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European Accounting Experience – Karinn Uppal

Introduction

I am a first generation American. As a child of immigrants who came to this country with a strong drive to succeed, it was only natural for me to be taught the value of hard work, commitment and, above all, education at a very early age. Because of my strong desire to achieve and excel I choose to take on challenges that will better my knowledge and perspective. The most recent challenge I have taken on is to pursue my Bachelors and Masters Degree simultaneously. I believe that the Accounting Program and the Masters Program here at the University of San Diego will do just that.

Traveling and being a well-cultured individual has taught and shown me many different aspects of the world and given me a global perspective from a young age. I am a very lucky individual who has been given many opportunities to explore out of my home. From traveling alone abroad, to visiting my parent’s motherland, I have seen so many different sides of the globe. Places as diverse as an impoverished village in India, to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, both very different settings, with different stories to witness and experiences to have. In cities such as London, Paris, and Rome, I hoped not only for an incredible travel experience, but an opportunity to expand both my professional and personal aspirations, and I received just that. This program helped me excel and take a step further towards my goals.

The International Accounting Experience

On this trip, I expected there to be many office visits, including both accounting firms and companies. In addition to these professional trips, I also expected us to partake in typical tourist activities, such as being on a tour bus in London to visiting the Vatican. In my free time I was able to explore the city in a new light, interact with different people, and find hidden places in the city I did not know about prior to the visit.

The company visits were centered on the differences between what we are accustomed to in the United States versus the international guidelines and standards found in other places. Specifically, I was able to see how this played a role during our visit to the IASB. At this particular visit, we met David Ji, an employee who presented us with a lot of information on accounting standards and what they hope the future looks like. His presentation was of value to me because it helped me understand how subsidiaries and companies have to deal with standards globally, something I will have to do once I start working.

Prior to the trip I was intrigued to see how the culture plays a part in the work environment and how the professionals act with each other versus our cultural norms. I definitely saw this culture difference in France. The hierarchy at the Amada visit was very prominent, and it was shown that those who have a higher standard job do not like to do work that is “beneath them.”

The tourist activities and exploration helped me grow personally. Through the other activities I was able to come across students I was not close to before the trip had started. I created new relationships with Austin Andrews and Andrew Taggart, two people I did not know at all prior to the trip. In addition, I went to the Colosseum with Carolyn, Cheng Cheng, Veronica, and Cecilia, four other students I had not known prior to this trip. Building relationships with these girls exposed met to a culture I had not been exposed to before. I realized how different the Chinese culture is by having conversations with them about home.

Professional Growth

With the International Accounting Program, I enjoyed meeting with our European colleagues and counterparts during the planned company visits. I exchanged ideas and had thought-provoking discussions based off the many questions I had asked. Specifically, it was very helpful to meet expatriates in the Big 4 where they would answer all of our questions. As someone who wants to enter a public accounting firm and work internationally, it was very helpful to meet someone who is currently living my future goals. At PwC I met two expatriates who were on their international rotations. I continuously asked if there was a culture shock moving and if they would want to go back to the states. It was interesting to see two different perspectives and different answers towards this question. One PwC employee said she would and will eventually move back to Southern California no matter what, where as another employee said he was there for the long-term and wants to permanently move there.

Someday, I may want to pursue career opportunities in Europe, and therefore having professional relationships with people that live and work there could be immensely rewarding. I met Claire Beng, a partner at KPMG that stepped in at the end to answer our questions. Claire and I bonded over our similar view towards a company we had both previously worked for, Accenture. After having a conversation with Claire she gave me her business card and said, “Stay in touch. I look forward to speaking with you.” After hearing that I added her on LinkedIn and she remembered exactly who I was. This connection will be beneficial and helpful to have back in the states and its very exciting to have made a connection through this trip.

Conclusion

This program was fast paced, with a full and busy schedule. It provided me with a good view and keen insight into what I could expect life to be like in the “real” world past the academic life at USD. I will constantly be busy in the public accounting field, with new clients, becoming certified, and building good work relationships; I will not have much free time in my day. I have further developed two critical skills that I need prior to entering the professional world: to be able to prioritize tasks and have excellent time management skills.

I believe that traveling abroad while in the process of obtaining my masters was an extremely enriching experience. I gained a new set of skills that will add to my professional career and personal life. This experience connected me to a whole new world of people, may it be students or professionals, many of whom I hope to have lifelong meaningful relationships.

Prior to being an Accounting Major, I was a Biology Major. But now that I have developed this passion for business and accounting; the idea of traveling and receiving credits towards my Master’s degree that once appeared as a dream has become reality. This international program advanced my persona and character in more ways than one and I am so appreciative that I was able to partake in it.

