Category Archives: Study Abroad

Shanghai Skyline

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.

 

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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.

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10 Must-Do’s in Tokyo

Acerney Yu studied abroad in Tokyo, Japan during spring break and gave her knowledgable suggestions on the best places to both visit and see! Enjoy!

1. Meiji Jingu (Shrine)
Located in Shibuya, Tokyo, Meiji Jingu is the Shindo Shrine, a symbol of the Japanese spirit. The Japanese go to Meiji Jingu in January in order to give a blessing for the following year. If you are lucky, you may see the traditional wedding holding in Meiji Jingu. Surrounded by many trees, Meiji Jingu is a forest in the middle of the busy concrete jungle that is Tokyo. You will be able to enjoy a sense of tranquility and peacefulness in Meiji Jingu.

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2. Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest building in Japan. Just built in 2012, it has become the new symbol of Tokyo. There are 360 degree views of Tokyo from the top of the building, providing great opportunities for pictures both during the daytime  and nighttime.

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3. Tsukiji Market and Sushi
Tsukiji Market is a fish market with many sushi restaurants serving really yummy and fresh fish. There is also a fish auction that occurs around 3am most mornings. You definitely must try the sushi and sashimi, as it is some of the best in Tokyo!

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4. Akihabara
Akihabara is famous for its animation-related products and themed restaurants, such as maid-cafés. This sub-culture plays an important role in current Japanese life.

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5. Sensō-ji (Temple)
Sensō-ji is located in Asakusa. It is the oldest temple in Tokyo. The Nakamise-dōri, a street on the walk to the temple, contains many shops that sell traditional Japanese food and souvenirs. The length of the street is approximately 250 meters and contains around 89 shops. Sensō-ji is also famous for Tokyo’s largest and most popular festival, Sanja Matsuri.

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6. Shibuya
The most famous district in Tokyo. The crossing is one of the busiest in the world. There are many department stores that carry the latest fashionable goods, as well as delicate Japanese products.

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7. Tokyo Station
Tokyo Station is a railway station in the Marunouchi business district of Chiyoda, Tokyo. It is one of the busiest stations in Japan. It serves 14 lines, including several Shinkansen (Japanese high-speed rail lines). Tokyo Station is very beautiful, and there many good restaurants and shops (Ekinaka) in the station.

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8. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the largest parks in Tokyo. It was originally a residence of the Naitō family during the Edo period. There are traditional Japanese tea houses throughout the gardens and the park itself is very famous for its cherry blossoms that bloom in the springtime.

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9. Ichiran Ramen
Ichiran Ramen is a Japanese ramen chain from Fukuoka. What makes Ichiran Ramen so special is that you can customize your own ramen by choosing the flavor strength, richness of the soup, the noodle texture, etc.

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10. Kaiseki ryōri
Kaiseki ryōri is the traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. It contains many different dishes which allows you to enjoy several different tastes of Japanese food, all at the same time!

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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.

Je T’aime Paris: A Localized Experience in the City of Love

Erin Smith enjoyed her first time abroad in a multitude of different countries, however, this article portrays one of her favorite experiences from her program that took place in Paris.

To say that the London, Paris, Rome Program for MACC students was life changing would be an understatement. In the past two weeks, my eyes have been opened to three different cultures and business practices. Never would I have imagined one trip to a foreign country would change my perspective and worldview in such a short period of time. There are so many good things I could say about the program and the cities, but to save you from the pages I could write about my experience, I’ll focus on my experience in Paris.

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Paris captured my heart from the moment I stepped onto the train platform and into the city. Luckily, my friend Henri, who lives in Paris but attends college in the States, happened to be home for the summer and was in the city at the same time as me! Along with my friend Sabrina, we spent the afternoon and night exploring the city, avoiding the main tourist locations you would first expect to visit in Paris. Henri took us to the local spots that only true Parisians would know about. We went to Sacre-Cour, which, yes, is a tourist spot, but rather than just view the Church and leave, we spent a good hour or two hanging out with the locals on the lawn.

