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Student Success Global Connections

Students take in Europe on FSB study abroad programs

A whirlwind tour of Farmer School of Business Global Program summer 2024 locations.

Students under container
Student Success Global Connections

Students take in Europe on FSB study abroad programs

It’s one thing to go away to college. It’s a whole different thing to go overseas to college. But several dozen Farmer School of Business students have spent part of their summers in other countries to learn about business, other cultures, and, to a certain extent, themselves.

The Farmer School Global Business Programs had groups of students taking part in three summer programs:

  • FSB London is a six-week program in which students take a class in information systems and analytics, while also working as an intern at one of several companies in London.
  • FSB Southern Europe is a four-week supply chain operations and management-centered program that takes place in Madrid and Burgos in Spain, followed by Florence, Italy.
  • FSB Central Europe is a four-week marketing-centered program taking place in Budapest, Hungary and Salzburg, Austria.

For my first-ever overseas trip, I visited all three programs in late May and early June to get a snapshot of the experiences the students were having. My first stop was London, where the weather was cool but not as cloudy or rainy as I had expected. 

The students were about a week and a half into their program when I arrived. They were living in apartments not far from Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, but the classroom space at Anglo Educational Services was a couple of subway (Tube) rides and a short walk from their apartment building.

Students in a London apartment

Student waiting on subway train to stop

“The area is really nice. We're at a good location, we're right by a bunch of places where we can easily get around,” junior accountancy major Sonja Kristianson said. “It's also really fun to live with all of our classmates, too.”

Mornings were spent learning about information systems from Farmer School professor Jeff Merhout. After class on most days, students went their separate ways to their internship sites located across London. But on this particular afternoon, the student cohort instead got lunch from restaurants around the Covent Garden Mall before traveling to AHV Associates to meet with an analyst to talk about careers in investment banking and the role of information systems in it.

Students and an advisor at AHV Associates

Senior economics major Jack Pettit’s internship was at Ashden, a climate change charity. “I'm looking forward to getting more implemented into the internship and developing professional methods, as well as exploring my career path, which could be in social innovation or investment,” he said.

“My favorite part of the London Internship program so far is getting to meet new people. I went into this program completely alone and now I'm living in a flat with five girls and we've all gotten so close, going to dinners together, traveling around the city, taking the Tube, and working together in our class,” junior marketing major Sophia van der Woert said. “I'm working in fashion marketing and it's been so enjoyable. I have so much flexibility and creativity, and even on my first day, I got to meet the designer of the brand and I'm really, really enjoying it.”

My next stop was Madrid, where I arrived shortly before the program began. The arid climate reminded me of the U.S. southwest with its intense blue skies and that 3D "pop" of clarity to anything you looked at outside.

Some students arrived by plane from the U.S., while others had already been traveling in Spain or Europe for a few days before arriving in Madrid. They started their first program day with a group meal at Museo del Jamón (translation: Ham Museum) near their hotel, then took a walking tour of central Madrid, including the Plaza del Sol and the Royal Palace of Madrid.

Students outside the Royal Palace of Madrid

After the tour, some students stayed up late and went to nearby bars or cafes to watch the UEFA Champions League soccer final, which Real Madrid won with two late goals. I, on the other hand, was asleep before kickoff.

The following day started with a trip to the Prado Museum of Art (sorry, no photos allowed), followed by a bus ride to Burgos, a city a couple hours north of Madrid where the students would spend the first two weeks of their program. After settling into their hotel, the students took a walking tour of the business sector and historic areas of the city, including the massive Burgos Cathedral, built in the early 13th century.

Students outside Burgos Cathedral

“I've been to Spain before and I loved it, so I wanted to learn a bit more about it, get to explore and spend some good time here,” junior marketing major Adam Carreno said. “I hope to learn more about the culture in general, people's schedules and day-to-day lives, all while I'm learning about supply chain.”

The following day, the cohort took a bus to the Centro de Transportes de Burgos, a sprawling shipping and storage facility on the outskirts of the city. Company representatives gave the students a tour of the facility’s storage buildings and shipment centers while explaining the company’s role in the supply chain system of Spain and Europe. Some students sat in one of the massive machines that the company uses to move loaded and unloaded containers as a worker demonstrated its operation.

Students and a shipping container

“I’m hoping to finish this experience with more friends, a better understanding of management as a whole and an understanding of the cultures that I'm being introduced to,” junior economics and psychology major Shayla Williamson said. “I’m looking forward to traveling in Europe since I've never been to Spain or Italy before.”

The next day, they started their supply chain management class with Peter Salzarulo at the Residencia Universitaria San Agustín, located around the corner from the hotel.

My last stop was Budapest, where students were finishing up the first half of their program before a free weekend and a transition to Salzburg for the remainder of the program. I found the city to be fascinating from an architectural standpoint, with its mix of buildings ranging from centuries-old churches to Soviet Bloc-era apartment blocks to 21st-century glass towers.

(Also, I have unanswered questions about this statue of a man holding a chicken and an egg inside the Great Market Hall Budapest.)

Statue of man holding chicken and an egg

The students’ last class day started with their Hungarian language instructor, who tested them on what they’ve learned of the local language since arriving. He divided the students into groups that competed against each other in word games and map reading skills, with small prizes designed to remind them of their time in Budapest.

Instructor in Budapest with students

“I chose this program because I had no idea about the countries where we were going at all. So I thought it would be the biggest cultural learning experience for me because it's the one I knew the least about,” junior business analytics student Kayden Pence said.

A marketing class session with Debbie Coleman followed, which was centered on the importance of imagery in marketing. The students then took a streetcar and subway trip to the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest to look at an exhibition of photography created by Hungarian photographers while in the United States.

Students entering the museum

Students looking at photos in the museum

For their free weekend, several of the students were taking a train to Vienna, while others were planning to explore more of Budapest or visit other cities.

“I'd never traveled abroad before and people don't really go to central Europe as often as they do to Spain or France. So I thought it would be kind of a unique experience,” sophomore business major Gabe Armentrout said. “I'm interested in the history of the area, the architecture, and seeing things that are historically significant. The food has also been very nice.”

Generally, more than half of all Farmer School students take part in a study-abroad or study-away program at some point during their time at Miami University, either through summer and winter-term programs or through co-sponsored semester-long programs during the school year.

“Being able to explore around Europe has been really interesting, getting to take the London Tube and experiencing a new culture has been really fun,” junior marketing major Mackenzie Copp said. “My favorite part is getting to meet new people, traveling around, seeing all the sightseeing attractions, and finding good restaurants to eat at.  Just exploring.”

People sitting on a bridge in Budapest

Students sitting at an outside cafe

Students pose at a Madrid overlook