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

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

A Perfect Ending of My MBA Experience – Vivian Ma

Life as a student is enjoyable especially when you get involved in an Ahlers Center’s study abroad program. My second time studying abroad in the emerging country of Peru and my last time joining the Ahlers Center for an international program as a MBA student has given my whole MBA learning experience a perfect ending. The GSBA course of Latin American Business Environment was short, intensive, yet harvestable.

Firstly, during the two day on-campus classes, we learned the conceptual frameworks, managerial skills and background knowledge to help us make more knowledgeable decisions when it comes to formulating and implementing business strategies in Latin American countries. 

Secondly, it was always our unique advantage that we were scheduled for company visits during program. The most impressive one for me was the visit to Belcorp’s headquarters in Lima. Their vision contributes to the empowerment of women in Latin America, to awaken and build women’s capabilities, so they can imagine a better future and make it happen. On the day of our visit, it happened to be the International Women’s Holiday and they launched a campaign of red lipstick to symbolize women as warriors. We were involved in this campaign as well. I was so grateful, humbled and inspired to be there on that day and part of their vision.
Thirdly, besides the class itself and the company visit, there were two more amazing parts of this trip. We engage in a culinary tour on bike, which not only allowed us to cover more ground to visit places of interest, but gave us more flexibility and connectivity to the city as opposed to the standard bus tour. After finishing the class, we had the opportunity to explore a world miracle, Machu Picchu. We experienced four seasons, the rains, clouds, and sunshine, all in one day to get an amazing view of Machu Picchu city. It is just like a life’s journey. When you experience obstacles or tough times, you really enjoy and treasure the happy times more. 

It is so true that the USD MBA study abroad programs are a real beauty in that it provides multiple opportunities to enable myself to fulfill a transformative journey, including hands-on consulting projects with big companies, national level support for entrepreneurs and so on. Life is never easy, but thanks to USD and to the Ahlers Center for International Business, I am more confident and well-prepared for my future. I would love to help promote these trips in my home country and get more and more people benefit from these awesome program.

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

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

Consulting for Multi-Billion Dollar Companies in Munich – Asad Naqvi

The real value of an MBA along with the enormous multi-disciplinary knowledge that it inculcates, spanning across all critical business functions, is the international experience it can provide to help students develop a global mindset. A global perspective means being open to new ideas, issues and solutions. It will give business leaders an opportunity to explore changing ways of uncovering new business opportunities and evolving to implement leaner business models. It means being culturally sensitive and willing to learn from others. With businesses getting increasingly global and interconnected, an international perspective has become a skill every aspirational business leader must possess.  Working for LEDVANCE in Munich, was a wonderful platform to simulate the experience of working as a consultant for a multibillion dollar organization. It gave us a chance to get a pulse of the working culture in Germany, especially since the organization had booked a conference room for us to work within its premises. The lunch and coffee breaks allowed us to connect with other employees, learning about the business culture in Europe. More importantly, these meetings were pivotal in helping us seek a deeper understanding of the firm’s business and the electrical lighting industry. We leveraged these tidy bits of information to tailor our suggestions to the executives at the company. The experience has certainly equipped me with better decision making tools for European markets, by highlighting the differences and synergies between the business etiquettes and environment in the continent.

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

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

In the Spotlight – Katrin Kandlbinder

Each year, the Ahlers Center welcomes international short-term scholars and researchers to the University of San Diego campus. Such visitors contribute to the Center’s vision of creating dynamic and globally robust environments in and out of the classroom. These scholars collaborate with USD faculty on various research projects and support the faculty in their academic endeavors.

We are delighted to have visiting researcher Katrin Kandlbinder with us for the current spring 2017 term. Katrin is a doctoral candidate at the International Real Estate Business School of the University of Regensburg in Germany. Working with USD’s Dr. Norm Miller, Katrin is conducting joint research on the United States housing market and how information efficiency affects real estate markets over time. She will be presenting her findings, alongside Dr. Miller, at the upcoming American Real Estate Society conference in April. We had an opportunity to sit down with Katrin to see how she has enjoyed her new home city of San Diego.

What has been your favorite experience in San Diego thus far?

I enjoy the weather, walking along the beach and especially the people. Everyone in San Diego has been so friendly and I have found it really easy to make friends. People are very willing to meet you and take the time to get to know you here. I have been very impressed with how willing people are to help strangers.

What is one thing about San Diego that you found surprising?

I think the public transportation system could be improved. I was surprised, for a city this large, that the public transportation is not more efficient. Everyone here has a car. And a dog! It seems that everyone in San Diego owns at least one dog.

What do you think you will miss most about San Diego when you return to Germany in April?

I will miss the weather, the ocean, and the open mindedness of the people.

Where are you living in San Diego?

I have an apartment in Little Italy which I love. The neighborhood is wonderful with plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and activities right outside my door. I joined a yoga studio close to my apartment and every Saturday I shop at the Little Italy farmers market.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy yoga, visiting friends, and swimming. I play the saxophone and I also take voice lessons. So I love music!

