It’s totally worth it! – Go Abroad

Ending her studies in Japan on the Student Exchange Program, Phuong Tran shares her final thoughts living and studying in Tokyo. The challenges, the struggles, but also the new unforeseen opportunities that these brought and the better experiences she gained as a result.

I have just returned home and have some time to reflect on my experiences in Japan, I realize that I have failed to accomplish about half of the things I had planned. Am I disappointed? Only a little, because I have gained something else, which is even greater.

My student exchange, of courses, did not include only pleasant experiences. The first upsetting thing occurred to me even before I left the U.S. I was told that the dorm was full, and I had to find accommodation somewhere else. Finding another apartment was not that hard, but the total cost was almost doubled. More importantly, it had made it hard to communicate and hang out with other students who were staying at the dorm. There were times when I could not go to some events because the time and location were not convenient for me. I really wished that I had been accepted into the dorm so that I could have built a stronger bond with other international students.

My second disappointment was about school. When I did my interview for the program, the interviewer asked me what I would do if I could not take all the classes I had planned to take. I said I had another list of classes to substitute. However, that was easier being said that done. During the school orientation, I was kind of panic when being told I could not sign up for the two most-looking-forwarded-to classes, Business Communicating and Business Project, because of the schedule conflicts, my early-return request, and the class’s capacity. I pulled out my substitute list, but again, most of them could not fit into my schedule or not being offered this semester. I ended up taking two random business courses in order to fulfill the credit requirement.

With all those being said, I felt clueless and frustrated in the beginning of the program. Now that I think back, my problem was that I got fixated on a few objectives. Actually, after school started I soon realized I should not have been too worried. I did not have to look hard, new opportunities to learn and adventure came to me one after another. And all of these unforeseen invitations were what made my exchange’s experiences so wonderful.

As I mentioned earlier, I failed to get into my preferred business courses and thought that I could not be able to learn the “business culture” anywhere else. Fortunately, the other courses I got into also emphasized on group work and interactions between cultures. I appreciated that my professors assigned students into groups that had both international and Japanese students. We could not choose to work only with friends, but also new people, especially the ones from completely different cultures. Also, I was able to got a part-time job at school, which taught me the basic Japanese business etiquettes. Furthermore, there were many career events offered to international students either on or off campus. My most favorite one was the visit to Oak Lawn Marketing’s office, during which I could see an actual workplace and even participate in creating the marketing plan for a new product.

My Japanese teacher and classmate. We came from all around the world (France, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, America, etc)

My Japanese teacher and classmates. We came from all around the world (France, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, America, etc)

I had to admit that sometimes I felt lonely for staying in an apartment apart from others. However, I have met people whom I want to befriend for life. Also, the International Office at Rikkyo did a wonderful job on keeping us busy. They offered us many opportunities to experience tea ceremony, Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), Christmas parties, city tours, etc. After experiencing all of these exciting activities together, it was hard not becoming friends. When I first came to Japan, it took me a long time to get to my apartment carrying a big suitcase by myself, but when I left, my new friends helped me carry my luggage, which had been doubled in size, up to the gate. Just thinking of that made me feel so happy.

A trip to Asakusa with other international students. (The trip was organized by Rikkyo's COBBY group)

A trip to Asakusa with other international students. (The trip was organized by Rikkyo’s COBBY group)

Beside that, staying in an apartment has not only taught me many things about living in Japan but also helped me improve my language skills. In fact, except at school, I only communicated with people in Japanese. If I had stayed at the dorm, there should have been someone I could ask for help, but living alone, I had to deal with all issues by myself. Actually, Rikkyo’s International Office provided many resources to support my life there. However, they were not always available and it took time to arrange a Japanese student to assist me. Thus, I had to go to the city office, bank, etc. by myself to complete all necessary paperwork. My thought was “Lets go see if I can handle this. If I can’t get things done, then I will ask for help later.” I was so worried at first but then I gained more and more confidence in using Japanese. Also, never once I felt I was treated unfairly for not speaking Japanese well. Japanese people are very very friendly and helpful, I can assure you that!

I still think having a clear objective for going abroad is a good thing, but now I believe that keeping an adventurous spirit and being open-minded is more important. In the end, we cannot predict our days in a foreign environment as accurate as when we are home. No need to be obsessed with the plan. My stay in Japan has taught me so, and now I appreciate all the experiences I had over in Japan, even for the unpleasant ones. If I had to talk about the study aboard experiences in only a few words, I would say, “It’s totally worth it.”

About the Author: Phuong Tran, Senior, Accounting and Japanese. Student Exchange Program- Japan.

Proceed to The Highlighted Route: Why you should go global!

As Jayna Wolfe ends her semester abroad on the Student Exchange Program in Italy, leaves you with some of her final thoughts about studying abroad and why you should go global from a personal and professional standpoint.

As the semester draws to a close I would like to devote my final blog post to address what I have learned over the last four months of my life and express why I think a semester abroad is a valuable experience for a Fisher College of Business student.

