Category Archives: Study Abroad

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Ahlers Fellow Jon Bocketti: Hong Kong Intersession 2016

Jon Bocketti, a USD junior majoring in International Business, traveled to Hong Kong this January to take a course in International Economics.  These are his reflections and takeaways:

“During Intersession 2016, I took a whirlwind of an adventure to Hong Kong. With little knowledge of the Chinese territory, I packed my bags and hopped on the plane with high hopes of being fully immersed with new foods, smells and unique culture that defines the island nation. My decision to go to Hong Kong, as opposed to the other intersession study abroad programs available, was based off my increasing fascination in Asia as an economic entity and trade partner to the United States.

After a sixteen-hour direct flight from Newark, I landed in Hong Kong International Airport tired, hungry, but above all ecstatic to be starting my adventure. Arriving a day earlier than the start of the program it was up to me to find my way to the NTT House on the Hong Kong Baptist University campus. After a quick trip to the airport McDonalds, I took the airport express to Kowloon station. My excitement was clearly demonstrated as I was constantly shifting to the left and right of the train trying to get a glimpse of Hong Kong whizzing by in the night sky. After departing at Kowloon station, I frantically pulled out my directions to give to the taxi cab driver. His thick accent and limited knowledge of English solidified that I was no longer in familiar territory. After a few fast stops, turnarounds, and direction clarifications, I made it to a yellow painted, slender high rise that I would soon call my home away from home.

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of rain tapping the window. I got out of bed and quickly tore back the curtains to reveal a panoramic view of never ending skyscrapers stretching from Kowloon all the way to Hong Kong Island. I was ready to explore. I quickly got ready and took the elevator down ten stories to the lobby where I got to meet some of my fellow classmates. Our professor Dr. Gin gave us a very thorough tour of all the places around Hong Kong that might be of use to us during our stay. As we progressed throughout the day, I walked around feeling like I was separate from my body. How could I be here smelling, seeing, tasting something so different than just one day ago? This is a question I would consistently think about as I continued to experience what Hong Kong had to offer. This first day excursion set a perfect tone for the rest of the trip.

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As an island nation, Hong Kong has a great connection to the sea. This picture shows the connection between the land and the sea, as well as the cultural fusion due to international trade.

After only a few days in Hong Kong, we all piled onto a bus to make our way into mainland China. After what felt like a five minute ride, due to a wonderful thing called jet lag, we arrived at the cruise ship terminal. The boat went so fast that we were gliding above the water, and this was not a small boat. In no time, I could distantly see the Macau skyline made up of the numerous casinos and skyscrapers, including Macau tower, the highest place in the world to bungee jump. Looking out the window on the bus, there were many similarities I could see between Hong Kong and Macau.

 

 

 

There was this unmistakable mix of east and west, not only in the buildings and the food, but in the people as well. In a city where my pre-conceived conceptions led me to believe Macau was just newly developed land, I was delighted to find and experience years and years of history in the ancient temple and maritime museum. Day quickly turned into night, and the neon lights lit up the dark sky.

Following a late night, I found my seat back on the bus and we headed to Zhuhai, China. Passport in hand, I passed through immigration once more and boarded yet another bus that was to take us to our scheduled company visit. Immediately I felt a sense of familiarity. I don’t know if it was the “California Noodle” restaurant that was situated adjacent to the bus, or the fact that, unlike Hong Kong and Macau, people in mainland China drive on the right side of the road. We soon arrived at MTU Maintenance, a large airline jet engine maintenance company. Seated at a large conference table, we were all introduced to the top management of the Zhuhai division. Being a half-Chinese, half-German company, it was interesting to witness and learn the dynamics and complexities of foreign business in China. The gentlemen giving the presentation were very knowledgeable and conducted themselves and the presentation in very German fashion. The presentation concluded, and we were led on a comprehensive facility tour, which included a venture into the wind tunnel where they test all the engines. After friendly goodbyes, we boarded the bus and made our way to Guangzhou.

Our hotel was lovely, with modern conveniences and amenities to satisfy any USD student. But, no matter how nice the hotel was in the inside, the harsh reality of a city blanketed in smog lay just outside the door. In the case of both Guangzhou and Shenzhen, I was able to put to use my Mandarin speaking skills. While these cities are located in Southern China, where Cantonese is the dominant dialect, it was not difficult to find Mandarin speakers. Walking into the Shenzhen fake market, I was in awe at the pure scale of the operation right next to the Chinese/Hong Kong border. Walking through the five story mall, you could feel the energy of the shoppers looking to find a fake designer handbag for a fraction of the cost. It was exciting to go into the markets and bargain for a lower prices using a mix of English and Mandarin. I believe the simple gesture of trying to adapt to the Chinese culture helped me score some really good deals. After sifting through all the little shops and pathways, we went traveled back to Hong Kong.

