CALS lecturer Misti Sharp shares the benefits of studying abroad
Misti Sharp’s first-ever flight took her to Belize on a service-learning undergraduate study abroad trip. The UF/IFAS food and resource economics lecturer came from a poor, rural area of Arkansas where travel experiences were uncommon. Through this first study abroad experience, Sharp helped create a school garden to meet food security and economic needs of a school in Pomona, Belize.
“I was able to pull from my rural roots to clear land, create irrigation systems and educate youth about agriculture – it taught me so much about how to use my own experiences to make the world a better place,” Sharp said.
Through this experience, Sharp discovered that people all over the world have the same emotional and physical needs. She found that so much more can be accomplished together when everyone brings their skills and ideas to the table to problem solve.
This undergraduate study abroad experience of Sharp’s influenced her decision to pursue a dual-master’s program at the University of Arkansas and with a consortium of universities in Europe.
During this next study abroad experience, Sharp had the opportunity to conduct a case study of European Union rural development policy in Slovakia. One of her Slovak teachers said, “Misti, you really are a facilitator,” after Sharp had naturally stepped into a leadership role among her peers from around the world. This was a defining moment for her future career interests.
“I had organized us in such a way that everyone could bring their strengths to the process,” Sharp said. “I realized at this point that I wanted to be a facilitator for my career. I went on to get my Ph.D. so I could be a professor at a university; I would say that this experience was pivotal in my career path.”
This summer, Sharp will be teaching an Economics of Natural Resource Use course in Luneburg, Germany. After living and taking classes in Berlin at Humboldt University, Sharp has always had the desire to go back to Germany. When the opportunity arose, she jumped at the chance to teach abroad.
“By the time I was doing my master’s in Germany, I had traveled to Central America, South America and Eastern Europe,” Sharp said. “I felt most ‘at home’ in Germany.”
Full of castles, history and modern comforts, Germany is a great opportunity to gain a guided international experience through a well-established program. UF and CALS make the study abroad process safe, affordable, educational and easy, according to Sharp. This program has the added benefit of being hosted by a study abroad organization (USAC), which knows both Germany and the home institution (Leuphana University Luneburg) well.
Research suggests that students who study abroad are more culturally competent and have greater emotional intelligence relative to their peers, which employers look for in job applicants. Sharp said additional benefits to studying abroad include the following:
- Complete undergraduate (or graduate) credits during the summer in a new and exotic location,
- Stand out on a resume by showing you took full advantage of your undergraduate education,
- Demonstrate you are willing to try something new and different, and
- Learn about other cultures and better understand your own culture.
“The world is increasingly globalized,” Sharp said. “Showing that you can be part of this globalized economy during your college years gives you an advantage over your peers because you have more than a theoretical perspective on cultural exchange. You will make connections in your study abroad experience – with both Americans and other global citizens – that will last a lifetime!”
Interested in taking Sharp’s course in summer 2019? Check out the details below.
- Apply by March 15, 2019through the UF International Center (Program: USAC -Luneburg)
- Occurs during Summer B 2019 (June 24 – August 3, 2019)
- Courses include: Economics of Natural Resource Use, The Expanded European Union, and German language and cultures courses
- Students can take up to six credits in five weeks
- Optional directed tours include: Berlin, Lubeck and Travemunde Beach, and Bremen
- Classes are taught in English (knowing German is not a pre-requisite)
- Study abroad scholarships are available through CALS and UFIC