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Student veteran studying in Australia, then Spain

  • rugby team

Posted on October 27, 2017

After serving in the U.S. Navy for eight years, Cameron Zbikowski returned to Grand Valley to finish his degree. His return was short-lived, however, as he only spent two semesters in West Michigan before beginning his study abroad experience in Sydney, Australia.

Zbikowski is a triple major in human resources management, international business and Spanish. He plans to broaden his view of international business by studying abroad in Australia and then setting off for Spain.

“My degree is centered around Eastern and Western business cultures,” Zbikowski said. “Sydney is very western-focused and Americanized, but because it is so close to China and Japan it has a huge Asian market. It’s good to get both perspectives.”

Academic reasons and personal ties both influenced his decision to study in Australia for two years.

“I love to travel, it’s a huge hobby of mine and a lot of my friends who I’ve met in Europe are from Australia,” Zbikowski said. “It has always been on my bucket list. I see pictures of Sydney on the news and it’s kind of surreal to be able to go there and do a study abroad program.”

Zbikowski's semesters overseas are funded partially by the G.I. Bill, which works in partnership with universities abroad, opening up options for veterans who are interested in studying abroad. He is halfway through his first semester at Macquarie University and plays on the university’s rugby team.

Zbikowski is passionate about raising awareness for veterans and wants them to be aware that they have opportunities to study abroad after completing their service.

“Most veterans don’t know that they can use their veteran’s benefits to study abroad and they aren’t sure how or if it’s even compatible,” he said.

Zbikowski said he has been exposed to a different mentality while being immersed in a culture different than his own. 

“You’re able to bring more to the table, and as a veteran, I think it’s important because the benefits and the opportunity is there, why not take advantage of it?” he said.

— written by Marissa LaPorte, student-writer