I am anticipating a series of questions come the beginning of the Fall semester like “what did you do over the summer?” and “whoa, how was Singapore and Hong Kong?!” I am very excited to share my phenomenal study abroad experience as many moments were surreal, and well-spent. From Universal Studios, to Port Tours, to big business site visits, I valued my time in Asia. This biennial Global Business Immersion Study Abroad program was a unique opportunity to introduce students to international opportunities within finance, and allowed students to cultivate a deeper cultural understanding of South East Asia and their economy.
Most days the team woke up around 8:00am for site visits at financial institutions, or whatever activity had been scheduled for that day. I appreciated the incorporation of cultural activities into our schedule like Tea Shop visits, and City Tours. We had two weeks to explore Singapore, and only one to visit Hong Kong, so naturally I feel like I have seen more of Singapore, and long for the opportunity to travel back to Hong Kong and explore more of the city.
Our daily homework assignment was to prepare questions for the following days activities. On several occasions we were praised by our site hosts on our initiative to do research on the company, and rather thoughtful questions. I’ll admit, this assignment truly helped me understand the material better, and engage with the guest speakers. I appreciated how many alumni were more than willing to speak, and answer questions regarding their career path, and the highlights living in Asia.
What follows is a list of questions that are important for any student who studies abroad to reflect upon. I recognize I did not spend the proper amount of time necessary to truly immerse myself in the culture, but I am excited to share the few things I did observe. I hope you enjoy my commentary.
What is one major takeaway from this trip?
I learned about the importance of diversity in the workplace. This is a topic that I plan to go into more depth on in a future blog post. After having formal education on diversity in the workplace, attending presentations on the importance of diversity, and now, having the opportunity to be immersed in another culture, has allowed me to value the importance of multiple perspectives when deriving a solution. It was eye-opening to visit a country who strongly value family, and the environment. Why doesn’t America make these a priority?
What was the first thing you did when you got to Asia?
We landed in Singapore, suffering from a massive time difference of 12 hours. Groggily we made our way from the airport, took a single group picture, made our way to the shuttle bus, to the YMCA. It was interesting that they only gave us one key for a room of two guests. We had to either coordinate schedules, or drop the key off at the front in order to ensure that both guests could access the room if need be.
We also stayed at the YMCA in Hong Kong, and it is interesting to compare the locations. The Hong Kong location was larger (offering a larger buffet selection & a more comprehensive gym), but both were accommodating, clean, and very close to the city metro stations.
Could you share an underrated takeaway? Something that may be overlooked by other student travelers?
Exploring other countries, and learning about their culture has always been riveting for me. I love to ask questions, and truly value the opportunity to have had first hand experience witnessing the culture of Singapore & Hong Kong. Sure – nowadays anything can be Googled, but being able to speak to something on a personal level is completely different.
I am a huge juice fan. I had a few favorites including boxed juice that was larger than your typical American child-sized juice box. I really enjoyed the boxed orange juice that was a bit sweeter than I was accustomed to. They also had a boxed tea/lemonade drink that was pretty tasty, but obviously, not comparable to Arnold Palmer. I tried a mango puree drink, and being the mango fanatic I am, there wasn’t a single mango drink that I disliked. If you’re not the juice connoisseur I clearly am, then I’m sure you’d find an Asian dish at one of the many famous Hawker Centers to obsess over.
How was the weather?
I grew up in Florida, where there are only two seasons, hot and hotter. However, living in the Sunshine State didn’t prepare me for the intense heat of Singapore & Hong Kong. Perhaps, I am over exaggerating, as students were required to wear formal attire to site visits, but simply saying ‘it was hot’ feels like an understatement.
I made it a goal of mine to reflect on the day’s events whether it be in pages of my journal, or with other students, and reminiscing on the trip now by writing this blog post is bring back so many fond memories. I’m not sure when I will have the opportunity to travel to Asia again, but I am very excited to do so soon.