Students step out of their comfort zones on European study abroad trip

In May, a group of 19 students from Davenport University excitedly boarded a plane bound for Europe for an adventure they won’t soon forget. 

The soon-to-be world travelers weren’t exactly sure what to expect from the European business study abroad trip, but they knew the experience would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it did not disappoint! 

Dr. Todd Pitts, associate professor of sports management, accompanied the students on the 17-day educational trip, which included visits to business and industry locations and cultural and historical sites in London, England and Paris, France.

According to Pitts, the European business study abroad program gives Davenport students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in two different cultures while gaining international exposure to business operations in marketing, sports management, accounting and human resources. 

The students met with several business operations managers to learn how business is conducted and the tactics used to market their products. These meetings provided students with a wealth of insight, including the similarities and differences in how businesses operate in the two countries. 

The trip included the following stops: 


  • Digital marketing operations of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
  • Unique business model of ATG Theatres Entertainment and Chelsea Football Club
  • Corporate communications strategies of the Fuller Brewing Company 
  • Lord’s Cricket Grounds, where students learned how they are promoting the game of cricket to the U.S. market


  • Structure of the business and company growth of France Galop at the Auteuil Racecourse
  • Marketing of products and services at Fragonard Musee du Parfum
  • Business-to-business marketing strategies of Tootbus Tours and Transportation, a hop-on-hop-off tour bus business

Signing up for the study abroad trip was an easy decision for Seira Jenkins, a second-year accounting major.

“As a first-generation, non-traditional student and adult learner, I wanted to prove to myself that it is never too late to accomplish my dreams,” said Jenkins. “I have always had a deep respect and admiration for different cultures and was excited to experience cultures so different from my own.” 

When fifth-year senior and marketing major Stephanie Kalinowski heard about the trip, she knew immediately that she wanted to participate. 

 “I have always found the beliefs and values of different cultures fascinating,” she said. “And my life goal has always been to travel internationally and be exposed to as many different cultures and people as possible, so I knew right away that this trip was for me!”

A trip to London and Paris would not be complete without visiting a few iconic cultural sites both cities are known for. According to Pitts, the students enjoyed visiting several ancient structures together and learning the history of the nearly 1,000-year-old countries.

Trip highlights included visits to Bath, Windsor Castle and Stonehenge in London, and the Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, Bateaux Parisians’ tour of Paris monuments along the Seine and the French Open tournament in Paris.

According to Pitts, this was the first time many of the students had visited a foreign country, so it forced them to step out of their comfort zone.

“What makes this trip so special is it challenges them to experience and embrace the culture and venture out on their own to explore all these wonderful cities have to offer,” he said. 

And that’s just what they did!

Kalinowski recalls that her favorite free day was the one spent at Eiffel Tower Park. As a member of the Davenport volleyball team, she especially enjoyed spending the afternoon connecting with the locals and joining them for a few games. She says it was an experience she will never forget!

As the sun began to set upon the Eiffel Tower, Kalinowski and a group of Davenport students watched in awe as the tower lit up and illuminated the night sky. 

“It was so dreamy and captivating to be at the Eiffel Tower during sunset, watching the lights and eating pizza,” she said. “It felt like we were in a movie!’

Jenkins says she especially enjoyed exploring different neighborhoods and trying the local cuisine with her fellow Panthers. 

“Being a global student, I don’t normally have an opportunity to interact with other students from Davenport, so that aspect made the trip even more memorable,” she said. 

Jenkins goes on to say that while the entire trip was one to remember, the most memorable and emotional experience for her was watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace – something she’d dreamed about witnessing for a long time.  

“Never in a million years would I have ever thought that someone born in a small village in Mexico without running water or electricity would be standing in a European royal palace witnessing the changing of the guards,” she said. “It was absolutely amazing!” 

For additional information on the European business study abroad program, visit

The students would like to thank the DU Foundation and generous donors for helping to make this trip possible. 




What surprised you most? 

What surprised me most was the level of diversity in France and the technological advancement embedded in daily life in England. 

How did the trip change your worldview? 

The trip changed my worldview by teaching me to be more culturally aware and more comfortable in countries where I don’t speak the language, like France. It also taught me to be a more understanding and open-minded communicator when interacting with people from different backgrounds. 

How did the trip impact you personally? 

The trip impacted me immensely on a personal level because it gave me life experiences I will never forget.



What surprised you most? 

I was surprised by how challenging the French language was to pick up. I was not prepared for the language barrier and thought more people would speak fluent English and be able to help with translation. 

How did the trip change your worldview? 

I learned that traveling abroad makes you uncomfortable to the point that you realize what is truly important to you. I also learned about the life experiences of my fellow DU students and the locals, and it encouraged me to be more open-minded and allowed me to widen my perspective and challenge my beliefs. 

How did the trip impact you personally? 

I’m more appreciative of my education and have been using my time since returning to learn more about the cities I visited and discover new countries and cultures I want to experience. 


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