My experience in The Netherlands and Denmark was very valuable to me on many levels. At a surface level, this trip was my first ever time outside of North America, and this taught me a lot about myself and my capabilities for being able to travel and be out on my own. Coming into this program (The Sustainable Business Global Lab), I knew that it was very structured and that I wouldn’t have to worry about things like arranging taxis to get around in-country or trying to find accommodations during my stay, but I still was nervous about my lack of experience being abroad and what I’d do if things didn’t go as planned.
Before my departure, I stressed about things like navigating the airport to get to my connecting flights and about making sure my money was secure as I traveled, as I had heard many things about the notorious pickpockets in Europe. I asked everyone I knew that had experience traveling abroad for their insider tips and for whatever advice they could give. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous as the day of departure arrived, which was an odd feeling for me as I’ve always seen myself as very self-sufficient and independent.
During my first day of travel, I was surprised at how smoothly things went, that simply using common sense to stay safe and get around was all that was needed. As I navigated the airports and made my way to my eventual destination, my confidence grew. As I met up with the rest of the group and got settled in-country, my worry dissipated and my sense of adventure came alive. At every opportunity I got, I was seeking out new corners of the cities we visited, seeing what memorable landmarks or glimpses of history and architecture that I could find, traveling as far as my legs could take me.
Beyond this though, relating to the business visits and culture in-country, the trip showed me how companies in other countries differ from those in the United States. I picked up on small cultural differences while abroad, such as how often Danish companies encouraged us to question them and ask any questions if they didn’t explain things properly or there was a significant language barrier in any way.
The trip also encouraged me in that I could move to a European country even if I’m not fluent in the language, as practically everyone was able to speak English and it reassured me that I’d be able to learn the language in-country over time without feeling overwhelmed. Following my trip, I immediately began planning for when I could travel abroad again, and I was also inspired to finally book a trip out West to spend a few weeks backpacking and exploring.
When I look at companies to potentially apply for, whether for an internship or to work full-time, I would now consider a position out of the country, as it’s now something I’d approach with excitement and possibility, where before I viewed it simply as an impossibility, something I never would be able to handle. My trip abroad really informed my view of myself and my belief in my capabilities, and it really sparked my sense of adventure, and I cannot wait for my next opportunity to get abroad and experience more of what this wonderful world has to offer.