Taking a World View
Student eager to study abroad, gain international experience
By Matt Markey
Shelby Eng is a big picture person, and one who is keenly aware that it is the small pieces that ultimately make the masterpiece. As she assembles her career foundation at Bowling Green State University, she looks well beyond the horizon and dreams about connecting with the rest of the planet.
“I would like to live abroad someday and be part of this increasingly globalized world,” she said. “And to do that I will need to be able to communicate with many different people and understand their way of life and culture. Beyond Bowling Green, I will be the best person possible, because I selected the best school for me.”
She totes an ambitious agenda, especially for an undergraduate who is in the Honors College in her sophomore year at BGSU. But Eng moves at fast-forward, and she has covered a lot of ground since coming to campus from her native Colorado.
“It was a pretty big step, since I didn’t know anyone when I came to Bowling Green, but I’ve always wanted to live abroad so I thought it would be better to start college a long way from home,” she said.
She chose economics as a major, thinking it would provide her with significant career flexibility internationally. She expects to minor in French, which she said is the most “marketable” foreign language in the area of finance and banking.
Eng said that her BG experience has meshed well with her long-term plans. She expects to need many skills and tools to pursue her career overseas, and Eng has found an ample supply at Bowling Green.
“BG was a good choice for me because it offers me so many possibilities. I’m excited about who I may become,” she said. “Bowling Green offers a lot of really unique programs, like language learning communities—things I never really saw at other schools, and the size is ideal. I’m a little bit shy and I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle, but I found the individual attention I really like here.”
Financial assistance in the form of multiple scholarships made her BGSU choice a reality. Her outstanding academic record in high school landed her some financial aid, and several additional scholarships helped close the deal.
“They all add up, and every little thing helps since it is the little things that make the big things possible,” she said. “It was scholarship help that made coming to BG a reality. Without the generous assistance I received, I wouldn’t be able to be there.”
Once she arrived on campus, Eng started her education right in her residence hall, where she found students from a variety of cultures and those speaking several foreign languages.
“I think that’s a big part of preparing for an international career—learning as much as you can about other cultures—and all of that learning doesn’t take place inside a classroom,” said Eng.
Eng also has connected with faculty members and professors that are related to her field, and they have assisted her with her studies. “I’ve really enjoyed my classes, and the professors make the material interesting. I will be able to be certain that I have a truly international education here, and it will prepare me for an increasingly international world.”
While the notion of pursuing a career on foreign soil is a bit intimidating, it is not completely unfamiliar to Eng, whose mother lived abroad for a period of time.
“I have traveled a bit, but I’ve always had this desire to really experience other cultures, and you can’t get that when you just travel,” she said. “I know it will be a bit scary going to work abroad, but I also realize that it is okay to be scared, and that fear can become a strength. It is okay to not always be in your comfort zone.”
During her time at BG, she expects to develop fluency in both French and Spanish, and dig deeper into her studies in economics. Eng is feeling more confident every day about her choice of a major.
“Even though I had previously taken an introduction to economics class in my high school, being here and taking economics has reminded me why I have selected it as my major and it has reinforced my belief that it is the right program for me,” she said. “The world is very connected economically these days, and the new trade pacts will make it even more of a world market. I think economics gives be the flexibility to go into business or banking abroad.”
Eng plans to continue to expand her connections on campus and learn about herself as she learns about the world around her.
“My time here has already shaped me into a better person with a greater understanding of the world,” she said. “I’ve met people who see the world very differently than I do, and all of these experiences have taught me a lot and exposed me to wide range of views and beliefs about the world. I think I have always been a big-picture thinker, so an international education here at BG is a good fit for me.”
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