Category Archives: Travel Guides

San Diego Must-Do’s

For our international exchange students, visiting researchers, and anyone who is looking to explore San Diego’s main attractions, here is a list of a few things to do in America’s Finest City! For a more comprehensive guide to what San Diego’s neighborhoods have to offer, please see TripHappy’s Where to Stay in San Diego.

  1. The Beaches:

San Diego’s beaches personalize the lifestyle of local residents. If you are looking for a place to relax and watch local surfers catch powerful waves visit Windansea Beach in La Jolla.

Windansea Beach in La Jolla

For a real Southern California (So-Cal) feel, take a walk at Pacific Beach’s boardwalk and watch locals ride their bikes, skateboards, and roller blades right in front of the beach. P.B. (as the locals call it) is also where College students and young adults live the California Dream – the neighborhood offers a variety of night attractions that go beyond the miles of its sandy beach.

Pacific Beach Boardwalk

Nightlife in Pacific Beach

 

2. Fish Tacos

While in San Diego you must try fish tacos – a local favorite! Pretty much every restaurant in San Diego offers fish tacos on their menu. To try local’s favorite fish taco spot head to Oscar’s in North PB (http://oscarsmexicanseafood.com/).

For a taste of the very first restaurant that brought fish tacos from Baja California to this side of the border go to Rubio’s and order their Fish Taco Especial.  Rubio’s opened their first store in 1983. They have now more than 200 restaurants in 5 states and have served over 160,000,000 fish tacos. (http://www.rubios.com/menu/)

Local tip: You can buy fish tacos for $0.99 – $2.00 on ‘Taco Tuesdays”.

 

3. La Jolla

La Jolla is the jewel of America’s finest city (as San Diego is known). It has wonderful beaches, great restaurants and outdoor activities.

La Jolla

You can spend the day snorkeling, swimming and kayaking at La Jolla cove; you can go for a walk at La Jolla Children’s Pool (as the seals beach is officially called) and watch the wild seals play; you can have dinner is beautiful fine dining restaurants that have the most astonishing view of the ocean.

La Jolla Children's Beach

For La Jolla restaurant tips click here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g32578-La_Jolla_San_Diego_California.html

 

4. Old Town San Diego

Located only a few blocks from our University, Old Town San Diego is the birthplace of California, where the first Europeans settled. This historic neighborhood, which includes many historic buildings from the 1800s, is the perfect place to enjoy some Mexican food and explore many Mexican handcraft shops and museums.

Shops in Old Town San Diego

Old Town Fun Facts:

  • San Diego’s first newspaper office is located here
  • Old Town offers an evening ghost tour every night (click here for more info)
  • According to California State Parks, Old Town was the most visited park in California during 2005 & 2006

 

5. Balboa Park and Museums

Balboa Park San Diego

Balboa Park is an urban cultural park that is among the main attractions in San Diego. It has natural vegetation zones, gardens, and walking paths as well as more than 17 museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo (biggest Zoo in the world).

Must See Gardens:

  • Japanese Friendship Garden – An expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city Yokohama
  • Botanical Building  – largest wood lath structure in the world when it was built in 1915 and home to 2,100 permanent tropical plant specimens.
  • Desert Garden – 2.5 acres of succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world

Must See Museums in Balboa Park:

  •  San Diego Natural History Museum
  • Centro Cultural de la Raza – Preserves Mexican, chicano and indigenous art and culture.
  • Museum of Man – Anthropology museum

For more information on Balboa Park museums, gardens, and etc.  click here.

 

6. Gaslamp Quarter

At the heart of downtown San Diego, the historic Gaslamp Quarter combines Victorian charm with urban living to create a lively dining and shopping district. This area that used to be home to San Diego’s “red light” district in the 1800s has been revitalized in recent decades, and is now home to more than 100 restaurants, 40 bars and clubs and over 100 shops.

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego’s Gaslamp quarter is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for dining, dancing or simply people watching.

We hope you enjoy your stay in San Diego!

Business Environment in Spain, Portugal, and China – Angel Wu

Angel (Shengdi) Wu made the journey to Lisbon and Madrid, experiencing a contrast of Portuguese and Spanish business etiquette to that of her native country, China. Please enjoy reading her perspectives on European and Chinese cultural practices, and how to have cultural-awareness while conducting international business.

