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University of Tennessee graduate student Christie Koppel spent the summer studying. Her classrooms included a real estate office, fashion house, hospitality and tourism company, and an international tapestry factory.
Koppel and other students from UT and Michigan State University visited these and other businesses while studying communication in France and Belgium.
Learning about communication in the international workforce is important to Koppel, who aspires to work with an international public relations agency.
"I love to travel and I want to focus on strategies for tailoring messages to intercultural audiences," Koppel said. "Studying abroad was an opportunity I couldn’t miss."
Kenneth Levine, UT assistant professor of communication studies, led the trip, which was designed to teach students the different ways people communicate interpersonally and organizationally.
"I believe it’s important for students to see other places and to learn to communicate with people from other cultures," said Levine, who has taken UT students to study abroad for the past three years.
Koppel and other students were immersed in the culture from a native’s perspective.
"During our last week in Paris, we each had to give Dr. Levine and our classmates a tour of an arrondissement (or district) of the city," said Koppel, who learned to navigate the 19th Arrondissement like a local. "It helped us to know the culture and the daily lives of people who worked there."
While in Belgium, Levine took the group to visit the European Parliament, European Commission, and the U.S. Consulate to study the European Union as a multinational organization.
"We all are attempting to create and maintain relationships through our communication and we just do it in different ways," Levine said.
Koppel wants others to experience the lessons learned from traveling abroad.
"You need to step outside of what you do and see how other people do things," she said. "It gives you an appreciation for American culture and an understanding for other cultures."