Imagine being able to travel the four corners of the world within a semester, and getting class credit for it. Sound too good to be true? That’s exactly what 11 Kennesaw State students were able to do in the Fall 2016 semester as a part of the new Around the World in 80 Days study abroad program. This program allowed students to travel to four continents, with 20 days in each city they visited. The program started at the KSU education facility in Montepulciano, Italy, then sent the students to Morocco, Australia and Cuba.
Fall of 2016 was the inaugural year for the Around the World in 80 Days program, or AW80, but the faculty members that developed the program and taught on the trip are looking forward to how they can improve from here. Dr. Sheb True, Coles College of Business, taught the International and Global Studies course with Dr. Lance Askildson, VP of the Division of Global Affairs, while the students spent their time in Australia. "Since this was our first year completing the AW80 program, we were all looking forward to seeing how it would turn out, and we are all thrilled with the success of the program so far," said True. "Not only did the students gain classroom experience and earn credit hours toward their degree, they were also immersed in cultures and organizations that have given them a world view and experience with societies in other parts of the world that cannot be taught from a textbook."
While many of the students learned a love of travel from this program, there were some big life changes that also emerged as a result from the trip. Some students shared their newfound love of walking to more places in their area, starting a recycling program, and getting more involved with their local communities to understand more about the people that live around them. One student, Tionna Boddie, has made an even bigger life goal as a result of the trip. "I've decided to join the Peace Corp," said Boddie.
The semester was devoted to immersing students in cultural excursions in different parts of the world to compare it to what they were learning in the classroom as well. Students were able to visit with parliaments to understand world government, hospitals to gain knowledge on world healthcare, and spent time with natives of each country to get insight on a different worldview that could also help them in their careers after graduation. "When I think back on this trip and how I can use the experience in my career, I know that this trip was even more valuable than I thought it would be going into it," said Kelly Riedesel, finance major with Coles College. "It was amazing to see how all of the different economic systems worked in each country, and it really helped open my eyes to how global economies function and how that differs from the United States. That experience is going to help build my finance career here immeasurably."