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Ahlers Fellow Jon Bocketti: Vortex Global Takes Second Place at the 2016 CUIBE Case Competition

Jon Bocketti, who is an Ahler’s Center Fellow, was a participant in this year’s CUIBE Case Competition held in Boston, Massachusetts and the team placed SECOND overall! Read on to find out more about his experience.

The CUIBE International Business Case Competition hosted by Northeastern University proved to be one of the most educational and applicable experiences I have participated in while at USD. Held in Boston, Massachusetts, this year’s competition brought in talented students from 16 schools from all around the country all trying to solve the challenging case.

Below I’ve provided 3 tips on how to take advantage of the trip and competition:

STEP 1: Explore Boston

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Being from the Northeast, arriving in Boston and feeling the cool crisp air, all while seeing the fall foliage only added to my excitement. Arriving on Wednesday, November 2nd, we went out to the North End for a delicious Italian dinner. The quaint cozy feel of the restaurant solidified we were no longer in San Diego. A long day of travel, a stomach full of pasta and meatballs, and a scenic walk back to our hotel meant for an early bed time. The next day, we had all day to explore the city of Boston. Some of our stops included the harbor district and Quincy market. On the Sunday following the competition, I went to the Top of the Hub, located on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Building. Here, you could see all of Boston. Boston has a lot of history and provided the team with inspiration for our case analysis.

STEP 2: Work Collaboratively

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When I first met my other team members, we discussed what we wanted to get out of the competition and how we personally would contribute to the team. We all wanted to put in our best effort, but also have a good time. We planned a dinner to serve as an icebreaker to get to know each other outside of the competition mindset. Before heading to Boston, the team was given a practice case. We met a few times to come up with a solution and presented it to two different panels of judges consisting of USD faculty. This was a great experience within itself, because we were able to garner real feedback without the pressure of the competition or getting graded. During the first night of the competition, we took time to read the case individually and came up with our own ideas on how to solve the challenging case. We then came together to discuss our ideas and concerns of the case. To avoid group-think and make sure that all of our ideas were heard, we decided to have a brainstorming session. During this brainstorming session, all ideas, no matter how crazy, were written down with no objections. This is where I attribute most of our success. To finish the night, we reviewed our brainstorming ideas list. The objective of the review was to be critical, but also constructive, and to see how these ideas could be incorporated into our overall plan. While we were working, we wanted to make sure that each team member was on board with the plan and understood every aspect of the plan. This proved to ensure that during our presentation and the Q&A section, we were all confident with every aspect of our plan.

STEP 3: Have Fun

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One of the most important aspects for me was to have fun. Although this competition was the perfect outlet to focus my natural competitive personality, I wanted to have fun in the process, and make sure the whole team was in good spirits. Throughout the analysis, and even right before the presentations, we would have dance breaks just to loosen up and relieve some stress. One of my favorite parts was getting to know the other students that were also competing. After the first round of presentations, it was announced our team had moved onto the final four. During the closing ceremony, I thought to myself that no matter what place we got, I could say that we had tried our hardest and had fun in the process … winning second was just the cherry on top.

Overall, I had the best time and am truly grateful for this experience.

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

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

Tips for Traveling to Lisbon and Madrid

Shreyas Sreekanth visited two locations, Madrid and Lisbon, and gave us some tips for what to do and see in both locations. Read on to find out more!

Since this was the first time I was visiting Europe, my excitement before leaving was overwhelming. We had a large group of people from different programs joining us in these wonderful locations, which made it even better to meet new people and hang out together. The pre-departure session that my classmates and I had with the Ahler’s Center was very helpful to prepare ourselves for the locations we would be traveling to, as we had speakers present who are from Lisbon as well as a person from the US currently studying in Madrid. They were kind of enough to give us a broad picture of what the locations are like, safety tips, appropriate traveling means, as well as suggestions of different restaurants and places to visit.

Lisbon is a great city in terms of the people, locations, food, and places to visit. The opening dinner on the first day was a great opportunity to meet everyone in the program. The authentic Portuguese cuisine was to die for, as I had the best sea food and wine. Our class was held in Catolica School of Business and Economics, which was a 10-minute cab ride from our hotel. The professors and students from the school were very receptive and catered to our needs in the best way they could, which made us feel more comfortable in our new environment. The class schedule was perfectly balanced between attending class and completing school work before we went out to explore the city.

