Study abroad world with WTAMU

Director of Graduate Business Programs, Assistant Professor of Marketing, and Wilder Professor of Business Dr. Robert King
Bottles of water in Frankfurt described by Dr. King.

Traveling the world and learning while doing so has never been easier. Well, as long as you’re going, you might as well get class credit for it too. West Texas A&M University and the Study Abroad Department offers students a way of gaining valuable experience in both school and culture.

Every year different programs offer opportunities for students to travel to different countries with their classmates. Whether it’s Costa Rica, Germany, or Poland, WTAMU students can book their travel plans with different professors to go far from home.

One such professor, Director of Graduate Business Programs, Assistant Professor of Marketing, and Wilder Professor of Business, Dr. Robert Allen King, was kind enough to offer some insight into the study abroad program to Poland.

“Some of the biggest components of a study abroad excursion are the added context to learning and the experiences along the way,” King said. “For context, students are able to apply concepts they are learning in the classroom and apply them to new and different cultures.”

One fond memory King has of the 2017 Germany trip, was a small moment in Frankfurt in a local grocery store. The group purchased water bottles (photo provided) and noticed something peculiar about the packaging.

“It seems like the presentation of the products was common in that you would “break” a package to get into an individual unit,” King said. “As we walked back, I started a discussion on package design and how that wouldn’t work in the states for a number of reasons and how culturally our style must look odd to them when they visit.”

These cultural differences are some of the things students can look forward to on such a trip. But students must also maintain and meet different requirements to be accepted on these trips. Some of the trips have different requirements or “recommendations.” 

According to King, the program he is apart of suggests that students maintain a 3.2 GPA, write an essay about why the student desires to go on the trip and obtain a letter of recommendation from a department professor. While on the trip, students will have assignments throughout the trip. Most of the tasks are traditional, but some more venturous or “fun” assignments are available.

We have the information to cover how to go on a trip, but what are the study abroad excursions like? I asked junior pre medicine major Nicholas Figueroa about his upcoming trip to Costa Rica.

“By going to study abroad, you really enhance your way of thinking,” Figueroa said. “Depending on where you choose, you’re going to be living in a completely different world, different culture, different language. Different from anything, you know, and that’ll definitely broaden your horizons.”

The benefits of studying abroad are there, but what are some of the negative aspects?

“You’ll be far away from home for a long time. So there’s that element of possibly getting homesick,” Figuera said. “Also you have to adjust to a different way of life is different from what we live in here. That includes different food, different languages that you may no…it’s all just a learning curve.”

For some final thoughts, Figuera thinks back on past experiences, remembering host families that have taken care of the study abroad students.

“You’re going to remember who the host family was for the rest of your life,” Figuera said. “I think that’s definitely something that you can look forward to and that you can take a look at the connection and the friendship that won’t be broken.”

Similar to Figuera’s experience, senior digital communication major Cody Stephens gears up for his upcoming trip to Cape Town, South Africa.

“On this trip, our mission is to try and tell the story of the township we are going to and make it more know,” Stephens said.

Stephens looks to gain experience on the trip while assisting the township at the same time.

“Improving the media knowledge we have, and they have,” Stephens said. “It’s all on how to broaden the idea of this township, and we need to do that through media.”

Now, we have some valuable insight into our own study abroad program. So where would you like to go? For more information regarding study abroad, make sure to contact the Office of Study Abroad at 806-651-5309 or email [email protected].