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Welcome, BBA International Programs Alumni!
We are very excited to start this specialized alumni group, and to reach out to the thousands of UT and international exchange students we have been privileged to work with during the past nearly two decades.
It is hard to believe but our 20 year anniversary of The University of Texas at Austin undergraduate business school exchange programs is just ahead in 2014! We received our first study abroad exchange students from Thammasat University, Thailand and HSEBA, Finland in fall 1994, and sent our first students abroad to BI Norway and PUC de Chile in fall 1996.
Time goes quickly, and I clearly remember Natalie Bartush and I working with those first small groups of students, and how much we had to learn along the way. Some things have changed, such as the college name to the Red McCombs School of Business and the addition of new staff members.
However the important things are still the same, including our goal to help as many BBA students as possible experience the life-changing adventure of studying abroad, and to facilitate that process to the best of our ability. You, our BBA International Programs alumni, are our testament to what an important goal that is.
We hope to have a vibrant and thriving alumni organization in place before we reach that 20th anniversary. There are many things we anticipate this alumni group can provide, such as networking opportunities, mentoring, internship possibilities, scholarships, and of course sharing experiences. We have created a LinkedIn alumni group, so we hope you will also join us online and begin networking with your colleagues around the world!
We look forward to locating as many of our former McCombs and international exchange participants as possible, and hearing where life has taken you. We also anticipate learning how you think this BBA International Programs Alumni group can grow, and what it can do for you. To help us in our efforts, we appreciate your help in updating your contact information on our Alumni Contact Form to help us track down and connect our 3,000+ BBA International Programs alumni located in more than 25 countries!
Thank you for participating in this adventure with us, and we greatly look forward to this new addition to our program offerings.
Leah Miller, Senior Program Coordinator, BBA International Programs
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To help encourage McCombs first-year students to study abroad early in their college careers, Juan Tellez Sandoval, BBA Finance ’08, established the JTS BBA Study Abroad Scholarship. Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, Juan attended The University of Texas at Austin and worked as a peer advisor for the BBA International Programs Office, a position that provided him the opportunity to share his previous study abroad experiences in the UK, Japan, Germany and Denmark with his business peers.
“I wanted to make an immediate, meaningful, and scalable impact. As an international student at UT who had studied abroad in other countries since high school, I know how important it is to study abroad early in one’s academic life. I want to encourage freshmen at McCombs to study abroad as early as possible in their college careers, as this would also give them a competitive edge in recruitment and thus improve the school’s overall competitiveness. I firmly believe that study abroad should be compulsive, as it is in the many of the best universities around the world. Of course this is easier said than done (and certainly than to be paid for), but I hope this scholarship will be a step towards that goal. It would be a good selling point for the Business School to say that a significant amount/percentage of students decide to study abroad right after their freshman year, and that most of them do so with funding. My vision is that, in the future, this scholarship grows to be a much larger source of funding for all deserving students at McCombs who want to take their careers to an accelerated path through early study abroad.”
Upon graduating from McCombs, Juan worked as a Business Technology Analyst with Deloitte Consulting LLP in New York City. In Fall 2011, he intends to pursue a Masters of Science (MSc) in Public Management and Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London, England before returning to the United States to pursue an MBA.
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The story begins with two Austrian friends from Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Thommy Maidorfer and Hannes Stieger, who decided to study abroad in the U.S. at The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business. While studying at UT during the spring 2007 semester, they meet and quickly become friends with Katy Kienitz, an Italian and Government major.
Fast forward three years: Katy is volunteering in the West African country of Togo with the Peace Corps and Thommy decides to visit. During a meeting with a local village chief, Thommy learns that the community is urgently in need of a middle school but lacks the 15,000 Euros to build one.
Back in Europe, Thommy cannot stop thinking about his visit to Togo and how 15,000 Euros is preventing that community from building a school that will help the local children have a brighter future. Deciding that he wants to help out the cause, Thommy turns to his old friend, Hannes, who immediately is keen on joining the effort. Together, they vow to raise the money to start building the school.