I find myself with a nagging question in the back of my mind, “did you see everything you wanted to see, do everything you wanted to do, and take advantage of the opportunity to its fullest extent?” These questions of reflection appear in my mind when new experiences come to an end, and looking back on my time as an exchange student I can honestly say that I have done what I came here to do.

Study abroad is what you make of it. My friends and I have oftentimes wondered when we return to our homes over the next few weeks, if our loved ones and friends will notice any changes. Maybe it won’t be anything blatantly obvious, but I think seeing the world changes a person. Adult life and its responsibilities are right around the corner and during the college years our thoughts and opinions are still heavily influenced by new experiences. I recently read an article about the importance of traveling when you are young. I couldn’t agree more and I believe that traveling alone/without family at this age has the ability to alter many different aspects of a person’s life.

My first and only experience abroad before Italy was the summer of 2014. I spent about five days working at a trade show in Harrogate, England and then two weeks at the international branch of the company I was interning for in Huddersfield, England. In just 20 days I returned home with a major perspective change on just how massive the world really is, a new sense of independence, and the realization that the horizon of opportunities ahead was even broader than I had originally anticipated. Making connections abroad gave me access to new and very different resources and perspectives. The desire to explore employment options with international opportunities along with the realization that it could actually become a reality were turning points in my perspective on the future. My 20 days in the UK amplified my aspiration to study abroad and seize the opportunity to explore other countries and learn more about myself.

I’ve always thought of myself as an independent person, but this entire experience was independence on a new level for me. When I felt alone, I felt very alone and when I saw a new place it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my short twenty-one years. I felt a greater need to stay in touch with what was going on back home and developed a new appreciation for the news. I cleaned out my friend list and restored my Facebook news feed to give me relevant updates on business, politics, and world events since I was constantly using the social media site for communication with other exchange students. I started paying closer attention to non-U.S. news sources in order to have a different and less biased view on European news and outside opinions on the drama of U.S. politics. I cared less about buying clothing and material items and more about eating amazing food. I scoured guidebooks and Wikipedia pages for further information about historical sights and the places I was visiting. I developed a newfound interest in a subject I loathed in high school, history. I’m very detail oriented and found myself having a big role in planning trips and leading the way with a map close at hand to make sure we saw the sights. I discovered how to get by with the Italian language. Overall I have learned so much from Italy, Bocconi University, and my time spent traveling that I am confident I have become more well rounded as a person.

I hope that the Fisher Student Exchange program grows. Other universities have 5-10 students attending Bocconi each semester while we typically can only reserve 1-2 spots depending on the interest Bocconi students have in coming to Ohio State University. Bocconi’s exchange network is massive with over 800 exchange students this fall from an impressively diverse list of foreign partner institutions from every continent (except Antarctica). If nothing else, researching the program and attending an information session can help students learn something about a foreign institution or a different country, and shed some light on the program’s feasibility.

I never thought of study abroad as something that I could afford. Growing up my family never took trips outside of the U.S., I didn’t know what it meant to be a true tourist, and I’ve always had different jobs during the academic year and internships in the summers to help out with paying for tuition and rent. The exchange program, Fisher College of Business, and Ohio State University offer some excellent scholarships to assist students with funding an invaluable semester abroad. During the program students pay a normal OSU semester of tuition and can utilize the federal loans they might receive during a standard semester of school. The most daunting of expenses are the plane ticket to Europe and rent. With some strategic planning and insight on appropriate dates to travel I believe that it is possible to find flights that are reasonable in price. My rent payment for a dorm that was cleaned on a weekly basis and had all the essentials (including a private bedroom) cost no more than a mid-budget off-campus housing option in Columbus. Drafting a budget and forecasting expenses is an excellent exercise that helped me understand where I stood financially before I left the U.S. and what I’ll need in order to get by when I return to Ohio State in January. As with living anywhere there are ways to live frugally and cut costs while abroad so that saving for some amazing travel experiences is easy.

Taking a college student out of their natural environment for four months reveals a lot about a person and presents an opportunity for that person to face a completely new list of daily struggles and triumphs. Simple activities like riding public transport to school every morning, visiting the grocery store, or ordering a coffee when the bartender doesn’t speak English, and big things like how to budget and travel without hindering academic progress are part of the daily routine. Staying organized both in preparing for the time abroad and in everyday life once abroad can help to avoid silly mistakes that will save money and prevent students from finding themselves in dangerous situations. I have heard countless stories about getting fined on the trains, having items stolen, losing keys, getting excess charges for booking with the wrong companies, and just in general getting taken advantage of. As a student traveling around Europe with friends it is easy to lose the feeling of being a tourist and become overly confident. Staying alert and aware while also having a good time can save traveling students from headaches and unwanted expenses.