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The city tour that the Ahler’s Center planned was what opened my eyes to what Portugal has to offer, as well as its prominent history. We had a certified guide who took us to the oldest part of the city, gave us information about how the city had been destroyed by an earthquake, and described what had to be done to build it back up to what it is today. It involved quite a walk, so it is highly recommended to be in comfortable attire and shoes (which will be stressed by Allison the day before). Everyone was quite tired after the session, but the highlight was going to an amazing pastry place, Pastéis de Belém, where we were served the best chocolate tarts I have ever had until now. This is a must try in Lisbon, as I ended up having a few every day after the tour.

The other must visit place is Sintra, where beautiful castles are located, as well as a breathtaking view from the western most part of Europe. The hike is through some wonderful small waterfalls and various ancieimg_20160604_013729nt castles. Again, it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes and attire, as it is almost a 4-hour hike to see all of the sites. The city also a lot of small little restaurants and boutiques that are interesting to peruse in, the restaurants are perfect to go with friends after a long day’s trek in the evening. A peculiar trend that I observed in Lisbon is that dinner time is usually around 10 PM, and hence, the places are open quite late. The language is not really a problem, as all the restaurants have English menus, and the minimal English that the cab drivers know is sufficient to get around the city without much difficulties. However, it is recommended to learn a few basic words in both languages, but if not, it is very important to carry a business card of the hotel with you at all times in case of an emergency.

After a week in Lisbon, we headed towards the city of Madrid in Spain. The most prominent experience I had in Madrid is the Tapas tour. Tapas is img_20160530_174244a must try in Madrid, as there so many variations to the small dishes and tapas is available in a lot of different places. The Dean also joined for us the event, making it that much better. We were lucky enough to be in Madrid during the UEFA finals between two of the most prominent clubs in Spain, Real Madrid and Atlético. The craze about soccer in Spain is real, as it is widespread throughout the city, and it seemed like the city came to a halt for those entirety of the game.

We were also fortunate enough to have guest speakers at both the locations who were from Europe to give presentations on their respective regions. The opportunity to learn about the history of both countries, the EU, and the Eurozone in general was fascinating. The industrial visits to We Do Technologies in Lisbon and the Google campus in Madrid was very useful to understand how business functions in Eimg_20160603_202749urope, and the experiences described by the founders of We Do technologies was very informative. They explained the challenges they faced in their industry, as well as how different it is to run a business in Europe in comparison to the US. The industrial visits are a core part of the program and it is mandatory to attend both of them. On a final note, the logistics and program itself were carried out very efficiently, with many thanks to Allison from the Ahler’s Center, as she coordinated with the local schools and kept us informed regularly through Whatsapp. Both of the cities were wonderful places to visit, to experience the European culture as well as to gain new knowledge, and a few credits, at the same time!

From the Classroom to Beyond

Ashrith Doddi really enjoyed learning about various international affairs within the classroom while abroad. Read on to find out more about his experience!

I had a great experience with Dr. Dimon and the rest of the crew in Lisbon and Madrid. The class, Global politics, policy, law and ethics, was such a refreshing take on global politics and market systems, with a special emphasis on European monetary and fiscal policy. The case studies given to us exposed us to global business, cross-border negotiations, culture, and challenges that entrepreneurs and businesses face when they make international transactions.

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When I read the case about corruption in Siemens in Germany, I learned about how big businesses are structured, as well as the journey Siemens and its top management took during its growth stage. The discussion we had in class was lively and insightful. Despite being in metropolitan cities with bustling nightlife and many distractions, everyone in class was prepared, well read and contributed significantly during discussions. When we were not discussing case studies or listening to Dr. Dimon talk about subject matter, we had esteemed guest speakers who educated us on European fiscal and monetary policy. This was the highlight of taking the class in Europe, because I have done some extensive research about European policy in my previous job working as a Reuters correspondent. Many things come to mind that I can use in my personal or professional life after taking the class. For example, the information about liberal and coordinated markets will help me gain perspective about how markets function in different countries. As an MBA student aiming towards a career as a consultant, these topics will help in the future when I have projects that will require international travel. Another example that comes to mind is the telecommunications case study we did, which showed me the importance of market research before entering a new market. Since I am from an emerging market (India), I can compare and contrast the business environments in different countries and the course material will help me in my future ventures.

