Outlook Magazine - Fall 2019


Globetrotter with goals Stensberg, who visited 100 countries before 40, views travel as an investment


evin Stensberg regretted that he never took the opportunity to study abroad as a UW-Stout student.

Many people say they will travel when they have time or are retired. Stensberg urges anyone who desires to travel to do so when they are healthy and able to enjoy it and while the places they want to see still exist, particularly natural wonders that may be in danger, or even historic sites that could suffer damage such as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. “It is an investment,” Stensberg said of traveling. “I saw it as an expense. It would have been a very valuable class to take. Traveling is a great experience and it opens doors. I don’t know very many people who have traveled and regret the time or money they spent on it.” Stensberg enjoys the friendships he has made around the world. He plans to visit Antarctica, meaning he will have visited all seven continents, but is focusing on a doctoral program he started fall 2018 at Northeastern University in Boston in organization leadership studies. He has a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. He originally chose UW-Stout for the hotel, restaurant and tourism management degree. While living in Menomonie he loved experiencing the Red Cedar Trail, Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts and visiting the Twin Cities.

He has been busily making up for that by visiting six of the world’s seven continents. In June 2018 Stensberg accomplished a goal he set to visit 100 countries of the 197 on Earth before he turned age 40. Now at 39, Stensberg planned to visit his 109th and 110th countries, Monaco and Andorra, respectively. His first trip out of the U.S. was in 1997 for a Spanish class trip to Mexico. The 100th country he visited was Iceland. After graduating from UW-Stout in 2001 with a degree in service management, Stensberg worked in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., in university housing. His dream was to work overseas. In 2012 he took a job with Loyola University Chicago in Beijing, China, as a dean of students. “I loved it,” he said. “I decided I had to do some more traveling.” He managed short contract study abroad sites in Greece and England and served as an assistant executive dean for a spring 2015 voyage of Semester at Sea, through which he traveled for four months on a cruise ship with 650 college students. In between the contracts he would backpack, staying in hostels and eating simple meals. “For 1½ years I didn’t have an address,” he noted. Stensberg lives in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, a fishing village on the Red Sea about an hour north of Jeddah. Since 2016 he has managed graduate services at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, where he oversees the student center, residence life, orientation and communications to students. The 1,000-student graduate school was the first coed university in the kingdom. Students from 90 countries, including the U.S., attend. Stensberg believes in traveling to experience places, not just to visit more countries. “It’s really about the quality of what you’re doing,” he noted. “My favorite thing about travel is to get a new perspective. It can help you react to people with different political views or ideologies than you have. Really, they just come from a different way of seeing something.” One of his favorite trips was to Ostersund, Sweden, on the shores of Storsjon lake. “Life is very chill there,” Stensberg said. “It was just wonderful to relax, eat great local food, read and have some mindfulness.”

Kevin Stensberg enjoying St. Basil’s in Moscow, Russia.


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