Reflections on Global Experience

by Christian Shannon

As a mem­ber of the Inter­na­tional Busi­ness pro­gram at North­east­ern, I spend my entire fourth year over­seas par­tic­i­pat­ing in a study abroad and inter­na­tional co-op.  I was so enthralled with global expe­ri­ence that I added two field study pro­grams before and after my IB require­ment.  This expe­ri­en­tial year as an expa­tri­ate strives to develop us as global lead­ers, thinkers, and doers.  I had the oppor­tu­nity to travel to over a dozen dif­fer­ent coun­tries in only 12 months; more than I have ever in my entire life.  But the gnaw­ing ques­tion when I returned to the states really made me think about what it means to go abroad: “What was your favorite part?”

This is so dif­fi­cult to answer based on the sheer time­frame alone!  How can I dwin­dle down liv­ing in four dif­fer­ent coun­tries and work­ing in an inter­na­tional cli­mate to just one favorite thing?  I thought about all the things that I loved doing: cliff jump­ing in the Philip­pines, white­wa­ter raft­ing in Costa Rica, trav­el­ing to Japan for the week­end on a whim, jump­ing out of a plane over Cape Town and see­ing from Robben Island to the Cape of Good Hope… there’s just so much I did that were all “my favorite part.”

But then I real­ized that these mem­o­ries all had a com­mon string.  Each time I was doing them, I had one thought going through my head: “When am I going to have the oppor­tu­nity to do this again?”  That was it!  My favorite part was the oppor­tunis­tic and adven­tur­ous spirit that trav­el­ing instills in you.  The con­cept of never hav­ing a chance to do some­thing again is so com­pelling because no one wants to look back and regret not doing it.

Aca­d­e­m­i­cally, my pro­gram in South Africa for social entre­pre­neur­ship did noth­ing.  It was purely extra elec­tive credit for me, yet if I didn’t grasp onto that oppor­tunis­tic men­tal­ity I may never have gone to the coun­try, or met the peo­ple I met, or learned about a poten­tial career in social entre­pre­neur­ship.  There’s so much that I would have missed out on had I not cap­i­tal­ized on this spirit.  Seiz­ing oppor­tu­nity wher­ever it exists enables us to expe­ri­ence a world through our eyes and not a lens.

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