Time flies, two weeks’ intersession in Europe passed quickly in the blink of an eye. My overall impression on Europe is complicated. I was completely absorbed in the rich culture, accumulated through the long development of the civilization. We visited art centers, img_0238witnessed the perfectly reserved architectures from the last two centuries, watched various classical concerts such as Flamenco in Spain and Fado in Portugal, and tested various authentic European food and drinks such as Sangria, wines and fresh-made breads with garlic shrimps. However, on the other hand, I was a little disappointed by the current economic statues of the European union countries. Once dominated the sea and colonized many countries around the world to acquire a great deal of fortunes, Spain and Portugal today are no longer prosperous as before and struggling to get out of the economic crisis.

In terms of culture and business differences between China and Europe, the most important element that China and Europe share in common is the long historical development. Both China and Europe entered their respective first golden age at about the same time: 500 BC. However, European culture heritages, including ancient castles and old antiques, are better preserved img_0564than the Chinese counterparts, as both the civil wars and the world wars destroyed lots of historical sites in China. As a result, on the whole, the modern facilities such as elevators in buildings are more spread in China than European countries. A single writing language and a 90% Han-nationality dominated population shaped roughly homogenous cultural traditions in China, while multiple languages and varieties of populations created different culture traditions among European countries. The differences could also be traced to the concept of family. For instance, Chinese view the benefits of the whole family over individuals so that an individual has his duty for the family. Europeans focus more on an individual’s freedoms and rights. Although we could feel the socialism influence in both continents, Europeans enjoy much higher benefits from their governments while Chinese do not.

img_0433When it comes to business, Europeans focus more on the technology and quality, such as some famous luxurious brands – Gucci, Louise Vuitton, BMW cars and so on. Chinese place greater importance on cutting costs, which inevitably harms the quality. However, both Europe and China are complimentary to each other from the market angle. China has huge market potential and production capacities, while Europe has advanced technologies that could be more quickly applied in China. Europe could conquer the Chinese market more quickly by transferring new technologies to China and setting up local production.

 

Another noteworthy fact is that China is thriving thanks to the fall of communism and the rise of img_0327the capitalism. Europe is falling thanks to the rise of socialism and the fall of capitalism with no easy way out. The rigid, inefficient labor market, in most European union countries, has become probably the largest stumbling block to development of the economies within the European Union. For instance, in the United States, a company in decline could lay off its employees according to its needs without any compensation. While in Europe, the rigid labor law made it even unaffordable for a company to fire a permanent employee. In China, employees laid off by a company are compensated to some extent. As a result, in many European countries, a vicious circle happens as permanent workers in a company might look forward to being fired, and thus companies operating in Europe tend to hire more temporary workers instead. The astonishing unemployment rate at as high as 30 percent makes people question whether it is really beneficial for the economic development of a country to join the European Union.

img_9962To do business in Portugal, some business etiquettes should be kept in mind. Don’t ask about a person’s background or age or exaggerate your gestures. As for punctuality, it is common to be late. For instance, arriving 10 minutes late for a meeting is ok. You will need to make a call if you will be late by more than 20 minutes or request to reschedule the meeting after 30 minutes. Portuguese people are very friendly and sincere about what they say. As is the case with China, personal relationships are very important in business, and people prefer to do business with someone they trust. Thus, it is advisable to seek a mutual contact and build up some credibility with Portuguese businessmen before starting to negotiate with them, a practice shared by Spanish businessmen as well.

In Spain, sufficient time should be allowed to get to know your partners well before any negotiation as a sound relationship is an integral part of successful business negotiation. For instance, before the formalities of meeting, you should spend some time discussing some general informal subjects, such as the weather, family or traveling arrangements. It is really important to follow up with the completion of a business deal and reinforce personal relationships. It is acceptable to invite business partners in Spain to some informal social gatherings. In general, Spanish people value their families, personal relationship and cultural traditions. They enjoy leisure activities to the fullest. Business dress code is very important in Spain as Spanish people will perceive one’s appearance as indication of professional achievement and relative social standing. It is advisable to address with elegance, especially for a dinner. Many high-quality restaurants have a formal dress code. Unless you are a tourist over there, you should always avoid shorts or slippers. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that some rules about giving gifts during business meetings. Spanish people don’t usually give gifts to each other, while inexpensive gifts could be allowed at the end of a success negotiation. Corporate gifts or books are welcome gifts. It is important to know that Spanish people are brand and quality conscious, so high quality items are preferred.img_0440

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

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

10 Must-Do’s in Madrid

During May and June of 2016, USD afforded students from the MBA and MSGL programs the opportunity to study abroad in Lisboa, Portugal and Madrid, España. Both cities were absolutely breathtaking and are highly recommended destinations. In Madrid, there are 10 Must-Do’s that left a lasting impression on me and will enhance your culture experience:

