College/University: University of Maryland – College Park
Year Graduated: Undergrad 2012; Graduate 2016
Current job: Supply Chain Program Planner – Northrop Grumman Corporation
Year you went abroad: 2014
Where you went: Sri Lanka
How long you were there: 4 weeks
BlackEnterprise.com: Did you always want to study abroad or is it something you decided to do after you started college?
Studying abroad is definitely something I had a strong interest in doing since high school. However, due to the need for financial support, college was the first opportunity that I could actually capitalize on. My honors ‘Spanish 4’ class went to Mexico in the 11th grade. I pleaded with my parents for the opportunity to go abroad with them, but the funds simply weren’t readily available, in addition to other concerns they had.
How did you prepare to go abroad? Did your school help you prepare?
All of my programs were associated with a class. This will be true for the vast majority of programs offered by a school. When I went to Sri Lanka we had three meetings prior to going abroad. I was working on behalf of the International Executive Service Corp., so they held an executive meeting with all of the student consultants, and personnel from USAID. These sessions were used to jumpstart the groups on their projects. I was on a team of two, and we had two clients in two very different industries that needed similar services provided.
We were funded by USAID; they had subbed their program to IESC, who then contracted with the MBA program at my University. Therefore, IESC paid and made all of our hotel accommodations. We worked throughout the entire island; the official travel was made for each team from the capital city where we all landed, and to the cities we would be stationed. If we chose to travel between cities or to meet each other at various sites, then that was an out-of-pocket expense. The flight to the island was also an out-of-pocket expense and that reservation was made by each individual student consultant.
The first thing I did was submit an application for a visa. This step can be burdensome if the instructions for the country are not followed closely. In addition to submitting my applications and passport for a visa, I prepared by learning about the people who called Sri Lanka home. I purchased a travel guide book about a month from my departure date to learn what I could about the culture and cities I was to travel to. These books always have tips on having a great time, signs to watch out for, and things to avoid to prevent offending locals.
The CDC website provided me with the list of shots I needed and additional ways to ensure I stayed healthy while abroad. The last thing I did was call my bank and have a travel note placed on my credit cards to ensure they’d remain functional during my trip.
(Continued on next page)