Student Provides Advice About Making Study Abroad a Reality

Olivia Harrison departed for the Netherlands at the end of October.

Olivia Harrison is a second-year student in the Crosby MBA program. She became interested in studying abroad as an undergraduate, but the timing never seemed right.  When she heard she could travel internationally as an MBA student, she did everything she could to make it happen.  She hopes her insights will help others do this, too.

I can’t afford to study abroad.  It’s time consuming.  It’s a big commitment.  It will never work with my schedule.  Studying abroad is only for undergraduates.


With the right preparations, you can study abroad — even as a full-time MBA student.  The Crosby MBA program will help make it happen.

Follow these steps and you could be on your way to India or Italy, or you could study in the Netherlands, like me:

  • Research the program
    Learn more about the country and the program you’re interested in by searching online, talking to those who have been there previously, reading blogs of others’ experiences, perusing the school’s website, and visiting the MU’s International Center.  It’s up to you to find the answers to your initial questions, and find additional questions you should be asking.
  • Talk to advisers
    As soon as you’re interested in study abroad, talk to your advisers.  That gives them a jumpstart figuring out how to make it happen.  Academic advisers will know when your schedule would allow you to go and the courses you should take, identifying which fit your degree progress best.  Advisers will connect you with the International Center and an adviser at the hosting institution.  That way you can ask those who know about registration, courses descriptions, welcome events, and more.  Advisers also can talk to your peers to generate interest, so you might not have to go alone.
  • Plan financially
    Studying abroad is expensive.  The sooner you decide to go, the sooner you can begin applying for scholarships and developing a budget.  The budget isn’t just for your time abroad, it’s for your spending before departure.  It could make all the difference in your experience.  For example, ten large lattes could mean a train ticket.  Two concerts tickets could help pay for your flight.  You also must understand how any financial support received through your MBA program could be affected, making sure you can meet any obligations for that aid during the experience.
  • Book housing and flights
    Do this early.  Once you have been accepted into a program and committed to the experience, connect with other students going abroad as well as your adviser at the hosting institution, then start looking for the best deal on housing.  Flights booked early also save you headaches and money.
  • Register for classes
    Talk to both your adviser at home and the hosting institution to determine which classes would be most beneficial — as an MBA student as well as a foreign student.  Check to see if there is a language requirement and check out the class ratings.
  • Connect with friends and family
    Hopefully you plan to stay in touch while away.  Figure out which apps or software works for your friends and family — and that they know how to use them.  Let people know where you’re going and how to reach you.  Research whether to unlock your phone or buy a new one upon arrival.  Connect with friends or current students at the host university, and look for exchange student organizations to ease any anxiety if you are going it alone.
  • Arrange passports and other government documents
    Your passport must be up to date.  Have all of your legal documents ready, and make extra copies: one to take with you and another to leave at home.  Sign up to receive safety updates for your country through the appropriate U.S. Embassy page.
  • Don’t forget the details
    Start looking at the weather so you know what to pack.  (You don’t want to be wearing shorts in the middle of winter!)  Ask your adviser at the hosting institution or an exchange buddy what style is appropriate and what colors of clothing are acceptable.  If you plan to do additional travel while abroad, make arrangements before leaving so time doesn’t get away from you.  Update your health information and prepare your medications, if needed.
  • Keep a journal
    You’re going to have so many amazing experiences, see so many beautiful sights, and learn so much about the culture — and about yourself.  Make sure you have a way to remember it all, whether you plan to journal for yourself or write a blog to share your experience with others.
  • Have fun
    Study abroad isn’t just about what happens in the classroom, it’s about the whole experience.  Enjoy your time!

Olivia is studying abroad at Maastricht University with fellow MBA student Kevin Nielson. Check here for updates from Kevin and Olivia’s time in the Netherlands as well as other stories from students’ international experiences.

Top 10 Experiences During My Time in the Crosby MBA Program

Kevin Nielson graduates from the program in December 2014.  Currently, he is studying abroad at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands.

As I prepare to graduate — having said goodbye a bit early because I am abroad during my last eight weeks in the program — I wanted to share some of my favorite experiences from my time in the Crosby MBA program.  These are just a few of the things I enjoyed over the past year, and they are in no particular order.

Students get together outside of classes.

Making new friends

I can’t pinpoint one experience, but I have enjoyed getting to know so many smart and motivated people.

We all have the drive to be successful but know how to enjoy our time off as well.

Study abroad

It’s taken a lot of preparation, but I am very excited to be studying abroad at Maastricht University for the second half of the semester.  MU’s partnership with a top-tier institution in the Netherlands allows me to take eight weeks of classes here.

I plan to visit Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and Cologne.  I already know this will be an experience of a lifetime.

Case study for capstone

During capstone, we were split into teams and did a case study on an Anheuser-Busch subsidiary Metal Container Corporation (MCC).  This included recording a presentation of recommendations to help MCC move forward with business plans and determine what strategy would benefit Anheuser-Busch most.

Students attended the game against Auburn University at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

SEC Championship game

My first semester in the program, the Tigers reached the Southeastern Conference championship.  Three cars full of MBA students took to the road for the big game. The team didn’t win, but the trip will always be a fond memory.