Time is something I’ve thought about a lot in the last few weeks. I have already looked through my photo library multiple times to keep reminding myself of the four months I have had in Milan and the amazing experiences I’ve had traveling this semester. Since arriving in August I have visited Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Verona, Corfu (Greece), Florence/Tuscany, Barcelona (Spain), Genoa, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Marrakech (Morocco), Parma, and Rome. I have taken pictures that I will cherish for years to come. I never could have imagined that I would be camping in the Sahara Desert on Thanksgiving Day, jumping off cliffs in the Mediterranean Sea, or laying eyes on some of the greatest artistic works of the Renaissance era. Italy has been very good to me, and I am promising myself that I will return.

No matter where the opportunity might present itself I highly recommend that students do everything in their power to study abroad. I firmly believe that I will return home with a lot more to offer and that through their own unique set of experiences this is true for every student.

Please feel free to contact me with questions you might have about my experience or studying abroad in general. I am happy to share what I have learned and love meeting new people with a similar passion for learning more about the global environment we live in.

With the very best regards,

Jayna Wolfe (wolfe.592@osu.edu)

About the Author: Jayna Wolfe, Senior, Logistics Management, Student Exchange Program- Italy, first time traveler to Europe. Planned graduation in SP 2016.

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The End in a Blink of an Eye

Brad Schulze reflects back on the wonderful four months in Italy on the Students Exchange Program. It was challenging, inspiring, eye-opening, adventurous, but a life changing experience that he learned more about himself then ever before. 

They say time flies when your having fun and that couldn’t be more true than this past semester. Here I am, sitting in the Baltimore airport, eating Chipotle for the first time in quite some time, waiting for one more connecting flight to head home. Finals are over, the packing is done but it still hasn’t hit me that it has come to an end. It is weird to think that exactly four months ago I sat in the same airport but headed in the opposite direction with a sense of uncertainty on what to expect. What would Italy be like? Would I make new friends? Would I have fun? Well now I can say I sit here with nothing but certainty. Certainty that I had the best four months of my life. Certainty that I have made friends for life. Certainty I learned more about myself in four months than in 21 years of life and certainty that Italy and Europe treated me well and that I certainly will be back.

If you had asked me about a year ago from today where I saw myself in a year; the answer would have been finishing up finals at OSU and headed home for the holidays. Instead, in reality I was headed home from an experience of a lifetime. I had spent four months in a foreign continent traveling and experiencing different cultures, gaining worldwide friends, learning from teachers across the globe and learning more about myself than ever before.

How many 21 years old are lucky enough to experience the things that I did?  I got to bike across the Netherlands countryside, biked through Barcelona, ate Belgian waffles in Brussels, sipped on a few Guinesse’s and listened to live local bands in Dublin, took a trip back to the Roman Empire and visited the colleseum, visited two of the worlds most famous churches, La Sagrada Familia and Milan Duomo and of enjoy a nice Roman sunset. During the week I got to go to dinner and hang out with kids from around the world. Learn some deutch, spanish and italian. Plan a thanksgiving potluck for 30 people and have a Turkey Bowl. I got to pick up a job tutoring two young Italian kids in English and grab coffee once a week with my italian language partner. The list goes on and on and on.

Netherlands

Netherlands

An experience like this really put things in perspective and teaches you so much. Really makes you realize just how big the world is and just how many awesome places and awesome people there are. Makes you realize just how small, in reality, Ohio State is. Made me realize that while living in a foreign country is a scary thought, it is quite possible. Hard to describe but being alone in a country, planning classes, studying for exams, requesting Airbnb’s and just being on your own really is an accomplished feeling. Makes other daunting tasks not seem so hard. Really just teaches you that the world is big and the opportunities are out there, and with some motivation, are very doable.

It felt like a blink of an eye and was very hard to say good bye to my “temporary” life in Milan and hard to say good bye to all the great people I met. So many thanks to go around to so many people for such a great four months. To all my friends; especially my parents for all their support and of course The Fisher Student Exchange Program. Studying abroad had to be the best experience of my life up until this point and I hope an opportunity to return presents itself in the very near future. I never would have thought the experience would have been this great. It fullfilled and surpassed every expectation I had. From traveling to making new friends and learning a new language it was an A++. Made friendships that will last a lifetime and a part of me will always be in Milan, Italy. To a great four months and until next time.

Thanks Europe for the time of my life.

Barcelona Beach Chilling

Barcelona Beach Chilling

Florence with the Italians and Spanish

Florence with the Italians and Spanish

Rome Sunset

Rome Sunset

About the Author: Brad Schulze, Senior, Finance, Student Exchange Program- Italy

Professional Interactions in Manchester

With the fortunate opportunity Kevin McGann had meeting with business professionals at Manchester on the Student Exchange Program, he shares his observation on how business is different in England compared to the U.S.

While living in Manchester, I have had the opportunity to further understand the English business culture.  Beyond learning about business practices in my classes, I have had the opportunity to network with English business professionals.  My first chance came when I attended a banquet for North American students this past October.  I arrived with other American exchange students who I had met during my first month in Manchester.  None of us knew what to expect before attending the event, and only knew that food would be provided.  When we arrived, we started conversing with other exchange students from all over the U.S. and Canada.  We talked about how we had been enjoying our time in Manchester so far, but were still getting used to the culture.  All of us missed home to a small extent, but were eager to make travel plans.  It was refreshing to find that a lot of the other American exchange students felt the same way I did after being away for a month.

