It certainly adds value to their education as they become more prepared for life and become better candidates for careers.”
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