Study abroad in Southeast Asia transforms students and their understanding of the world
During academic breaks, many Quinlan graduate students take advantage of study abroad courses. In January 2019, our graduate marketing students did just that, spending two weeks visiting three countries in Southeast Asia as part of Professor Clifford Shultz’s MARK 561: Comparative Consumer Behavior class.
Below, read how student Jennifer Mulligan describes the trip and what she gained from her experiences with other cultures.
Trip photo gallery
View the photos in the gallery below or on Quinlan’s Flickr page.
How Touring Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand Transformed Us
By Jennifer Mulligan
Dr. Shultz promised a trip to three countries in two weeks that would be a transformative experience. What intrigued me most was the prospect of traveling to a part of the world that I knew hardly anything about. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand weren’t high on my radar as go-to travel destinations. Going with someone as knowledgeable as him and in a group setting felt like a safe, unique way to experience it.
I was right about that, but I was most surprised by just how much I learned about myself, U.S. history, and the global economy. Not to mention how #blessed we really were to have had the opportunity to go on this trip.
Here are my top most transformative moments from each country as well as what my fellow classmates (read: SEA course family) have to say:
Vietnam: On my first day, a few of us toured the Mekong Delta. There, we had the opportunity to hold a farmed python. I’m terrified of snakes, but you know what they say about Rome, so I figured the same rule applied to Vietnam. Holding a python around my neck set the tone for my trip. My best advice: just say yes. While I don’t ever plan to hold a snake again, it was this experience that made me say yes to the rest of the trip.
Cambodia: We traveled to a rural part of the country where we met a family that has been fishermen for as many generations as they can remember. They recognized us as foreigners but couldn’t place where we were from: France, Portugal, other places like that. When we tried to explain America to them, they couldn’t wrap their heads around what that meant. We might as well have told them we were from Pluto. That put our role in the world into perspective.
Thailand: Having traveled straight from Cambodia, Thailand felt very developed with countless skyscrapers and tons of traffic. However, the pollution was so thick that smartphone users there have an app that tracks air quality much like we rely on our weather app. While we were there, the index was in the 180s in Bangkok. For context, it was in the low 40s in Chicago. Experiencing the effects of pollution reinvigorated my passion for going green.
Here are some reflections from my classmates:
"This may sound cliche, but this trip helped me grow as a person. I learned how the other half of the world lives, and I was able to see/experience many different cultures. I’m so thankful I was given this opportunity to go on this well-organized trip!" — Jenny Wilson
"This trip not only provided a great first time to Asia, but completely immersed me in a culture and day-to-day life that are completely different from my own. The best part is I got to share this transformative experience with a team that become more like family than classmates." — Lauren Cummings
For any Quinlan student on the fence about taking MARK 561 and traveling to Southeast Asia: Stop thinking and do it! It was incredible, and I wish I could go again! Looking at you, Dr. Shultz, for an alumni trip.