During this banquet, I was able to speak with a couple of University of Manchester recruiters who gave me some insight into English business culture.  A couple of other American exchange students and I started asking them basic questions about restaurants and other attractions in Manchester.  After this basic small talk about things to do in Manchester, one of the recruiters talked about his business trips to America, and about the differences that he sees in the two cultures.  He mentioned that business professionals in England are more reserved than those in America.  He found the young professionals in America to be more outgoing and more likely to strike up a conversation with someone they don’t know.  I think this observation extends beyond business people and is an accurate distinction between the English and Americans in general.  Despite this difference, he mentioned that he believes that business is conducted in a similar fashion in both countries.

I was also able to speak with one of the generous benefactors who makes exchange at the University of Manchester possible.  I did not know this when I had first approached her and was surprised to find out that she wasn’t a professor.  Speaking with her gave me insight into her reasons for donating to the exchange program specifically.  One of the main reasons that she gave was that she believed that global experiences drastically enhance a student’s education.  She came across as very genuine and interested in hearing about my reasons for choosing to study in Manchester.  Although we only spoke briefly, I am glad that I was able to meet one of the people in Manchester who has allowed me to have the best three months of my life.

My business classes provided insight into how important America is to international business.  I realized this when every single one of my business professors mentioned the U.S. during lecture in a positive business context.  What I concluded from this is that the U.S is an extremely powerful force in the business world.  This could be due to the fact that there are many American corporations are operating abroad.  England is not nearly as relevant in my Fisher classes, but it is difficult to say whether this is due to a lack of large companies in England or a more U.S. focused curriculum.  One way in which I was able to see how business is conducted in England is through shopping. Every grocery store that I shopped at charged people for grocery bags.  This encouraged people to bring their own.  Although this is minor, I think that it demonstrates the environmental awareness in England’s business community.  Another small difference that I noticed was that British stores are much smaller.  There are less one stop shop places in England, which made weekly grocery shopping more challenging.

Adapting to English Culture and Travel Advice

Experience navigating though England, Kevin McGann give tips on how to survive in a different culture and country while on the Student Exchange Program.

The first difference I noticed when I first arrived at the University of Manchester was that Manchester’s campus is much more sprawled out.  I am about a 25 minute bus ride away from campus, and I am still considered to live in campus halls.  This says something about English culture because the reason that the college’s administration can justify having student living located so far from campus is due to the fact that public transportation in England is phenomenal.  Although the buses are dependable and arrive at most bus stops every 5 minutes, relying solely on public transportation was a tough change for me.  This is mainly because I had a hard time figuring out exactly when I had to leave my hall to be able to make it to class on time.  It turned out that there was no answer to this question because there is a ton of variety in bus travel time.

Getting acclimated to public transportation was not as big a challenge as adapting to language differences.  A common greeting in England is “you ok?” and for the first two weeks of being here, I thought that my flatmates were asking me this because I was a foreigner.  Although this is a trivial example, there are several phrases that are used that I had a difficult time understanding.  Beyond picking up on common phrases, understanding certain accents was difficult at first.  For example, I could not understand about a third of what one of my flat mates was saying for the first couple weeks. This is partially due to the fact that she is from Newcastle, which has a particularly thick English accent, and that she speaks really quickly. Some people have trouble understanding me as well, so the accent barrier goes both ways.

My English peers are friendly and are for the most part accepting of Americans. This is not to say that America, as a country, is well received in England because there are parts of American culture that the English despise. For example, when my flat mates think of America, gun violence, lack of health coverage, and pollution first enter their minds. This can get irritating when these topics are brought up in conversation because there is much more to America than a few policies.  This negative view of America has affected how I am treated to a small degree.  When these situations would arise at the beginning of the semester, I would usually stay silent.  As time went on and I became more comfortable with my flat mates, I would usually point out that England isn’t without its flaws either, and that they shouldn’t act like you know everything about America if they haven’t even been there.  My advice to future exchange students would be to handle this situation however you see fit, but that it helps to be prepared.

I have 3 pieces of advice for exchange students who want to travel during their time abroad:

1.) Find other exchange students to travel with. Before I went abroad, I thought that I would be able to meet English people to travel with.  This was not the case because English students don’t have the incentive to travel around Europe because that is always an option for them. Instead, start talking to other exchange students to see if they have similar travel plans.

2.) Book flights in advance. Prices for the airlines that you will be using have been known to skyrocket within days.  This is why exchange students should try to book trips as soon as they find people to travel with. This not only cuts down on prices, but it also allows students to focus on studying without feeling bad about not having enough trips planned.

3.) Be adventurous. Exchange students should not be discouraged if they can’t find people to do some of the things that they want to do whether travel or activities. For example, I traveled to Amsterdam by myself because I couldn’t find anyone to go with, and it was one of the best trips that I’ve taken during my time over here.  The sense of accomplishment and independence that I felt after returning to Manchester is unmatched by anything else I’ve ever done.