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Sabrina, Erin, and Henri on the lawn of the Sacre-Cour and Montmarte

The locals congregate after long days on the lawns of Sacre-Cour and Montmarte to socialize and relax with beautiful views of the city. Hearing about the French locals day-to-day lives was a cultural experience unlike any other. Since this trip was my first time being outside of the States, I never realized that different countries practiced different routines and placed values on different aspects of life. Talking to the locals was very eye-opening for me personally because it taught me there is more to life than work, technology, and money. Life is about the simple pleasures, the little moments that bring a smile to your face. There is so much more out there in the world if you’re open to see it, and those two hours on the lawn of Sacre-Cour gave me valuable life lessons that I will not be able to forget anytime soon.

 

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Foie Gras (Duck liver)

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Escargot

After time well spent in Montmarte, Henri took us to a local café where none of the workers spoke English, so thankfully he was there to translate! We tried typical French dishes, such as Escargot and Foie Gras (duck liver). To be honest, I did not think I was going to try either of them, until I was in the moment. They were actually really tasty! My first day in Paris was one for the books, and I feel so blessed to have seen a local snapshot of life, rather than going to the tourist locations right away. I already felt connected to the city in numerous ways, and it was saddening to have to leave after only 4 days. Paris was truly an enigmatic city and a place where I was able to experience little moments that I will carry within my heart forever.

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-See Attractions in Buenos Aires

MBA Student Xiaoyu (Grace) Pu recently participated in the Buenos Aires study abroad program. She took advantage of every opportunity to explore the city and experience the Argentinean culture, and was kind enough to share her list of the top 10 places to visit while in Buenos Aires:

1- La Recoleta Cemetery 

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La Recoleta Cemetery is a cemetery located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It contains the graves of very notable people, including Eva Peron (the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952), and a granddaughter of the French conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries, and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

2- La Boca

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La Boca is a wonderfully colorful neighborhood right next to the old port of Buenos Aires. Its multi-colored houses and taverns maintains the community’s tango tradition, football passion, and Italian roots.

3- La Casa Rosada

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La Casa Rosada is the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina. The characteristic color of the Casa Rosada is baby pink, and is considered one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires. The building also houses a museum, which contains significant objects relating to former presidents of Argentina. If you have seen Madonna’s movie, “Evita,” you don’t want to miss the La Casa Rosada.

4- Calle Florida 

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Calle Florida (Florida Street) is an elegant shopping street in Downtown Buenos Aires. It is one of the city’s leading tourist attractions. In the evening, the pace is invigorated as street performers flock to the area, including tango singers and dancers, living statues, and comedy acts. Its variety of retail stores, shopping arcades and restaurants is of great interest to foreign tourists and business travelers.

5- Palermo

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Palermo is a vibrant neighborhood located in the northeast of the city. The neighborhood’s walls are covered with paintings. Containing various boutique stores and bars, it is now the hottest place for the young generations to explore.

6- Señor Tango

IMG_1259 This traditional Tango show takes place in the old community, Barracas. The performance utilizes cutting-edge technology, displaying a monumentally entertaining array of light, color and sound. Forty artists and performers will offer you the best of traditional Tango. The central theme of Opera Rock Evita will surely get to your heart.

7- Recoleta

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A classy residential and commercial district complete with French-style buildings and art nouveau constructions, Recoleta is one of the most expensive and elegant neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and amongst the most popular for tourists. Its central square, Plaza Francia, is surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and other touristic landmarks like the Del Pilar Church, the Palais de Glace and the University of Buenos Aires Law Faculty; alongside the plaza stands the famous Floralis Genérica – an immense steel statue in the shape of a flower, whose petals open and close depending on the time of the day.

8- Don Julio Restaurant

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Don Julio is a very famous restaurant in Palermo. Here, I had the best steak ever in my life. The building’s origin dates back to the 19th century, with the interior walls lined with empty wine bottles, converting the rustic space into a welcoming wine sanctuary. Diners from around the world leave their personal mark signing the labels of the great Argentine wines with handwritten messages. Check out our USD MBA wine bottle!

