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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