I woke up the next morning to the harsh reality that I was not on vacation that I was actually here to take a class, International Economics (ECON 333) to be more precise, taught by Dr. Alan Gin. I enjoyed taking this class, especially in a foreign country, because unlike some classes where it is all theoretical, the things I was learning in class were directly applicable to my Hong Kong experience. I learned how currency exchange rate can dictate so many aspects of international business. Hong Kong is regularly in the top three of the world’s busiest ports. We learned how Hong Kong became such an economic power, by looking at the effects of different economic policies, inflation, government intervention and how the supply and demand of currency can shift due to these factors. The material covered in the course will help me in my future career in international business, specifically when dealing with international contracts and exchange rates.

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As a lover of photography, Hong Kong offered boundless opportunities to capture the “perfect pic.” The contrast between hard and soft, modern and tradition provides an outlet to take a picture that not only captures the beauty here and now in the present, but also captures the story and history of the people and landscape and how it all fuses in a way their either works or doesn’t function in today’s society.

While I could go on and on about my once in a life time experience in Hong Kong, I will briefly touch upon my top five highlights:

  1. Monkey Mountain – While this used to be a scheduled excursion for the program, it was later suspended because of potential risk.  So, naturally, that made us want to venture over and see the wild monkeys for ourselves. Stepping out of the cab, we were immediately greeted by over 10 wild monkeys. There was a large sign stating all the rules in regards to how to conduct oneself when around the monkeys, the most important being not to feed them. I soon found out that some of the monkeys were not friendly. I was viciously chased by a monkey at one point during the walk. I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast in my life. While this was a once in a life time experience, I left the mountain with my heart racing and a new found fear of monkeys.
  2. Victoria Peak– During our tour of Hong Kong with the entire group, we ventured up to Victoria Peak. On a sunny day the peak offers incomparable views of all of Hong Kong and the islands. Unfortunately for us, we could only see five feet in front of us because the peak was in the clouds. A group of us went back on a clear day to take in the spectacular views.
  3. Ozone– Being the highest bar in the world, Ozone offered 360 degree views of Hong Kong Island and a perfect spot to watch the light show.
  4. Night Markets– I went to countless night markets in Hong Kong. These offered a true taste of Asian culture. I was able to taste local street food, shop for things not found in commercial shopping malls, and truly feel transported from the modernity of Hong Kong.
  5. Singapore– While not part of the Hong Kong program, I decided to take a weekend trip to Singapore. It was amazing to see the similarities and differences between Singapore and Hong Kong, and how they both seem to be majorly successful.

Overall, I had the best time in Hong Kong. I hope to apply the physical skills I learned in my economics class, as well as the soft skills I learned throughout the interaction with the city and its locals in my future international business endeavors. Thanks to the wonderful staff, supervisors and the best group of students, I will forever cherish the memories I made in this dynamic city.”

Read more student blog posts about our Ahlers Fellowship and study abroad opportunities!

Visit our website for more information about study abroad.

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MBA International Experience in Spain: Swastik Mukherjee

Swastik Mukherjee (USD MBA student) studied for one semester at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain as part of an international exchange program…these are his reflections as his time abroad came to an end:

20151114_163713 “I am still in a sense of shock. My feeble attempt at collecting my thoughts at the Barajas airport in Madrid is leaving me with a sense of void. It is a strange feeling to have, really. I just spent four months in this country and when am leaving, I am realizing that I barely scratched the surface. That I probably explored an iota of what was on offer. My own sense of adventure came up short against the grandiosity of this majestic country of Spain. I had finally met my match and the country’s victory loomed large over me. It was a challenge that Spain had thrown at me 20151127_024240when I first arrived because it’s sense of history had taken me inand I had told myself to explore as much as I could. Looking back, I realize that to know this culture inside out is a mammoth task, one that I was too small to accomplish. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a time to reflect on failure. It was a time to celebrate the opportunity of a lifetime—to study in Spain.

