A Cultural Journey – Jennifer Syed

As an Indian, going back to India through our university for a study abroad session was a very fulfilling and emotional experience. To learn about the contrast of business environments made it fulfilling, whereas noticing the cultural difference between the US and India made it emotional. Our study abroad course, “Innovation in Emerging Markets,” headed by Dr. Rangapriya Narasimhan was the perfect course to understand the business differences and approaches used across the US and India. As our cohort consisted of students from different parts of the world. like Germany, China, Turkey, Spain, United States, and Italy, seeing them adjust to the culture difference showed the major cultural variances between India and the US.

Students enjoying some leisure time after company visit day in the traditional attire of India: “Salvar Kameez” and “Bindi”

Coming to the difference in business environment, India in many business ways runs on “jugaad,” that is where different things are cobbled together to make it work somehow. Whereas in the United States, due to the detailed processes, every business transaction follows a proper and similar structure. In business terms, the presence of institutional voids in India makes it challenging to enter a market and makes it an emerging economy, whereas the structure that follows most of the business practices in the United States makes it more organized with less of risks.

Students enjoying traditional Indian vegetarian food called “thali”

Moving on to the cultural difference between India and the US, without a doubt, India and US are culturally pretty different, in terms of languages, eating habits, clothing, religious beliefs and many more to count on. Seeing the students adapt to the difference in the culture was remarkable, as being an Indian, I can sense it would have been a roller coaster ride for most of them! But coming to the commonalities in the differences, both the countries have amazing people to help you and smile at you and that was what led most of the students to thrive through the cultural differences.

Company visit at the Indian Oil Corporation in rural India, Bhiwandi

India being home has always given me a very patriotic feel to it as the culture and life there symbolizes courage, tolerance, love, family and kindness. The US is becoming a second home to me with the kind of opportunities, growth and motivation it gives out as a country to people from different parts of the world. Having the opportunity to experience both the countries in a business and cultural context has given me a deeper understanding of the intricacies of culture that drives the business in both the countries.

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

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