Early this January, 13 UMW students took a 3-mile kayak trip across the Hauraki Gulf from Auckland to Rangitoto Island. Hiking to the summit of the island’s volcano, the class watched the sun set over the city in the distance before paddling back under a star-filled sky.
The students were part of Marketing Down Under, a College of Business course that includes eight weeks of instruction on campus and a 13-day excursion to Australia and New Zealand for hands-on application of the material they learn. Led by Associate Professor Lance Gentry, the students evaluated each company, attraction and hotel they visited to analyze marketing efforts, customer experience and operational success. The group also met with an Australian marketing executive who worked on revolutionary ads targeting U.S. tourists in the 1980s and learn about both the campaign and its impact on the travel marketing industry.
“I was stunned to learn that tourism is projected to surpass farming as New Zealand’s largest source of income,” said junior and international business major Jessica Roberson. “Australia and New Zealand attract a lot of tourists from China. This can be seen in large tourist attractions such as the Sydney Tower Eye, which had signs in both English and what appeared to be Mandarin.”
In Sydney, the group had the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve on a cruise across Darling Harbour, see a show at the iconic Sydney Opera House, travel to the Blue Mountains, visit the Tobruk Sheep Station for a shearing demonstration and eat at the revolving Sydney Tower Eye. Then the class jetted to New Zealand, where students donned wetsuits and rode tubes through the caverns of Waitomo Caves, went whitewater rafting and attended a Maori cultural performance.
“Visiting the beaches, the Sydney Opera, and watching the fireworks from a boat on New Year’s Eve were all times to remember,” said sophomore and geography major Lily Van Horn. “This trip gave me a new appreciation for other countries and their cultures, and a stronger desire to travel more.”
To learn more about study abroad programs at UMW, visit the Center for International Education at http://international.umw.edu/.