For an international student like me, one could say that studying abroad may not be have been as beneficial as compared to someone who is a native of the United States. I have been 20151114_163614fortunate to have studied in three different countries and have experienced different cultures throughout my life. But as Henry Miller famously quoted, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Gaining international experience is a never-ending sojourn, one that only adds another level to your existing knowledge. It takes you out of your element and places you in a place where you are less comfortable. Out of this lack of comfort arises the need to be flexible and adaptable, enabling you to learn in a new and more practical way. Experiencing other cultures around the world broadens your knowledge base and teaches you to think and live differently. It is extremely important, today, to have a solid understanding of different cultures, and getting an international MBA experience at a world-renowned university such as IE is definitely a glorious prospect to emphasize the international nature of my MBA as well as personal experiences.

20151010_212538Mere plaudits will not even come close to Spain’s intoxicating effect on global tourists. Wine and tapas in full and cheap flow, the inherent friendliness of the Spanish natives, the romanticism of Madrid with its fresco dining options, worldclass museums, vast open spaces, makes Spain an amazing experience, waiting to be experienced. The chances to visit mountains one day and a beautiful beach the next, the ability to walk around and admire the architecture, both in the day as well as the night, gives Spain an identity aped by none. Spain is one of my favorite countries and my experience in Madrid has made me fall more in love with this country.

Studying at IE, a top global business school, renowned for its quality in teaching and learning, taught me so much. My classes were full of interesting fellow students and the professors all came from tremendous backgrounds.

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IE has always had an extremely strong base in finance and investments which was my area of interest. With its innovative vision and focus on academic rigor, IE is committed to educating professionals and experts who will make a difference in society. I am confident that with the education at both IE as well as USD, I will come out of the MBA program with a far more rounded approach to corporate life as well have inculcated skill sets that would make me an asset in any organization.

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

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

 

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Going Global: An Asian Excursion

Torero Travelers

Following Torero Travelers around the globe not only brightens our day, but also sheds light on what our fellow Toreros are doing internationally. USD has a large and impactful presence in the international education community, hosting students from an expansive range of foreign nations and offering programs for the university’s students in 44 countries. In this episode, we follow the journey of USD graduate student during studies in Korea and China through the Ahlers Center for International Business.

Going Global: An Asian Excursion

Written by Steven Cummings (MSGL student)

IMG_2144In the ides of October, I joined a happy company of MSGL students (M.S. in Global Leadership pursuants) to embark on a mission to the Far East, seeking ken of the currents of commerce and as well as the rich cultural vestiges of an ancient past. Our host nations included the Republic of Korea and the Peoples’ Republic of China, lands long familiar with a flux of foreigners visiting their shores and cities.

As one descends onto the streets of Seoul, the first destination on our voyage, the mildly opaque air is not immediately refreshing…but well-structured city blocks and clean streets sweep away any impression of Korea’s history as a developing nation. Full of bright cultural traditions, a colorful palette of Korean cuisine, impressive displays of advanced technology & infrastructure, and a calm yet bustling crowd, Seoul is characterized by a distinct blend of the East and West.

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East-West encounter at a Martial Arts demonstration

Possessed of a rather conspicuous “Californian” look, I did not blend in particularly well in Asia. Drawing stares on the streets proved an easy feat, even those lost in their smartphones could generally be shaken from their Confucian decorum by a long blonde mane on a tall striding male. Public courtesy oft prevented more than a few seconds’ glance, but experiments with sunglasses revealed many wide-eyed gawkers at this alien creature crossing in their path. While Korea has a strong international presence, its society is relatively homogenous in comparison with our melting pot nation: 96% of the population comes from the Korean ethnic group.

By day our group would walk among the markets, sometimes of the less formal variety with a myriad of unidentifiable fruits, fish, rice-based creations, a hundred kinds of kimchi, sometimes the highly modernistic malls that inhabit the upper floors of the city streets as well as the interlocking subterranean levels below. The food ranged from spicy to really spicy, with highlights including the famous Korean barbeque, the signature dish “bibimbap,” and an inexhaustible assortment of side dishes that were constantly refilled and often mysterious. Street food presented further opportunities for mystery and bewilderment – one especially succulent dainty came in the form of a still live & wriggling squid tentacle that would suction desperately to the cheeks and throat on its way down.