  1. Watch a soccer (fútbol) game with the locals. Soccer, or fútbol, is like a religion in Europe. If one really wants to get immersed in the culture, find a local pub, and enjoy the festivities. Some of the best soccer in the world is played in Spain, as Spain won the World Cup in 2010, and Real Madrid won the Champions League Championships in 2016. Puerto del sol has great restaurants to enjoy the games!
    2. Plaza de Cibeles
  2. After the match. Spaniards are very passionate people. When something good happens, everybody gets together in the streets and celebrates. If there’s a concert, soccer game, or national holiday, Plaza de Cibeles is a great location where everybody conglomerates to rejoice in the moment. It’s an amazing cultural experience, and the atmosphere cannot be replicated.
  3. Flamenco. The performance originates from Spain. The presentation involves singing, guitar, dance, and more. It is a classy experience, and one really gains an appreciation for the talent, fitness, and rehearsal that these performers undergo in preparing themselves for the performance. A great venue for this is Corral de la Moreria.
    4. Plaza del Callao
  4. Reach out! Had one asked me at the time if I knew anybody in Madrid, I would have said no. However after passing the word along, my friend’s, friend’s, brother, from Zamora was in Madrid at the time. Reach out to your friends, find some local connections, and hang out in a few of the local spots. There are great local spots around Plaza del Callao.
    5. Viejo Madrid
  5. Tapas. Tapas are a wide variety of snacks, or appetizers, of Spanish cuisine. These are edibles that are synonymous with Spanish culture. There is lots of finger food that can be served both hot and cold. A great restaurant for tapas is Viejo Madrid – highly recommended.
    6. La Paella Real
  6. Paella. Paella is a type of food that’s unique to Spain. It’s a rice dish that originates from Valencia. There are many different types of paella which one could have to include vegetarian, seafood, mixed, and more – and goes great with tapas. La Paella Real is a great location with well-recommended Paella should one have a hankering for some good Spanish ham.
    7. Restaurante Alabaster
  7. Iberico Ham. This tapa is so good that it gets its own caption. Cured from the black Iberian pig, found only in Portugal and Spain, it’s the best I’ve ever had. Restaurante Alabaster had the best!
    8. La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo, Las Ventas
  8. Bullfighting. This bloodsport is strongly tied to Spanish culture and masculinity…not for the fainthearted. The roots can be traced back to Mesopotamia where bulls were worshipped, and sacrificed, as entailed in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Eventually this killing ritual became sacred.  A venue to view this ritual is La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo, or more simply, Las Ventas.9. Hotel Urban Madrid
  9. Rooftop restaurants. These are great locations to come after supper and reflect on the day. It provides one with a great vantage point to take in the beautiful city and digest the cultural experiences with friends. One such rooftop location that’s recommended is Hotel Urban Madrid.10. Jardines del Buen Retiro
  10. Row boats. Though the Spanish are known for being arguably the most influential sailors in the world, Madrid is unfortunately landlocked. However, one is able to enjoy the great outdoors on the water by renting a rowboat at Jadines del Buen Retiro. This is a popular place for the locals to come and enjoy their time off work.

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.

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.

Munich Bike Tour SU15

 

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.

 

 

Munich Square SU15

 

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.

 

 

Munich BMW SU15

 

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.

 

 

Munich Dress SU15

 

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!

 

Munich River Surfing SU15

 

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!

 

Munich Fish SU15

 

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.

Explore Santo Domingo!

The International Practicum course offered in Santo Domingo allows students to work in multicultural teams while providing real solutions to a Dominican Republic company. Each consulting project requires students to use their creativity and apply all of the analytical tools they have learned in multiple classes on campus to create solutions for a company in a completely different cultural, and economic environment. Dr. Stephen Conroy serves as mentor to the teams, helping them with their consulting challenges, and advising them on how to effectively communicate results to local clients.

Dr. Steve Conroy with MBA consultants in the Dominican Republic

Dr. Steve Conroy with MBA consultants in the Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic practicum participant, and Evening MBA student, Mario Orozco, commented: “It is important that people come to business school with different goals. This kind of project and our exposure to it was an important reminder that we, as future business leaders, have a responsibility to society. It’s not all about making money for the company or organization. We need to make sure we’re using our resources to train and educate these small businesses that are trying to make a difference. If you can make a difference here, you’ll make a difference out there.”

Students also get an opportunity to immerse themselves in the country’s wonderful culture, customs and cuisine. Below are some recommended things to eat, and places to see in the beautiful city of Santo Domingo (or “La Capital” as it’s typically called):

Restaurants

Dominican Republic cuisine - original photo by http://www.mydestination.com/dominicanrepublic/travel-articles/72851/dominican-republic-cuisine

Dominican Republic cuisine – original photo by http://www.mydestination.com/dominicanrepublic/travel-articles/72851/dominican-republic-cuisine

Mitre Restaurant & Wine Bar Enjoy international dishes served with a beautiful view on the terrace . The bar is located on the second floor and music is played for dining pleasure.

