Breaking Comfort Zones

Some people are homebodies and some are jet-setters. Maybe you’re a little in-between. You could be an introvert or an extrovert. No matter what your personality, it is always challenging jumping into a new experience, especially when it comes to travelling the world with people you don’t know.

Some of you go to large state schools, and others are coming from much smaller colleges. You may have friends flying out with you, or you may feel completely alone. When it comes to IBS, the company always makes you feel included. In every city you get paired with a new roommate, allowing you to make connections with other students. In my experience, I had immediate connections with my first couple roommates that have turned into great friendships.

Throughout your travels, you will present a small report with a couple other students on a company on your itinerary. This is a very informal presentation to the whole group, which will allow you to have a little knowledge regarding the company before the visit. These presentations aid with developing questions for your business hosts later in the day.

After the business presentations and tours, there is a time for questions. Always remember, if you have a question, someone else probably has the same one! Don’t be shy to ask your guide, or leader! With around thirty people in the group, everyone bounces ideas off of each other and the academia of the questions deepens. Sometimes the de-briefing after a visit can be intense with differing opinions of the students. There is great diversity among the group, and you never feel attacked even when ideas and opinions aren’t the same.

My small group presented towards the end of the trip, and during our research throughout the prior week we became close. We found out we shared a love of Disney, and the afternoon after our presentation, we went to Disneyland Paris!

Sticking with comfort zones, the two of us who went to Disneyland Paris broke through our travel-related comfort zones that day. We decided to go to the Arc de Triomphe in the morning and meet up with others at Disney later in the day. There was one direct train from Paris out to the park, but halfway through our train ride, we were all told to exit. Neither of us spoke French fluently enough to understand the announcement, but everyone was leaving the train. We learned later that a tree fell across the track so no trains could pass. Imagine two very large double-decker trains full of people ALL trying to find alternate transportation. There were two buses attempting to carry 200+ people to the same destination. I remember being squeezed up against the door and my camera was practically smashed by the man behind me. Somehow, my friend and I both ended up on the same bus together with way too many other people. We had absolutely no idea which stop was ours, but thankfully we were saved by some Parisian students who spoke English! We bonded with a couple girls, but it was a young man who ran around the bus stop with us guiding us to the correct place. Without him, we would have been wandering around France for a couple hours instead of enjoying Disneyland. Thank goodness for kind and helpful strangers.

Everyone deals with comfort zones in their own way whether it’s flying on airplanes, traveling with strangers, or going on this trip seemingly alone. Everyone in our group created connections with students from other schools and some made lasting relationships. It’s great seeing students from our Europe trip still spending time with each other. Just the other week I was in Chicago trying to meet up with some friends, but unfortunately my schedule was too tight. But we’re definitely still trying to meet up somewhere soon!

I’m extremely grateful to IBS for its amazing program and how it brought so many students together from across the United States.

Anna Liljas View Full Bio

School: California Lutheran University

In each country we met with one to two businesses and had plenty of free time to explore. No other program offered this kind of itinerary.

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