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They Lived and Learned Around the World This Year: Michigan Ross BBAs Reflect on their Time Abroad


Each year, hundreds of undergraduate students at the Ross School of Business choose to study abroad or pursue other global experiences with Michigan Ross or other University of Michigan programs that expose them to different cultures, perspectives, and ways of doing business.

Global Initiatives at Michigan Ross offers a variety of short- and long-term study-abroad courses and programs that are designed to give students a deeper understanding of international business and develop skills to be a leader who makes a positive difference in the world. Between the short-term Ross Global Immersion courses led by Ross faculty, and the full-semester exchanges available in winter term of junior year with other top business schools, there is an opportunity for every Ross BBA to spend time abroad.  

Below, hear from four BBA students who went abroad and studied at another top business school as part of the Ross Undergraduate Global Semester Exchange Program this year.

Eric Haun, BBA ’23 

Academic interests: Concentration in strategy, minor in Spanish

Location: Esade in Barcelona, Spain

I just had the incredible opportunity of finishing my winter 2022 semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, through the Ross Global Initiatives program. Through the program, I was able to take a mix of engaging business classes in both Spanish and English at Esade with other exchange students from all over the world and full-time Spanish university students. While there were many reasons that I decided to study abroad, one of the largest factors was that I was highly interested in the opportunity to live in and experience another culture by spending a semester in another country on the other side of the world. I had also wanted the opportunity to take classes from a different perspective and see how other parts of the world approach business problems, along with being interested in opportunities to fully immerse myself in the Spanish language. Overall, I am confident this Ross opportunity will help me to be a more globally minded and culturally competent business strategist. 

Reflecting on my time studying abroad, the three things that I enjoyed most were the vast opportunities to travel and explore nearby countries, developing friendships with students from around the world and learning more about their backgrounds, and witnessing the growth in my Spanish abilities over the course of the semester. Pushing myself to become more familiar with the language also helped me to better appreciate my time in Spain by being able to converse with local residents and ask questions about daily life and traditions. As a result, for any students interested in studying abroad, I highly recommend working to immerse yourself in the local culture and meeting residents of the city in addition to getting to know fellow exchange students and traveling. Overall, I think that one of the biggest takeaways from my time abroad was to appreciate the various opportunities and benefits we have in the United States, but also to start living more in the moment and enjoying what life has to offer instead of solely immersing myself in work or school. Lastly, I've also learned to say “yes” to new experiences or adventures, as the most uncomfortable ones often end up being the ones you appreciate the most. We only have so much time to explore, so why not live life in the moment and to the fullest? 

Delaney Walsh, BBA ’23 

Academic interests: Concentrations in marketing and strategy

Location: ESSEC Business School in Cergy, France

My abroad experience took place at the ESSEC Business School just outside of Paris, France. I wanted to study abroad because I was hoping to increase my global awareness, which is necessary for my goal of becoming an inclusive and positive business leader. ESSEC is composed of 70% international students, so group projects and social activities allowed me to meet students from all over the world. Living in Paris has also been amazing in achieving this goal. As a multinational center for art and history, it is home to a cross section of so many different cultures. I even learned some French!

Through my exchange, I was also seeking the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and learn more about myself. A manageable class schedule allowed me the opportunity to travel to many other parts of Europe with new friends, old friends, and even on my own. All of these travel experiences have taught me about independence and preparedness, and have culminated in a major increase in my confidence as I enter the workforce and adulthood. Overall, studying abroad has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was an amazing learning experience that is incomparable to any others I have had. I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity and encourage anyone who is seeking learning and self-growth to participate!

Joan Xiao, BBA ’23

Academic interests: Major in marketing, minor in art and design

Location: Korea University Business School in Seoul, South Korea

This past semester, I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea at Korea University Business School. To generalize my experience, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Before I boarded my flight to Seoul, I was filled with doubts and worries about living abroad in a completely unfamiliar country. However, my time in South Korea has shown me quite the opposite, as I have been able to make many local and foreign friends here while going on various adventures. For example, I met a group of girls through a Facebook group, and throughout the semester, we met up for drinks, great food, and even went on a road trip to the DMZ in Paju where we were just meters away from North Korea (which was definitely one of my semester highlights).

The pop culture of South Korea is the epitome of successful marketing to me, and I was fascinated to learn what techniques appealed to the culture there. From idols and brand collaborations to the widespread use of social media, I was able to follow the hype created around certain locations or products. I have definitely lost count of all of the cafes and restaurants I have visited with over an hour wait times! Being abroad in South Korea pushed me out of my comfort zone, but in a way that has allowed me to become more reflective of my experiences, which I decided to keep track of through journaling my time abroad. I am extremely grateful for all of the amazing chingus (friends) I have met and all of the great foods and culture I was able to experience. 

Madelyn Woodrow, BBA ’23

Academic interests: Marketing

Location: Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland

I was fortunate enough to spend a semester studying abroad in Helsinki, Finland at Aalto University. Studying abroad was something that interested me immensely because of the opportunity to gain diverse perspectives, experience cultural integration, and travel across new countries. Previously never traveling outside of North America, I was eager to study in Europe with the chance to explore a variety of places and meet local residents. 

Helsinki in general stood out to me because of its uniqueness. It’s not a very popular study-abroad spot with U.S. students, and I loved the idea of getting to explore a country that I probably would have never visited otherwise and would push me to meet new people. Aalto University also has a great selection of marketing courses, such as Fashion Marketing and Global Marketing. With my marketing concentration, this was something that was important to me.

Studying in Helsinki has been an incredible experience. The university does an amazing job of integrating exchange students by frequently hosting events and social activities to get to meet and become friends with people from all over the world. I am so lucky to be walking out of this experience with good friends from countries like Germany, Italy, and Singapore. The city of Helsinki itself is filled with kind people and beautiful nature, and is the perfect combination of a bustling city and serenity. I cannot recommend studying abroad enough!

Learn more about Global Initiatives