9- Makena Cantina 

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Makena Cantina is a club that houses a live band. The bar is built on three levels – the ground floor for dancing, the first-floor balcony for relaxing and socializing, and the stage on a mezzanine for anything in between. Sunday night is the regular gig for the band, “Afro Mama Jams.” These guys are a soul/funk/R&B/hip-hop collective, with a core of regulars and many guests musicians. On the whole, they are fantastically talented.

10- Slums

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If you didn’t visit the slums, you couldn’t say you have visited Buenos Aires. After seeing all of the fun places, it is essential to see the depressing side of the city as well. These settlements consist of small houses or shacks made of tin, wood and other scrap material. There’s no sanitation system, though there may be water pipes passing through the settlement. Electric power is sometimes illegally taken directly from the grid, which are perforce accepted by suppliers. Go see the slums, it will make you cherish more what you have.

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

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

Emily Lapp visits the canals of Zhujiajiao, a water town near Shanghai.

International Practicum: iPai in Shanghai

MBA student Emily Lapp recently traveled to Shanghai, China for an international consulting practicum. These are her reflections:

MBA students burn incense at a temple in Zhujiajiao

MBA students burn incense at a temple in Zhujiajiao

“Just prior to my final semester in the University of San Diego’s MBA program, I decided to participate in an international consulting practicum during the 2016 intercessional period. On New Year’s Eve, I boarded a plane and, 13 hours later, touched down to greet the new year in a new country: China. An often discussed but frequently misunderstood country, China is primarily known for being heavily populated (almost 1.4 billion people) and a chief export partner to the United States; many products sold here in the US are produced within China. Yet, most Americans have never been to China and lack firsthand experience of the country. While studying the history and culture of a country can improve one’s understanding, there is little that can compare to firsthand experience. Given China’s significance as a growing nation with an ever increasing role in global business, I decided a trip to China would significantly aide in my understanding of global business by exposing me to both daily life and business in China.

MBA students attended the first auction held in iPai’s new office in Shanghai.

MBA students attended the first auction held in iPai’s new office in Shanghai

The company selected for the China practicum consulting project was “iPai,” an American-owned auction company in Shanghai. Our group was divided into two teams and assigned topics. My team’s job was to identify opportunities for improvement in the company’s organizational structure and work flow processes. While our professor was on-site to oversee the project and provide valuable feedback, we were entrusted to set meetings with the client, organize our efforts and ultimately, decide what recommendations would best assist our client. The project was much more open-ended than a typical MBA assignment and the timeline much more condensed. Not only did my team have to take care to accurately assess the company’s current situation and ensure we effectively communicated with our client to understand their desired outcome, but we also had to quickly assess the strengths of each team member while making time critical decisions as to how best to tackle the workload. Being in a foreign country, far away from the normal resources of USD and working for clients whose Chinese employees spoke little English, added to the project’s complexity. In the process, I learned a great deal about cultural norms in China, particularly related to organizational structure, and took away many tips for doing business in China. In the evenings, after a long day of work, our team was able to get out and enjoy the wonder that is the city of Shanghai.

MBA students and faculty visit the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai on a city tour

MBA students and faculty visit the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai on a city tour

After an intense ten days of working on the project, it was time for our final presentation to the client. I was eager to share our team’s hard work and, after the presentation concluded, felt a great sense of satisfaction. I knew our work for iPai was not just academic in nature, but would actually be used to further develop and grow the company. I truly enjoyed putting the skills I’ve learned during the past two years of my MBA program to great use for a company. I found the entire international practicum experience to be incredible. I know for a fact that it has greatly contributed to my personal understanding of the world and further enhanced my global mindset. I highly recommend an international practicum to all MBA students. I can promise that you will not regret it!”

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

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

Marketing Practicum: Developing Strategies to Target Brazilian consumers in Munich, Germany

 

Christine Franz recently traveled to Munich, Germany and completed a practicum that allowed her to experience how the company Webasto targets its Brazilian’s consumers, in regards to selling sunroof’s, by conducting market research on its consumers wants and needs.