Pate’s Palo– This unique place is said to have been the first tavern in the New World. It offers its own “Rum Experience Menu” that pairs fine rums with fine foods.

Pura Tasca– Located in the Colonial City in Plaza España. It overlooks the Columbus Alcazar and is known for its variety of dishes and Spanish cuisine.

Meson D’Bari This lovely restaurant located in the center of Plaza Barolome de las Casas, occupies a charming colonial home with bright paintings of local artists. The restaurant serves delicious traditional Dominican and international cuisine, and has a small outdoor bar with live music on some weekend nights.

Sightseeing

The city of Santo Domingo offers a wide variety of entertainment and attractions that allow visitors to experience the culture, tradition and history of the people living in the Dominican Republic. Considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, Santo Domingo provides easy access to nearby beaches, elegant restaurants and unforgettable nightlife performances and shows.

Below are some of the places you will not want to miss – all located approximately 15 minutes away from the hotel.

1- Palace of Alcazar de Colon: built as a tribute to nations and explorers who helped settle the New World such as Ponce de Leon and Diego Columbus.

Original photo by: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Caribbean_and_Central_America/Dominican _Republic/Distrito_Nacional/Santo_Domingo-1654465

2 – Catedral Primada de America: Completed in 1540, this building is considered to be the oldest cathedral in the Americas. It was dedicated to St. Mary of the Incarnation.

Original photo by: http://viajar.elperiodico.com/var/viajar/storage/images/media/imagenes-y-videos/fachada-de-la-catedral-primada-de-america/670629

3- Park of Three Eyes (Los Tres Ojos): The turquoise waters are completely transparent in the cave complex consisting of underground lagoons. Upon descending the stone steps, explorers take a small boat with a guide to discover the mysteries of the cave.

Original photo by: http://www.godominicanrepublic.com/rd/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=250&Itemid=12&lang=en

4- Fortaleza Ozama:  The oldest fort in South America. Constructed between the years 1502-08, it was used to protect the city from conquistadors and pirates.

Original photo by: http://www.minube.com/fotos/rincon/108471/501950

Beaches

Surrounded by nearly 250 miles of coastline on the north, east and south, the Dominican Republic’s beaches are known worldwide for pristine white sand beaches that are lapped by the warm blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Punta Cana Beach– Punta Cana has 10 different beaches, most of them very wide and all ranked among the most beautiful in the world. To find out exactly where to go read this report. Activities such as snorkeling, kayaking and windsurfing are available.

Beaches of Cayo Levantado– Located on the island of Samana, these beautiful beaches are surrounded by tropical forest.

Playa Rincon- This beautiful remote beach offers a relaxing environment with beachfront restaurants nearby. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.

Named one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world by international travelers.
Original photo by: http://www.bahiadelosdioses.com/galeria/photos/PlayaRincon/

Nightlife

Santo Domingo is the biggest city in the Caribbean and also one of the best cities in Latin America to party. The best (and biggest) nights for live music are on the weekends. If you are looking for live concerts head to La Hispaniola Hotel, which also gives you the opportunity to roll the dice at one of their casinos.

For more information on where to go at night in Santo Domingo read this 10 BEST report.

What about you? Have you been to Santo Domingo? What other suggestions do you have?

Students exploring the coast

Students exploring the DR coast

Explore Argentina – The Land of the Steak and Malbec

“The practicum is an opportunity to really find out who you are in the international business world, at a graduate level.  I went to Buenos Aires after 2 1/2 years in the Evening MBA and I can say that this short international consulting opportunity challenged me far more than my 10+ years of experience in executive management and business ownership.  I started the Evening MBA program because, while my businesses had been successful, I knew I could be a more effective, stronger manager, of both people and processes, and this experience made me confident that the time and money I have spent on my USD MBA were well worth it!  I had a fantastic team that brought together 4 completely unique people with different ages, levels of experience, and educational backgrounds, and in a short period of time we figured out how to assess the client’s needs, and meet them using each person’s strengths, benefiting not only the client, but each other, as we bound together to achieve success!” Jenniffer Knotowicz, MBA student

Consulting for Wal Mart Argentina

Students visiting Wal Mart Argentina

Many of our students will be heading to South America this intersession for an opportunity to earn up to 5 units as they enhance their global mindset by taking courses and/or working with organizations that face completely different challenges than the ones they are accustomed to back home. Just considering the economic environment in Argentina there are differences in formal vs informal market participation, unreliability of power for companies, price fixing, and exchange rate restrictions.  Click here for an article that describes how the exchange rate restrictions have created a gap between the official exchange rate and the “blue-market” exchange rate.  Yet many of the companies that operate there are world-class and we can learn from them how to overcome challenges, differentiate, and innovate for global competitiveness.