In November 2000, after several brainstorming sessions putting their business degrees and entrepreneurial skills to good practice, they establish “Education Togo,” a non-profit organization based in Vienna, Austria. To kick start their outreach and fundraising efforts, they set up a Web site, a Facebook group, an online fundraising site, and soon began connecting with supporters and friends from around the world. Their effective online campaigns and charity events quickly pay off as Education Togo was able to raise 15,000 Euros in a mere10 weeks.
Let the Construction Begin
With their mutual friend still serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sokode, Togo, Katy has played a key role by acting as Education Togo's in-country contact and project manager throughout the entire implementation process. The construction project, which began in February 2011, is nearing completion and soon the school and its 3 classrooms will begin serving approximately 120 students. Education Togo is pleased to have played a small part and hopes to raise additional funds to offer scholarships for local girls to attend school. Education Togo would like to continue assisting other communities and is currently considering a similar project in Sri Lanka.
Reflecting back on his own exchange experience, Thommy says studying abroad broadened his mind and was the time of his life. “I think I can really see a difference in people that have been on exchange and those who have not. It is a certain spirit that makes the world grow stronger. It is simply amazing!”
To learn more about Education Togo or how to support their mission, visit http://www.educationtogo.org.
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Kristen Carson, BBA ‘09, says studying abroad in Bath, England was one of the best experiences she has ever had. While she wouldn’t change much about her study abroad program, she acknowledges that she would have benefitted from more preparation. This need to simplify and enhance the study abroad experience was her source of inspiration to establish StudyAbroadSupport.com. Her hope is to arm students with the services, products and knowledge they need to acclimate to and excel in the new international community. “I want to assist others in having the best experience of their student life by helping them acclimate to their new environments, to find housing that is sufficient, and to easily obtain essential household items need upon arrival to the new host country.”
Started in 2008 as a class project, StudyAbroadSupport.com has evolved into a comprehensive service provider for international exchange students coming to UT Austin to study abroad. By accessing their online platform, international students have access to a one-stop shop that allows them to perform a variety of functions, including: renting an apartment, purchasing essential household items, finding host school and city information, purchasing a cell phone, networking with other international students, searching for a roommate, budgeting for personal expenses, and utilizing affordable student travel services.
Thinking back on her own experience living in an international dorm in Bath, she remembers noticing an increasing amount of shopping carts in the dorm hallways. Because stores to purchase essential items such as bedding, pots, pans, and hangers were located more than a mile away from the dorm, international students would essentially steal the shopping carts in order to carry the multitude of items back to their dorm. To facilitate this process for UT international exchange students, Carson notes that "one of StudyAbroadSupport.com's primary offerings is the sale of essential items that will be waiting for the student upon their arrival to Austin. This way, students can take a shower, go to the bathroom, and go to sleep after a long flight."
Ultimately, StudyAbroadSupport.com hopes to expand its network to support international students for all major institutions around the world as well as to provide services for U.S. students studying abroad. Until then, Carson continuously reflects on her study abroad experience saying that “she would encourage every student to take the opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture, because, in doing so, you will not only broaden your understanding of the world, but you will learn more about yourself.”
