After living four months in Spain, one Drury student discovered life in a whole new way that she never experienced before. Studying abroad allows students to visit another culture, but to Kristen Pflumm, it also meant opening up her mind to different ideas in a way that couldn't be learned at home or in a classroom.
Pflumm is a senior marketing and management student at Drury, who is preparing to receive her business degree. But before finishing her undergraduate experience at Drury, she wanted to take an opportunity to visit Barcelona, Spain for one semester. In fact, students majoring in business at Drury must fulfill a study abroad requirement.
Students choose to study abroad for a variety of reasons. For Pflumm, going out of the country meant taking risks and doing something she wasn't used to doing. Pflumm explains that these are the kinds of skills employers may look for in applicants.
“[Employers] look for people who have studied abroad because it shows they’re adaptable and are willing to take risks and put themselves outside of their comfort zone,” she says.
Adjusting to a different culture
In Barcelona, Pflumm took business classes and GP21 classes with students from other parts of the world as she learned to adjust to a new environment and a different language.
“I went over there not knowing anybody,” Pflumm says. “I was like a fish out of water, but with the program, you’re paired up with your roommate and there’s a bunch of college kids, so everyone just kind of finds their niche, their group of friends.”
Plus, Pflumm said, her education at Drury through the Breech School of Business helped her become more prepared for the experience. Before her trip, she learned and practiced Spanish, but she also felt ready for the classroom setting.
“I went abroad with a lot of people from Arizona State –which is a school of 70,000—and they weren’t used to a class setting being so small, but I was used to it,” Pflumm explains.
Preparing for the future
Though classes were small, Pflumm made connections with other people to prepare for working in the business field where professionals often work together and network.
“As far as preparing me for the future, as a business student, global business is inevitable and more than likely I will be working with an international company or a team of people that are from other places around the world,” Pflumm says. “I think my study abroad experience prepared me to know how to handle those types of situations.”
Experiencing life in Spain
When she wasn’t in class, Pflumm took some time for fun during her trip. During her spare time in Spain, she visited other parts of Spain - and Europe - to fully experience the culture.
“I think studying abroad for a semester really allowed me to submerge myself completely in the culture and truly live like a Spanish person would—tweaked a little bit by my American ways,” Pflumm says.
Overall, Pflumm's study abroad experience was an enriching one, and she found that she wasn’t quite ready to come back home when the time came. It was one of the most important opportunities for her business education and she made new friends while she was away. In the future, Pflumm hopes to go back to Spain to teach English for a year.
For other students who are considering the program, Pflumm says to go for it, even if you’re not sure because it is worth a risk.
“I think it’s a great thing for Drury—and for Breech—to especially promote [the study abroad program] because I think some people are apprehensive to do it,” Pflumm explains. “But I think everyone sees the benefit in the long run.”
Interview and article by Kaitlyn Schwers. Kaitlyn is a sophomore majoring in communication.