Despite some of their business challenges, the city of Buenos Aires is well known for its rich European heritage and beautiful architecture and is often referred to as  the “Paris of South America”. It is a fascinating city that looks a bit like Europe but with an edgy Latin American twist. Amazing Malbecs, delicious parrilas (steakhouses), sensual tango in every street corner…Buenos Aires has a lot to offer!

In order to maximize your stay in this fascinating city and really immerse yourself in the Argentine culture, below are some must dos to make the most out of your experience abroad:

1- Enjoy some good Malbec and asado (Argentine steak) pairing

Argentine Asado paired with a Malbec - original picture by PRNewswire

Argentine Asado paired with a Malbec – original picture by PRNewswire

Argentina is known for its high quality, yet affordable, (especially due to the current exchange rate) beef and Malbec. Make sure you take advantage of this gastronomic opportunity to explore the best of Argentine cuisine. Some recommended places are La Cabrera (voted best steakhouse) located in the great neighborhood of Palermo, Cabana Las Lilas (fine dining steakhouse) located in Puerto Madero or Steak by Luis for an authentic asado experience. As for wine, Luigi Bosca, Taplitz, Norton are some recommended wineries.

2- Tango

Tango is likely to be everywhere you look. It is common to see tango music being played and professionals dancing on some of the busiest streets in Buenos Aires: La Calle Florida, Calle Defensa in San Telmo, in the streets of La Boca neighborhood, etc. But, if you would like to experience tango at its best – by learning how to dance it, by watching a real performance, or by simply listening to live tango music – read this article to know the best places to go.

3- Palermo Neighborhood – Palermo is the hipster, fun neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Here you will find the craziest Argentine fashion – in Palermo Soho – and the most trendy bars and clubs – in Palermo Hollywood. I highly recommend exploring this neighborhood, which was my favorite area in Buenos Aires when I lived there. Click here for more.

4- La Boca

La Boca is the famous colorful neighborhood that has 2 main attractions: La Bombonera (Boca’s soccer stadium) and the famous colorful artists’ street. You will also find some touristy restaurants with small tango performances. Food here is not the best though, but I would recommend sitting in one of the restaurants to have a glass of wine, watch some tango and do some people watching during the day. The neighborhood can get  a bit sketchy after dark. Make sure you take a taxi to and from this neighborhood to be on the safe side.

5 – Feria de San Telmo

Live music, arts and crafts – in order to enjoy San Telmo you really need to go there on a Sunday. Best place for a stroll is Calle Defensa between Avenida San Juan and Independecia. For a live tango show go to Plaza Dorrego.

Music on the streets of San Telmo

Music on the streets of San Telmo

6- Nightlife

Buenos Aires nightlife options are endless. From the classic tango bars, to trendy street bars, to Las Vegas style nightclubs that are open until 7 in the morning.  For tips on where to go read  “A gringo in Buenos Aires”.

7 – Bosques de Palermo

Rosedal at Bosques de Palermo

Rosedal at Bosques de Palermo – picture by Tucu’s Webblog

Bosques de palermo is the most beautfiul park in Buenos Aires, and totally worth exploring. This is where the locals go running, cycling, roller blading, and where they enjoy Mate on the weekends. Don’t miss the beautiful “rosedal” (rose garden). On the weekends there is always live music to enjoy in the park as well.

8 – Recoleta

A fashionable, upscale neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Here you will find Plaza Francia – the best park for arts and crafts in Buenos Aires. You will be able to walk around on a sunny day and watch live circus performers, live musicians and purchase Argentine handmade crafts from hundreds of vendors on the weekends. This is also where the famous Cementerio de la Recoleta is located. If you are into architecture and art you will want to visit the cementary, here countless ‘streets’ are lined with impressive statues and marble sarcophagi.

9 – MALBA (Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires)

If you like museums this one is a must! It is comparable to the MOMA in New York City in elegance and design, with the difference that it focuses on highlighting the top painters/artists from Latin America. Here you will find an extensive collection from 19th and 20th artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Antonio Berni.

10 – Plaza de Mayo

One of the city’s main squares, and a place of historical significance to the Argentine nation. This is where the revolution for independence from Spain started in 1810, the famous Eva Perón spoke to the crowds, and where the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” still gather to protest the disappearance of their loved ones during the military regime EVERY Thursday.