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How Study Abroad Enrinched My Life
Former McCombs study abroad students and international exchange students reflect on how their own cross-cultural exchange experience impacted their lives. Submit your own story at BBAInternationalPrograms@mccombs.utexas.edu
"When asked the question, 'what impact did study abroad have on your life?' I have only one answer, says Adelle Rodriguez, BBA '08 - my life would not be what it is today without it. Studying in Milan during the fall semester of my Junior year was the single most important decision I've made in my life. I can't even begin to explain how the study abroad experience has enriched and changed my life for the better. It's been almost five years since I lived in Milan and as time passes the power of that experience strengthens. I've always had a love for other cultures, but studying abroad has empowered me to make travel an integral part of my life. Now, I work as a Marketing Event Coordinator for an Austin-based e-commerce software company and I've had the opportunity to travel the world branding and promoting my company. I can contribute a lot of my success to the skills I learned abroad. Intercultural relationships are becoming more important as our world becomes increasingly connected. Living in another country during my time at UT helped me develop the skills I now use to manage all of my organization's local and international events. I can say without a doubt that studying abroad is the most important personal and educational experience I had while I was attending The University of Texas at Austin." - Adelle Rodriguez | BBA '08 | Studied abroad at the Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi | Milan, Italy
"Living overseas was always an objective of mine, and cliché as it may be, it is not an understatement to say that, for me, studying abroad was life-altering in many ways. I had the opportunity to immerse myself deeply into a culture different than mine and discover the unique customs and societal peculiarities of a foreign land. In the context of my undergraduate education as a McCombs student, it was greatly enlightening to understand business – particularly global trade and commerce – through the perspective of another country and another environment. And finally, on a purely personal level, studying abroad – and all of the planning, organization, bureaucratic navigation, and ‘out-of-my-comfort-zone’ exploration it required – was a powerful reminder of what I am capable of and what I can accomplish when I set out to reach my goals. My experience studying abroad shaped the course of my college education, has shaped the course of my career, and was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (or, really, set of experiences) that continues to positively shape all that I do every single day." - Joseph Sottile | BBA ' 08 | Studied abroad at the National University of Singapore | Singapore
"Ever since I was a child watching Peter Pan and as I grew older and read Charles Dickens and Harry Potter, I’ve dreamed of going to London- the most magical city on Earth. The semester of Spring 2010, I finally achieved my dream and visited London while studying abroad at the University of Bath in England. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I promised myself that I would find a way to live in London within the next ten years. I guess I didn’t procrastinate because now, less than one year later, I am looking up apartments in the city. This is all thanks to the fact that I studied abroad. I found a program (BUNAC) that will sponsor visas for Americans to intern in the UK, given that the participant finds their own internship. I used the University of Bath’s job board to find the few internships willing to accept non-EU citizens. And the rest is history. I received my offer from Landor Associates, a branding agency, at the end of March and am now packing for my return back to England." -Tam Le | BBA '11 | Studied abroad at the University of Bath | Bath, England
“I don't think there's a day that passes by where I don’t either talk to others about living abroad or think about an experience of living in Paris. I felt a great sense of accomplishment to be able to understand and live in a different system than the U.S. I still keep in touch with a handful of the students I studied with at ESCP and am going to Europe for a month to visit friends in England, Germany and France. Also, because of the pictures I took abroad, I have pursued taking photos professionally (www.aliciacho.com). During my senior year in Austin, I was able to sell a lot of my photos displayed in various coffee shops around Austin.” - Alicia Chao | BBA '06 | Studied abroad at ESCP Europe | Paris, France
“I first caught the travel bug in 2005 when I studied abroad in Prague. That experience was so transformational that I knew, even then, that staying put after graduation would be difficult. I moved to London in 2008 to pursue a 2-year MA program in Economics at the University College London. The second year of the program was designed to give us the opportunity to conduct research abroad; I chose to write my thesis on the liberalized electricity market in Estonia where I lived for a year while conducting my research. Upon graduation, I was offered a job as a metrics analyst at Skype in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital. The experience has been extremely rewarding: on a daily basis, I liaise with Skype colleagues in Palo Alto, Prague, London, Tokyo and New York. Some of the friends I met in Prague have come to visit me in Estonia. It sounds hackneyed, by I truly believe that travel is addicting: once I saw a tiny sliver of the world that existed outside of my Texas bubble, I became consumed with visiting the rest of it." - Eric Seufert | BBA ' 06 | Studied abroad at the University of Economics | Prague, Czech Republic
“The experience at The University of Texas at Austin was amazing in every way. I had the fortune to meet people from many different backgrounds who thought in different ways but still shared a great common university spirit. I feel that this experience brought out the best in me.” - Pablo Olalla | Fall '09 exchange student from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas, ICADE in Madrid, Spain
"Studying abroad at UT was a pretty intense semester with tons of fun and hard work at school. It was a wonderful experience, I could never have imagined meeting people from places so far away and hanging out together. We made a great crew! We ended up with excellent grades, strong friendships and the desire to come back to Austin one day!" - Juliana Luk | Spring '10 exchange student from Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil
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Since its inception in fall 2009, over 122 returning McCombs study abroad students and BBA international exchange students have volunteered to participate in the Global Ambassadors Program. In an effort to provide a student perspective to study abroad during the promotional outreach, Ambassadors share their respective insight into the academic, social and cultural life of living abroad. International exchange students, too, offer their perspective on the cultural and academic differences they perceive between the U.S. and their home country.