Business Exposure in Japan at the OLM DAY 2015 Event

Phuong Tran shares her experience, attending the OLMDay2015 event in Tokyo, while she studies in Japan on the Student Exchange Program. She expanded professional networks and got insight of Japanese business, all thanks to being awarded one of Japans’ Bridging Scholarships.

I considered myself lucky for being one of the recipients of the Bridging Scholarships, which was funded by various private foundations and major U.S. corporations. The best thing about receiving this scholarship was that I received not only financial aids but also opportunities to attend professional events during my time in Japan. Back in December 2015, I was invited to participate in the OLMDAY2015 event at Oak Lawn Marketing’s office in Toranomon, Tokyo. The OLMDay2015 event was sponsored by Oak Lawn Marketing Inc., and offered to American students who received an OLM scholarship through the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation for studying in Japan.

During the event, me and three other students were given an introduction presentation on the company’s background and business, a tour around their office, and had hand-on experience through a marketing workshop, and then a meeting with President Hill.

I was really thankful for this opportunity because this was my first time to visit a Japanese company and talk to the employees who were actually working there. I also appreciated the fact that some of the staffs were from other countries, so they were able to give me an insight on what kind of jobs that foreigners (like myself) could do in Japan, and how they fit in the company’s culture.

The marketing workshop was very fun and exciting. After being introduced to the company’s marketing philosophy “Before After After,” we were divided into groups to create a marketing plan for a “product that is not available on the Japanese market yet” under the guidance of the OLM staffs. We had only about 20 minutes to prepare, which made me very nervous, but the OLM staffs were very friendly and helpful. Everyone in the team had a chance to express our ideas and was willing to do that. We collaborated very well even though we did not know each other before.  Then we presented our plan to the marketing director and received feedback from him.

The experience that had the most impact on me was the meeting with Mr. Hill, a very passionate businessman from America. I asked him about the company’s participation in the post-disaster recovery because the incident was one of many things that had ignited my interest in Japan. Back in 2011, I watched news about the situation in Japan and was impressed on how Japanese citizens got together in order to overcome the disaster. However, I was impressed at how the president addressed the issue from the viewpoint of a businessman. According to him, one of OLM’s significant contributions in reviving the economy in the area was continuing their business and creating jobs. I agreed with Mr. Hill that businesses should aim for profit even in such situation, and by doing that they could benefit the whole community.

The visit was very helpful for me as well as other students since we were all interested in working in Japan in the future. The staff was very friendly and answered all of our concerns about working in Japan, such as over-time work and how to communicate with other Japanese co-workers. From my observation, Oak Lawn had a diverse and American-like culture, especially in their Sales and Marketing branches, which was understandable since the company was founded and directed by an American. I sometimes felt concerned about whether or not I could actually work in a Japanese company, but after this visit, I felt like I had an idea about what to look for in a company in the future.

On the other hand, I feel that we were busy with many things to do in such a short amount of time. I wish we had more time to sit down and have conversations with the OLM staffs. Nevertheless, OLMDAY2015 was a wonderful experience, and I appreciated the company for providing me this opportunity to learn about business in Japan.

OLMDAY2015

OLM’s office and my team during the marketing workshop.

The event was also reported on the company’s website here.

About the Author: Phuong Tran, Senior, Accounting and Japanese. Student Exchange Program- Japan.

Life at Manchester Business School

Kevin McGann sheds light on the university experience at Manchester Business School in England, and shares his top three reasons to attend Manchester Business School.

I am now over half way through my time here at the University of Manchester and have noticed that the classes at the Manchester Business School (MBS) are extremely similar to classes in the Fisher College of Business.  I think that the main reason for this is that these schools are similar in size.  To deal with the large amount of students, Manchester Business School incorporates a lecture and seminar structure that is similar to that of Ohio State’s. There are however, a couple slight differences in the way class schedules are structured. The first being that most lectures in MBS are two hours instead of one.  Fortunately, lectures allow students a 5-10 minute break halfway through lecture to relax and prepare for the second half. Another slight difference is that the seminars in MBS courses occur every other week instead of every week. With both of these differences in mind, it definitely seems like there is less in person class time as compared to Fisher.

Student assessments are a major point of difference that one needs to consider when choosing to do exchange at the University of Manchester. In all of the business courses that I am taking, there is a special exchange student assessment. These assessments have required that I submit a 2,000 to 3,000 word essay by the end of the semester that counts for 100% of my overall grade.  This style of assessment definitely does not benefit procrastinators.