Students in front of La Casa Rosada - Government House in Buenos Aires

Students in front of La Casa Rosada – Government House in Buenos Aires

“The USD MBA practicums provide real international business experience in real international settings. The economic and cultural influences of working abroad, combined with rapid and dynamic team building and leadership skills, make the international practicum a invaluable experience to any MBA student.”  Brandon Britton, MBA student.

What about you, have you been to Buenos Aires?  What do you recommend?

~ Renata Berto, International Programs Associate

Explore The Best of Brazil

Brazil is not only one of the most colorful, happy, and spirited countries in the planet, it is also the place I am blessed to call my home (just as much as the United States). As a native Brazilian who left Brazil shortly after graduating from high school, and has never forgotten about the amazing food, the warm people, the wonderful music, and the beautiful landscape that this country has to offer, I am enthusiastic to share with you some tips to help you make the most out of your experience in Brazil.

First and foremost, if you are going to Brazil during intersession, you are in it for a trip of a lifetime! January is possibly THE BEST time to be in Brazil. It is summer time, most people are on vacation, many are relaxing at the beach, and sipping on a ‘caipirinha’ while listening to the numerous street players who walk around the beach playing samba from right to left. In fact, if you are going to Brazil this coming intersession I would GREATLY suggest that you arrive in Brazil before New Year’s Eve, and that you spend the last day of 2014 in Copacabana Beach with thousands (if not millions) of people who will be there, eager to celebrate.

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest and most popular events, along with Carnival, in Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, the event gets even better. Here you will find millions of people (last year there were 2 million people at the beach on New Year’s Eve) wearing white clothes for good luck and for world peace in the coming year. Some in the crowd may wear a splash of color – red is for romance, yellow for success, green for health, etc. Whether you are wearing white or not, whether you believe in the color superstitions that Brazilian people believe in or not, you are in it for a celebration you will never forget. Fireworks at the beach, champagne, live music, ocean breeze, good energy from the crowd… it is bound to be a party you will remember for years to come.

New Year's Eve in Brazil - the beach was just starting to fill up

New Year’s Eve in Brazil – the beach was just starting to fill up.

So, what do you do when you wake up in Rio the next day? Well… here are some important things you will NOT want to miss:

  1. Beaches: Brazilians LOVE to hang out at the beach! In fact, most Brazilians like to go to the beach in the early morning and stay until the sun sets. You can buy food, drinks, accessories, and even clothes at the beach in Brazil. It is also a great place for people watching! Here, people gather to play beach volleyball, footvolley, surf, play music, dance… in Brazil, everything happens at the beach. This is where you are going to want to go while in Rio:
Copacabana Beach in Rio

Copacabana Beach in Rio, picture by Sure Mithas Travel

  1. Ipanema Beach: Where most locals hangout
  2. Copacabana Beach: More crowded and touristy but a lot of fun
  3. Barra da Tijuca: This is where you go if you want to surf (or watch people surfing 😉 )
  4. Buzios: Elected one of the 10 most beautiful areas in the world, Buzios is just about 2 hours from Rio by bus/car. Take a weekend to go there!

2. Sightseeing: even though these are the most “touristy” places in Rio, they are still well worth exploring.

Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

  1. Cristo (aka Corcovado): voted one of the seven wonders of the world, this site offers beautiful views of the city. Take the train to go up there.
  2. Sugar Loaf: also wonderful view of the city. Perfect place to take pictures.
  3. Arpoador: This is where you want to be for the sunset.
  4. Santa Teresa: Charming old neighborhood in Rio. Go to small bars or restaurants here and walk around the beautiful streets.

3. Nightlife: Brazilians really know how to party! If you are just looking for a bar to have a “gelada” (ice cold beer) you are going to want to go out at 8 pm, if you are looking to have dinner, probably 9 pm… now if you want to go to a nightclub, don’t arrive before 1 am.

  1. Bars at Lapa – A former run-down collection of 19th century mansions has now been rehabilitated. Here you will find many restaurants,  and cute bars with live music. Great place to go eat, dance and have a blast!
  2. Samba Practices happen from November until carnival (Feb or March) and they are extremely fun to watch!  I recommend watching the schools Beija Flor or Mangueira. Here you will find a schedule of their rehearsals.
  3. Nightclubs: parties start at 1 am and go until sunrise. There are plenty of nightlclubs to explore in Rio! Click here to know where to go.

4. The food!! Don’t come back to the States without trying:

The snack I miss the most!! Pão de queijo. Receipe here.

The snack I miss the most!! Pão de queijo. Recipe here.

