Study abroad trip offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for MSU student

Contact: Lisa Sollie, MSU-Meridian

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Mississippi State University-Meridian student Natalie N. Cartulla of Quitman sees life and business in a different way since returning from her 12-day study abroad trip. 

Natalie Cartulla, an MSU-Meridian business student from Quitman, sits on a ledge of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. She was a recent participant in a study abroad course through Mississippi State University’s College of Business. (Photo submitted)

The business administration major and mother of two participated in Branding the Isles, an overseas marketing course at Mississippi State University that examined country-specific branding, including products synonymous with the national branding efforts of Iceland, Scotland and Ireland. 

Eighteen Mississippi State students, including Cartulla, as well as four faculty members, began their trip in Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland.

“I didn’t realize the impact that this study abroad course would have until I was there,” Cartulla said. “I learned so much, not only about marketing and branding, but about myself, my classmates and professors.”

While in Iceland, the class went to Thingvellir National Park, where Iceland’s parliament was founded more than 1,000 years ago, and they also visited the filming location for Game of Thrones. On their last day in the country, they visited the Icelandic Tourism Board, where students learned about the rise of Iceland as a destination tourism site, efforts to keep the country free from tourists’ environmental damage, and the Vakinn quality and environmental system for Icelandic tourism. Vakinn is based on New Zealand tourism’s mark of quality whereby a star rating system is in place to strengthen quality, safety and environmental awareness in tourist service providers.

The group traveled next to Glasgow, Scotland where they toured Bothwell Castle, Glasgow Cathedral built in the 1100s, and the Necropolis, one of the most significant cemeteries in Europe. 

They then traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to learn about the Scottish film industry and to Alnwick Castle, a working film location best known as Hogwarts in two Harry Potter films, and also featured in the television show “Downton Abbey” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” movie.  During the second day in Edinburgh, the group toured Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyrood, now Queen Elizabeth’s official residence in Scotland.

Other stops included Belfast, Ireland and the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titantic was built, and the West Coast of Ireland and the town of Bunratty and Bunratty Castle. The group also visited the Blarney Castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, followed by a trip to Woolen Mills, showcasing the best of Irish artisanship, craftsmanship and manufacturing, and a tour of a working woolen mill.

Closing out the trip was a stop at one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights, the Cliffs of Moher, which stand 700 feet above the ground at their highest point and are five miles long.

“This study abroad trip opened so many doors for me, both in my personal life and my professional career,” Cartulla said. “I learned so much through this hands-on experience and from Mike Breazeale, MSU assistant professor of marketing, quantitative analysis and business law. It brought everything I’ve learned sitting in the classroom to light. I’m so grateful that MSU offers opportunities like this, and I would highly recommend to anyone who has a desire to continue their education and expand their knowledge outside of the traditional classroom to take advantage of these trips.”

To learn more about MSU’s study abroad opportunities, visit .  For more on MSU-Meridian business degree programs, visit

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