Why They’re Learning Abroad


Andrew Koetter ’15, double majoring in history and global studies, is traveling to Montpellier and Paris as assistant program leader for the freshman seminar Impressionism in Paris and Southern France.

Rebekah Shaffer ’18, double majoring in supply chain operations and Chinese, is volunteering in Ecuador.

Ashley Yaritz ’15, majoring in psychology with a minor in Spanish, is volunteering in Ecuador.

Why is learning abroad important?

Andrew: It’s a great way to expand your worldview by getting to know another culture and to learn more about yourself and the culture from which you come.

Rebekah: It forces you to have an open mind and to observe without judgment, which is an invaluable skill.

Ashley: It gives you the opportunity to learn about other cultures and appreciate the diversity of our world. It’s different from what you are accustomed to, so it allows you to see the world in new ways.

Why are you pursuing this experience now?

Andrew: I participated in a freshman seminar abroad to Ghana my first year on campus and found it to be one of the most rewarding opportunities of my college career.

Rebekah: I think it’s very important to my personal growth to dedicate time to things that are bigger than myself.

Ashley: I’ve always wanted to study abroad, but leaving Minnesota for a whole semester doesn’t fit into my academic and career plans, so I found something that was more short-term and affordable for me.

What excites you most about learning abroad?

Andrew: To be staying with a host family for a few days. I am excited to get a closer, more in-depth look at French culture by staying with a local family.

Rebekah: To experience Ecuador’s culture. We are staying with families, and I am very interested to experience what the family dynamics are and to get to know each member of the family.

Ashley: I’ve never been out of the country, so this will be a first for me. I love volunteering and helping people, so that will be exciting and rewarding. I can’t wait to use my Spanish speaking skills in a cultural environment.

What’s your career goal?

Andrew: To work for the State Department as a foreign service officer.

Rebekah: To be living in mainland China, Hong Kong, or somewhere else in Asia, working with a large company managing their supply chain and their business interactions with the US or other parts of the world.

Ashley: To work as a counseling psychologist for a school or nonprofit. I would love to work in a Spanish immersion school.

See more on U of M learning abroad opportunities

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