Australia

Max Dixon (left)  with friends in Australia
Max Dixon (left) with friends in Australia
Max Dixon (left)  with friends in Australia
Max Dixon (left) with friends in Australia
Max Dixon is no stranger to foreign travel. The Basking Ridge, N.J., native went to Argentina at age 11, England at 12, Israel at 14, Rome between sophomore and junior years, and he goes to Canada often to visit family. “I am definitely inspired by my mom’s love of travel,” he says. “As a freshman, I knew studying abroad was something I wanted to do.”

Australia was his dream, and Dixon, a senior majoring in management, planned far in advance. He purposely took difficult courses in Rome and two more back at UM that same summer with the intention of taking it easy Down Under. At the University of Sydney, Dixon studied sports culture, a class that counts toward his minor. He went to a swimming trial, a rugby match and an AFL Footy game. In his American history class, he enjoyed being taught about his native country from another country’s perspective. His organizational behavior course taught him how to deal with people in business, and living in a dorm with 35 students from all over the world was its own life lesson. “I grew up, and I learned to be more self-sufficient in Australia,” he says.

Teaching strategies, class structure and grading were also an adjustment for Dixon. “They have lectures with 200 to 300 students once a week and tutorials with 20 to 30 students to go more in detail. It was a good change of pace from the way things are taught in America,” he notes. “Grading was different, too; in Australia, students are graded against their peers.”

Class time aside, Dixon explored Australia with two UM friends who were also there. Finding his friend, Mikey, was an adventure in itself. He ended up on a wrong street, lost, in pouring rain and was pleasantly surprised when two strangers offered to take him to his friend’s house. Dixon and his other friend, Keith, were the thrill seekers. They went swimming at White Haven Beach, skydiving and white water rafting in New Zealand, and scuba diving in the Whitsunday Islands off the Great Barrier Reef.

Dixon’s most significant life lesson abroad was falling in love. He extended his Australia trip by a month to explore Melbourne, his girlfriend Peta’s hometown. “She came to the states during winter break and we went to Jersey, New York City, upstate New York, Vermont, Montreal, Toronto and Miami. Now I’m just looking forward to spring break because I’m going back to Australia to see her,” he says, smiling. Dixon’s now-long-distance relationship has taught him patience and inspired him to look into MBA programs in Australia. “I hope a post-grad education from University of Sydney will be attractive to employers,” he says.

By the Numbers

150

business majors

More than 150 business majors participate in study abroad programs each year.

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60

Universities

The University's International Education and Exchange Programs (IEEP) administers direct enrollment exchange programs with more 60 universities worldwide.

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30

Countries

The University of Miami offers study abroad programs in more than 30 countries worldwide.

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Austria

Karina Gonzalez (center) at the Schloss Belveder in Vienna with friends Sydney Turnbull (right), a UM student who was studyig in Germany, and Jackie Furlong, another American student.
Karina Gonzalez (center) at the Schloss Belveder in Vienna with friends Sydney Turnbull (right), a UM student who was studyig in Germany, and Jackie Furlong, another American student.
Karina Gonzalez (center) at the Schloss Belveder in Vienna with friends Sydney Turnbull (right), a UM student who was studyig in Germany, and Jackie Furlong, another American student.
Karina Gonzalez (center) at the Schloss Belveder in Vienna with friends Sydney Turnbull (right), a UM student who was studyig in Germany, and Jackie Furlong, another American student.
Miami native Karina Gonzalez wanted to discover a different culture and a new way of life. Although she grew up in Miami’s melting pot and traveled to Peru and Spain with family, she craved the unknown.

Her opportunity came this past fall at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. The junior accounting major took a variety of courses, some of which focused on the role of women in business. Occasionally she found the coursework less challenging than what she has become used to at the School of Business, but brutal scheduling often made up for lack of academic rigor. “One of my classes was only four days long, but it met from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day,” she explains. Easier classes allowed lots of time for sightseeing in Europe.

Gonzalez proudly lists the countries she visited and some of her excursions. “I went to Italy, Spain, Croatia, France and Switzerland,” she says. “It was super easy to travel anywhere in Europe; there’s a great public transportation system. I also went on a 12-day cruise all around Europe. I went skiing on the borders between Switzerland, France and Italy with new friends and some fellow University of Miami students.”

Making new friends in the Vienna University crowd was easy because there were so many American and Spanish students there. Gonzalez initially spoke no German, however, and that presented some challenges getting around the city — especially because there were no campus dorms, so students took trains and buses from resident homes. Viennese food— “all sausage meat and pastries,” she recalls — had her missing her mom’s menus of rice, beans and chicken.

Regardless of cultural differences, Gonzalez would do it all over again if given the opportunity. “I feel a lot more independent since studying abroad. It was my first time truly away from home,” she says. “I was able to learn about the business environment of a different country and speak to people who work in it. That taught me a lot.”

China

Zach Chan's adventures included a close   encounter with elephants in Thailand.
Zach Chan's adventures included a close encounter with elephants in Thailand.
Zach Chan's adventures included a close   encounter with elephants in Thailand.
Zach Chan's adventures included a close encounter with elephants in Thailand.

Friends, fraternity brothers, classmates and roommates, Kenden Pettit and Zach Chan had the summer of their lives studying and traveling in Asia. Both seniors are from the Orlando, Fla., area, but they met at UM. When it came time to study abroad, the two signed up for the program at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). “I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I wanted something out of my comfort zone,” Pettit says.

Chan, on the other hand, chose Hong Kong because he had visited before; his ancestry is Chinese, and some relatives still live there. “There’s so much up in the air with finding work after college,” he says. “It makes traveling difficult. I wanted to go there as a student to learn Asian business.” Chan’s challenge, because he looks the part, was convincing locals that he didn’t speak Chinese. “People were surprised, but once they figured out I only understood English, they were more than willing to help us out.”

The duo took a variety of business courses at CUHK while living in an international house with students from around the world. They were thankful that English was the common language. “It was a learning experience to hear what others think of Americans,” says Pettit. “Opinions were mixed, which gave me the opportunity to step back and be on the outside looking in.” They enjoyed the change of scenery, too. CUHK is located on a mountainside — quite a change from Florida flatlands.

While in Asia, the boys ventured to Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. “It was nothing like our average South Florida outings,” laughs Chan. Pettit recalls arriving at the Great Wall as a defining moment: “You can look at pictures, but nothing beats standing there with it right in front of you,” he says. “The sheer size of it, going over the highest point of every mountain, amazed me.” He says his new life motto is, “Nothing is real until it’s experienced.”

As for their future, Pettit developed a serious interest in international business operations, enjoyed the cultural differences and hopes to work in Hong Kong for the first few years of his career. Chan uncovered a desire to discover new countries and cultures. He hopes to achieve that goal through working for the U.S. State Department, a path he’s already pursuing.

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