In 1989, University of Nebraska–Lincoln students Grant Forsberg and Shawna (Westcott) Forsberg met while studying abroad in England. Thirty-three years later, they returned to the University of Oxford in July as a married couple with their three children, including Seth, who would soon start his four-week stint in the same program that brought them together.
The university's largest and longest-running study abroad program, Nebraska at Oxford operates through a partnership between the College of Business and Jesus College at the University of Oxford. Seth, Grant, Shawna and more than 2,000 other students have experienced the program's opportunities to study economics and Shakespeare and enjoy traditions like high tea, horse races at Sandown Park and leisurely boating down the Thames River.
Yet, the saying that studying abroad is life-changing especially rings true for the Forsbergs. Grant, ’89, an economics and finance graduate from Omaha, Nebraska, and Shawna, ’91, a marketing and international business graduate from Holdrege, Nebraska, first noticed each other when sightseeing with friends in London.
“We ran into each other at lunch at the original Hard Rock Café. Grant and I got to know each other more throughout the program during deep classroom discussions, fun activities and cultural outings. We still keep in contact with others who took part in the program too and have tremendous memories of our time there,” Shawna said.
Shawna works as president and CEO of United Way of the Midlands in Omaha while Grant serves as a Douglas County Court Judge for the State of Nebraska. The couple passed the knowledge and values they gained from studying abroad on to their three children over the years through stories about their experiences abroad at Oxford as well as in Asia. Shawna participated in the college's study abroad program at Senshu University in Japan while Grant completed Nebraska's Southeast Asia Business Study Tour.
“Studying abroad allows you to expand your critical thinking and communication skills. Ours allowed us to better understand and work with people from across the world. We both have used these experiences throughout our careers and in our personal lives,” said Grant.
Impacted by their Nebraska at Oxford experience, they later named their three children after meaningful places in England. Seth is a junior marketing major at Nebraska with minors in economics and law and business; London is a sophomore architecture major at Nebraska; and Devon attends the University of South Dakota.
“There’s a whole family story with our names. London, my sister, is named after where they met. My brother, Devon, is named after the street where they first kissed, and it was in the rain, so my middle name is Raine,” Seth shared.
The family had long planned to travel to the United Kingdom together. When Seth decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps and attend Nebraska at Oxford in 2022, the family jumped at the chance to travel around England together for two weeks before his studies began. Seth took international economics and political economics courses from Dr. Martin Holmes and Dr. Nicholas Horsewood at Oxford — the same professors his parents had 33 years earlier.
“They were so cool and even remembered my parents from way back when. One of them thought he recognized me at first because I look like my dad when he was my age. It was pretty funny,” Seth said.
Shawna appreciated sharing their experiences of the prestigious international program with her children.
“It was marvelous to share with our children a bit of what their parents’ college years were like. It felt like a ‘full circle’ for our family,” Shawna recalled.
Looking back at his own study abroad experience and time in England with his family, Seth called it, "one of the coolest experiences of my life."
"To visit England with my family and study abroad at one of the most prestigious universities in the world was an incredible experience. Learning from these professors taught me to open my eyes to how economics works in different countries. I can use that in the future if I ever want to do business internationally,” he said.
Learn more about the Nebraska at Oxford program at https://business.unl.edu/studyabroad
. Give to the Nebraska at Oxford scholarship fund at: https://go.unl.edu/givetoNEatOxford