Reflecting on Study Abroad: Brice Hamill

Brice Hamill
Brice Hamill

By Megan Schulte, student study abroad ambassador

The next highly successful alumnus to be featured in the Reflecting on Study Abroad with 18 of the Last 9 Alumni series is Brice Hamill, who is currently the Vice President of Fairmount Properties in Cleveland, Ohio. During his time at Miami, Hamill was very involved as a resident assistant, orientation leader, fraternity member, and resident hall director, but he credits his time spent studying abroad as being incredibly important to changing his perception of the world and different cultures. Hamill participated in a summer architecture program/competition in Luxembourg after his sophomore year at Miami.

Gaining professional experience

Hamill’s experience in Luxembourg was his first time abroad for an extended period of time, and it allowed him to really live within the culture. He says that the Internet makes us feel like we know places, but living there, especially with a host family, allows you to get ingrained in the culture. In regard to professional development, studying abroad put Hamill in a unique position to take on international projects. He says that architecture is not a young person’s profession, so being trusted to take international projects that older workers with families could not take allowed him to differentiate himself and move his way up in companies.

Acceptance in the Middle East

Hamill has had the opportunity to complete many international projects during his career that have allowed him to explore different cultures and learn how differently they live from us. Of all the places that he lived, he credits Beirut and Damascus as being two of his favorites. He says that the Middle East has one of the most accepting and welcoming cultures that he has ever been a part of. He says he gets more disrespect on a daily basis in his own culture than when he was in the Middle East.

During our time together, Hamill told me three amazing stories from his travels abroad that truly left an impact on me once I departed the interview. The first is about his time studying abroad in Luxembourg.

Three important stories from Hamill's time abroad

1. Tea time with Maga

In Luxembourg, Hamill stayed with a host mother named Maga. “At least three times a week, we would meet her in her parlor and share stories. We had tea and talked about life and what I was looking for in the next chapter of my life,” Hamill said. When I asked him what his favorite Luxembourg experience was, he said it was these talks with Maga.

2. Humility in Dubai

Hamill described the culture in Dubai as being very business-oriented and that people only move there to make money. During his time, he had a driver from Pakistan. This driver moved there and worked his way up to become a successful private driver for Hamill’s company. Hamill became good friends with the driver who eventually invited him over for dinner. The driver and his friends used to live in tough living conditions but worked hard to become successful and now send money to their families back home. The dinner that Hamill was invited to was a special once-a-year tradition where they remember what it was like when they first came to Dubai. Hamill said, “we made food and then dumped it on the floor and ate it with our bare hands. We listened to stories of what life used to be like to them and how coming to Dubai was a great opportunity to help them grow to where they are now. It’s a success story that we can’t comprehend. It was very humbling.”

3. Acceptance in Damascus

Before he went to the Middle East, Hamill was warned by everyone to be careful. One night, he was looking for a restaurant and ended up escalating three flights of stairs in an abandoned building, suddenly becoming worried. Once he reached the top, however, he found a rooftop restaurant full of twirlers, music, and excitement. Hamill was greeted by a waiter who was eager to share his culture with him. He was given a 3-hour meal that consisted of small plates of every item on the menu. “This really was my experience everywhere I went in the Middle East. Everyone was so open about sharing their culture,” Hamill said.

Final thoughts

Hamill’s final thoughts about study abroad were this: “In any profession, no matter what you do, collecting international experiences and becoming as much of a global leader as you can will always help you. Sitting at a table with people twenty years older than you who have a lifetime of career experience is intimidating, so having something that helps make you unique and levels the playing field a little bit helps. It makes you interesting and unique; it makes you valuable as you bring new perspectives to the table. I am definitely someone who would say that if you get the chance to study abroad, absolutely do it. Hands down. In our world, if you haven’t traveled to a different culture, you are just missing out.” And with those words, I think Hamill just about sums it up.

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