After they take part in Study Abroad programs, students often unpack lifelong memories as well as a better understanding of their place in the world.
They can also return with better defined career plans, connections made overseas and an enhanced ability to market themselves in an increasingly global marketplace.
And on the University of Houston campus, the international roots of both faculty and students sometimes imbue the experience with even more meaning: Study Abroad may be the first opportunity for American-born students to see a distant homeland, and re-meet relatives.
For all these reasons and more, UH students who’ve gone on Study Abroad trips often count them among the most important scholastic adventures of their college experience.
“There are places like Ha Long Bay, Da Lat, and Saigon that have left a lasting impression on me and I sincerely hope to visit them again in my life,” says Michael Metsner, a senior history major earning a minor in Asian Studies who went to Vietnam this past summer.
“I must admit that after spending nearly a month in Vietnam, I felt strangely at home there among the bustling, lively crowds and the raucous motorized traffic, and felt quite out of place upon arrival back home in Houston.”
Metsner, who is interested in joining the Foreign Service after graduation, was one of 10 students who accompanied a Study Abroad trip led by Dr. Long Le, professor and Director of International Initiatives for the Global Studies Program in the C. T. Bauer College of Business.
UH junior Kim Thoa Tran, who is majoring in psychology and plans to earn a minor in sociology, says she felt her career goals solidified after the group visited an orphanage in a remote part of the country that the students traveled to by boat.
“They were so excited to see us; we received a grand reception as we rowed near,” Tran recalls. “I remember thinking, this is exactly what I want to do with my life. I knew then that helping people gave me joy and passion, and I cannot imagine doing anything else in my life.”
Tran’s main incentive for attending the study abroad program was earning credits that count toward half of a language requirement for her Bachelor of Arts degree. “But also, Vietnam is my motherland, and I wanted to visit the country that my parents fled in 1975,” she says.
The students couldn’t have had a better tour guide. Le, whose family left Vietnam as political refugees, first visited the country in 2005. He makes a great effort to take students to many different kinds of places in Vietnam, which is second in economic growth compared to China, he says.
“Most trips only hit the urban areas, but I wanted these students to see some of the areas where globalization hasn’t hit,” he says. Bauer College will be offering a trip to Chile in January, and trips to Prague and Berlin are scheduled for this spring. A fall Study Abroad fair Sept. 6 will have more details about these trips and others.
By Julie Bonnin
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About the Bauer College of Business
The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.