What is something that you tried for the first time in your life in San Diego?

Clam chowder. Wow, it’s great!

What is something you have not yet tried in San Diego but hope to do before you leave?

I would love to try to surf. I am waiting for the weather to be a bit warmer and then I plan to try to surf for the first time.

Social Entrepreneurship in South America

Timothy Mullen and his MBA class took the opportunity to travel to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, examining the prominent role of the cultural and social environment in regards to business and entrepreneurship. Please enjoy reading about Timothy’s experiences and perspectives.

“Our USD MBA went truly global early in 2016, with a group of us electing to travel for coursesmullen2 offered in South America. Argentina was the destination for a course in Global Entrepreneurship followed by Rio De Janeiro where we undertook a team based consulting project for real businesses. Argentina was particularly enlightening as we got much closer as a student body, living under the same roof in close quarters, sharing the same frustrations with taxi availability and exploring all the culinary and cultural nuances of our unique location together as a group. Even if by the end we couldn’t face another empanada or religious cut of beef for weeks to come, we were all so thankful for the experience.

The journey of discovery began when Dr. Meyskens set us the task of reading Bornstein’s “How to Change the World” and it set the tone for what was to be an amazing voyage of societal reflection throughout the inspirational excursion. David Bornstein through his book “How to Change the World” (2007) really opens the readers mind to the possibilities social entrepreneurship presents through business for social innovation on a global scale. It was an incredible read filled with heart-warming tales of idea champions struggling against adversity mullen1both systematic, economic and social. Bornstein uses ten case studies of individual social champions to strengthen his views about what defines a success and how the Ashoka organisation in particular, plays a role in developing small scale ideas into world changing visions with notable results. I think the book in general opened my eyes up to the kinds of innovative work individuals (in often really trying geographical regions) were performing, towards their own respective causes. Some of the struggles these individuals have overcome to render completely rewarding and often thankless results is astounding and often tugged at the heart strings. I was thrilled to learn about Ashoka’s individual based funding model recognizing elite contributors. I will keep with me, from this point forward, the six qualities of social entrepreneurs particularly a willingness to self-correct, and try to apply those principles to future strategic plans I try to enact whether socially beneficial or otherwise. I highly recommend anyone interested in civil sustainability or innovation pick up this book for a great timeless read or inspiration.

mullen3Following on from our exploration of the book we were fed valuable classroom insights into the social inequality currently facing Argentinians in their everyday lives due to a failing economy and job and welfare shortages. We visited and heard from many organisations in the Argentinian business landscape each championing a cause to correct social inequality. We were inspired by the likes of the Alamo co-operative employing those of less means to recycle and collect trash for sustainable employment, Idel who were training mentally disadvantaged adults by providing them with social training and employment possibilities, Acinder, a large steel corporation and the voluntary efforts they promoted through direct programs and government liaising and the almost militant worker groups at La Base and Chilavert printers championing the voice of the downtrodden.
mullen4We were further equipped with entrepreneurship tools and tasked to apply them to a venture of our own invention. Armed with a social entrepreneur geared business canvas model, the lean start-up philosophy and funding options and scaling principles for social ventures, we were ready to develop our own concepts. Wanting to better understand the class division and with an avid interest in healthcare already, our team decided to see what we could propose for healthcare in the Argentinian slums. I was really keen to understand the lives the residents and pitch our idea to the people who lived there to see if they recognised benefit. Filled with curiosity and a desire to help myself and the professor did a private tour of Villa 31 led by a mullen5volunteer evening school (Casa Abierta) teacher who lived there. She explained that our assumption that slum residents wanted to elevate themselves out of that living situation was somewhat misled. Most of the residents had moved to Villa 31 from the likes of Ecuador and Paraguay, as Buenos Aires in fact was a positive move even if it was the slums where they ended up. They weren’t looking to educate their children with the dream of ever leaving those communities but instead continue to work tremendously hard to make their communities a comfortable, viable and healthy lifestyle choice for all. It was share economy in the rawest form, they owned their predicament and weren’t seeking handouts, pity or sympathy. The slums were much more civilised than expected with running water, power, telephone coverage with internet access, security and functioning businesses. Issues remained like a lack of on-call emergency health services, police corruption and crime and drug proliferation, but these weren’t enough to dissuade the residents of Villa 31 from their intention to remain there and better their life in the slum. The professor and myself were even shown an adult evening education centre which was self-funded and volunteer steered, and we were also told of sewing co-operatives which had been developed recently. It was a very positive experience completely transforming my opinion of class inequality in Buenos Aires.

