I participated in the 2018 study tour to Israel and Jordan. The experience was an absolute highlight of my time so far at Foster. Not only did I make many new friends within different MBA classes, I saw many places I had on my travel list. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I am returning for the 2019 study tour to Taiwan and China!
The most impactful choice I made during my undergraduate years was studying abroad in
Denmark, so I thought that a study tour at Foster could offer me a similar experience without disrupting my professional life, being only about two weeks in duration. The study tour was first discussed during MBA orientation and later I discovered that the Israel tour would visit the site of Petra. Who doesn’t want to visit Petra? I was sold. Israel was not a place I had on my list to visit so that was also a large deciding factor for me in choosing that tour.
The trip was structured around both company and cultural visits. Israel has a huge start-up scene (Start-Up Nation is a great book on this topic) and we visited a variety of companies including the Ashkelon desalination plant (did you know that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country without a water shortage?), El Al Airlines, Waze, Elbit Systems, the Port of Haifa, and others. These Israeli companies had a common thread of teamwork, which is a substantial part of Israeli culture.
We had opportunities for cultural visits as well. We toured Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eliat, Jerusalem, and Ramallah. Israel has many cultural offerings – we barely scratched the surface. We saw, and did, a lot – went for morning swims in the Mediterranean and Red Seas, saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, mudded up and floated in the Dead Sea, visited Masada National Park, walked the Siq to see the Treasury in Petra, wandered the Old City in Jerusalem, touched the Western Wall, and I personally ate my body weight in combinations of hummus and falafel. It was surreal to see the constant juxtaposition of old and new in Israel, especially between Tel Aviv, a city with a thriving entrepreneurial scene that feels a lot like other Mediterranean cities, and Jerusalem– a city with deep-rooted history and considered to be one of the holiest places on Earth. We met someone along our journey that told us “be careful of Jerusalem because it will capture your heart.” That proved to be true.
The highlight of my experience was visiting the West Bank. Foster and the Global Business Center were able to secure special approval for us to make the journey and we felt very fortunate to have this rare experience. We visited a few firms including a manufacturer specializing in generic pharmaceuticals. Here we gowned-up and toured the facility. A lot of the employees were excited to have visitors and the chance to practice their English. Travel makes you realize that no matter where you are in the world, people are just people trying to better themselves and we really aren’t much different from one another.
The study tour programs that Global Business Center at Foster offers are world class and the school consistently offers appealing destinations. It is clear that Foster values cultural exchange and provides opportunities for that education. If you can travel abroad and have a unique experience by visiting a less-commonly traveled place such as the West Bank, your perspective will change when you return home. It is incredible to think of the power this holds to positively impact your life. So, say yes to travel if you can make it work. There’s a saying that there are two things in life you never regret – travel and education. We’re already working on the education, so let’s get out there and see the world!
Holly Ostrom is a member of the Evening MBA Class of 2020 and currently works in Marketing at Boeing. She has worked at Boeing, primarily in Finance roles, for over 14 years and has dabbled as a real estate agent. Holly enjoys all the people in her life and, outside of school and work, enjoys throwing bowls at the pottery studio, attending musicals, salmon fishing off the Oregon Coast, traveling anywhere, and attending to her famous orange cat, Cheddar.