The most interesting course that I’m taking abroad is called Leadership in Action. This class focuses on leadership theory and what exactly makes an effective leader. Probably the best facet of the Leadership in Action lectures is that there is a new speaker every week. Each speaker has his or her own specific cause or topic that they talk about for the entire lecture. A couple examples of the topics that the lecturers have touched on include human trafficking, access to higher education, and climate change. My favorite topic that we covered was climate change because of how relevant it is currently. Students are encouraged to provide their opinions on the lecture topics which makes class time more engaging.  A wide range of nationalities are represented in this course, so class discussions give insight into cultural backgrounds. It was interesting, but also disappointing to hear what British students think of the large percentage of Americans who don’t believe that global warming is occurring. A large part of the student’s grade is based on a group E-Poster project which requires students to work together in a groups of five to create an essay about a wicked problem that is impacting the world right now and what key leaders are doing about it. Every member of my group is from a different country which makes collaboration challenging but interesting. Each of us had a different idea of how the overall poster should be portrayed, so there need to be compromises to adhere to everyone’s preferences. I would definitely recommend Leadership in Action for anyone who is attending the University of Manchester, because of the way it provides students with a more global perspective.

I would encourage students who are thinking about going on exchange to strongly consider attending the University of Manchester for the following three reasons:

  1. Campus Housing: This immediately immerses exchange students in English culture. I live in a flat with 7 other people and we share a kitchen and two bathrooms. This setup is fairly common in England and has been a great way to make close friends with English students. My flatmates have become my biggest support network throughout my time here and have made me feel at home. Not all university accommodation contains the same layout as mine; in fact, many of my American friends are in halls that are very similar to campus dorms back home. Students should keep this in mind when they are considering different accommodation options.
  2. Location: Manchester’s central location makes travelling simple. I have been able to travel to other European destinations including Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin for relatively cheap prices.
  3. The International Society: The last major reason why Fisher students need to make Manchester their top choice is because the international society at MBS makes it easy to meet other exchange students who want to plan events. I have met most of my friends here through international society events. These events enable exchange students to meet peers who are just as excited to travel throughout Europe.

About the Author: Kevin McGann, Rank, Major, Student Exchange Program- England.

Welcome to Bocconi’s Education System

Let Brad Schulze help you navigate the educational system in Italy and share his tips of being a successful student at Bocconi University, as he spends his semester on the Student Exchange Program. 

Imagine having a class scheduled for an entire semester at a certain place and a certain time; for example, at 10 am on Thursdays. Now imagine having another class that is canceled and rescheduled to the exact same time as your 10 am Thursday class and you have to miss the rescheduled class BUT are unable to get the absence excused by your teacher or by the university. Welcome to Italy. Welcome to Milan; and welcome to Bocconi Univeristy. A complete 360 from what you are used to; but an experience of a lifetime.

Just a quick background on the university in which I am spending my semester. It’s called Bocconi University and is highly regarded as one of the top business and overall university’s in Italy and in all of Europe. It consists of 2 main classroom buildings, 3 or 4 other buildings, a cafeteria, a gym, dorms and a bank. THAT IS IT. It is small, no question. It was a complete 360 from Ohio State and where I had spent the last 2 years of my college career studying. There are three huge differences that I can see and those are university lifestyle, classroom and school structure and self-study and self preparation for exams. Understanding the 3 and how to adapt has been crucial for me to succeed in my classes.

First, the university lifestyle. I hate to break it to you Buckeyes but there is no college football and in that case any college sports at the universities here in Italy. You won’t see your fellow Bocconian’s traveling down the street on a Friday afternoon repping their gear for Saturday’s big game. Just won’t find it. There aren’t nearly as many clubs and organizations to get involved in and you most certainly won’t see hundreds of your classmates tossing the Frisbee or lying out studying on your way to class; as I mentioned above there really is no campus quad, etc. I definitely was not anticipating the usual US college lifestyle when preparing to attend Bocconi but I can definitely say I was very shocked at just how different the two are. Of course I am bias and believe the Buckeyes and campus lifestyle at Ohio State trumps that of Bocconi but it most certainly has not taken away from the experience at Bocconi. Here you get to work and learn with kids from all over the world; more so than Ohio State. Instead of paying $7 for lunch on high street their are many local pizzerias where you can snag lunch for less than $3. Completely different and un-comparable. A different experience to say the least.

Main Classroom Building Lobby

Main Classroom Building Lobby

Moving on from the lifestyle, imagine yourself sitting in a lecture on Portfolio Management; with a professor who you may not find the most interesting for three hours every Friday morning with only one five-minute break that is denote as “the smoke break”. If you have never been blessed with this experience, I am here to tell you; you are not missing out. This is quite common at Bocconi. They only offer classes in either blocks of 1.5 hours, in which you have class twice a week, and 3 hour in which you have class once a week. Aside from that each class, from my knowledge, is only offered around 3 or 4 times a week so there is very little flexibility in creating your “ideal schedule.” Finally, as far as structure goes, and what I wish I had been a little better prepared for, is the idea that your grade completely falls on the shoulders of your final exam. Most classes here have very little, if any, homework and there is no such thing as participation points. With the different structure and all the traveling I wanted to do, I really had to adapt my studying and learning habits in order to succeed here at Bocconi. There was a learning curve but I think I have finally come up with my studying techniques (which I share at the end of this post) that will help me do well on my finals coming up in November.