“I had such an educational and rewarding experience doing my practicum in Munich, Germany with my team (pictured to the right). I was able to interact with local professionals and help them fulfill their needs in a very short time period. Webasto, a global company that creates sun roof’s for the automotive industry, provided me with an amazing experience and I learned soimage014 much about marketing, through the project my team and I participated in. The project involved developing localized marketing strategies, as well as conducting market research on the Brazilian car market and its consumers. Not only did I have to understand how business is currently being performed in Webasto’s Munich headquarters, I also had to understand how the Brazilian market functions and the needs of the consumer’s in the company’s target market. It was very beneficial to have a Brazilian student on the team and she proved to be such a valuable asset, as she was able to share her first hand knowledge about Brazilian’s perceptions of sunroof’s today.

image012           Although my team and I were kept busy working on the project, we were still able to enjoy the city of Munich. My favorite past time on the trip included climbing the 300+ steps to the top of St. Peter’s Church, which displayed a panorama of the whole city, including picturesque views of the snow covered Alps (view pictured above). The picture showcases the Frauenkirche on the left, with the two domed towers, as well as the Marienplatz and Rathaus located in the center. Munich is full of so much history and culture; it is revealed everywhere you go. I even had a chance to visit the beautiful Schloss Nymphenburg right before the start of the practicum – a site that is definitely worth visiting! On our group walking tour, we made a stop at the most famous of the beer gardens in the city, Hofbräuhaus.  

I am so happy to have been able to experience Munich, as well as gain more pertinent knowledge in my field of interest through the practicum.  I believe it has helped me to expand my global mindset by giving me a broad overview of what I want to pursue in my future career. I look forward to gaining more valuable experiences in next year’s practicum.”

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Pictured: The whole group in the main upstairs hall in the Hofbräuhaus.

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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Unraveling the Complexities of Global Real Estate

Written by Mark Ambrose.

The MSRE 509 Capital Markets course in Hong Kong has been a valuable and unforgettable experience. The content of this class was directly aligned with my primary reasons for joining the master’s program, was delivered in a setting that helped broaden my perspective, and encouraged me to think big. I want to pursue a master’s degree in real estate because I want a better understanding of the interaction between various real estate market components. I also wish to attain an understanding of the financial aspects of real estate projects and investment decision-making. The Capital Markets course directly addressed my interests.

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Prior to this course, my knowledge of investment capital structure was somewhat limited to small syndicates, smaller projects and traditional (simple) organizations of debt and equity. As the size and scope of real estate investment grows, so does the daunting complexity. The knowledge gained through this course gave me the ability to work on larger commercial real estate projects upon my return. I studied the specific characteristics and construction of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS), mechanisms that are absolutely critical to the organization and financing of larger, more expensive real state projects. Learning about capital structures and sources has helped me unravel the bigger picture of how different types of investors—from life insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds, all the way down to individual investors—participate in large scale real estate investments. Now, I have the foundational knowledge and perspectives of how the pieces of large-scale investment come together and interact, allowing me to move beyond and potentially work on the large institutional investment level.

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Taking this course in the Hong Kong setting was very influential. It is an incredible city that displays unique real estate market characteristics and a cultural fusion of Eastern and Western business systems. It was fascinating to explore a city that reflects the might of the Chinese economy as well as the freedom and variety of Western capitalist elements. The density and organization of the city was appealing; I came away from this Hong Kong trip believing there are many lessons that should influence urban growth in America, specifically, smart density and transportation. I lived in San Francisco for five years and it was incredible to compare San Francisco as a city to the vibrancy and efficiency of Hong Kong, which has essentially the same geographical size but more than seven times the population. It was honestly an embarrassing contrast riding the Bay Area Rapid Transit system upon my return, after enjoying the perfection of Hong Kong’s MTR system everyday for two weeks.

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One of my favorite parts of the course was the guest lecture by Tony Lam of Delta International LTD. Tony, born in Hong Kong and educated in the US, is a real estate professional with a valuation background. Tony helped emphasize the global nature of real estate investment by telling us about his employer’s multi-national operations in America and elsewhere. After his lecture, I exchanged emails with Tony, striking up a relationship with him that I hope to maintain. It became clear that there is a possibility for collaboration between us in the future. This was an exciting and unexpected development from taking this class in Hong Kong.

