study abroad

The Beauty of Studying Abroad

Story by Jessie Roller 

A recent exhibit at the Drury University art gallery on Commercial Street celebrated Drury’s study abroad programs and the beauty students found in their experiences.

“Study Abroad: The Student View” featured photos that gave an inside look at the different study abroad experiences of more than a dozen Drury students. Students who study abroad say they learn about other people and cultures, but also frequently say they learn about themselves, too. About 40 percent of all Drury undergraduates study abroad during their college career.

“Aphrodite,” Aphrodite, Cyprus 2016, by Mohannad Almazroa.

“Aphrodite” – photo by Mohannad Almazroa taken in Cyprus, 2016.

Kashif Masoud, an architecture major, was heavily influenced by the rich history of the places he traveled to during his study abroad experience. Being able to experience the history that he had read about in the cities where it had occurred gave him a stronger sense of what it would have been like to live through.

“In some cases it was an eye opening experience to learn about the skill and workmanship of those times and in other cases it was a realization of how humans have developed and advanced their way of life,” he says.

Kashif’s three photos tell the stories of the places he traveled, really capturing the essence and history of these places, as well as observing their architectural importance and beauty.

“They shed light on the value of a study abroad trip that opens one’s minds to great works of architecture that have influenced the world,” he said.

"Boathouse" - photo by Kashif Masoud taken in Italy

“Boathouse” – photo by Kashif Masoud taken in Italy, 2016.

Trevor Cobb, a Spanish major, traveled to Ecuador last summer to experience Latin and South American culture first hand, rather than just learning about the culture from books, in a classroom. Living within a different culture had him constantly learning and adapting to new ways of life.

“Nothing ever felt boring or old,” he says.

He said that even the everyday things, like going to class or to a café, were exciting simply because he was on a different continent. Cobb’s photos reflect the different experiences and moods of his experience in Ecuador. They also include the people that made his trip even more memorable.

"Deer" - photo by Claire Lennard taken in Glencoe, Scottish Highlands, 2016.

“Deer” – photo by Claire Lennard taken in Glencoe, Scottish Highlands, 2016.

“One of the most surprising things about the trip is how close I got to the other students from Drury that I went on the trip with,” he says. “I expected to gain new knowledge and discover another culture, but I didn’t expect to make such great friends that I would keep at Drury. The photos of people helped me to capture memories that I can share with my peers.”

Ultimately, study abroad experiences are meant to broaden one’s perspective on the wider world. That is exactly what architecture major Yasmeen Al Tamimi (an international student from Kuwait) says her travels – and her photographs – are all about.

“My photos illustrate the wonderful things in this world,” she says. “It is to show that there is so much more to see.”

“History’s Imprint on Today” - photo by Karis Kononiuk, taken in Northern Ireland 2016.

“History’s Imprint on Today” – photo by Karis Kononiuk, taken in Northern Ireland 2016.

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Drury MBA students study business, culture in Greece

A recent study abroad trip to Greece drove home an emphasis on international business and cultural awareness for Drury MBA students.

Candida Deckard was one of about two dozen on the trip, which included interviewing business leaders face-to-face, meeting with locals and taking in cultural sights.

“Travel in general and seeing different cultures and ideas helps a person expand their views and become more well-rounded,” she says. “Having this as a part of the Drury MBA program added value for my career and my personal life.”

Deckard, human resources director at CNH Industrial Reman in Springfield, says she and her classmates couldn’t have asked for a more interesting setting as far as international business headlines go – they were in Greece as the country’s debt crisis continued to unfold. The crisis didn’t affect the trip, but it brought differences in business practices into sharp relief.

“It was definitely not the capitalist way of running a business,” Deckard says.

Dickered near the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

Deckard near the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, one of many sights seen on the trip.

For example, they heard from the country’s largest power company that dozens of secretaries remained on the payroll despite not having defined jobs or a retraining program. In another example, a textile plant was denied permission by the government to reduce its workforce and cut costs – and the entire plant closed soon after.

They also heard about tax reform efforts from leaders of the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and spoke to a number of small business owners. Historic and cultural sights were on the itinerary as well. Part of the trip was spent at the Drury Center in Aegina.

Studying abroad is a requirement of the program and it offers an experience one can’t get from a book or lecture, says program director Angie Adamick, who also went on this trip along with management professor Dr. Janis Prewitt.