Marketing Lecture

Marketing Lecture

The first thing I learned is that buying the textbook is a must. Unlike Ohio State where for a majority of the classes the textbook is a recommended learning material; it is the learning material. Being proactive and reading the chapters and doing some practice problems ahead of class is a huge advantage. The teachers here don’t take the time to make sure you understand the material and go at a very fast pace. The fast pace also makes office hours a must but the only problem is there are very few and they change a lot. I have learned it is much better to just send the teacher an email and set up a meeting. This way you know he/she will be there and won’t waste valuable time. Lastly, and maybe the most important is just to be kind and patient with the teacher. It is a different culture here and if you show an understanding of that and are patient they are way more willing to work with you through any problems you may have.

Looking back on this; it makes me realize that had I known all this before my semester begun it would have been way smoother; but to be honest I am glad I didn’t. It really has pushed me to academic levels I would have never thought possible. It has been one of the best parts of studying abroad and as I sit here describing my experiences and giving my advice it will be different for everyone and the best advice I can give is just be ready for change. There is no right or wrong answer or right or wrong way of doing certain things; you just need to figure out what works for you. And I believe if you can do the following things you will have a great and successful semester, academically and culturally, abroad even through the highs and lows.

  • Be patient. You won’t have the answer for every problem on Day 1. It takes some time.
  • Be adaptable. The way things are done here will cause some differences in what you are use to on a day to day basis. Be ready to adapt to those in order to make the most out of your abroad experience.
  • Take Initiative. Even more so than back home. Be on top of things. Office hours are not encouraged as much and most teachers only have them on an appointment basis. It is up to you to take advantage of these things.
  • Stay on Top of Things and Find a Balance. This may be the most important tip I can give. Yes, you are a student first but studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience. You will want to travel to all the top places on your bucket list, hang out with all your new worldwide friends and enjoy events hosted by your university. To be able to do all these awesome things it is very important that you do not fall behind. Create a schedule and find the right balance for you.

So even though, 2 months later, I still have not been able to get that 10 am Thursday Class absence excused; I am still here and still a student at Bocconi. Even though there are fewer office hours and teachers are less involved I am still doing just fine in all of my classes. Just because something is different doesn’t make it easier or harder or right or wrong. It just requires a little change. If studying abroad is something that interests you but the differences scare you; I promise that if you can be patient, be adaptable, take some initiative and find your balance, you will be just fine and better for it.

About the Author: Brad Schulze, Senior, Finance, Student Exchange Program- Italy.

Business So Casual

Observe the difference in the business world between the U.S. and Denmark as Kelley Jiang talks about some of the business related events and etiquettes that she have experienced during her Student Exchange Program at Copenhagen Business School- Denmark in Autumn 2015.

This may be a little bit of a continuation off my other post about what the education system is like in Denmark since Copenhagen Business School is indeed a business school, but this post will focus more on the business world in Denmark and what my reactions were after attending some networking and workshop events here.

Because most of us have grown up living the majority of our lives in America we are more familiar with how business is done in the U.S. Business news is centered around milestones, progress, and mishaps that are relevant to America. There is a business “world” in America, that has standards of how to give a good presentation, how to dress business casual verses business professional, etiquette for interviews and business meetings, or how to give an effective elevator pitch. Although I have learned in the classroom that globalization is slowly universalizing the world, especially when it comes to business, after spending just a couple of months in Copenhagen, Denmark I have come across some surprising differences between the business “world” here and the business “world” in America. These differences lead me to conclude that globalization still has some work to do.

The differences I have noticed in how business is conducted in Copenhagen are found in many areas of business including giving a sales pitch, case study competitions, and social media presence.

But one of the major, overarching differences I want to first address before going into the other differences I have just listed is an extension of one of the major, overarching differences I described in my previous post about the educational system in Copenhagen: casualness. The casualness and open atmosphere in the classroom extend into the way business professionals present themselves and their companies to potential future employees or us CBS students. I have grown up with the image of a man in a three-piece suit carrying a briefcase and acting/speaking in an extremely formal manner imprinted into what I perceive to be a typical businessman. I see it in shows, movies, my parents, and the people that surround me in every day life back home. I see men and women dressed like this on my way to school as they are on their way to work and I watched for 18 years as my dad dressed in a button up and tie every day for work. At first, when I noticed there were significantly fewer people dressed like this in Copenhagen, I thought that the business world was just smaller in Copenhagen—maybe this city is not as business orientated as the cities I have lived in in the past. But I soon realized that these “business people” were everywhere but they just didn’t dress up every day. I actually found that there were more students at CBS who would dress in, in my opinion, nice business clothes than if you were to wander around the city center during the average week day.

Also, after attending a start-up pitch presentation, I was again astonished at the level of casualness that was exhibited during the networking event. The point of this event was for start-up companies to promote their company and recruit students to complete an internship with them. First, we had to reserve seats in the auditorium to ensure that there would be enough seats for everyone. But instead of checking for your ticket upon entrance, the organizers merely left the doors to the auditorium open for whoever would like to come. The auditorium did not overflow like I expected it would because of the lack of ticket checking. It was like there was a strongly valued honor system in place. Also, there was no dress code for the presenters and especially no dress code for the students attending the event.