Working with real clients

I was fortunate to work in teams that completed consulting projects for Nasopure and Zuke’s, which is a company that makes all-natural pet treats.  These projects allowed me to apply the skills I have learned to real-world situations.


The nerves of a new program and making friends dissipated after the first days of orientation.  The program’s weeklong orientation eases nerves and inspires collaboration.

The Big Oak Tree is located southwest of Columbia, near McBaine.

Enjoying Columbia

I can list countless moments I have spent enjoying everything the city offers.

Columbia offers a variety of unique dining experiences.  And, situated in the middle of Missouri, it makes access to the tastes of Kansas City and St. Louis easy, too.

If you’re more interested in the outdoors than city life, Columbia boasts trails and The Big Tree.

I have hiked many of its nearby state parks.

Football tailgates

I was on campus for two football seasons.  MU’s home football games were always fun, especially when I made time to socialize at the MBA Association’s tailgates.  These events provide great opportunities to get to know other students.

Alumni speakers

The Crosby MBA program has 50 years of graduates, and the Trulaske College of Business just turned 100.  Both maintain impressive lists of alumni, with numerous executives who remain active with the university.  This means there are always great guest lectures and networking events as well as an effective mentoring program.

Kevin Nielson worked at the GE Capital offices in Moberly.

GE Capital internship

Many companies recruit at MU, and I was fortunate to land an internship with GE Capital.

The company has an office in nearby Moberly where I spent 12 weeks working with the Office Imaging Finance team.

I enjoyed my time and was able to gain valuable experience with that organization.

Kevin is studying abroad at Maastricht University with fellow MBA student Olivia Harrison. Check here for updates from Kevin and Olivia’s time in the Netherlands as well as other stories from students’ international experiences.

Humanities Degree Helps with Business Studies, Job Search

Roxanne Biggar grew up in Bonne Terre, a small town in Southeastern Missouri.  In 2008, she received a bachelor’s of arts degree in history from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also minored in art history.  She graduated from the Crosby MBA program in May 2014 with a concentration in management.  While in the program, Mrs. Biggar was the Intramural Chair of MBAA as well as a Crosby Ambassador and member of the Association of Trulaske Businesswomen, for which she designed the logo.  She now works in Kansas City as a pricing manager at YRC Freight.

A cornerstone of my interview preparation process involves trying to anticipate the questions an interviewer might ask.  I had an advantage over many of my friends because I knew there was one question I would get every time, “I see you majored in history, why?”  I loved this question.

Roxanne Biggar graduated from the program in May 2014 and now works at YRC Freight in Kansas City.

Historical events, places, and people always fascinated me, and it seemed only natural for me to pursue a degree in that field.  But when I declared that major my sophomore year, I had no idea just how valuable what I learned would become.  Although I learned a lot about history, the most valuable lessons did not come from texts or lectures.

During the four years I worked after college, I realized I was looking at business problems the same way I had tackled history papers, using analytical skills to sort through piles of documents to separate the worthless data from the information that would help earn an A — or win a bid.  I could think critically, identifying problems and synthesizing information relevant to solving them.  Incredibly, my history degree made me better at doing business.

I’d always liked business.  I made and sold little sleeping bags for Beanie Babies — which were the hot toy for grade-schoolers — at craft fairs in fifth grade.  I convinced my mom to go into business with me part-time after I graduated from college.  We still
design and sell T-shirts to help promote educational and community groups in my
hometown.  And when my aunt decided to expand her gardening business, I created her record-keeping and invoicing system, designed her logo, and made T-shirts for her to wear at farmers’ markets and worksites.

Still, I never thought about pursuing business academically.

Then, after four years at the same desk, I realized I needed something different.  I liked my work but couldn’t find a similar job with my credentials.  I considered working part time on an MBA but quickly realized that wouldn’t work because every evening program I explored felt very procedural.  These programs missed the academic aspect I sought.

Then I found the Crosby MBA program.

There were technical classes, but there were theory classes, too.  It sounded perfect.  I wasn’t confident I could succeed pursing an MBA full time, but I arranged a visit anyway.  I spoke with the staff about my non-traditional background.  The admissions adviser assured me that it would be to my benefit because of my research and writing skills.  These would also benefit the program because I would bring a new perspective to discussions and group projects.

She was right.  When we discussed a Harvard Business School case in class, I could bring up points and connections others had missed because I saw things differently.  Whenever I did a company valuation for finance classes, I dug into the firm’s history to help me contextualize its place in the global marketplace.

Two years after that first meeting, I prepared to start my final semester and was deep
into the job hunt.  Every interviewer asked me about my non-business undergraduate degree, and I proudly spoke about how the lessons of my undergraduate studies had enhanced my experience in the business program and bolstered my credentials.  Still, few seemed to buy it.

Then, I had a lunch interview with a Crosby MBA alumnus who also had earned an undergraduate degree in a non-business field.  During the meal we talked about how valuable such studies had been to our current pursuits.

I was refreshed and energized to see that someone else understood, and it helped that he offered me a job a few weeks later.  I accepted and now work as a pricing manager at YRC in Kansas City, where I apply the skills I learned in the humanities and the MBA program.