Studying Abroad as an Online Student

This blog post is courtesy of Emily Hanes, a student studying Business Administration who attended a Global Intensive Experience Program: Business in Costa Rica on Spring Break of 2018.

Going into college at ASU, I had very little understanding about my options as a student. I picked a degree path and listened to what my advisors told me to enroll in and that was about as much I knew about being in school. One day I received an email about being a great candidate for a study abroad opportunity. This was the first I had heard that this was something ASU offered and I was immediately interested. I found the study abroad page and learned as much as I could about this amazing experience that I could partake in. I applied and waited anxiously for an email saying I was headed to study in Costa Rica. The day it came I was flooded with emotions and I was ready to pack my bags right away!

Being an online student, I knew this experience would push me entirely out of my comfort zone. I would be traveling out of the country for the first time by myself. I would be meeting up and spending an entire week with people I had never met before. This was both terrifying and thrilling. We were able to connect with fellow classmates attending the trip and we coordinated a group of us to fly to Costa Rica together. This was such a help for my nerves because I got to meet some of my peers beforehand, travel into the country with them, and figure out our next steps together instead of alone.

We delved right into the culture as soon as we walked out of the airport. The locals were living their “norms” and this was the first time in my life that I myself was the “outsider”. It really put things into perspective for me about how important it is to be welcoming and understanding of everyone around me in my home state. This is one of my biggest takeaways from my entire experience. 

After we checked into our hotel, we immediately started walking down the street and admiring all of the beautiful people, shops, buildings, and vegetation. We truly were tourists, but we were completely amazed! The pace of San Jose was captivating, and the people were so friendly.

Our program was a week long and each day we did something new. We got to take a historic tour of the capital, see some amazing landmarks, and tour multiple coffee farms. We also got to have a few class sessions, and as an online student I adored this! It was my first time in a “classroom” in years and it was such a great experience to have again. Learning with other creative minds has so many benefits.

One of the biggest personal benefits I gained from this program was community. Being an online student, I never had the chance to meet other students who are pursing similar degrees and could relate to about being an online student. Our program was extremely structured during the day, but our nights were free time for us to get to know each other and explore. I am so thankful for that time and for the people I was able to build relationships with. These are friendships I know I will always have and memories I will forever keep near and dear.

One of the most impactful visits on this trip for me, was visiting Starbucks’ coffee farm in Costa Rica. I am a Starbucks Store Manager so seeing this firsthand was one of my biggest dreams. We got to meet some of the most influential people in our farms and see what it’s like to be a coffee farmer and picker in Costa Rica. The information I learned was life changing as this is what I currently do as a career. I was able to learn something and apply it to my degree, but also able to take it back and impact my store and my team as soon as I got back from my trip. I could not have come up with a better study abroad program for myself and I am so glad I went!

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to study abroad and I plan to do so again before I graduate! It helped me grow as an individual, getting out of my comfort zone. It helped me grow as a student emerging myself in international business and supply chain management. It helped me in my current career to make deeper connections with my teams and create a positive impact within my business. I cannot say one bad thing about this experience and I hope everyone who has the chance to study abroad takes the chance. It is so worth it!

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