My name is Michael Yurkiv. I am a double major in economics and Spanish business/translation at Northern Illinois University. Last summer, I had the chance to attend the IBS Summer Europe program, which traveled to the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany. I chose IBS because I was looking for a short-term summer study abroad program that would complement my economics major. I was also really hoping that the program I chose would allow me to travel to more than one place on the same trip since this was my first time abroad. Some of my favorite hobbies are studying foreign languages (currently I speak fluent Spanish and a good deal of Italian), reading about and watching TV shows about history (especially World War II), playing board games and video games, and singing. I have very little travel experience; the furthest I have traveled is to Disney World, once as a child and once my senior year in high school with the Concert Choir. My favorite place on the seminar was Paris. Paris was everything people told me it would be and more. Despite the short time we were there, I had the chance to connect with French culture intimately. The first night in Paris, I took a long walk with a friend from Notre Dame all the way along the Seine to the Eiffel tower. It was probably the most amazing view I have ever seen in my life. The entire city had a certain energy to it with which I fell in love. It combined love and tragedy, life and death, and joy and loss. For me, Paris taught me an important part of French culture: a love for the past, and a constant desire to return to the “old days”. This and many other parts of French culture which I learned about while in Paris have inspired me to study French my sophomore year of college. After I finish college, I plan to attend another university to complete a dual MBA and MS in economics program, and then to get a PhD in economics. After I get my PhD, I want to work in the sales department for a company that does international business, handling mergers and acquisitions of international branches. If I were to give one piece of advice to future study abroad students, I would say to do everything you can to avoid being “the ugly American.” Before you go, learn a few local phrases, like “Do you speak English?” in the national language, as it is disrespectful to assume everyone speaks your language. Try not to be loud on the subways or trains, and drink responsibly. Remember, you are representing not only our school but our country, and it would be a shame to think you have made foreigners look negatively upon us and our culture.
Hear more directly from Mike:
Why did you choose your IBS vs. any other study abroad program?
I chose to study with IBS vs any other study abroad program because I wanted to ease my way into studying abroad with a program that was short term, very structured, user-friendly, and one that would travel to more than one place since this was my first time abroad. IBS met all these expectations, and it simultaneously inspired me to pursue a career in international business and to study as many languages as I can.
Being able to travel to multiple cities and countries, what travel advice do you have for future students?
Because these seminars are designed for students to travel to multiple cities and sometimes multiple countries, the biggest piece of travel advice I would give to students is to be as mobile as you can with your luggage. Try as best as you can to only pack your essentials. For example, I knew I would be buying T-shirts, so I packed lightly on those. There are also always pharmacies just a block or so from the hotel, so do not worry about packing a lot of soap, shampoo, and other toiletries. It is a pain to have to lug a giant suitcase everywhere (especially since you probably will end up buying another one to put your souvenirs in like me😊), so do your best to carry all your luggage on at least on the way there.
Do you intend on interning/working abroad in the future – if so, what did you learn from your seminar that will help you work/live abroad?
I certainly intend on interning/working abroad in the future. This seminar has taught me that one perk of living abroad (particularly in big European cities like London, Paris, and Munich) is that you do not need to own a car because public transit is so much easier and more efficient to use than that of America. The tube in London zips passengers across the city in 10-15 minutes or less, compared to a 25-30 minute cab or Uber ride in Chicago. So, I would not need to pay car payments or insurance while living abroad, since I would not need a car!
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