  1. Açaí
  2. Pão de queijo
  3. Coxinha
  4. Pastel
  5. Rodízio de pizza
  6. Churrasco
  7. Feijoada
  8. Fresh juices

To finish off, let me just warn you that we Brazilians are extremely warm. We do not know what “personal space” is, we touch people when we are chatting with them, we hug, we greet people with multiple kisses… so be ready to hug and kiss back! Also, do not try speaking Spanish to Brazilians… they are unbelievably proud of their Portuguese!

I hope you have a wonderful time in Brazil! Please let me know what you enjoyed the most about my country by posting a comment below.

Boa viagem!!

~ Renata Berto, International Programs Associate

Erin’s Travel Tips for Shanghai

Shanghai

Overview:

Shanghai is a financial hub in Asia and widely considered to be China’s most European city, with its distinctive, futuristic architecture, historical French Concession neighborhood, and myriad of high-end fashion houses with elaborate, glittering window displays beckoning well-heeled tourists and locals alike.

If you plan on travelling to China, make sure to obtain a tourist visa, as this is required for stays that extend past 48 hours.

Shanghai holds an important place in the international financial market, and is home to the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) in the Pudong District.  Rising to a height of 492 meters, the SWFC is the world’s tallest mixed-use urban development center.

View from the observation deck on the 97th floor of the SWFC

View from the observation deck on the 97th floor of the SWFC

 Business Etiquette

1)   When meeting business partners, acknowledge seniority for introductions, seating arrangements and general interactions.

2)   When exchanging business cards, present your card so that it is facing your recipient.  When accepting a business card, take the card with both hands and take a few moments to read the card carefully.  Do not fold or write on business cards.

3)   Respect the concept of “saving face” – avoid insulting, criticizing, or drawing negative attention to someone in front of others

Don’t Miss:

1)   The Bund: stroll along the river and enjoy the sight of barge “rush hour”.  Across the river, gaze at the massive high-rises in the Pudong District.  Right off The Bund on East Nanjing Road, you’ll find the Fairmont Peace Hotel.  This is a historic landmark that was constructed between 1926 and 1929, and now contains an updated art-deco lobby, jazz club, upscale café and tea room.

View of along the Bund, looking towards the Pudong District across the river.

View across the Bund, looking towards the Pudong District across the river.

2)   Old Town: to feel as if you have transported back in time, visit Shanghai’s Old Town (known as Nánshi) where you’ll find traditional architecture, a bazaar with numerous shopping stalls and the Yù Yuán Gardens, which was the former residence of Ming-dynasty officials and is now available to tour.

3)   French Concession: two distinct shopping areas are contained within the Shanghainese neighborhood known as the French Concession – Xintiandi and Tianzifang.  Xintiandi houses dozens of upscale shops and boutiques, restaurants and nightspots, and is partitioned into two sections.  The south block holds an indoor mall with fine-dining and shopping options, while the north block has more of an outdoor market feel, with boutiques and numerous restaurants offering a wide assortment of cuisines.

Another shopping district, Tianzifang, has less of a 5th Avenue in NYC feel and more of an artsy, old-Shanghai feel.  There are dozens of trendy boutiques, tourist shops, cafes and local fashion houses to explore along the traditional alleyways.  I recommend stopping here to find your souvenirs and fun gifts for friends and family at home.

4)   Temples: two interesting temples to visit are the Jing’an Temple and the Jade Buddha Temple, both located in the Jing’an district.  The Jade Buddha Temple is an active place of worship for Buddhists, and has a number of gold, jade and marble Buddha statues, with colorful flags, lanterns and candles adorning them.

Inside the Jade Buddha Temple

Inside the Jade Buddha Temple

Foods to Try:

1)   Noodles: with a multitude of small noodle shops throughout the city, you are sure to find something to appeal to your palate.  I found the udon at Kung Fu Noodles to be the perfect lunch on a cold winter day!

Udon noodles from Kung Fu Noodles, located in the French Concession

Udon noodles from Kung Fu Noodles, located in the French Concession

2) Dumplings: they come filled with many different ingeredients, but a Shanghainese specialty is the “little steamer buns” and the “scallion -and sesame-seed-coated dumplings”.

3) Hotpot:  commonly served in the winter, hotpot offers sizzling broth to dip vegetables and meat into, finishing them with a variety of sauces.

Shanghainese Cuisine: for Westerners unaccustomed to generous amounts of oils and spices in their food, it is advised to ask for an English menu and sample the various dishes in small quantities, to learn which dishes appeal most to your taste buds and dietary preferences

Shanghainese Cuisine: for Westerners unaccustomed to generous amounts of oils and spices in their food, it is advised to ask for an English menu and sample the various dishes in small quantities, to learn which dishes appeal most to your taste buds and dietary preferences

What about you? What are your go to food items when traveling through China? Share your tips below.

