KOKOMO, Ind. — It’s no cliché that overseas travel is life-changing.
Just ask Joshua Dugdale.
The Indiana University Kokomo senior recently returned from six months in Poland, a time that included study at a university in Warsaw, and an internship with FCA Powertrain in Bielsko-Biala.
“It was probably the most amazing experience of my life. You’re not just there to study, you’re there to learn the culture,” he said. ”I know I’m a changed person because of the skills I learned, and the cultural awareness I have.”
After he graduates from the School of Business in December, Dugdale, from Greentown, is considering graduate school in Germany, to continue his overseas adventures.
He had previously considered foreign study, and a two-week trip to Poland in 2015 with an international business class, along with a visit to his sister while she studied in Lithuania, convinced him he needed to go.
“I had thought about it, but I wasn’t sure how serious I was about it,” Dugdale said. “Visiting Poland with the School of Business, and having some independence there made me think maybe I could do it. Once I started researching it, it grew in my mind, and became my mission.”
He spent a semester researching his options and making plans, then studied at the University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, from February to mid-June 2017.
Now, he encourages other IU Kokomo students to branch out, research, and include a semester or more of study in another country.
“If you go for a semester, you’re going to get more than a tourist experience,” he said. “You’re probably going to be scared at some point. We learn in business that you have to take risk to create profit. It’s the same with personal profit.”
While in Warsaw, he met Polish students and international students from around the world, and tapped into the Erasmus network, an organization that facilitates overseas travel for students in the European Union. Through the network, he visited Poland’s capitol, Krakow, and the northern part of the country, near the Baltic Sea. He also traveled to Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia with the group, and visited Italy by himself.
“Whenever you’re in Europe, it’s easy to travel to other places within the continent,” he said. “You can fly, or take a train or bus, and travel is relatively cheap.”
In July, Dugdale was an intern with FCA Powertrain’s World Class Manufacturing office. He worked with a supervisor in early product management, looking at ways costs can be reduced in manufacturing a new product.
He also spent a lot of time talking to people working in the plant, learning more about them.
“When you only have a month, everything is a learning experience,” he said, adding that he asked their thoughts on their country and his, where they came from, and how they came to work at the plant.
He noticed that Polish people think differently than Americans, and take less for granted. Poland was under Soviet rule until 1989, he said, and while the country is now very modern with good infrastructure, they seem to expect less than Americans. Education is highly valued, and the best jobs require a master’s degree. That inspired him to plan on earning a master’s degree himself.
Dugdale isn’t certain what he wants to do as a career — just that he wants to do something to make a difference.
“I want to do a job where I am doing something important, and I feel passionate about it, and I do it well,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m educated and prepared to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.