My name is Baylee Whittington and I just got done attending the International Business Seminars Winter Europe program. We stayed at three locations which were London, United Kingdom; Paris, France; and The Hague, the Netherlands. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on this trip. Not only did I make so many memories, but I also grew as an individual in all the different aspects of my life. I really recommend everyone consider doing an IBS trip if they have the opportunity. It is truly an experience I will forever be grateful for.
On this trip I was able to really learn a lot about myself. At first, I almost didn’t take the opportunity to attend because I was nervous for a few different reasons. One, I had never been out of the country before. Two, I’ve never traveled for this long and far without my family. Three, I only knew of one person that was considering attending. The idea of being away from home for a while and only knowing one person that was going seemed very scary. But it has always been my dream to study abroad and see London, so I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss out on. I made a list of goals that I wanted to achieve personally, professionally, and academically on this trip. It’s safe to say that not only did I achieve these goals, but the whole trip exceeded my expectations.
I’m about to start my senior year of college. One of my biggest struggles is networking not only with business professionals but even students around my age. I’m more of a quiet introvert around people I don’t know, so I really wanted to take this time to get to know other college students from around the U.S. and really push myself out of my comfort zone to grow. During this trip I have met the most amazing people. Not only did I meet students from Illinois, North Carolina, and South Carolina, but I also met other students from my college, LSU. On this trip we all came together as one group and would do lots of exploring, going out to eat, and spending time together at the hotel. It was so neat to see everyone come together and bond in such a short time period. We have all exchanged contacts and social media and still keep up with each other’s lives. I am especially grateful for meeting all the other students from LSU. I’m an undergrad majoring in accounting and will be getting my masters in accounting. It just so happens that three of the other students from LSU are currently in the masters of accounting program. They have already given me such great advice and have offered to help me with anything. If the fear of not knowing anyone or not being able to meet anyone is what’s stopping you from attending an IBS trip, I want to reassure you that everyone is in the same position which makes everyone come together and become closer throughout the entire trip. Don’t let the idea of not knowing anyone stop you from taking this opportunity.
One of my favorite parts about this trip was being able to go and visit businesses. It was very fascinating to see how the foreign cultures are similar and different than from back in the states. We got to hear from many different types of businesses that all had wonderful presenters and helped us better understand their companies. We were able to ask questions throughout the presentations and at the end, which helped everyone become comfortable at networking. One of the business visits we were able to attend was Fat Tire Tours in Paris, France. This presentation was one of my favorites because I was able to learn a lot about the company and the culture, and also take their advice and relate it into my life and future. First, I learned that foreign companies will actually hire Americans or other individuals that don’t live in their country. I just assumed you had to live in the same country as the company, but nowadays a lot of jobs are remote. Foreign companies will also hire Americans for their work ethic and the want to get things done as soon as possible. Hearing the presenter explain this opened my eyes to the possibility of job opportunities. One of my dream goals would be to start my own business. The presenter gave great advice saying to use the advantages in your culture in other countries that don’t have those advantages or mindsets. This was something I also had never considered and I hope to one day implement this idea and become a successful business owner.
Attending an IBS trip also comes with many perks when dealing with your academics. Since I was able to attend the Winter Europe program, I have received enough credit hours that I will now be graduating with my bachelor’s degree a semester early. These trips are such a fun and unique way to gain college credit without overwhelming yourself by taking more classes in a semester. Another bonus is that you can put it on your resume. This will definitely help you to stand out to future employers. Going on an IBS trip can lead to great conversations in interviews. I have learned so much from my trip and made so many memories that I could talk for days about everything I experienced. I’m so excited to be able to say that I was able to do a study abroad program and can’t wait to talk about all the places I visited, what I’ve learned, and how I’ve grown.
I believe that everyone should take this opportunity if they are given it. Don’t let any fear of being by yourself stop you from attending a trip because you will truly bond with others and create your own “abroad family”. It is such a fun time exploring new cities with other people your age that are in similar life paths as you. I would go again on this trip in a heartbeat and will hopefully participate in more IBS trips with my remaining time in college. I will forever be grateful for all the lifetime memories I have made and all the places I got to see. Thank you, International Business Seminars, for offering a program that allows students to travel, learn, and experience the world in a new light.