Alumni Spotlight: Nathan Loftin

Nathan is an Internal Audit Financial Advisory Consultant with a global risk management company called Protiviti in Dallas. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University as Magna Cum Laude with degrees in both Accounting and Finance, as well as being a slot receiver on the football team. He has a passion for global business and understanding cultures, and has traveled to 15+ countries from Scandinavia to Europe to Southeast Asia.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose the Salzburg College program for many reasons. First would be fellow peers’ recommendations. Another would be its absolutely stunning location in the European-style city in the Austrian mountains. In addition, the academic staff is incredibly supportive, creating a unique curriculum specifically for me to complete German 1 and 2 in four short weeks. Its central location in Europe is also great for excursions

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My university, Ouachita Baptist University, assisted with all contact, class scheduling, and insurance – basically all the essential building blocks of the trip. The only part I had to handle on my own was transportation to Austria and around Europe (on non-college related excursions). The program is Salzburg was very well organized, with excursions already laid out including lodging, meals, reservations to sites, etc.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

First: Relax. Shake off the nerves of long travel, foreign languages, culture, distance from those you know, etc.

Second: Meet as many people as possible. This includes connecting quickly with the students at the college because it will make the excursions to other cities/countries much more enjoyable. In addition, you might just make friends for life who live in other states just as I have.

Also, talk to people you don't even know! I remember riding a train to Venice in the middle of the night and chatting with an elderly couple from Hamburg, Germany. He offered me a place to stay in Germany, a shot of his home-brewed liquor, and a fireman's patch from work with his phone number.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

My time studying abroad was for a 4-week summer term. This consisted of breakfast at my host mom's house, a beautiful 15-minute walk to school, about 3 hours of classes, and lunch provided by the college. In the afternoons, I’m free to join friends and explore the city. I then have dinner at my host mom's house. This was typically Monday – Thursday; every weekend, we would have a 3-4 day excursion with the college to different parts of Austria, including hikes, breweries, historical sites, Vienna museums, parliament, United Nations Headquarters, etc.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was the fact that I was the only student from my university going to Salzburg for the Summer Term I, and that I would be in a foreign land with people I had never met. I overcame it by quickly making friends with students studying abroad from other universities around the country who I still talk to regularly a year later.

Why should I even study abroad?

Studying abroad is extremely underrated. And I mean extremely.

I think one of the biggest problems with students in the United States these days is their ignorance of the world. America is unique – it has the global language of English, personal rights for every citizen, the top global economy, and quality education. However, I feel the students in the United States are less equipped both intellectually and with the ability to change the world than students in foreign countries.

For instance, almost every person I have met in the 15+ countries I have visited is fluent in at least 2 languages – typically English and their home country's language. In addition, these foreign students are simply more intelligent because they have traveled to many other countries. They understand more cultures, can put themselves in other people's shoes with ease, and can adapt to change quickly. They have seen the problems of this world and thought about how they can make a difference.

That is why I love traveling – I love to relate to people, understand why they think a certain way, and try my best to help in any situation. My desire is that more U.S. students study abroad to remove the veil from their eyes and see this beautiful world in all its glory.