Our team’s concept MedRed was a non-profit healthcare app for the slum areas. Villa 31 had recently built a little medical room regularly attended by volunteers inside the slum so as to bring health care to the residents rather than have them walk up to one hour to the nearest facility, but it was manned to a schedule not around the clock and required one particular medical professional to champion the cause. Together with the adult evening school, he had begun a program of education for medical technician volunteers living in the villa who had access to the room and could perform minor duties. Our idea was to develop an app to connect those volunteers with a virtual network of logged in, on-call health professionals who would mullen6volunteer from local hospitals medical schools and universities and other practices. In the event of an alarm, the app would connect the volunteer with the professional to pseudo triage and treat the patient any hour of any day. Basically, an uber for volunteer doctors and their advice to the volunteers. The plan then was to expand the volunteer program and app to other slums in Argentina and then possibly the other slums of the world. Potentially a paid service for a GP on call could be rolled out to regular citizens in those countries to help fund the expansion. Our app concept was met with supportive praise from both the residents of the villa and the Argentinian business mentor whom we had to pitch it to and we felt rewarded that we’d developed a tangible solution to a very real issue.

I’m unsure as to whether our successful pitch will ever lead to a manifestation of the app in the real world, providing residents with a better standard of healthcare coverage, but nonetheless our journey to Argentina was tremendously rewarding and eye opening. We learnt much about ourselves as a student group and left inspired by real community efforts and ventures we’d both read about, visited and interacted with. It was amazing to learn that innovation in business didn’t have to be confined to the realms of efficiency and cost, but, all in all, I hope to remember that fantastic commercial opportunities exist outside of the regular “for profit” business world to strategize and innovate for real social change and balance.”

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

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

“De La Gente”: From the People of Guatemala

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

MBA International Experience in Spain: Swastik Mukherjee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Aventuras en Madrid Pt. 1: Adapting to Spanish Life

Swastik Mukherjee, USD MBA student, is studying at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain as part of a semester exchange program.  In his own words, he describes his personal experiences adjusting to this new city and opening himself to exploring all that Spain has to offer:

“Getting the opportunity to do a study abroad program during an MBA is something that one cannot miss. Getting that opportunity in a top ten-business school in one of the most vibrant cities in the world is definitely the icing on the cake and a definite no-brainer. As a content for my first blog post, I wanted to talk about Madrid the city. Or about the gastronomic experience. Or about the language barriers. In fact, I wrote three different versions of this blog post earlier and discarded all of them. Somehow, I was not able to hit the nail on the head. What is it about this experience that has been the standout feature? The answer hit me last night. It is the people.

Dinner at San Sebastian copy

Now before coming to Madrid, I was scared. Very scared because I was told by numerous people that Madrid is not a very tourist friendly city. That only 22% of the population speak English. That my absolute lack of Spanish knowledge would get me into problems. Even forums on tripadvisor said that Madridistas are rude. Well, 2 months in and I have the ammunition to vehemently refute those claims. Madrid has been a revelation and how!

Exchange Students Social

I will not really touch upon the service industry as much as talking about my classmates. One never really understands the importance of finding common ground until you meet students from different walks of life. I would agree that I warmed up to my fellow IE students quicker because of the lack of language barrier, but I have had the chance to study with people from Peru, Chile, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, United Kingdom and Japan. It truly made sense why USD had collaborated with IE in the first place. IE shares similar traits with USD in terms of being internationally focused, and it has truly given me great networks and a great education. The acceptance that I have felt at IE has been truly amazing given the fact that I am only there for 3 months and they are extremely busy preparing for graduation and their quest to land that dream job.Getting Some Study On

My group meetings have been extremely fruitful; they have welcomed me warmly. My group members have been very flexible and accommodating with scheduling, so that I am able to experience Madrid and Spain as much as I can. Different people have greeted me during lunches, introduced themselves and had conversations with me. I was slightly overwhelmed by the new city and the language barrier loomed large in my mind, which probably made me go in to a shell for the first few days or so. Nevertheless, the fellows at IE and my fellow exchange students have made this experience of mine a brilliant one.

The camaraderie that I have shared with everyone has lifted my spirits and has made me more adventurous. I have tried more food here in Madrid than I would have dared to anywhere else. More than being adventurous, I think a sense of trust has developed with the city and with my fellow classmates. I think trust is the keyword here for me after two months. You visit a new city, a new environment and you try to do it all Wine & Tapas Dinneron your own. It does not quite work that way. One needs to feel the place and trust the place. Developing this trust can be challenging at first. Though, when you have fellows that open up to you from day one and encourage everything there is to experience about Madrid, you come to realize that the people are actually what make your experience in Madrid. Otherwise, your time here just remains a stamp on your passport.”

 

Stay tuned for more on Swastik’s semester abroad!  To read more exchange program experiences, visit our Semester Abroad blog page.

Information regarding our exchange partners and programs can be found on our website.