Three Mihaylo College students hold handheld Tuffy icons, with the Ensenada, Mexico, harbor in the background.

Mihaylo students overlooking All Saints Bay in Ensenada. From left to right, Jennifer Loaiza Ramirez ’16, Anthony Tran ’18 and Natalie Ma ’18.

A group of three Mihaylo students visited the Center for Higher and Technical Education (CETYS Universidad) in Baja California in July. Natalie Ma ’18, vice president of the International Business Club, and Anthony Tran ’16 discuss their experiences.

Study abroad doesn’t have to include a flight around the world. Three Mihaylo students traveled three hours south of Orange County to visit Ensenada’s CETYS, one of the leading higher education systems in Baja California.

Anthony Tran ’18 (entertainment and tourism), Jennifer Loaiza Ramirez ’16 (accounting and finance) and Natalie Ma ’18 (international business) were in Ensenada from July 3 to 16 to experience the business culture of Mexico through lectures, industry visits and a firsthand look at one of that country’s leading ports of entry.

“When I heard about this program, I was interested because I had never traveled alone or been out of the country,” says Ma. “This trip to Ensenada was my chance to experience a different cultural environment while learning and meeting people from all over the world.”

Tran echoes Ma’s sentiment. “Born and raised locally, I spent my entire life in Orange County.  At Fullerton, I commute from home to school,” he says. “It was essential to get out of the Southern California bubble I had grown up in.”

Ensenada is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Mexico, with large American, Canadian, European and Asian populations. The area is a leading education, science and technology center. Historically, it has been a popular weekend destination for Southern California residents.

A panoramic cityscape view of Downtown Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.

With a population of more than 500,000, Ensenada claims to have the most scientists per capita in Latin America. In addition to education and research, tourism is a major industry in the city. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

While south of the border, the students were immersed in the local culture, economy and tourist sights. “During the day, I spent time in the classroom, went on industry tours, went sightseeing and enjoyed the local cuisine. In the evening, I bonded with my fellow students and explored the nightlife,” says Tran. “Professionally, I demonstrated adaptability and developed leadership skills working on group projects in a new culture.  Socially, I built my network through developing lifelong connections.” Throughout their stay, Ma, Ramirez and Tran shared a suite at a local hotel.

Ma encourages other students to study abroad, whether across the world or just south of the border. “I want students to know that no matter where you go or how long you are there, you will never forget the experiences you had,” she says. “You will always have stories to tell, pictures to show and new friendships. There is so much to learn about the world, but there is not enough time, and studying abroad gives you the opportunity to explore the world while taking classes of interest.”

Mihaylo College offers several annual study abroad opportunities for its students, including trips to Europe and China. For more on Mihaylo’s study abroad opportunities, visit the Center for International Business at SGMH 3357A.

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