It’s hard to convey the range of emotions going through my head as I prepare to depart for Ireland and Germany. The week prior has been an absolute whirlwind; four final assignments capped off by my college graduation. It’s safe to say that I’m totally sleep deprived, especially considering that most of my fraternity pledge class spent our last night of college watching the sunrise along with some fireworks. This is an interesting crossroads for me. I’m a member of the STEM: Path to the MBA, so I’ve got another year at the Capstone. Still, this whole semester has felt like a prolonged farewell to most of the people that have grown dear to me as they begin their professional lives. Alas, my “victory lap” will be much less fun without them. Still, I’m excited for the future, particularly the very near future; I graduated Friday, packed up on Saturday, moved out today (Sunday) and am now preparing to catch a plane.

I owe the University of Alabama a great deal for facilitating the study abroad program. Through UA, I’ve been able to study abroad on two separate occasions; once in Spain and once in India. I chose these programs for specific reasons. Spain made sense because of my Spanish minor. India was through the STEM program and focused on reverse innovation for the Global South, a region I hope to one day be able to assist in modernizing. This also tied in with my MBA coursework. This third trip is a natural conclusion to my undergraduate experience and a valuable learning opportunity prior to entering the full-time MBA. The course focuses on international supply chain analytics: fundamentally understanding the flow of resources for a business in a larger economy. This is something that has piqued my interest recently. It also ties in particularly well with my degree in civil engineering. It’s becoming clearer every day that to survive in the global economy, a company must excel in its supply chain management. Thus, we’ll be visiting a number of factories and manufacturers in both countries to get a feel for their processes and strategies. I’ve also decided on this field for my MBA specialization.

I hope to absorb as much knowledge as possible during my stay in the two countries. I know I’ll stay busy with coursework from the program, other online coursework, and planned activities. For each country I have a few specific interests. Regarding Ireland, it will certainly be a change-up from my previous experiences since there won’t be a language barrier. This will ease communication significantly. I’m interested to see how much the Irish lifestyle differs from its American counterpart, particularly considering the common English language. I also claim heritage from the region, so I’m hoping to get more in touch with my roots. Finally, I love the rich literary and musical history of the country. Though this is a business course, I place a great deal of importance on cultural nuances. These help one get a holistic understanding of a country.

My goals for Germany are slightly different than those for Ireland. German history has fascinated me since childhood, particularly the 18 th -20 th century. To be able to follow in the footsteps of men such as Frederick the Great and Bismarck is truly a privilege. I’m also particularly interested in both the world wars from a German perspective. As the saying goes, “history is written by the winners.” I’d like to hear the other side of the story. I’m also interested in German design processes. I admire the craft and skill that many German companies employ, particularly in the auto industry. Finally, I’m eager to eat all the bratwurst and schnitzel my stomach can hold.

To conclude, this is quite the exclamation point for a college experience that has been everything I could ask and more. My excitement grows as I write. I’m traveling with a number of old friends, but I look forward to building more friendships and continuing on my path to personal and professional growth. I’m armed with a backpack full of clothes, some books, and a guitar. Here goes nothing!