The people of Seoul dressed smartly but in plainer styles, as if they all shopped at the same department stores. Exceedingly polite and often decently versed in English, interactions by day felt slightly reserved – but by night, especially if soju had seeped into their veins, the Koreans let fly a very vibrant nightlife social scene. Introduced to Korea centuries ago by invading Mongolian hordes, soju retains its spark of chaos and reigns supreme as the alcoholic drink of choice for the nation – capturing 97% of spirits sales. It’s also an excellent weapon in one’s arsenal to reign supreme in the karaoke den…

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Factory visit to AmorePacific, a Korean cosmetics company

The nightlife scene subsided substantially as our group transitioned to Beijing, the municipal and cultural capital of China. While Shanghai may steal the show with regard to afterdark pomp & circumstance, Beijing contains not only many of China’s most important historic monuments but a strong sense of where the country stands today. Its newly upgraded metro system is fast and efficient, unusually-shaped skyscrapers decorate its skyline, the air breathes much easier than the pre-Olympic days, and a veritable shopper’s paradise greets the residents and tourists of the commercially booming city. Yet it also holds space for a more traditional generation, as well as the envelope-pushing avant-garde – artists, students, and champions of free thought have found the most expedient channels of growth and change on the streets of the capital. With a population of 23 million and growing, Beijing has a bit of everything.

As a group my fellow students and I took in as many of the city’s hallmarks as we could, touring by walk or run the large grounds of the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Behai Park, and also material attractions like the Silk Market and Wangfujing. While the immensity of the Forbidden City was impressive, my personal favorite of the city sights remains the “Nine Dragon Screen” of Behai Park – a spirit screen depicting nine dragons in relief that served to protect the ancient princes of state. Of course, no trip to Beijing could be complete without a trek to the Great Wall, so together (or rather, in a long string) we climbed to a lookout tower of a section of the Wall bordering a garrison.

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Posing on the Great Wall of China

My individual journey in Beijing took me to some of the more underground parts of Chinese culture, sects previously unknown to me. A rendezvous with a longtime friend from my days as a European expatriate deposited me squarely in the midst of the “Chinese Punk” scene, where again my long hair won me attention and allies. Later we went for refreshments with her companions to a nearby vintage shop, the owner of which (another friend) being an organizer of “vintage festivals” all over China. The shop sat nestled in an old hutong of Beijing, essentially a neighborhood of narrow alleyways and buildings constructed long ago in traditional courtyard style. We met again the following night to prepare dinner together, where we set about concocting five customary dishes for a first time houseguest. As “garlic peeler,” my task left the husky remains of no less than thirty bulbs of garlic at my feet by the time my mound of ingredients was deemed satisfactory.

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Steven’s Chinese dinner hosts

Once the graduate studies had concluded in China, I couldn’t bear to leave the country having seen Beijing alone. Luckily, the nation’s expanding network of bullet trains place many of the distant destinations within reach. A six hour ride at 300kmph brought a fellow student and me to Xi’an, the first capital of China and principal city of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Renowned for unifying the host of warlords occupying the lands that would become China, the emperor is also made famous by the remains of his Terracotta Army that accompanied him into the afterlife – over 8,000 unique figures representing his warriors, chariots, and horses, as well as non-military personages such as officials, musicians, and acrobats. Its discovery in 1974 put Xi’an on the map as a tourist destination, although its ornate palaces, pristine city walls, peculiar Muslim Quarter, and salubrious hot springs also make it an attractive site. Unfortunately, time constraints did not allow me to climb Mount Huashan, one of the five sacred mountains of China, and thus I suspect this visit to Xi’an will not be my last.

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Nor to China. International travel, especially over the course of one’s studies in higher education, serves to provide some of the most edifying experiences of a person’s life. The intangible lessons gained through journeys abroad have certainly been a boon to the formation of my character as a global citizen, and I would wish that those faced with the opportunity to travel abroad pursue it with zeal and intention. This excursion to Korea and China has furthered my knowledge of how the world and its people interact, how they exchange information, ideas, memories, and hopeful prospects, and how we are all so universally similar and dissimilar. In the unending quest to leave no stone unturned, I look forward to a future of skipping across the water.

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

More information regarding study abroad opportunities can be found on our website.

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MBA Experiences Abroad: Emily Lapp

Emily Lapp, USD MBA student, describes the three study abroad experiences she has participated in and her goals for her fourth and final study abroad trip to Shanghai during Intersession 2016.

This student has certainly taken advantage of the international opportunities we offer here at USD and will have completed 25% of her units abroad when she graduates!

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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.

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10 Must-Do Experiences in Munich

Rebecca Johnson in Munich

This past summer, Rebecca Johnson (USD MBA student) participated in the Munich & Athens study abroad program.  She took advantage of every opportunity to explore the city and experience German culture, and was kind enough to share (in her own words) her list of the top ten things to do while in Munich!

This list will be especially helpful to students interested in traveling to Munich this intersession for the international practicum course!

