From: Fenton, Michigan
Majors: International Business
Ann traveled to Croatia in 2011 for one semester and studied at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management as an exchange student in 2011. Ann was one of two students who were the first to participate in an exchange program at UM-Flint. Here is a reflection of her experience:
I studied for a semester in Zagreb, Croatia and absolutely loved it. There was only one other American besides me and that made the experience so much different. My fellow classmates were from all over the world. I shared classes taught in English with people from France, Mexico, Germany, Finland, Spain, Bulgaria and Croatia. While I was taking courses, I maintained an internship at the Embassy of Belgium nearby. If it wasn't for this program, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to work abroad in an embassy.
UM-Flint and ZSEM staff was all extremely helpful. The transition into Croatia was intimidating from afar, but as I was in the motions of doing so -- it was an enjoyable task. I have UM-Flint and ZSEM staff to thank for that.
The professors at ZSEM were highly knowledgeable of their studied field. They challenged our group of exchange students as a whole with Cross Cultural projects that allowed us to get out of our comfort zone.
Which experience had the most impact on your personally?
The experience which had the most impact on me was the relationships I formed with the other exchange students. We all had chosen Croatia for our different reasoning and we all explored it in one way or the other together. Exchanging cultural views and ways of life was a common thing. Those relationships will stick with me forever.
What were your expectations of the trip? How did your experience differ from your expectations?
I expected the program to be filled with mostly Americans. I did not expect to be able to maintain an internship while I studied because I assumed I would be stressed out about living abroad and going through my everyday routines. My experienced differed because I was able to work and study while learning from my classmates that were from different backgrounds.
What was the biggest difference in culture that you experienced while a abroad?
roatian students my age were very knowledgeable of different cultures all over the world. Many of them were completely fluent in not only English, but many other languages. Being in Europe made me realize that English is a mutual language for most Europeans. When traveling, English was the most helpful language and I just felt lucky to have it as my native tongue.
What surprised you the most about your time abroad?
I was surprised by how well I adapted to the change. In less than three weeks into the program, I had developed a solid group of friends and basic Croatian vocabulary.
How has this experience changed you?
This experience has opened me up to the rest of the world. I am much more interested in my degree than I was pre departure. I am more motivated in my foreign language class and am more curious about the events in the world.
Would you recommend this program to other students?
Absolutely. This program is so unique in comparison to any other because of its location in Europe and the students that study at the school. The environment is easy going and Croatians are genuinely happy you chose their country to discover and explore.