The International Engineering Program (IEP) at the University of Rhode Island has provided students with unique opportunities to further their education while studying abroad for years.
Although many study abroad students opt for a reduced workload and credits which submerge them into a foreign culture, the IEP students push themselves to study their already intense major in another language.
Sean Marran is a fifth-year graduating senior in IEP and spent his entire fourth year traveling to several countries across Europe. As a double major in mechanical engineering and Spanish, Marran took engineering classes while residing in Spain.
“It was really hard to learn new material in a different language,” he said. “To this day, there are certain things that I know the names of in Spanish, but not English.”
Marran also managed to travel to Italy, England, France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands as a way to enhance the study abroad experience.
With hopes to someday work in a foreign country, Marran followed up his semester abroad with an internship in Mexico. It is widely understood that the culture of a country has a large influence on the work ethics and expectations of a company. The experiences Europe had to offer him as a tourist and student compared to working in Mexico revealed that the work environment may operate on different ends of a spectrum.
There were times cultural backgrounds and ethnic differences were highly prevalent and Marran was treated differently as a result. Other times, Marran felt very welcomed and accommodated by workers as the company employees would strike up conversations every time he spoke to them.
“People generally got things done much slower and always seemed to be behind schedule, yet they had almost a million ideas about moving forward with their respective departments and projects,” he said.
Despite the differences, Marran recognizes the benefits of having a both opportunities and encourages other students to take advantage of it. The Study Abroad semester managed to enhance his cultural studies and language abilities, but the abroad internship proved his capability to adapt in a foreign workplace.
The combined experiences provide Marran an edge for his career following May graduation and increase his potential for earning a job in a Spanish-speaking environment. “It has allowed me to become much more independent, self-sufficient and responsible in determining my own actions and future.”