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To conclude, I highly recommend the course to future students. The classroom discussions with the professor and the students encouraged me to keep up to date with case studies, current affairs and especially, to learn more about the European economy. Traveling with fellow students and professors was an enriching experience and I thank the University of San Diego’s Ahlers Center for the scholarship and the opportunity to take this class.

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How to Utilize Family Businesses to Turn the Greek Economy Around

Ian Manahan has been on a long journey visiting many countries throughout Europe, one of which was Greece, that left a lasting impression on him. Aside from exploring Athens and falling in love with Greek food, Ian found the importance that the role of family businesses play in the Greek economy.

When I stepped off the plan in Athens, for the first time in my life, I was immediately caught up in the historical mythology of Greece. I stayed at an Airbnb with a nice Greek couple in their 40’s who provided me with fantastic hospitality that lasted my entire stay. After getting settled, I sat down and learned more about my hosts, while sipping what was quickly becoming one of my new favorite spirits, ouzo, and trying various Greek cheeses on bread. I had only given myself a day to get settled and see the sights, before class started at my school, ALBA, so after my conversation with my hosts, I planned out my next day and went to bed.

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Greece

Greece was dry when I visited in late April, but the beauty of the ocean water off the coast never failed to make me feel full of joy. Greece was one of twelve countries I visited in Europe in 2016 and, in my opinion, Greece had the best food. I loved the way that the Greeks prepared their souvlaki, which made me realize that saving money packing one’s own lunch might not always be the best option. My favorite souvlaki was probably made with small pieces of lamb meat, cooked on a skewer over coals, then placed on pita bread with fresh Mediterranean vegetables and what I remember to be tzatziki sauce.

Although many of the tourist areas in Athens, like the new Acropolis museum, were busy with tourists and well preserved, it appeared there were many areas of the city that were no longer as well taken care of. The traffic also seemed fairly heavy, and at times chaotic, with the many ‘papaki’ and ‘Papi’/mopeds darting around on the roadways. Although I never needed to go far for fantastic baked goods or food, between the multiple jobs my Airbnb hosts worked and the inconsistent infrastructure I observed, Greece seemed to be a place where economic growth and optimism were at an all time low. What could the future hold for them?

Family Business

The class I took in Athens/ALBA was called “Managing the Family Enterprise”, and it was taught by a visiting Italian professor from the Nottingham Business School in the UK, who had one of the most confusing accents of anyone I met in Europe. However, he was very self aware and never failed to IMG_2890make the class fun as a result. For me, learning about managing a family business wasn’t something I had really thought about, until I started working on my New Venture Management MBA with USD and saw the chance to take the course in Greece while I was abroad.

I think one of the bigger takeaways from the class was how large the family business market is. Family owned businesses are almost half of the GDP in the US and constitute approximately three quarters of the GDP in most other countries. Therefore, how family businesses are managed, especially in regards to succession planning, is a fairly relevant discussion for business and globalization moving forward. The family is the most important initial element in creating the company culture, so the question is how can business and culture be continually maintained and adapted to a constantly changing market? Additionally, roughly all of Greece’s mid-sized companies are family controlled and up to 60% of their large firms are family controlled.

The Future

Greece likely needs to pursue more than one change in order to make the turn around the world would like to see them make economically. The euro did not have a good rap with my hosts, nor did the EU. Greece has multiple built in markets with its tourism and food, but the Greek citizens trust in the government is not where it needs to be in order to start making changes that need to be made. After spending two weeks in Greece, I thought that many travelers would still want to visit the beautiful ‘birthplace of civilization’ as we know it, but without strong political and business leadership to re-write the economy, I wonder if we will see its citizens continue to struggle and as a result, lose some of its integral culture. Greece’s challenges and opportunities are not unknown to the world, and I hope to return to a fully revitalized Greek economy someday soon.


