Students study hospitality on three continents in three semesters

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State students studied hospitality on three different continents over three semesters as part of the Global Hospitality Management Program.

The program is a collaboration between Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management (SHM), the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management, and the Hogeschool Zuyd’s Maastrict Hotel Management School in the Netherlands.

The fifth cohort of the Global Hospitality Management Program formally concluded during a Dec. 19 recognition ceremony at the Nittany Lion Inn, which included Penn State students Mark Evans, Kyungmee Lee and Heyjin Koo in addition to students from the international universities.

Ton Stekelenburg, director of International Programs at Maastrict Hotel Management School, told the cohort studying abroad adds enormous value to the college experience and can be life-changing.

“When I was young, like you are now, I didn’t have the opportunity to study abroad, and I really feel it is a huge opportunity for students to study abroad,” he said.

Marja Verbeeten, teaching associate professor of hospitality management and professor-in-charge of international programs, commended students for going beyond simply making good choices, which adults have encouraged them to do their entire lives, and taking it a step further by studying abroad. That decision will pay off, she said.

“Whatever you put into this program, it will come back. There will be an output somewhere, sometime,” she said. “I applaud you all.”

In all, the 12 students traveled to 31 countries during their year and a half together, visiting places like New York City, London and Morocco.

“How do you sum up 18 months of this experience to someone?” Evans said. “You just can’t put it into words. It was an amazing experience.”

The program provides SHM students with extensive international exposure to different cultures and hospitality environments. It helps students develop global mindset through a comprehensive and internationally oriented curriculum. Students spend one semester at each participating school.

In Hong Kong, the curriculum has an emphasis on travel, tourism and international hospitality business from an Asian perspective. In the Netherlands, course work focuses on entrepreneurship and financial issues in hospitality from the European point of view. At Penn State, students study emerging trends in the U.S. lodging and food service industries as well as real estate.

As part of the capstone course at Penn State, students participate in a final group project in which students draw on their international experience to conduct a comparative analysis of global hospitality industry issues and challenges, national and international travel and tourism policies, and emerging trends in the global hospitality industry. The final project, in the form of a thesis, is presented to a panel of faculty from each partner university.

Upon completion of the program, students continue as candidates for their degrees at their home universities. 

Last Updated January 08, 2015