“We believe the only way to really accomplish that is for students to experience another culture and have that interaction with people on the ground,” Adamick says. “It just changes the way they look at international business.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Drury student receives Stemler Study Abroad Scholarship

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 16, 2015 — Drury student Masha Podokshik has received a $1,000 James G. Stemler Study Abroad Scholarship from the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society. Podokshik, a junior communication major from St. Louis, is Drury’s first Alpha Lambda Delta scholarship recipient. She will be studying in Spain during the spring 2016 semester.

Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society that recognizes and encourages academic excellence among first-year students. Founded in 1924, the society has inducted more than 1 million members in its 90-year history.

Podokshik

Drury University is committed to global learning and engagement. One in ten Drury undergraduates hails from outside the United States, and nearly 50 percent of undergraduate and graduate students study abroad. This summer, students are studying in China, Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Drury Center in Aigina, Greece.

“The complementary nature of having so many American students returning from study abroad opportunities and being part of a truly international campus creates a multicultural learning environment,” says Drury President Dr. David Manuel.

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Students engage in Service-Learning during Study Abroad trip to Greece

Students got a break from the cold this winter with a study abroad trip to The Drury Center in Aigina, Greece. This wasn’t an island getaway — it was a service-learning experience that taught students about community, sustainability and culture. It also met the study abroad requirement for the Breech School of Business, emphasizing Drury’s mission of global awareness.

During the 16-day trip, students learned about the history of Greece, visited local businesses, ate traditional Greek food and worked to build a garden for a food bank on the island of Aigina.

The 2015 Breech study abroad group in Greece.

The 2015 Breech study abroad group in Greece.

“Studying abroad exposes students to a variety of cultures and opens their minds to other ways of considering business,” said Dr. Robin Sronce, a management professor at Drury who led the trip along with finance professor Dr. James Simmerman. “That’s what we’re trying to achieve — this intercultural competence. It gives them more confidence to interact in global settings.”

Abby Schumacher, a junior marketing and management major, took part in the trip and enjoyed volunteering with local community members on the service project.

“We were so passionate about helping and it was cool seeing us working together to get this big project done,” said Schumacher. “We were able to work together to make something happen.”

For the service project, students worked with an Aigina volunteer organization to clean and preserve trails on the island, and planted a garden. The harvested food would later be distributed to families in need.

From left to right, Drury seniors Brett Steere, Alex Fowler, Dallas Williams and Derek Hoerman work to prepare a garden to feed families in need during a Breech Business School study abroad experience in Aigina, Greece.

From left to right, Drury seniors Brett Steere, Alex Fowler, Dallas Williams and Derek Hoerman work to prepare a garden to feed families in need during a Breech Business School study abroad experience in Aigina, Greece.

This is the third year that Drury students have helped grow and maintain a community garden in Greece, where DU has maintained a campus since 2002. This year, however, the garden was relocated and the students had to start nearly from scratch. They planted rows of lettuce, onion, spinach, broccoli and other vegetables.

Schumacher also noted how the trip changed her perspective about the global community.

“This trip definitely made me more aware of my surroundings and how different cultures interact,” said Schumacher. “It was an amazing experience and I hope to get the chance to travel more in the future.”

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By Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, a senior English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

 

Seeking global insights in Morocco, a cultural crossroads

A recent study abroad trip brought 10 Drury students to a place where two continents, myriad cultures and hundreds of years of history intersect: Morocco.

The group included students majoring in history, political science, business and more, including two minoring in Middle East studies. All sought to gain a better understanding of the Islamic world through their travels and coursework.

It was a “hands-on experience in a country that is the meeting point of Europe and the Islamic world,” said professor of political science Dr. Jeffery VanDenBerg, who led the trip along with Dr. Shelley Wolbrink, professor of history.

Among the cultural sites Drury's group visited in Morocco was the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest mosque in Africa.

Among the cultural sites the group visited in Morocco was the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest mosque in Africa.

Located in North Africa, Morocco is just nine miles from Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. In the Middle Ages, Muslim rule and influence spread from Morocco across the Mediterranean Sea into what is now Spain. European colonization and influence in North Africa would later flow the other direction into Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Senior international political studies major Mai Baldwin[cq] says studying a culture through literature, textbooks or film is worthwhile but no substitute for actually being there.

“I understood not just the macro-level things I read about such as economic structures and how the government worked, but also the day-to-day way of life for many Moroccans,” she says. “I loved experiencing their renowned hospitality, seeing the vibrant food markets, and witnessing the joy with which so many people lived.”

