Study abroad prepares student for global career

Second of two-parts

In my previous column, I described Tessa Bechert’s experiences in Prague as a Collegeg of William and Mary study abroad student. Today, I let her tell, in her own words, what impact studying abroad had on her.

I asked Bechert how those six weeks abroad enrich her academically and on a personal level?

“My experience in Prague helped me gain much confidence in myself,” she said in a recent interview with the Gazette. “I now approach life with confidence that I can navigate airports, exchange rates and transportation in a country where I don’t speak the language. I can handle anything.”

She continued: “In Prague, I also discovered the beauty of diversity in thought. One of my favorite parts of the trip was talking to people from around the world and discussing similarities and differences in education, art, politics and values of nations.”

She explained that for her the biggest takeaway was that there are so many different ways of going about doing things, and all of them are valuable. “These conversations were fascinating to me and I loved meeting such amazing people, both from the Czech Republic and other European countries.”

Academically, her trip expanded her basic knowledge greatly. As a business major studying art and history in Prague, she took classes that were unrelated to her major. But lectures from “incredible professors,” that connected the material learned in class to the world around her made all the difference.

“It was so fulfilling to learn about the history of Prague Castle and then get to see it right after the class,” she said.

Bechert noted that academically she was challenged to learn about subjects that were outside her normal course of study. Coincidentally, she discovered a love of history and art. “These subjects can blend together to help me bring a unique perspective to the business world.”

I asked her whether she thinks the experience would help her once she embarks on a professional career.

“Yes, definitively,” she said. “In this increasingly globalized world, the most valuable education is one on an international scale. No matter what industry I go into, there will almost certainly be an international component. Foreign experience is immensely valuable.”

After graduation, Bechert hopes to go into marketing.

“Marketing‘s main focus is to understand the customer so as to create the perfect product and tailor messages to sell them. Going abroad helped me to understand a larger portion of the world. I gained insight and knowledge that will help me if I work for an internationally focused company.”

Bechert will soon become an exchange student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

“Spending six weeks in Prague, ignited a spark inside me that I am hoping to grow in Scotland,” she said. “The University of St. Andrews is known for its superior academics, but mostly I am looking forward to the lessons I will learn outside of the classroom. I also hope to gain Scottish friendships that will expose me to new ideas and new experiences. I am looking forward to the adventure of personal and intellectual growth ahead of me.”

Shatz is a Williamsburg resident. He is the author of “Reports from a Distant Place,” the compilation of his selected columns. he book is available at the Bruton Parish Shop and Amazon.com.

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