There is a First Time for Everything

Summer Europe 2019 in Munich

My first time being out of the country

I had never traveled outside of the United States prior to my IBS Summer Europe trip. This would be my first time! I knew I wanted to travel abroad during my college years but wanted to make sure I was going to be going with the right program. I wanted to be a part of a program that focused on making sure students maximized an opportunity to learn but also a program that created an atmosphere where students could foster relationships not just with teachers but with each other. IBS provided both and more. The experience that IBS provided was invaluable and the opportunity to meet and become friends with people from all across the US made the trip that much more beneficial. Before applying for the Summer Europe Seminar, I consulted with my marketing professor at the University of Alabama who recommended I apply. In our conversation, he mentioned to me how great of an opportunity IBS provided because of being able to learn from executives at companies and being able to submerge myself in a multitude of cultures. After our conversation I began researching and finding whatever material about IBS that I could, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the program before applying. Once I applied and was accepted into the program I was tremendously excited that I would be able to go on this journey and now that it’s over, it completely surpassed all expectations.

When I arrived in Munich, Germany on the first day I was definitely exhausted and jet-lagged from the long flight but soon excitement took over as I quickly found myself with 40 new friends and people that would become family over the forthcoming 3 weeks. Our group did almost everything together in Europe. We went on hikes, jumped off mountains, toured cities, and biked through the alps. IBS made sure there were plenty of activities that were available for us to do and made sure that we had fun doing it. There were plenty of laughs along the way and there was never a dull moment.

Jalen and his new friends spending their first time in Innsbruck togetherWhen I look back on the trip a few weeks later, it’s amazing that I was able to grow so close with people on the trip that I met and how these relationships developed into true bonds. All of us came from different places and different environments but we all were able to be on this trip together and make it amazing. Some of us came from big cities or small towns. Some of us went to schools with 3,000 people some of us went to schools with 30,000. Some of us had been to Europe and for some of us, it was our first time being out of the United States. We were all different but saw past our differences and enjoyed the presence of each other for who we were as people. That was awesome! We were the only people that knew each other on this trip so of course, we became close because we were around each other so much but that’s what made this experience so worthwhile. The friendships to me were the greatest part of the entire trip. Yes, I enjoyed the company visits. Yes, I enjoyed the city tours and yes I enjoyed the food but the people made the trip worthwhile. Being able to share such a unique experience with people from all around the US in a place very few of us had been was nothing short of amazing! Walking around the cities with one another and sharing stories and laughs is what I will remember most from the trip. Over 21 days I was able to grow so close with people and I have to thank IBS for allowing such a program to exist.

Jalen and friends at the WTOIBS Summer Europe is an experience that I will take with me through the rest of my personal and professional life. Sharing stories and the experience with my future employers as well as with my family is something I will continue to do. I hope to keep growing the relationships with the people I have met through this experience and I can’t wait for the next group of students to take on Europe and share their stories. They will definitely find some of the coolest and most unique people they’ll ever meet!

Jalen Hutchinson

School: University of Alabama

I am a firm believer that our experiences and exposure help us to understand people and help us to accept people for who they are without having biases.

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