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Lisbon & Madrid: Food, fútbol, and friends/family

Surabhi Mohta participated in the study abroad program to Lisbon, Portugal and Madrid, Spain where she observed many cultural similarities between the two countries and reflected on her experiences in both places.

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A wise man once said, ‘the world is a book; and those who do not travel read only one page.’ I realized how true these words are after my experiences abroad. For two weeks in May 2016, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Spain and Portugal. I knew coming to the University of San Diego, which is a pioneer in study abroad programs for its graduate school, that I wanted to study abroad at some point as a student here and I have been lucky enough to experience two study abroad trips so far. I didn’t know just how life-changing studying abroad would be and how much I would learn while I was traveling. I took a class which taught me about how different economic and political conditions can shape the way of life in a country and how some of the most innovative ideas can come out of the toughest constraints. I also learned so many things outside of class that helped me to appreciate my experience that much more.

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I learned so much about another culture: what other people value, what makes them get out of bed in the morning, what makes them stay up so late. I learned what it’s like to live as a traveler and not a tourist, and how to explore a country with strangers who can become close friends. I learned how to read a city with my feet, walking through streets so narrow that the sidewalks, where they existed, were no wider than a foot. Living in a foreign city is supposed to push you outside your comfort zone, interact with people you have never met before, immerse yourself in a culture very different from your own, as well as understand how local businesses work, and why they are structured the way they are. The culture shocks I experienced came in the daily routines, the little details, such as with the type of foods. All the fruits and vegetables were so fresh, since the Spanish and Portuguese aren’t dependent on preservatives. The food in Portugal and Spain was very traditional and local. The people are proud of where they come from; they are born, they live and die here. I found that the food they eat reflects their municipal pride.

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Another thing that was interesting to note is the Portuguese and Spanish culture of extraversion. Yes, there’s a huge economic crisis: the youth unemployment rate, especially in Spain, exceeds 60 percent. Yet, people are still going out. They aren’t afraid to have a good time, and I experienced this through feeling the intensity of the fútbol games, which you knew the entire city was watching by the perfectly synchronized cheers erupting from the apartments and streets around me. They would rather live with less than sacrifice going out with their friends and family. This reflects the importance the Spanish and Portuguese people place on relationships, which I also observed in the way business was done in these countries.

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What makes study abroad so amazing is how much you learn about life in such a condensed period of time, away from everything familiar. As Henry Miller said, ‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.’ That’s exactly what a study abroad experience does to you.”

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“De La Gente”: From the People of Guatemala

Carl Eberts traveled to Antigua, Guatemala as part of an MBA class and was fortunate enough to see the importance of microloans and organizations, like De La Gente, that help in giving low income Guatemalans a higher quality of life.

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 “This trip gave me the opportunity to experience the real life challenges people face in rural Guatemala and explore how businesses with a socially minded foundation can benefit these people. Within the first two days, we met with textile workers, brick makers, and a baker, all who have expanded their business through loans from microfinance institutions. On the third day, we were able to learn about the process of how coffee beans are grown and processed by a local farmer and his family. It was an amazing opportunity to witness firsthand how social entrepreneurship can make a substantial difference in people’s lives. The local farmer’s name was Mercedes and he proudly showed us his coffee operation from planting to roasting the beans, all while hiking across his land. He told us that he started out as a farm hand, making mere pennies a day. However, after receiving help from microloans, he has finally been able to purchase land of his own. Along with the assistance of De La Gente, an organization that is committed to increasing the livelihood of farmers and their families, Mercedes went from just selling unprocessed coffee beans to husking and roasting them. Since the individual pieces of equipment were too expensive for any individual coffee farmer to purchase on his own, several farmers formed a coop and purchased one piece of equipment each to help in the process of picking coffee berries and roasting the beans. The coop has allowed them to create significantly more income for themselves and their families. After listening to Mercedes’ story, my understanding of the factors that perpetuate poverty has expanded, as well as the differences between actions that first world countries take to help alleviate poverty, versus those that only appear to help. The experiences that I had in Guatemala opened my mind to the ingenuity and resilience of citizens living in underdeveloped countries and how it really is a systematic problem that must be attacked from multiple angles. I believe that it is important for myself and others to look for opportunities in our own communities that harness mutually beneficial relationships to achieve more than would be possible alone.