The Drury study abroad group with Berber guides in the Sahara Desert while exploring Morocco.

The Drury study abroad group with Berber guides in the Sahara Desert while exploring Morocco.

More than half of Drury undergraduates study abroad during their college careers. But this trip took on an added impact when the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris occurred just as the group prepared to return to Springfield.

That act clashed with the way students saw religion in everyday life during the prior two weeks in Morocco, a majority Muslim country that cultivates a strong national identity.

“The trip allowed us to form our own opinion,” said John Cantrell, a sophomore accounting and finance major. “We got to go over there and see for ourselves.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Greece trip combines science and business studies

Citizenship, business sense and science came together for a few weeks this summer as 10 Drury students traveled to Greece to study geography and the environment.

The group traveled to Aigina, Greece – a town on an island of the same name where the university has a satellite campus called the Drury Center. They spent three weeks working in two teams. One team focused on the physical geography of the Aigina coastline by conducting water quality tests and studying marine debris. The other team addressed cultural geography by studying how recycling and composting can help local agriculture.  Both projects were connected to real life on Aigina with the active participation and expertise of local farmers and civic leaders.

“The Drury Center was amazing,” said professor of the class, Dr. Sean Terry. “They set up meetings with local experts and even translated from Greek to English in live interviews.  This local knowledge inspired our students about local sustainability efforts.

The students conducted academic research in advance so they could more easily focus on actual fieldwork once they arrived, Terry says, adding that they were able to “see how science can be applied in real-world situations to make a positive difference in a community.”

DU students in Aigina

Despite the science focus of this class, most of the students weren’t science majors – nine of the 10 were business majors. A study abroad experience is required of all students in Drury’s Breech School of Business. The trip and its impact on the students illustrate Drury’s interdisciplinary approach to education and engaged learning.

“This was my first trip abroad and it was the most enlightening trip on which I’ve ever been,” said student Jesse Allard. “It was a completely new experience seeing another culture and really trying to immerse myself within it.”

Results from each project highlighted the need to increase local participation in environmental initiatives. Water quality tests at several beach locations came up clean, but plastic trash on shore was an issue. The beach team cleaned up approximately 600 pounds of plastic waste in two days, and the Drury Center itself is committed to a plan that will see Drury students “adopt” Colona Beach permanently. It is hoped that this could lay the groundwork for local schools to “adopt a beach” and maintain the momentum in the future. The students met with local environmental leaders and a middle-school principal in order to learn how the adoption efforts might move forward.

“The projects were a great way to connect with the local community members and make a difference that will be visible to all people who visit the island of Aigina,” says Mallory Long, a junior majoring in accounting and finance.

Ryan Fitzgerald, a senior biology major, said the trip has already changed the way he lives at home.

“The influence that the project has had on my daily actions at home is incredible,” he says. “I have begun to recycle more and look for any chance to help make a cleaner world.”

The second team learned about the relationships between agriculture, solid waste and the Aigina economy. The island currently ships in much of the fertilizer used by local farmers and ships away its trash because of lack of landfill space. All of that costs money, and there’s currently an effort on Aigina to increase composting of food waste to reduce these shipping and hauling costs. Food waste typically makes up 30 to 40 percent of the trash we throw away, Terry says.

“Our study was to calculate the potential benefit of taking that food and separating it from the trash and composting it on the island. Would there be a local use for it and a local market for it?” Terry says.

The head of the local composting association and the president of the farmers’ association both agreed that composting is not only a benefit, it is becoming an economic necessity. A project in Kalamata, Greece, indicated that local farmers and the community can both benefit from the use of fertilizer made from local food waste. A composting demonstration hosted by the Kalamata group drove home how science, the community, and government must all be involved in order to solve this type of problem.

“In a short period of time, this group of students was able to apply concepts they were learning in the classroom to the local context through meaningful engagement with community leaders,” says Eleni Dellagrammaticas, director of the Drury Center in Aigina.

The community nature of the projects made an impact on Jesse Allard, a senior accounting major.

“It was so much fun to see the community members so interested and excited about the work we were setting up,” Allard says. “They genuinely appreciated what we were doing and wanted to be involved.  I think studying abroad is essential. As the world becomes ‘smaller,’ I think it is more important than ever to understand and appreciate other cultures so we can all work together and maximize the potential of the human experience.”