 

1.   Visit the Beer Gardens

The Beer Gardens are famous in Bavaria for their fun, easygoing atmosphere. The English Garden (“Englischer Garten”), one of Bavaria’s most popular gardens, is a large public park in Munich. People ride bikes, walk their dogs, lie in the grass, have picnics, swim in the water and drink beer there.

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2.   Do a Bike Tour

On a bike tour, you will experience Munich like a local! Munich is the second most bike-friendly city in Europe (behind Amsterdam). You will learn about the symbolism, customs and traditions while getting some exercise, fresh air and having some fun.

 

 

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3.   Walk around Marienplatz

This is the center of the city, where many people gather daily to shop, walk around, eat or enjoy the scenery. One of its famous forms of entertainment is the clock in the center of New Town, which has wooden figures that come out 3 times per day.

 

 

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4.   Visit the BMW Museum-

This museum gives you the opportunity to see how BMWs are made and what processes are followed to develop a vehicle to prepare it for its intricate inspections before it is released to its new owner. BMW has a long history of developing its quality vehicles. You will learn all about the history and the evolution of their cars.

 

 

5.   Take a Tour of Dachau

Dachau is 10 miles Northwest of Munich and was one of the first concentration camps established by the Nazis in Germany. This camp was intended only for political prisoners. A tour of Dachau will give you a close look into the devastating history of concentration camps in Germany under Hitler’s reign.

 

6.   Tour the Residenz Munchen

The Residenz Munchen is a palace-turned-museum which used to be the Wittelbach residence and was opened to the public in 1920. This visit will give you a glimpse into the lives of former rulers of Bavaria, including apartments, ceremonial rooms and chapels. There are also works of art and sculptures from the 16th through 19th centuries.

Munich Beer Garden

 

7.   Drink a Beer and Eat a Pretzel at an Augustiner

This is a traditional pass time for locals and tourists alike. Any local Augustiner in Bavaria will have a few varieties of beer, which are commonly paired with a snack, such as pretzels with mustard. There is often live entertainment, such as traditional German music with traditional dancing.

 

 

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8.   Wear Lederhosen or a Dirndl

Where else could you get away with wearing leather shorts with suspenders and high socks or a cute girly dress with an apron and braids? This is a fun way to accessorize while enjoying German Culture to the fullest. During Oktoberfest, this dress is commonly worn to celebrate the German way of life. It is especially fun if you plan to do some dancing!

 

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9.   Watch the River Surfers

This is something you might not believe until you see it. River surfing has been an enjoyable activity in Munich for many years. Many famous professional surfers from the U.S. and Australia have visited Munich to experience this unique form of surfing. It is a creative way these athletes are able to experience their sport even far from the ocean’s waves!

 

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10.   Eat Traditional Bavarian Food

German food is unique and delicious. You must bring an appetite, as this food is not light! Apple strudel, wiener schnitzel (thin, boneless cutlet of veal), spatzel (noodles), wurst (sausage) or bratwurst (fried sausage) are all delicious and should all be sampled while in Munich.

 

 

 

Want to read more student experiences?  Check out our Study Abroad blog page!

Visit our website for information on the upcoming Intersession 2016 Munich Practicum Program.

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The Eurozone & the Greek Crisis: Strategies for Global Innovation & Competitiveness

By Philip Sheridan, MBA student

Due to my interest in strategic planning and innovation management, I participated in the 2015 Munich & Athens study abroad program with the intent to study strategies for global innovation, and how the political, legal and ethical climate can impact a country’s corporate and economic development. Despite the improving economic climate for a number of states within the European Union (EU), the tensions created by the current Greek crisis provided a unique (possibly historical) opportunity to learn first-hand how each country’s respective business and economic environment is impacting the health of the EU.

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Plaza in Munich, Germany

The EU consists of 27 member states (countries), of which Germany is considered Europe’s economic engine, with a longstanding record of high employment and productivity. Kicking off our studies, two lecturers (Dr. Richard Hofmaier, University of Applied Sciences Munich; Alexander Lang, Tu Munchen) described how the main driving forces (~99%) behind Germany’s economy are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs; up to 500 employees), referred to as the ‘German Mittlestand’ or ‘hidden champions’. Roughly 95% of Mittlestand firms are family-owned businesses, of which >54% have launched an innovation onto the market, contributing almost 52% of Germany’s economic output within the EU (~27% of EU GDP). Dr. Hofmaier and Mr. Lang eluted to how most successful German firms (large or small) try to capture the spirit of these ’hidden champions’ to drive innovation, and integrate knowledge of consumer-demands into their innovation management and product development practices and processes.