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An unexpected benefit of traveling abroad with an MBA class is the amount of time spent in transit with like-minded business people. Being around the same peers for an extended period of time allowed for networking that was far more significant than a single random mixer or event together. We spent several hours a day together being transported around to different locations and went out to dinner as a group almost every night. I bonded with fellow classmates over Argentinian steaks, volcanoes erupting, as well as Mexican airport customs. Over the course of the trip, I discussed many international business topics with a doctor that had worked in a clinic in the Dominican Republic and also gained some insight into the history of the Guatemalan government through the eyes of an expat living abroad in Antigua. The connections I made abroad will last longer and carry more weight than others made domestically. I hope to be able to take several more classes abroad during my MBA program at USD.”

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

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

Tokyo: Culture & Corporate Governance

Jessie Ju made the journey to Tokyo this past spring break in order to experience the contrast between Chinese and Japanese culture, as well as provide future recommendations for traveling to Japan.

Japan, an island country that’s only one and a half hours flying from my home town, Shanghai. I have landed many times in Narita International Airport of Tokyo, yet I had never set foot in the country until this spring break. I was beyond excited to explore and get to know the Japanese culture.

Japanese culture and Chinese culture are very intertwined, yet distinct from one another. We kind of look similar, have something in common in parts of our languages, both eat rice and drink tea. What could be so different? And the answer is, everything!

Getting there and back
There are rarely any direct flights between San Diego and Tokyo. There are two major airlines in Japan, JAL and ANA, which both have frequent flights to the U.S. Both are great airlines with outstanding services. Most of the time, you will be connecting at LAX for your international leg when flying with them. You may also choose American airlines, such as United and Delta, or Asian airlines, such as China Eastern or Korean Air. It all depends on where you connect and the length of your layover. Total traveling time could vary from 12 to 36 hours. There are two airports in Tokyo, Narita (RNT) and Haneta (HND). Narita is larger and most international flights go through there, but it’s further away from the city (about 1 and a half hour by public transportation). Haneta is much closer to the city, but flight options are limited.
Tips:
– Bring a neck pillow and wear loose clothing, as well as comfortable shoes
– Get on Japan time as soon as you board and sleep as much as you can during the flight
– Stay hydrated!
– No matter how tired you are when you land, try staying up until normal bed time

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First Impression
Like most metropolitan cities in Asia, Tokyo has a huge population and very sophisticated public transportation systems. It’s busy, crowded, and exciting. However, it is also a society that prides itself on being highly organized and self-disciplined.

The best place to observe Japanese people is, without a doubt, in the subway. The Japanese subway lines are owned and operated by a few different companies. They virtually connect the entire city and it is the reason why Tokyo, being a highly populated city, does not suffer from traffic problems as a lot of other major cities do throughout the world.

So now, back to our observation of people in the subway. Japanese people all follow unwritten rules that have formed over time. For example, when riding the escalator up and down in the stations, the Japanese all stand on the left side of the stairs and leave the right side open for those who want to pass. When riding the train, people rarely talk with each other or on the phone, nor do they drink or eat inside the train.

Food
We had a survey of our class before going to Japan and the number one thing everyone was looking forward to was Japanese food. Japanese people are known for their seafood, from sashimi (raw fish), sushi, takoyaki (octopus balls), tempura (deep-fried seafood or vegetables) to teppanyaki (pan fried). Japanese food stresses the freshness of ingredients and the balance of subtle flavors.

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The first place we went to in Tokyo was a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. A conveyor belt sushi restaurant is where they place all the food on a long, moving belt that runs through the entire restaurant and the food plates are color-coded by their prices. Customers can just grab the food off the belt and at the end of their meals, the wait staff would calculate the total plates based on the empty plates of different colors. The sushi chefs work in the inner circle of the belt and replenish the food on the belt as needed.