Terry hopes the groundwork laid during this experience can be used by future Drury students to help explain the global nature of sustainability issues.

“I was so impressed by the progressive ideas of the Aigina community,” he said. “The beauty of the island, and the passion of the local people to improve it make it a perfect learning laboratory for our students.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Drury MBA students explore global connections in China

A group of Drury University MBA students recently returned from a study abroad experience they won’t soon forget.

Drury’s MBA program requires a trip abroad to China. Unlike many other study abroad opportunities, the China trip is built into the MBA curriculum, and it serves as a cultural and academic capstone for the program.

This year’s trip was more interesting than usual because it occurred in the days leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Chinese government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

But the Drury contingent wasn’t even aware of the upcoming date until the group of 24 students visited the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. No Chinese spoke of it.

“What I found out is we’re more similar than we are dissimilar – except in the area of the personal freedom,” says Sherry Coker, Director of Workforce Development at Ozarks Technical Community College. It was Coker’s first international trip.

Drury MBA China group

“For example, the ‘one child policy – I looked at it from a woman’s perspective,” Coker says. “To have a child in China means you go to your employer and say you want to have a child, and they tell you when you can have a child.”

For Andrea Gill, the trip brought the differences in language and culture into stark relief.

“To do business with (the Chinese) you really need to focus on understanding the importance of family, their overall culture and the complexity of the language,” Gill says.

The trip gives students a first-hand view of a market that is both essential and enigmatic, says Associate Professor of Management Dr. Janis Prewitt Auner, who went on this year’s trip. The tour included visits to companies such as online media company Sina[cq], tech giant iSoftStone and Beijing Hyundai.

“We visit various businesses and they tell us what the challenges are to doing business in China, and they are pretty honest about the difficulties,” Auner says. “I think this is part of what distinguishes our program from others in the state and the region.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Studying abroad helps architecture grad gain global perspective

Not many 23-year-olds can say they’ve travelled the world, have a master’s degree and had multiple internships during their college career. Wil Toedtmann can. He graduated Drury this month with a degree in architecture and a minor in Design Arts and Global Studies.

The Hermann, Missouri, native became interested in architecture in high school when he would sketch buildings on his notes during class. He came to Drury for the five-year Master of Architecture program.

During those years, Toedtmann counts his travel abroad opportunities as some of his biggest learning experiences. In total, he visited seven countries, including China, Italy, Spain, Greece and the United Kingdom.

Toedtmann1

“Studying abroad was such a life changing experience and I not only learned about other cultures, but I also learned a lot about myself and what my values were,” Toedtmann says. “It really changed my whole perspective on life. I think traveling is one of the best ways to learn and it really gives you a global perspective.”

This past spring break, Toedtmann and two other Drury students traveled to China to present their fifth year urban design projects to the Suzhou Industrial Park Design & Research Institute. The projects focused on the anticipated future growth of an area west of Shanghai, and looked at redevelopment strategies addressing issues of sustainability, culture and population density.

“One of professors was actually born in Beijing, which made the trip even better because it was like having a personal tour guide,” Toedtmann says. “I was really glad he came with us because he showed us authentic Chinese cuisine, which was great!”

Aside from his study abroad travels, Toedtmann also appreciates the networking opportunities Drury has provided him. Because of a Drury connection, Toedtmann was able to spend a week in New York City working with Daniel Libeskind, one of the world’s most well-known architects. Another Drury connection helped him secure a part-time job at Casey Architecture, where he works today. He hopes to move to a large city in the future.

“I honestly feel like Drury couldn’t have done any more to better prepare me for the field of architecture,” Toedtmann says. “I am not only grateful for the degree and education I received, but more importantly, I am grateful for all the relationships that were created through my experiences and the opportunities that molded me into the person I am today.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, an English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Drury graduate travels the world and returns to her alma mater

It’s a widely held notion that the days of staying in one job or even one career throughout a lifetime are long gone, and for Drury’s director of international admissions, the shifts in her career have taken her around the world and back to where she started.

Beth Nichols graduated from Glendale in the late nineties and initially planned to attend the University of Missouri, but even before classes began, she knew a large a state school wasn’t for her. “The day before classes began at Drury, I applied, got accepted and started school,” Nichols said, continuing a three-generation tradition for her family. Nichols’ grandparents, Louise and Dick Aton, attended Drury and it was her grandfather who encouraged and convinced her to become a Panther.