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BMW Manufacturing World Headquarters

The innovation practices discussed by Hofmaier and Lang provided a great international context for our course studies in global innovation management, particularly as it relates to ideation, opportunity identification, option development, synthesis and analysis. Together with Dr. Zimmermann, we discussed these topics and relevant case studies used by global organizations trying to establish and sustain innovative cultures. These class discussions and experiential exercises provided great exposure to practices and contextual tools that I can leverage in my strategic planning and business development activities.

Our time in Germany culminated with site visits to the BMW Manufacturing World Headquarters, as well as the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (within the University of Applied Sciences). At BMW, we observed how a large enterprise marries customer-focused development with innovative production methods to maintain their competitive edge and increase manufacturing efficiency.

At the Strascheg Center, we learned how the German government invests resources to establish entrepreneurship programs and seed university business incubators. We had the unique experience to hear from two start-up cofounders as to the resources provided by the center to help them develop and deliver their innovative products to the market.

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Winning culinary team relaxing after the Athens Sensations Tour

Following our acclimation to Athens through a program sponsored ‘Athens Sensations Tour’, we started our studies in Greece with an orientation by Dean Nickolaos Travlos from the Athens Laboratory of Business Administration (ALBA). Dean Travlos framed out key financial events that led to Greece’s current economic crisis, which today is characterized by excessive debt (debt to GDP >170%), an over-bearing public sector (>50% public companies), non-competitive government policies (low government efficiency, 56/59), and a significant ‘black economy’ (>30%). As a result, the Greek government faces overwhelming pension obligations, extremely high unemployment (>25%; >50% for youths), a deflated private business sector (low business efficiency index, 53/59), and significant lost tax revenues due to the black economy.

Visit to Apivita, a natural cosmetics company

Of particular interest was a presentation by Prof. Babis Mainemelis (ALBA) who emphasized how Greek businesses could leverage their worldly traditions and heritage to spur innovation and differentiate its products on a global business stage. We visited Apivita, a family-owned company that specializes in using natural organic oils, plant extracts and beehive products to formulate holistic cosmetics. We toured their production facility and botanical gardens, including a hands-on experience as to the beekeeping practices used to maintain their hives for generation and collection of natural product ingredients. We also toured the Papagiannakos Winery and enjoyed a history lecture on wine in Greece by food consultant and sommelier Chrissa Giatra. It was interesting to hear how these two family businesses were leveraging their unique success in Greece to expand within the European market.

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Ancient ruins in Athens, Greece

It will be interesting to follow future economic developments within the EU. Will there be a Grexit (Greek exit from the EU)? Could this lead to a contagion where other countries (Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy) also exit rather than continue to institute painful austerity measures (such as labor and market reforms). And what global impact could such developments have on international markets and economies?

While we wait to see what the future holds for Greece and the EU, I can say that the immersive nature of the Munich & Athens program provided direct exposure to these contrasting business environments, and cultures as a whole. The team–based course content and exercises fostered collaboration between individuals from various university programs, and together with lectures by international faculty and company site visits, delivered a unique and exceptional professional learning opportunity every student should have the good fortune to experience. Lastly, it was extremely stimulating to learn about these historical cities and their overall place in the world, from an economic as well as cultural perspective. Most important, it was great fun to meet new people, expand my professional network, and establish new friendships.

 

Read these other blog posts detailing student experiences in Munich & Athens:

Experience Munich and Athens Through the Eyes of a Student

Summer Sojourn to Europe: An Academic Fortnight in Munich & Athens

What Students are Saying About Munich & Athens

 

Check back soon for more student experiences abroad!  

For more information on Ahlers Center opportunities, visit our study abroad webpage.

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The Mondragon Experience Told by a Student

By Emily Lapp, MBA Student

I signed up for the Mondragon Experience (GSBA 594 Models of Particpatory Leadership) because I wanted to study abroad and receive 3 units of credit during the summer semester. I briefly glanced at the syllabus and read things like “cooperative” and “employee ownership” and thought to myself, “Well, this ought to be interesting.”

Allison Czapracki, Tracy Zetts, Emily Lapp and Betty Trinh on the pre-trip excursion to San Sebastian

Allison Czapracki, Tracy Zetts, Emily Lapp and Betty Trinh on the pre-trip excursion to San Sebastian

As someone who currently serves in the military, I was apprehensive about the “workers cooperative” part, imagining a 1960s commune. Well, it turned out that the “workers cooperative” bit was the major part, but I was pleasantly surprised that the workers cooperative I found at Mondragon in no way resembled the workers cooperative of my imagination. I found Mondragon to be far more professional and global than I had envisioned and far more focused on technical and real-world education.

