Mailin Seipp, a College of Business graduate student, has traveled quite a bit in her life. You may have seen her around the computer lab or heard her German accent around campus, but she has visited more exciting places in her 25 years than can be counted on one hand. I sat down with her to find out more about her experiences abroad.
SQ: Why is traveling so important?
MS: Experiencing new cultures and the way other people live is always interesting to me. Trying new foods is always an adventure, and seeing the different landscapes and perspectives is fun, since I always enjoy being outdoors.
SQ: What are some of the most memorable places you have traveled, and how have they impacted your life or career goals?
MS: In the summer of 2012, I hiked from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain along the Way of St. James.
Traveling with only what could fit on my back for 10 days taught me to live with less, and that tangible things aren’t the most important things in life. I intended to finish the hike for fun and as a way to push myself physically, and I didn’t expect to end up thinking about my life and myself so much, but I guess it was inevitable with so much time on my hands.
There is a story of a millionaire who gave away all of his possessions before hiking along the Way of St. James. A lot of people use the trail as a way to get to know themselves and be reflective. It was an incredible experience to also meet new people along the way, and a time I will always remember.
Another memorable trip was this summer, when I was in Hawaii for 6 weeks. I was there longer than the average tourist, so I got to know the culture and explore the area. Although it is a part of the United States, Hawaii is a mix of nationalities, very diverse, and has its own way of life. I loved that there were both beautiful natural parts of Hawaii and also a city area. After I graduate in May, my plans are to move to Honolulu on the Oahu island.
SQ: How do you think coming from Germany gives you a unique look at business and the world in general?
MS: In Germany, I was taught to have a lot of persistence and to work hard to achieve my goals. I’ve also noticed that compared to American schools, European schools teach more international history and encourage you to experience the world. At my high school, we had exchange programs with France, England and North and South America. We were encouraged to see the world starting early and to learn foreign languages–that’s why I know English well!
SQ: What have you learned from your adventures?
MS: I have learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned to accept different lifestyles and ways of living and not to judge them and compare them to own way of life. Different lifestyles are not necessarily wrong, they are just different.
One time in Spain, I ate octopus, because it was one of their delicacies. I tried it, I experienced it, but it wasn’t for me.
I’ve also learned how people’s values differ across the world. Some cultures value time with family much more than earning money, and others put money above all else.
SQ: Do you have any advice for students who haven’t done much traveling?
MS: Two words: start traveling. Try to get to know different cultures. Even if you can’t leave the area, experience the cultures at ECU. There is the First Friends Program, and the international management classes through the College of Business will teach you about different countries’ practices.
If you can, go out of the state or even just out of Greenville. It doesn’t need to be a big trip, but getting out of your comfort zone is important to grow and learn more as a person.
If you do find yourself in a foreign country or area, try not to follow the tourist attractions. Those are fun, but you will have more memorable experiences getting to know local people and practicing the local ways to truly learn the culture.
Traveling provides unique insight into the world, cultures, and ultimately helps us see what we are truly passionate about.
If you are interested in studying abroad, the College of Business takes a trip every summer! Follow this link to learn more.