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Another unique dining experience I had in Japan was at a ramen restaurant, where you start your experience by ordering on a vending machine placed outside of the restaurant by the door. Available items are listed with pictures and their prices. You can simply choose the items by pushing the button right next to the picture and a ticket with your order details will be printed at the end. The restaurant itself has stalls instead of tables, and each of these stalls has its own water tap, condiments, and menus. Each stall has a window that opens directly to the kitchen. Before you turn in the ticket from the vending machine, you will fill out a form with your preference of add-on ingredients (garlic, onions, etc.) and flavors (spiciness, saltiness, oil). These stalls can become larger per each customer’s preference. From my personal observation, most customers would rather enjoy their meals alone. It was quite an experience, one that you will never see anywhere else in the world.

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Attractions
During the time we were in Japan, we visited a number of tourist attractions, including the famous fish market and the Tokyo Imperial Palace where the emperor lives. Among these places, the one that stands out is the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Built in 1926, the Meiji Jingu Shrine is considered a spiritual place for Japanese and foreign visitors. The man-made forest around the shrine is seen as the central park of Tokyo. Maybe it doesn’t serve as an accurate metaphor, but it certainly gives Tokyo a layer of balance between human and nature.

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We had the luxury to attend a Shinto blessing session that the shrine conducts for both Japanese families and foreign families. The blessing procedure involved praying, singing, dancing, and blessing. An interesting aspect of the Shinto is that there’s no humanized god type figure. Instead, they believe that every living creature has a “Kanji” (spirit) and that “Kanji” is what they worship and what gives them power. In my opinion, this belief is a religious interpretation of the relationship between human beings and nature.

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Shopping
Tokyo is a paradise of creative products for demanding shoppers. Some of the world’s most amazing innovations could only be found in Japan, such as the multi-functional toilet seats, skin care equipment, and much more. The most popular shopping areas are Ginza, Shibuya and Asakusa, representing three distinct shopping experiences, high-end, offbeat and traditional, respectively. Look out for the most bizarre items, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Class
The combination of corporate governance and Japanese culture is an interesting thought. Before the trip, I had always envisioned it as being a showcase of best practices, given Japan’s leading position in corporate establishment and the high degree of organization and discipline of the society. To my surprise, the corporate governance practice in Japan has been largely impacted by its culture of always taking the middle path, and explains a lot why Japan has not been able to lift itself out of the bubble and reboot its economy.

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We visited a number of great companies on this trip, including Toyota, KPMG, and the Carlyle Group. We also had a long fruitful meeting with Mr. Taro Kono, the Japanese Cabinet Minister & Chairman of Public Safety Commission, who is known to be very straightforward about his political and economic opinions. He pointed out a number of issues and challenges that the Japanese government and companies are facing due to Japan’s corporate culture and its corporate governance conduct.

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KPMG gave us a rather holistic view of the recently established Japanese corporate governance code and how it’s implemented by companies. They have also illustrated the roles of accounting firms and consulting firms, such as KPMG, in supporting and monitoring the execution and compliance of the code.

image043Toyota, on the other hand, gave us a thorough demonstration of their vision, innovative efforts, and more importantly, how these activities tie to their CSR commitments. We also had the privilege to experience some of their new technology in Toyota Mega Web, a showroom of Toyota’s latest products and innovations, where we got to learn how to ride the Toyota Winglet, a self-balancing two-wheeled scooter.

These company visits really enriched the content of the class and allowed us to deepen our understanding of corporate governance in a real business context.

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It was overall an extremely exciting and insightful week. The only regret of this trip was that we did not stay long enough for the sakura (cherry blossom) to reach its full blossom. I guess it serves as a perfect excuse to come visit Japan again 🙂

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

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

Must-See’s and Must-Do’s in Shanghai

Joseph LaBarbera studied abroad this past intersession in Shanghai, China and provided us with some of the top things one must do while there. Enjoy!

Shanghai is one of the five largest cities in the world. There are so many things to do and places to see, it is quite overwhelming when trying to plan a trip to this multi-cultural metropolis. If you are anything like me, the best way to experience a city and its culture is to visit the local social spots, as well as try the typical food and drink. I wouldn’t want to spend the entire trip only looking at buildings and statues that you could just google an image of. To help you in your quest of finding a localized and beneficial experience in this wonderful city, I have created a list consisting mostly of some of my favorite bars, food spots, and activities. The best aspect about most of the places I have listed below is that you can enjoy them at night after all of the museums and tours have closed, allowing you to maximize your experience in Shanghai by truly embracing the Chinese culture through a local’s eyes.