USD students visit Mondragon University's Innovation and Knowledge Center

USD students visit Mondragon University’s Innovation and Knowledge Center

After this trip, I would no longer immediately discard the suggestion of a cooperative. I do not believe everyone in America should immediately abandon their capital companies for cooperatives, but I am convinced that, in certain communities and in certain industries, cooperatives make a lot of sense. I was intrigued during one our final presentations when Mr. Michael Peck, the Mondragon North American Delegate, mentioned cooperatives might be the answer for the financially devastated coal mining communities in West Virginia. The sense of community already present there would be a fertile ground for the next step towards the solidarity offered by a cooperative.

MBA students Stephanie McQuade, Emily Lapp and Allison Czapracki at the top of Mt. Udalaitz, overlooking the town of Mondragon

MBA students Stephanie McQuade, Emily Lapp and Allison Czapracki at the top of Mt. Udalaitz, overlooking the town of Mondragon

I was most surprised by how many similarities existed between Mondragon and the Navy. The Navy, being an entity not driven by profit, is far more cooperative in nature than I realized. From the common values of a clear mission, trust and participation, I found the two organizational cultures had more in common than I would have ever expected. Yet Mondragon’s emphasis on transparency and worker participation at all levels really stood out to me and are values that I hope to implement in my naval career and personal life.

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Enjoying the beautiful view from Mondragon’s Otalora Training Center

Lastly, the opportunity to visit the Basque Country in Spain was truly a once in a lifetime experience. While technically part of Spain, the culture and landscape is so different. Spending time with the friendly and hard-working people was such a pleasure. I thoroughly enjoyed my Mondragon Experience and would highly recommend the class for anyone interested in learning more about organizational models and Basque culture.

To read more about the Basque Country click here.

What about you? Have you been to Mondragón? What did you think of it?

Company visit to Apivita, a natural cosmetics company outside of Athens, Greece.

What Students are Saying About Studying Abroad in Munich and Athens!

“The summer study abroad program in Munich and Athens was incredible because it brought what we were studying to life. The European Union is currently in the midst of an incredibly trying time and to actually be there, on the ground gave a real life perspective and dynamic we couldn¹t possibly get while at home in the U.S. I left Germany and Greece with a hands-on experience that not only brought many of the subjects in my coursework to life, but also that I will cherish as a move forward in my future career.” ~ Jaqueline Rodrigues, JD/MBA Student, about her experience in the Munich & Athens program 2015.

“My experiences abroad have enriched my understanding of cultural, language, and business aspects related to my studies to earn my Masters of Science in Global Leadership through the Business School at the University of San Diego. It is one thing to study international comparative leadership, as well as global policies, but it is an entirely different exposure when immersed with the people and their cultures for yourself–it is something that has highlighted my time earning my graduate degree at USD, and remains some of the fondest memories and robust learning experiences of my academic career!” ~ Allison Cameron, MSGL Student, about her experience in the Munich & Athens program 2015.

“The USD study abroad program in Munich/Athens allowed us to hear descriptions and perspectives on the Greek Financial Crisis directly from both German and Greek business leaders. It was a timely and insightful experience that I wish everyone could have experienced.” “While preparing to study for the Munich/Athens program, a handful of us decided to travel to Istanbul, Prague, and Salzburg. We had an opportunity to see so many places and combined academics, history and pleasure quite nicely to start our summer.” ~ Ivan Reed, MBA Student, about his experience in the Munich & Athens program 2015.

“Study abroad was an enriching experience that helped me understand how deep cultures can run, and how it influences business behaviors. The juxtaposition witnessed between entrepreneurial German companies and family owned Greek companies, opened my eyes and made me think about the benefits and necessity of diversity in the business world. Although different cultures and business strategies, both were successful, utilized their strengths and remain unconnected by the global economy.” Danielle Robles, MSGL Student, about her experience in the Munich & Athens program 2015.

Still not sure if the Munich & Athens program is the right program for you? Read the blog posts below for more relevant information on this study abroad experience:

Experience Munich and Athens Through the Eyes of a Student

Summer Sojourn to Europe: An Academic Fortnight in Munich & Athens

Munich:Athens SU15, Cummings

Summer Sojourn to Europe: An Academic Fortnight in Munich & Athens

Written by MSGL student Steven Cummings, a participant in the Summer 2015 Munich & Athens program abroad.