Beth Nichols with her mother, and fellow Drury graduate, Carolyn Naegler in Shanghai, China

Nichols began as a pre-med student, but after taking a handful of design classes, she switched to architecture mid-way through her college career and graduated in 2003. Upon graduation, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked for internationally known architect Eric Owen Moss. From there, she worked at a private firm in Springfield and in planning for the City of Springfield. Then, she was off to graduate school at the Architectural Association in London, England.

“At Drury the professors and my fellow Architecture classmates were so helpful and friendly. The Drury way is centered on community and inclusion so the transition to an extremely competitive academic environment in London, where other students would destroy your work or sabotage your computer, was interesting. The rigorous nature of the program was easy to handle, but the lack of community proved to be more difficult.” Nichols said. But she made it through and graduated with a Master of Architecture and Urbanism.

She wanted to stay in London to work, but wound up in Beijing, China working for a small British firm, “The enormous scale of the projects in China is quite mesmerizing. There are currently limitless architectural possibilities in Asia and the speed of construction is unbelievable,” Nichols said. “In Springfield, you might plan and design a strip center. In Asia, I was designing enormous planned communities and 120-meter tall skyscrapers. A project that would take two years in the states would take three months in China. The pace was amazing.”

From there, Nichols went to a firm in Hong Kong where she worked on similarly enormous projects, but the workload was enormous, as well, “I was working at least 12 hours a day. The first three months I was there, I didn’t have a day off,” Nichols said. “It was typical to be in the office until 2 a.m.”

Missing her hometown and a normal life, Nichols sought a job in higher education with the intention of becoming a professor, but when the position for director of international admission came open, it was a good fit combining her desire to work with students and her experience living abroad. Now, she visits about 20 countries a year, attending college fairs where she introduces international students to Drury where she hopes they’ll attend college and increase campus diversity.

“While doing business with someone in China or the Middle East feels normal to me, most of our students have not been exposed to people of other cultures–that’s why it is so important to have international students in your university,” Nichols said. “If a student in Springfield gets to know a student from Kuwait or Korea, learns about their culture and their country, it makes the typical Drury student more well rounded and more prepared to work in the global economy.”

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Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications.

Drury business students raise money to help fellow students study overseas

Drury’s Breech School of Business’s Mission Statement is, “Preparing ethical leaders for the global business community.”

The “global” part of that mission statement is much more than just words for Breech faculty and students. All of Drury’s business majors must participate in a study abroad experience, the purpose of which is to increase students’ intercultural competence. “Ultimately, we want our students to thrive in a variety of environments. A big part of this is learning to recognize cultural variations and to respond appropriately,” said Dr. Robin Sronce, associate professor of management at Drury.

However, the cost to study abroad can be considerable when tuition, program costs and travel expenses are all added together.

In the spring of 2012, Dr. Sronce’s project management class set out to help their peers pay for this enriching requirement. The class conceived and designed study abroad scholarships, and presented the idea to the Breech Advisory Board and Drury’s Office of Alumni and Development. Once the class had the go-ahead, it raised $2,000 from faculty, students and Advisory Board members. Then, over the next year, enough was raised to award three $2,500 scholarships.

In the spring of 2013, Dr. Sronce’s Project Management class built on what the 2012 class had started to help their peers afford a study abroad experience. The class conceived and organized a golf tournament at Millwood Golf and Racquet Club. Between golf fees, sponsorships and donations, the class quadrupled their fundraising goal, coming up with $10,000.

Brooke Hickman at the Roman Forum

Senior-to-be Brooke Hickman was one of the project leaders for the golf tournament. On the day of the tournament, while Hickman was working, the scholarship committee voted to award Hickman one of the $2500 scholarships to study in Rome earlier this summer.

“It was a huge surprise. I had planned to take a study abroad trip for a little more than a year, I had saved most of the money, but it was a struggle,” Hickman said. “I applied for the scholarship and hoped for the best. It was nice that my work paid off and helped me a little bit, too.”

And the experience overseas put Hickman well on her way to intercultural competence, “It gave me a better understanding of how other cultures operate. I’m prepared to work with people who have different beliefs and come from different cultures. You can’t learn in the classroom what I learned by being surrounded by the culture,” Hickman said.

While the focus continues to be on current students’ need, there is a study abroad scholarship fund raising committee that hopes to raise enough money to endow these scholarships for the future.

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Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communication at Drury.