"I loved working with newly admitted students who had knew nothing about Denmark or Copenhagen, and helping them understand more about the country, school, and student life. Many misconceptions were overcome, and the 'insider' information got the students even more excited--especially since a lot of the information I gave them couldn't be researched or found online! It helped calm many of their nerves and allowed them to bond before their big adventures." - Eliza Cole | BBA '11 | Studied abroad at the Copenhagen Business School | Copenhagen, Denmark
Words of Wisdom
"When friends told me they still wished they were on their abroad experience and that it was hard coming home, I used to not understand them. But after my own amazing abroad experience, I completely understood the sentiment and felt it as well. Coming back was difficult after all the excitement of being abroad. Being a part of the Global Ambassador program was a way to continue my abroad experience. By sharing my experiences through Global Ambassadors, it was like reliving many of my favorite memories of my experiences abroad. In addition to the fun of storytelling, it felt great to give some advice to prospective students before they have this life changing experience. I have not only found participating as a Global Ambassador to be fun, but also as a great way to relive and share the memories of one of the best experiences of my life." - Mariana McPhaul | Studied abroad at the National University of Singapore | Singapore
Spreading the Enthusiasm
"After spending an amazing semester in Vienna, I was so thankful for my experiences that I wanted to encourage as many students as possible to study abroad. As a global ambassador, I was able to share my enthusiasm about studying abroad with other students by answering their questions and confirming their beliefs that studying abroad is one of the best opportunities available to undergraduates to add value to their degrees." - MacKenzie Seale | Studied abroad at Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien| Vienna, Austria
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From February 2nd - March 9th, BBA students participated in “Around the World in Six Weeks” as part of the BBA International Programs' education outreach efforts. The six week after-school program run by the Prime Time grant at Mathews Elementary school, and funded by CIBER, allowed the chance for McCombs students who had either studied abroad, or are visiting as exchange students, to engage with the Austin community, and share their experiences about travelling overseas. The goal of the program was for kindergarten, first and second grade students to enhance their understanding of world cultures and cultivate an interest in study abroad.
During the lessons, the elementary school students “traveled” to a new country with their own “passport”. There, students would read books, partake in a craft projects, and participate in an activity related to that country’s culture. Countries visited included Egypt, Brazil, China, Spain and Australia, and therefore Mathews students had the opportunity to learn about pyramids, dance to samba music, use chopsticks, make castanets, and explore Australia’s fauna.
“The experience was very rewarding. I had a very fun time interacting with the students,” said exchange student, Anna, Yuen Tung Chan. Anna, a student visiting from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was one of nine McCombs students who helped create and implement experiential learning opportunities for the Mathews students. BBA International Programs and CIBER applaud McCombs students for their participation in this program!
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Study Abroad Photo Contest: A Virtual Passport to the World
Who wouldn't want to see the colorful markets of Thailand, the underwater world off the Great Barrier Reef, or the cobblestone streets leading up to the Prague Castle? And better yet, without having to expense the cost of a plane ticket!
McCombs students, faculty and staff benefit from this international journey thanks to the Study Abroad Photo Contest coordinated the BBA International Programs office each semester. Thanks to the beautiful and captivating photos submitted by our return study abroad students, the photo contest provides the McCombs community and its visitors with a glimpse of the diversity and cultural richness that exists around the world. To view the photo contest galleries, visit http://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/studyabroadphotocontest
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Join us on Facebook! Connect with former BBA study abroad and international exchange students.
Get LinkedIn with International Programs alumni from around the world!
View our Flickr Gallery photos submitted by our students. Email us your favorite photos from abroad!
Read the BBA Abroad Blog to follow exciting travel adventures from our students overseas!
Update your contact information and sign up as a mentor on the Alumni Contact Form
Submit a story to share on our IP Alumni newsletter distributed each semester.
Post a job or internship opportunity on our LinkedIn Alumni page.
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