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Faculty and Staff

Global Stories: Bill Rand, Tokyo, Japan

Executive Director of Business Analytics Initiative and Associate Professor of Marketing

Program Name & Location: Mitsubishi Chemical, Tokyo, Japan

Area of Study: Information Systems

When: Summer 2001

Program Name & Location: Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Area of Study: Computer Science

When: Summer 2003

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I wanted to experience different cultures around the world. With respect to Japan, Japan was seen as the cutting edge in technology at that time, and so I wanted to go there. The program that I worked with assigned me a host organization and so I didn’t have much choice there, but it turned out to be a great fit. With respect to Amsterdam, I had met a student from the Netherlands working on a similar subject the year before, and so she connected me with her organization and they agreed to sponsor me.

What was the highlight of your study abroad experiences?

The highlight of my trip to Japan was climbing Mt. Fuji. It’s an experience unlike anything you can do in the United States. Sure, you can climb a mountain in the US, but in Japan, it is considered such a ritual that you are not the only one climbing. The weekend I decided to climb it, there were probably thousands of people doing the same thing, and we all started out late in the evening with one goal in mind to reach the top before sunset. Along the way, there are noodle shops and gift stores, and when you get to the top which is at 12,000 feet above sea level, there is an entire little village that is devoted to people who climbed all night long. And the view from the top? It’s breathtaking. There is nothing like seeing the sunrise ABOVE the clouds.

How has your study abroad experience continued to impact you?

I think travel changes you. Until I went to Japan, the only other country I had been to in the world, besides the US, was Canada. Japan was a completely different world. I had to learn how to work and study in a strange land. Which taught me two things: (1) it taught me that some of the most exciting things in life happen when we make ourselves uncomfortable, when we push beyond our comfort zones and open ourselves up to new experiences, and (2) different people may have different cultures, and different worldviews, but we are all trying to do the same thing in the end: live the best life that we can. This has made me much more understanding of people who might seem “different”.

What would you say to students who are interested in engaging globally?

You will never truly understand the world and the people who inhabit it until you spend time abroad. Traveling helps you gain a better understanding of the wide variety of cultures, and the similarities of the human condition.