International Option Enriches College of Business Experience
“I had a strong desire to expand my horizons and learn about different people and places,” Bersano says. “I wanted to study abroad because I knew it would help me develop as a person.”
The Ferris College of Business has reached an agreement that offers students seamless study-abroad options. With the Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences, located in Kleve, Germany, Ferris is able to offer both a dual-degree program and the opportunity to spend a semester or two gaining international experience.
Founded in 2009, Rhine-Waal University has already achieved an enrollment exceeding 6,000 students. Its specialty is combining academic learning with practical application and real-world relevance, which makes it an ideal partner with Ferris. Rhine-Waal has also deliberately developed its programs to appeal to and support students from around the world, so that the on-campus experience is truly international. Over a third of students are from outside of Germany, and over 100 nationalities are represented on campus.
Ferris Junior and Student Government President Wayne Bersano was an inaugural student at Rhine-Waal last year. “I had a strong desire to expand my horizons and learn about different people and places,” Bersano says. “I wanted to study abroad because I knew it would help me develop as a person.”
Bersano, a Hospitality Management major, found what he was looking for at Rhine-Waal. “Rhine-Waal is a highly international environment. Because of that, people in general are so much more welcoming and open-minded to different ways of thinking and doing things. That made it very easy to make friends and meet new people.”
Rhine-Waal offers 25 undergraduate degrees and ten graduate degree programs, including natural sciences, economics, engineering and technology, the humanities, and social and health sciences. Eighty percent of classes are taught exclusively in English—and all classes in the International Business and Social Sciences program are taught in English.
“Dr. Lianne Briggs [professor and SEHM Department Chair] helped me along every step of the process and was always 100-percent supportive and understanding,” Bersano notes. Support from both Ferris and Rhine-Waal faculty and staff can make the experience successful for any motivated student.
Beyond successful, the study-abroad experience can be life-changing, Bersano says. “If someone has the desire to step out of his or her comfort zone and learn about a new place in the world, this is an experience that should be taken. While I was in Germany, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, and Poland. As a person who grew up in Pinconning, a very small town, this was not an experience I’ll ever forget.
“The most important thing I’ve taken away is the lasting friendships. I now know people from every corner of the world, which is honestly amazing. Meeting all these people allowed me to experience a small piece of where they all came from, too. Our conversations allowed me to develop a better concept of diversity and the rest of the world. I think it’s important for every person to understand; when issues are going on around the world one can be more empathetic to the individuals an issue impacts.”
Dr. Briggs provides these details of the agreement between Ferris and Rhine-Waal:
- Ferris students can study at Rhine-Waal while paying Ferris tuition, which means eligible students continue to receive financial aid.
- College of Business students receive a $1,000 Study Abroad Scholarship.
- The cost of living in Kleve, Germany, is comparable to that of Big Rapids.
- While on-campus housing is not provided, Rhine-Waal assists students in finding suitable housing in the area.
- Free student Eurail passes enable travel through Europe at nominal cost.
- Rhine-Waal’s Winter term extends from mid-September to mid-January; Summer term runs mid-March through mid-August.
- Students can spend the August prior to Rhine-Waal in a month-long intensive German program at the University of Konstanz, in Lake Constance, Germany. Students register for GERM 100-German for Business Travel and pay Ferris tuition for the course. The cost of a room for the month-long program is $380.
For those students looking for something more than a semester or two abroad, dual degrees from both institutions are available. College of Business students will study at Ferris for two years; they’ll spend their junior years at Rhine-Waal before returning to Ferris for their senior years. The students will earn both a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business from Ferris, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Business and Social Sciences from Rhine-Waal University.
A similar reciprocal program is in place for Rhine-Waal students, who will spend their junior years at Ferris.
Whether for a semester or a full dual-degree program, Bersano recommends the experience. “When I look at the people I met from all over the world, I come to realize we are all the same underneath. At the end of the day, every human being has the same wants and desires. Going to a foreign place makes your realize how much truth that actually holds.”
If you’re interested in a horizon-broadening experience at Rhine-Waal, contact the Office of International Education for an application. Applications for Fall 2016 are due by March 15; for the following Spring semester, they are due by October 15. A $135 application fee is required. The Office of International Education can also guide you through the passport application process.
Contact Will Sartore, the Education Abroad coordinator, by phone at (231) 591-2449 or by email, or stop by IRC 134.