~Erin Kellaway, External Programs Manager

Madrid and Valencia Must Sees

This summer the Ahlers Center for International Business took 26 students from the MBA and the Masters in Science of Global Leadership programs to Madrid, Valencia (Spain) and Casablanca (Morocco). Students attended lectures with some of USD’s top business faculty members abroad while traveling and being exposed to the cultural aspects of these beautiful cities. As we have recently opened a new USD location in Madrid, and because we take students to Spain every year, we decided to compile a list of must sees and dos in this astonishing part of the world.

 MADRID

Madrid has been the capital of Spain since 1562. With a population of over 3 million people, Madrid is not only a cosmopolitan city, it is also a business center, the headquarters for the Spanish parliament and the Royal family, as well as an intensively culturally active city.

MUST SEES

When exploring Madrid, make sure you don’t miss these spots:

1. Prado Museum

The Museo Nacional del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum. It features one of the world’s nicest collections of European art from the 12th until the 19th century. El prado is also one of the most visited sites in the world! If you plan on seeing everything this museum has to offer consider spending the entire day here, otherwise the museum is free of charge for a couple of hours (from 6pm – 8 pm) from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and on Sundays from 5 – 8 pm.

Museo el Prado - Picture by The Australian

Museo el Prado – Picture by The Australian

2. Retiro Park

The Retiro park is a beautiful park in Madrid’s city center that was originally created as a royal park; it belonged to the Real Sitio del Buen Retiro palace and is now public for anyone to enjoy. Some of the places to see on this park are the Rosaleda rose garden, the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, the Crystal Palace and the Statue Walk.

Buen Retiro Park in Madrid - photo by www.spain.info

Buen Retiro Park in Madrid – photo by www.spain.info

3. Eat tapas on Cava Baja Street

Cava Baja street is a great place to explore Spanish cuisine. Here, people go from bar to bar trying different tapas (Spanish style bite size appetizers). For recommendations on the top 10 places to eat on Cava Baja street click here.

Students exploring Spanish tapas at Baja Street in Madrid

Students exploring Spanish tapas at Cava Baja Street in Madrid. Photo by MBA student Andrea Ruiz.

4. Visit Mercado de San Miguel for yet some more tapas

The San Miguel Market was declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 2000 (a category of the Spanish heritage register). The Mercado San Miguel is one of Madrid’s oldest markets and considered a ‘culinary culture center’ or the ‘Mecca of Spanish Cuisine’. Here you can order wonderful tapas and even more substantial plates from a variety of different vendors.

VALENCIA

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, and home to the Spanish Paella. Although the city is on the Mediterranean sea most residents say that “Valencia has lived with its back to the sea” due to the spirit and core of the city which is not necessarily integrated with its beach. Valencia was founded by the Romans and was held by the Moors from the 8th until the 13th century. Below are some must dos when exploring this wonderful city.

1- City of Arts and Sciences

The city of arts and sciences was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, a native of Valencia who is now one of the top world’s architects. The City of Arts and Sciences has 6 main buildings: Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, which is an opera house and performing arts center; L’Hemisfèric, which is an Imax Cinema, Planetarium and Laserium; L’Umbracle — Walkway/Garden; El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, which is a science museum; Oceanografic — Open-air aquarium or oceanographic park; and Ágora — A versatile space for events.

City of Arts and Sciences - photo by MBA student D.J.

City of Arts and Sciences – photo by MBA student D.J.

2- Eat a paella at the beach

Paella is a specialty of Valencian gastronomy and you must try it while exploring the beach in Valencia! Paella consists of steamed rice and a variety of seafood, meat and veggies.  We indulged in this tasty dish at a place called L’Estimat.

3- The X Door

The X door is a fun team building activity to do in Valencia (and rated #1 attraction in the city by Trip Advisor). In this game you will do activities like trying to get out of a locked room by using the given clues as the clock on the wall tickles away your 60 minutes. Click here to read more on The X Door. Are you up for the challenge?

X-Door - Valencia activity

X-Door – Valencia activity

4- Plaza del Mercado

This public market in Valencia is one of the oldest markets in all Europe. Stop here to enjoy the beautiful Andaluz architecture, buy delicious traditional Spanish food items, shop for souvenirs or simply people watch.  The Plaza del Mercado is closed on Sundays.

We hope you enjoy your time in Spain! For a list of MBA and MSGL classes offered in Madrid/Valencia click here.