1. KTV Karaoke
The most fun and entertaining nighttime activity in Shanghai. KTV Karaoke takes place in a spacious, designated area for just you and all your friends to enjoy! The atmosphere and singing create a fun environment and there definitely will be some quality laughs.

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2. Yang’s Dumplings
Yang’s dumplings are the best dumplings in Shanghai, and I’m not just saying that! They are fried in oil, making them extremely juicy! Be careful, they are also very hot and can be a bit messy 😉

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3. The Cool Docks
The docks are in a newer part of town with a good selection of restaurants both on and across the streets from the Shanghai River. They also have beautiful decorations in the winter!

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4. Bar Rouge
Grab a drink and get the best view of the Bund! This rooftop bar provides a great photo opportunity of the lights in the Pu Dong area of town.

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5. Knock Off Market
Just off the Shanghai Science and Technology metro shop, the knock-off market awaits, surrounding the entire station. Prepare to be aggressively approached and solicited to buy items that you most likely wouldn’t find a use for, but are still fun little trinkets anyways!

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6. Jazz Club
The Jazz Club has amazing music and also is a good place to sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice refreshment. The band consists of most of the original members since its opening and plays wonderful classics.

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7. Shanghai Beer Factory
One of the local breweries in Shanghai with refreshing and delicious beer, as well as has décor that is very hip and trendy! It has a convenient location, right by the Olympic stadium, which also is worth taking a peek at!

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8. Sky Bar in the Radisson
My personal favorite bar in Shanghai. The cover band is excellent and they take song requests, which creates a great opportunity to sing and dance along to the music.

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

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

 

Overcoming Brazilian Stereotypes and Language Barriers

Alex Henley completed her practicum experience abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and was able to overcome her fear of the city’s stereotype as being unsafe, as well as her frustration with the local language, in order to enjoy Rio for the bright and vivacious city that it really is.

Before I left for Rio, everyone told me to be incredibly careful. I was very nervous about being mugged. I was told not to wear much jewelry, as people would come up and grab a necklace off of you. While I wore a watch to work during the day, I would only wear earrings out at night. I always kept my purse on me, with my hand holding the bag as well. That being said, I had no negative experiences in Rio and I was very cautious even when there were a lot of people around. I took the advice of not going anywhere alone and to take cabs instead of walk at night. During the day, I would go places alone, like to the store, pharmacy, shop, café, or an ATM. However, I also wish I did know more Portuguese. The language barrier was probably my biggest frustration. I know Spanish and English, but when I tried to explain this to the locals, they would just keep speaking in Portuguese. Fortunately, most restaurants have an English menu, so you kind of know what you are ordering.

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During the city tour, we saw Sugar Loaf, the Christ statue, the Cathedral, and the Santa Marta Favela. Taking a guided tour through the favela was life changing. Just like with Argentina, where I also partook in my practicum, the disparity between the rich and the poor in Rio is apparent. While walking through the favela, we were able to purchase art made by the locals in order to benefit the community. I would not recommend trying to navigate a favela alone. The Sugar Loaf was my favorite, as the views were absolutely incredible. We went on a rainy/cloudy day, but I still enjoyed every moment. We also went inside the Cathedral and the stained glass windows were absolutely beautiful, a site worth seeing for those that appreciate the timelessness of artwork.

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I probably had acai or a fresh juice once a day. The produce in Rio is so fresh, so I highly recommend that you take advantage of it while you are there. Rio is known for its steakhouses, known in Portuguese as churrascarias. I recommend you go to Churrascaria Palace. Although pretty expensive, the restaurant has exceptional service and side dishes. We also went to Pavao Azul and I ordered the bean stew, or feijoada, and was incredibly satisfied. It is a small, hole-in-the-wall type of place where the locals go, but it’s totally worth a try, even if there is a wait.image014

I also loved the beach in Rio, although it rained most of the time we were there. However, when you go to the beach, make sure you have cash, as everything you could possibly need you can find for sale at the beach. There are people carting around everything, from drinks to sunscreen, snacks to swim suits. Also, trying the street food is a must, even if you are not the biggest fan of fried foods!

