As part of the Bach­elor of Sci­ence in Inter­na­tional Busi­ness pro­gram, Dan Schle­movitz spent his senior year in Madrid studying at a pri­vate uni­ver­sity and doing co-​​op with a Paris-​​based global insur­ance group. He took classes with stu­dents from all over the world, including France, Ger­many, Italy, and Ire­land, and made more than two dozen life­long friends from Europe.

It was the best year of my life,” Schle­movitz said, noting his affinity for the Spanish lan­guage and cul­ture. “It had always been my dream to go to Spain.”

Schle­movitz will grad­uate this semester and was among more than a dozen stu­dents in the BSIB-​​Spain pro­gram who gath­ered in the Vis­itor Center on Tuesday after­noon. The young global cit­i­zens dis­cussed their inter­na­tional expe­ri­ences over light fare and then met with Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun and Emilio Botín, the exec­u­tive chairman of Banco San­tander, a Madrid-​​based finan­cial ser­vices company.

In the spring of 2010, North­eastern signed a gift agree­ment with the San­tander Group that allowed the uni­ver­sity to expand the BSIB pro­gram to Brazil. Since that time, North­eastern admin­is­tra­tors and pro­fes­sors have worked closely with rep­re­sen­ta­tives at both the Uni­ver­si­dade São Paulo and Fun­dação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo to build a sus­tain­able pro­gram. This year, two pio­neering stu­dents of the BSIB-​​Brazil track, James Wood and Sachin Mitra, are spending their “expa­triate year” of over­seas study and co-​​op in Brazil. Over the summer, two other groups of stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in Brazil-​​based Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions programs.

The BSIB pro­gram, estab­lished in 1994, offers stu­dents an oppor­tu­nity to both study and work over­seas in the lan­guage of their host country, building upon the university’s strength in expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion. By training stu­dents to become future global man­agers, the pro­gram develops highly qual­i­fied pro­fes­sionals who bring a more com­pet­i­tive edge in world mar­kets to U.S. corporations.

The program—currently oper­ating in 10 countries—aims to broaden stu­dents’ cross-​​cultural aware­ness, increase their knowl­edge of a for­eign lan­guage, and bol­ster their under­standing of inter­na­tional busi­ness practices.

Nicholas Athanas­siou, the aca­d­emic director of the pro­gram since 2003, com­pared the matu­rity level of stu­dents before and after par­tic­i­pating in the inter­na­tional por­tion of the pro­gram. “It’s aston­ishing,” he said. “They leave as young col­lege stu­dents and come back as pol­ished adults.”

It’s a very com­plex and in-​​depth expe­ri­ence,” he added. “Stu­dents come in rapid con­tact with reality and must find a place to live and a co-​​op job in the local lan­guage within a few months.”

Marta Ruiz-​​Falco is a fourth-​​year inter­na­tional stu­dent from Madrid. She com­pleted her first two years of col­lege at the Catholic Insti­tute of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, Northeastern’s partner school in the BSIB-​​Spain pro­gram, and is a can­di­date for a degree in inter­na­tional busi­ness from both insti­tu­tions.  

She chose the BSIB pro­gram for the chance to study in two coun­tries, saying, “My favorite part has been meeting people from all over the world.”

Ruiz-​​Falco is cur­rently on co-​​op with Sov­er­eign Bank, a sub­sidiary of Banco San­tander, and hopes to be offered a full-​​time posi­tion within the com­pany. Schle­movitz, for his part, is inter­viewing next week for a posi­tion with AXA, the global insur­ance com­pany for whom he com­pleted a co-​​op in Madrid.

He noted that his dream job is to become a small-​​business owner and offered this reminder to anyone looking to break into the industry. “We may all come from dif­ferent back­grounds,” he said, “but we’re all striving to accom­plish the same goals.”