Frances Johnson of Charleston, S.C., who is pursuing her Master of Science with a major in organizational management from Southeast Missouri State University, completed a two-week intensive program in the International Summer School in Schmalkalden, Germany, while earning three hours of college credit.
“The International Summer School Schmalkalden program was fantastic,” Frances said. She said the program offered diversity in course selection while submerging her in the German culture. She said she was able to improve her German language skills as well. She said living in the local town afforded the opportunity to dine, shop and enjoy leisure time with local people.
“Although there was a language barrier, the experience taught me I can adapt and prosper in any environment,” Frances said.
Frances’ favorite part of the experience was working with the professors, who helped enhance her understanding of the culture and language.
“By the end of the program I was able to look at a German menu and order with confidence that I would want what I ordered,” Frances said. “The exposure to students from around the world was also memorable. I have new friends in several different countries.”
Traveling has helped improve Frances’ management skills, she says. She currently works as an office manager and project administrator for a construction company in addition to pursuing her master’s degree. Studying abroad, she says, also has helped her be more aware of others’ cultures and how these differences have to be considered when building teams, communicating and managing.
“I enjoyed my first overseas experience in London two years ago,” Frances said. “Being exposed to a different culture and understanding that different is not wrong, just different, gave me a desire to learn more about different cultures. When I saw the advertisement for the program, I was instantly interested.”
In addition to traveling overseas, she said she also spent two weeks traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to San Francisco.
“That has been my favorite place in the U.S. so far because of differences of each city, but the beauty of all the cities. Each area has its own culture, and you could feel it, taste it, and see it,” Frances said.
In addition to traveling, Frances enjoys reading and spending time with her friends and family. She was the student vice president of Phi Kappa Phi honor society and helped organize speakers for monthly lectures. She also enjoys volunteering in community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill.
“Working full time while going to school does not leave me a lot of free time, but I enjoy spending time with family and friends whenever possible,” Frances said.
Frances completed an internship in 2011 as an assistant project manager at Pinnacle Construction in Charleston, S.C. As an intern, she worked on the operations side of the business. She also worked on a project from the bidding process through the closing of the project, which led to her current job as a project administrator for the same company.
“The advice I would give to future students is to take your education seriously and take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new,” Frances said. “Learning in and out of the classroom will lead to you being a better person all around. Participating in a study abroad program can be a positive, life-changing event. Remember to give back in ways such as volunteering, coaching, mentoring or teaching.”