By: Michael L. Jackson
As the 2015 spring semester gets under way, two Kelley Indianapolis juniors are busy packing much more than their backpacks.
Mollie Fisher and Shae Siokos will spend 16 weeks studying in Europe, made possible through an ongoing collaboration with the Kelley Study Abroad office in Bloomington. Fisher (above) is headed to Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary, while Siokos (below, right) will be traveling to Maastricht, Netherlands, to take classes at the University of Maastricht’s Center for European Study.
For both students, the desire to experience college life in Europe was sparked while they were still in high school.
“I really wanted to make study abroad a priority,” said Fisher, who visited her sister while she was stationed as a Naval nurse in Rota, Spain. “Seeing my sister live in Spain for a couple of years and how she was able to travel so much during that time, it really excited me.”
“Her advice to me was, ‘Do it while you’re young. Experience life.’”
Fisher transferred to Kelley in the fall of 2013 after spending her first two years at Indiana Wesleyan. “There are so many more opportunities (at Kelley),” she said. The marketing and international studies major will be joining seven Kelley Bloomington students on the trip.
Budapest spent more than four decades under communist rule following the end of World War II. Now, however, it is considered a major economic hub in Central Europe. The city’s diverse history is one of the things that drew Fisher to the program at Corvinus.
“It’s not somewhere I ever imagined going,” she said. “But I like the idea of going to a metropolitan hub with good public transportation and a completely different culture. Their history is so different from ours. I know I’m going to get a very different perspective on life.”
Both Fisher and Siokos will take a mix of business and economics courses, as well as mandatory foreign language courses. Siokos’ itinerary includes a four-day study trip to Berlin later this month.
“I didn’t think I would have the chance to do this kind of thing,” said Siokos, who is double majoring in management and human resource management. “I saw a video about studying abroad in one of my classes, and it really gave me a push to apply.”
Though Fisher will go the semester without visits from family or friends, Siokos’ mom has already booked her trip. The pair plan to travel to Sweden to see the Northern Lights. “I will be traveling by dog sled,” Siokos said. “How cool!”
For Kelley undergraduate students in Indianapolis, study abroad opportunities are becoming more plentiful. The school offered its first spring break trip to London in March of 2014. And more than four dozen students will head to London and Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), during this year’s spring break.
But spending time abroad for an entire semester does present extra challenges, admits Eric Raider, associate director of student engagement. Planning early is vital, he says.
“Once our students are accepted to a semester program, they select courses that are unique and meet the Kelley degree requirements. A semester abroad gives students an opportunity to enroll in courses that are not offered through the Kelley School of Business and are unique business topics,” Raider said. “To maintain on-time-graduation, students may need to petition our faculty to count the courses towards the Kelley degree. While the process seems tedious, both Kelley locations collaborate effectively to ensure students are registered for the appropriate courses.”
“There are a lot of misconceptions about studying abroad,” Raider added. “For instance, many human resource management majors do not think they can study abroad toward their major. Shae is the perfect example to illustrate that this simply isn’t true. But planning is essential.”
Siokos has simple advice for Kelley students who may be thinking about going through the process.
“Think early about who will write your letters of reference,” she said. “Also, get your personal statement proofread by multiple people who know what they’re doing. It is not something that you want to rush.”
If you’re interested in spending a semester abroad, you can find out more about all of the Kelley programs by visiting the KSB Study Abroad webpage. Raider will be hosting a Study Abroad Fair on January 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact him for more information, or to sign up.