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During the practicum, my patience was tested on many levels. Brazil, along with many other countries, is much slower paced than the United States. Nothing happens quickly, even in business. We spent a lot of time waiting for our client because they were behind schedule. I would say just be prepared to wait and don’t expect business transactions to happen overnight. I would also suggest checking in with your client and teammates regularly. I would say this is very important in order to stay on track and make sure that everyone understands what is expected of him or her. Also, because of the language barrier, we would sometimes misconstrue some of the things that the Brazilians said, because it wouldn’t translate into English in the intended way they wanted. Be comfortable with asking questions in order to clarify what is really meant.

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The Pearl of the Orient: A Quick Overview

Clarence Wong studied abroad in Hong Kong for an intersession program that gave him a deeper understanding of the city itself through its differences in housing, public transportation system, and the services sector, in comparison to the United States.

For the first day of MSRE 509 intersession, our group took a city tour of Hong Kong, ending with a visit to ‘The Peak’ at the top of Hong Kong island, which featured a panoramic view of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong skyline is unlike any other skyline I’ve seen; it’s like combining skylines from multiple U.S. cities, such as New York, Chicago, etc., into one tightly packed skyline. This massive skyline comprises of not just commercial high-rise office buildings, but also hotels and many residential towers. According to Cushman & Wakefield, since much of Hong Kong has very hilly terrain that cannot be developed on, Hong Kong has unique geographical constraints and, therefore, limited available land for development, so developers must build upward rather than outward to accommodate the large population. As a result, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. This is quite a contrast to most areas in the U.S., where many people live in larger low-rise homes spread out in the suburbs, rather than live in smaller efficient spaces in high-rise residential towers within the city.

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Hong Kong’s public transportation system is one of the best in the world. As a result, most people in Hong Kong use public transportation rather than drive cars. I’ve never seen so many modes of public transportation before. Options include MTR (mass transit railway), taxi, double-decker bus, mini-bus, cable car, and ferry. The MTR, a type of subway system, is generally the quickest way to get around. One time, a group of us took the MTR to a company visit while another group took a taxi. Due to heavy road traffic, the MTR group arrived at the destination quicker than the taxi group. Another time, one group took the mini-bus while another group took the MTR. This time, the mini-bus group arrived at the destination, Happy Valley racecourse, quicker because the mini-bus had a direct stop to the destination, whereas the MTR group had to walk a few blocks after getting off at the nearest stop. So, it all just depends on the destination and proximity to the nearest MTR stop. In any case, since there are so many different public transportation options available, it is extremely convenient to get around the city. Compared to the U.S., Hong Kong is way ahead in terms of available public transportation. San Francisco, New York, & Washington D.C. are the closest U.S. cities to Hong Kong for also providing good modes of public transportation; however, we are still way behind.

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The Hong Kong International Terminal is a key container port operator in the Port of Hong Kong, one of the busiest ports in the world. The Port of Hong Kong serves the South-East and East Asian regions, and is also a key economic gateway to mainland China. Our tour guide for the city tour explained that Hong Kong used to be a manufacturing powerhouse years ago, but now China has taken over much of the manufacturing. As a result, the Hong Kong government assisted former manufacturing workers to get re-educated to work in service sectors, such as the hospitality industry. I learned from our Cushman & Wakefield visit that approximately 50% of the Hong Kong population is provided government-assisted housing, which seems high, but necessary given the relatively expensive cost of housing in Hong Kong. Furthermore, our tour guide explained that since most of the Hong Kong population is taken care of for jobs and housing, most people are generally content. Compared to the U.S., Hong Kong has less citizens to take care of, but we could learn from Hong Kong in terms of providing more career services and job-related skills training to unemployed and transitioning workers. For government housing assistance, although the U.S. offers Section 8 Housing and other types of subsidies, these services could be improved upon so more U.S. citizens in need of low-income housing could benefit.

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

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