Lessons for International Travel:

Lesson #1: Never freak out – go with the flow – there’s almost always a solution.

May 21st: I begin my adventure abroad with the incidental necessity of hitchhiking to LAX. On a shoestringer student budget, I elected to take an “indirect” flight path to arrive in Munich, our program’s first location, and already it was off to a rocky start. The surfliner train bound to deliver me to downtown LA, where I would catch a bus to the airport, gave notice of its cancellation within two minutes of its scheduled arrival. As luck would have it, I’d barely stuck out my thumb when a kindly yogi hailing from Encinitas saw fit to pick me up and deliver me within easy reach of my port of departure.

My connections in London and Zurich brought me eventually to reach Bavaria in time for our first program rendezvous, a bike tour of Munich. We gathered what culture we could from the Australians leading the tour, who had great insights as to the local biergartens, and began our more serious undertakings the next day at the FOM – a private university of fine reputation.  Our week’s study in Munich brought us into contact with German students and professors, as well as some local industry of typical German fastidiousness – notably the BMW factory. Our dialogues and discussions brought to bear the present status of the nation in terms of economics, business and entrepreneurial atmosphere, and its presence in the EU. Many students noted the emphasis on cleanliness, efficiency, and productive mentality of Munich and its citizens, and contemplated how this might give contrast to expectations we had for our impending trip to Athens.

Steven Cummings, Dr. Dimon, and Dr. Zocco at BMW tour in Munich.

Steven Cummings, Dr. Dimon, and Dr. Zocco at BMW museum in Munich.

Our suspicions were correct, for upon arriving to Greece’s capital we could immediately feel the change in environment from Germany’s conservative epicenter. But in addition to the relative disorder of Athenian business and daily life came the Mediterranean openness of its people, and engagement with locals proved a constant stream in comparison to the rather reserved stance we had experienced the previous week. Our daily classes in the Athenian Laboratory of Business Administration began with a terrific series of lectures by the dean and another professor, delving deeply into the roots, status, and future of the Greek Crisis. This topic had been a primary point of focus for our class, with preludes in America and Germany, so the week’s address of the crisis proved quite interesting. Having “boots on ground” in Athens also helped put things in perspective and will greatly aid the course of our class’s final presentation on the subject.

Munich:Athens SU14, Cummings 2

In front of the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens

 

Lesson #2: Always participate! Interact, engage, and breach the comfort zone.

What assisted me further in this regard were the conversations I found when interacting with the Greeks themselves, both in Athens and in the subsequent places I visited in Greece after the conclusion of our program. These interactions shaped my understanding of the business environment equally as much as the lectures given in Munich and Athens. Therein lies the value of the study abroad pursuits; the itinerary of the program does not hold the edification, but the framework itself. Visiting the environment first hand, discussing it with the people who give its substance, evaluating current issues in and among the people to whom they directly apply. As a USD student, born and raised in America, now experiencing academic, economic, and quotidian cultural lenses of another sphere of civil society, the inherent duties accompanying said opportunity are to raise levels of awareness, absorb distinctions and similarities, and return home with the intention to share the collected extractions to those in America who would find benefit from a more globally minded view of the world.

Company visit to Apivita, a natural cosmetics company in Athens.

Apivita, Mun:Ath SU15, Cummings

 

Lesson #3: Maximize the experience.

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MBA and MSGL students mingling in Athens – Acropolis in the background.

Time and money. Usually the international traveler has one or the other but rarely both. Fortunately as the “globe-trotting global citizen” gains proficiency it becomes easier to adopt a “more for less” attitude with either or both of the given dimensions. Studying abroad can be expensive, but it’s certainly an achievable and worthwhile aim. To further ameliorate costs of this venture, I utilized resources like couch-surfing and hostels to reduce accommodation costs as well as public transportation vs. taxis or other convenience conveyances whenever possible. In fact, some of my most developmental experiences came through interactions with my local couch-surfing hosts who were living the lives we viewed through scholastic observance. I’m very grateful for the Ahlers Scholarship that helped launch me on this voyage, and hope the Toreros and the nation receives benefit from the more globally conscious students programs of this nature are designed to produce.

June 6th: The university program has ended, but all work and no play is not one of the lessons! Onward to Ikaria, an “off the beaten path” island where Ikarus fell from the sky, to camp and mingle and attempt the famous nine-step Ikarian spiral dance of the Panigiri!

 

Check back soon for more student experiences abroad!  

For more information on Ahlers Center opportunities, visit our study abroad webpage.