Through Her Eyes: Student Reflects on Impact of Her 11-Country Study Abroad Journey in Asia

Veronica Vogelman '26, Marketing & Communications Intern
Veronica Vogelman '26 visits the Taj Mahal for the first time. Photo courtesy of Veronica Vogelman '26.

The following story was written by Veronica Vogelman '26, psychology and Spanish major and global studies minor. Veronica gives us a first-person perspective as she guides us through her study abroad experience in the Asia Study Abroad Program (ASAP), where she journeyed through 11 countries to study international business and learned how to become a global citizen. This program is open to all students, including those not studying business.

February 20, 2024 — Moving through a sea of bright red, yellow, orange, and blue saris, I found myself face-to-face with the most ornate archway I’ve ever seen — the gateway to a picturesque view of the Taj Mahal in India, in all its glory, feeling like I was in a postcard. In mere moments, it began pouring. I was soaked, but all consumed in the beauty around me, living in the moment. It felt strange to be in one of the most famous places in the world so far away from home and yet I felt I belonged, exploring, learning, and feeling.

Countries Across Asia

Visceral, immersive, and unique are the only ways to describe the Asia Study Abroad Program (ASAP). I spent an entire semester hopping across Southeast Asia, making my way through India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. Guided by two program directors, one from the United States and one from Thailand, my fellow students and I were taught how to become global citizens.


Before entering each country, each of the 10 program participants presented a “country briefing,” in which they spent a week researching the history of the country, political standings, international relations, business climate, currency, cuisine, religion, language, and culture. These briefings prepared the rest of the group for the upcoming travel day so we could all successfully and respectfully explore our new destination. They were a way for us to become more conscious of cultural differences and respectfully navigate different parts of the world.

Image of ASAP ’23 students interact with other visitors at the Taj Mahal.

ASAP '23 students interact with other visitors at the Taj Mahal. Photo courtesy of Veronica Vogelman '26.

Over the semester, we were given full independence and were encouraged to explore between our classes, which were taught in person and over Zoom, allowing for maximum flexibility. We studied business courses, Asian cultural studies, and world religions.

“What I love most about ASAP is the hands-on and experiential nature of the program,” said Dr. John Peters, Associate Provost for International Engagement. “Students are challenged to engage academically and culturally. Participants develop greater independence, resilience, and problem-solving skills, as they navigate their way through multiple cultures and countries.”

International Business Training

We were offered the incredible opportunity to participate in several company visits, including Ford Thailand Manufacturing, Ford Hai Duong Vietnam, Thailand BMW, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Jaiyos Thailand, Dunhumby India, and Summit Laemchabang Auto Body Work Company Thailand. These visits provided us the chance to attend real business meetings with corporate higher-ups and learn about professional international environments. We learned how different kinds of corporate businesses operate, from supply chains to marketing, to corporate culture, legal issues, and global expansion.

“ASAP was an incredible experience with so many opportunities, not just to travel across 11 different countries, but also by being able to apply what I was learning hands-on,” said Elizabeth Granholm ’25. “By interacting with local cultures and visiting different companies during my time abroad, I gained a greater appreciation for the world around me.”

Learning Life Skills Through Travel

Image of Veronica Vogelman ‘26 and Elizabeth Granholm ’25 tour the Floating Village Kamplong Pluk, Cambodia.
Veronica Vogelman '26 and Elizabeth Granholm '25 tour the Floating Village Kamplong Pluk, Cambodia. Photo courtesy of Veronica Vogelman '26.

Beyond building our professional portfolio, the program directors encouraged us to see as much as we could in each country. They helped foster our skill-building by asking us to learn the ins and outs of the public transit systems in each country. By the time we were halfway through the trip, most of us felt completely comfortable navigating any kind of transit in any country, including, but not limited to, trains, buses, taxis, tuk-tuks (three-wheeled motorized vehicles popular in Southeast Asia), and sometimes even boats. We could travel virtually anywhere in each country including some of the most interesting cultural sites I’d ever seen, like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Doi Suthep in Thailand, the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam, the Floating Village in Cambodia, the Supertrees in Singapore, and the Monkey Temple in Nepal.

Unbelievable Excursions & Experiences

Thanks to the flexibility of ASAP, I was able to take a 24-hour excursion with a friend to climb the most unique volcano in the world, Ijen, on the island of Java in Indonesia. The volcano is one of two in the whole world that has blue lava. This experience stood out far beyond anything I’d ever done in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful for this kind of unique opportunity.

Image of Veronica Vogelman ’26 at the blue lava crater of Ijen volcano in Java, Indonesia.

Veronica Vogelman ’26 at the blue lava crater of Ijen volcano in Java, Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Veronica Vogelman ’26.

In my three months away from home living out of a suitcase, I learned more than I ever have in most of my life combined. I grew comfortable being alone and navigating through foreign countries. I learned how to communicate with people despite language barriers, how to be adaptable and flexible, and how to be respectful of other cultures. I can say with complete certainty that this was the most transformative experience of my life so far, and I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who is up for an adventure.

About the Asia Study Abroad Program (ASAP)

Offered only in the Fall, the Asia Study Abroad Program (ASAP) is a full semester abroad experience ideal for business majors and minors seeking unparalleled insight into international business and for other majors and minors wanting to see and experience the variety of cultures across a broad sweep of Asia. Company visits, international programming, reflective cultural experiences, and contact with the local businesses and cultures are signature aspects of the program.

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