My global mindset was greatly enhanced by the experience of taking this course in Hong Kong. Globalization will only accelerate into the future and this course helped me to think of US real estate as a global investment product. Foreign investment in American real estate is already widespread but I expect this participation to continue expanding in scope, and I am excited to have the knowledge to contribute and personally partake in this evolution.

Ambrose1Overall, it is difficult to fully quantify the benefits of this intersession experience. It was a wonderful professional and cultural immersion. It was illuminating to be in one of the world’s greatest cities and to learn about some of the more difficult aspects of real estate. One of my greatest hopes in pursuing this master’s degree is to get a handle on the most complex financial elements of real estate. This course certainly delivered in this area. I found it empowering to learn about the highly detailed landscape of real estate capital in such a unique location. I am no longer intimidated by high finance as it relates to real estate, and I found Hong Kong as a very inspiring destination because I could actually feel the economic might of growth, progress and globalization.

I am truly glad I decided to go on this trip as part of my MSRE experience. I am deeply grateful to the Ahler’s Center for organizing it. I extend my sincerest gratitude for all the help and support. Thank you.

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

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

George Zuniga

Pushing the Limits of International Strategy and Management in Argentina

Written by George Zuniga

The International Strategy and Management study abroad program tremendously increased my knowledge of strategic planning, development of global analyses, and strategic problem solving. I found that the assigned readings and case studies chosen for the course were relevant and fit well into the class that was mainly focused on globalization. I particularly enjoyed the Cemex case, which provided an excellent example of strategic planning. It stressed the importance of communication, culture, and innovation in strategic planning. Because of its innovative integration process, the company successfully acquired other organizations. After acquisition, post merger integration (PMI) teams were formed to improve the efficiency of the new operation. Teams were made to help adapt the companies to Cemex’s standards and culture. The integration process involved 3 steps: harmonization of cultural beliefs, improvement of plant situation, and the sharing of basic management principles.

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The course also examined the case of Wal-Mart’s downfall in Germany. This case was extremely helpful in the development of my global analysis skills. Wal-Mart wanted to continue its globalization process with the entry into the European retail marketplace. Germany seemed like the perfect fit as they boast the largest retail economy within Europe. Wal-Mart failed to gain success in the German marketplace because it failed to do a thorough analysis of the marketplace. Wal-Mart instead chose to use the same strategy that worked so well in the United States. It missed that fact that other companies had failed because of tough Zoning laws, labor union issues, store hour restrictions, customer preferences, supplier issues, and fierce competition. This particular case was useful in assisting me with other coursework that involve globalization analysis.

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Lastly, I found that the Dell case increased my knowledge of the process of strategic problem solving. Dell changed the traditional distribution systems of the PC industry, which had been an indirect model, referred to as, “The Channel.” Dell operated as a pioneer in the “configure to order” approach in manufacturing, delivering individual PC configured to customers specifications. This strategic problems solving helped Dell get closer to its customers, created lower inventory, and allowed for just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing. In this case, I learned how strategic problem solving can make a company very successful.

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The International Strategy and Management study abroad program has had a life changing effect on me. A common theme that I gained from each of the guest speakers we encountered in Argentina was a willingness to take RISKS. I absolutely loved the story of Pablo Belocopitow, the CFO for Wal-Mart, Argentina. Pablo was working for a successful company in Argentina when he decided to take a risk that most people would never dare to take. He took a gigantic risk by leaving a great job and moving his family from Argentina to San Diego, California in the US to earn an MBA. He chose the University of San Diego as his learning institution. But Pablo didn’t stop there; he later accepted a job with Wal-Mart and moved to Bentonville, Arkansas. I admired his willing to push the limits of his confront zones. After a few years in Bentonville, Wal-Mart decided to send him to Japan. Once again, he moves his family to a very strange and foreign place. His continuous success with Wal-Mart was finally rewarded when they sent him back to Argentina to become the CFO of Wal-Mart Argentina. His story gave me inspiration to take risks in my own life. I decided to pursue my own dreams of working in the Human Resource field where I have always felt I would be at my best. I am currently on my second interview for an HR position with a technology company. Going to Argentina has given me the confidence to take risk and push the envelope of my comfort zone.

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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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.

Jon HK 2

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.

Jon HK 3

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.”

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