Name: Laura Jean Harkleroad
Major: International Business and Supply Chain Management
Graduation Date: Dec. 2020
What types of international experiences did you have as a student at App State?
During my time at ASU, I have had the privilege to travel to over 20 countries. Most recently I completed a year-long study abroad through OIED in Seville, Spain. During my time in Seville, I worked various jobs such as a private language tutor and as public relations for a tourism company. Additionally, I have had many experiences here at ASU with international students. I am a member of International Appalachian where I serve as the liaison to IPals the International Friendship Association. Lastly, I am currently the President of the International Business Student Association.
Did your time abroad give you a new perspective on yourself and your own culture/country? In what way?
During my time abroad I grew to be substantially more independent and aware of my own culture. There are many things that we do in the US than in other countries are done differently. This was evident in Spain, specifically with regard to the concept of time and family within society. I feel that within the Spanish culture, people are much more open and family-oriented on average but have less stress due to a more relaxed concept of time whereas here in the States we are constantly rushing about. This is to say that around the world different cultural groups have different values, not that one is right or wrong, rather just different. While I love staying busy it was a good experience to relax and spend quality time with the people around me.
What was the most challenging aspect of studying abroad? What was the most rewarding part?
The most challenging aspect of studying abroad was getting used to the different accents in my city and also adjusting to the differences in the university. The most rewarding part of the experience was seeing my Spanish improve and also all the relationships that I formed. When I arrived in Spain I was worried that I would not reach a level of fluency. However, after my ten months in Spain, I can proudly say I am fairly fluent.
What would you say to students considering studying international business or, even if they’re a different business major, taking the opportunity to study abroad?
Studying abroad has substantially transformed my life. The experience was one in a million and worth every moment of it. For me, as an international business major, it allowed me to get more hands-on experience and was an incredible growth experience. I know that for many students having to minor in a language can be daunting, but with studying abroad I found it to be easier than I had imagined. I firmly believe that going abroad for just one semester is not long enough. For that reason, I really encourage other students to spend as much time as possible abroad and absorb everything. Lastly, with how globalized the world has become it is important to look abroad for opportunities, to diversify yourself and to explore a culture different than your own. Like me, you may find the home that you were always searching for, or realize how much you value where you came from.
If you could sum up in one or two sentences what this experience meant to you, what would you say?
This experience gave me a home on the other side of the world, a piece of me will always be there. This experience pushed me towards being a better version of myself and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.