After the presentations began I was again surprised that each person was only given three minutes to present their company and they were timed down to the second! This formality stood out like a sore thumb among all the casual vibes I had been getting right when I walked through those un-manned auditorium doors. But back to the topic of being casual, the presenters had all different types of presentations: ranging from the traditional PowerPoint presentation to just a verbal presentation. I found it strange how each presenter chose to use his/her precious three minutes and startling at how “start-up” some of the companies were—one had not even been successfully launched yet! One company spent two minutes of their time showing a promo video for their company which left little time to talk about what type of opportunities there were at their company for us while another dressed up in a costume to show how much fun their company has while another even showed an extremely explicit photo of a previous intern also in order to show the “fun” factor of working for their company. I left the event feeling extremely confused and still am today when I reflect back on the experience, because I could not figure out if I had just attended an extremely uniquely set up for a start-up pitch session or Denmark’s structure of recruiting interns just highly contrasted what I have been used to in the US.

My friends and I also participated in a case competition run by an organization at CBS called My Marketing Lab. The organization teamed with the famous Danish beer company, Carlsberg, to put together a marketing problem for students to solve. I began the competition thinking that we had a real shot at winning because of the diversity represented among our group: two Americans, an Australian, and a Canadian that studies in Scotland. But after reflecting back on the experience it seems that we tackled the marketing problem unconsciously through the lens of our own culture. It was an easy mistake considering our own culture and people have been all that we have known until now. Our case was not presented to a panel of judges but submitted simply via PowerPoint, which was totally foreign and made no sense to me. In previous case competitions, I have always been asked to prepare a presentation to an audience with a question and answer panel to follow. I found it extremely hard to communicate our message the way we wanted through just a submission of a PowerPoint presentation.

Last, from being on the social media and marketing committee for an organization at CBS called CBS Coffee I am able to learn more about the culture and marketing opportunities in the Danish market. My first and most important lesson was that Twitter is not relevant here, but instead everything revolves around Facebook. As a person who checks her Twitter feed at least twice as much as Facebook, this was jaw-dropping news. Also, the market for Instagram has recently begun to grow, which was surprising to me as well, because I would not consider Instagram a new social media platform in America.

In conclusion, I realize that although I have learned a lot about the professional world in Copenhagen, I can’t solidify what I have learned just yet because my experiences here have only been dipping my toes in the waters. I can’t think that all start-up pitches are like the ones that I heard in that one event and I can’t expect every case competition set up to be similar to the one that I participated in. Making the generalization would be a mistake and most likely unreflective of Copenhagen as a whole.

But even though I cannot make generalizations based off my experiences so far, it is evident to me that there are definitely major differences between Danish business and American business even with all the globalization in the world.

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About the Author: Kelley Jiang, Junior, Marketing, Student Exchange Program- Denmark

Please Hire Me! – The Career Fair Struggle

Senior year Student Exchange participant, Jayna Wolfe, jumps into an Italian Career Fair to gain a better understanding of what the career competition is like in Italy at one of Europe’s top business schools, Bocconi University.

This past week I had the unique opportunity to attend the Bocconi & Jobs Career Fair Event that is hosted by Bocconi University once every semester. Excited for the incredibly relevant opportunity to see for myself what an Italian career fair might be like I dug the high heel shoes I have been neglecting and the fancy blazer out from the back of my closet.

The event runs from 10AM-5PM and is an exclusive occasion during which major Italian and international employers meet with students, graduates, and Specialized Master holders from the University. About 90 companies attended this year’s event and 40 of those companies were featured in 30 minute presentations during which recruiters described their company profile, organization, available internship and placement opportunities, and the selection processes. Most of the presentations were offered in English and some in Italian, another reminder of how lucky we are that English is the “international language.” A majority of the companies who attend the career fair require their employees to have sufficient proficiency in the English language. I was fortunate to have availability in my schedule to sit in on three of the company presentations- KIKO Milano, Procter & Gamble, and BlackRock, Inc.

KIKO Milano is a leading Italian cosmetics retailer currently operating in 12 markets across the world. KIKO is one of Antonio Percassi’s mono-brand retailers and currently operates over 700 stores worldwide. After its foundation in 1997 and almost a decade of brand establishment, KIKO opened its first retail store in Italy in 2005. The KIKO representatives began the information session by focusing on the brand and growth of the company over the last decade. The second half of the session was devoted to providing information about corporate job opportunities at KIKO’s headquarters in Bergamo, a city about 40 kilometers northeast of Milan. As a company focused on expanding their global presence and constantly looking for other growth opportunities, KIKO recruits in two main directions, retail and corporate staffing. I found it interesting that despite their rapid expansion there are only about 350 employees at the corporate headquarters in Bergamo, a promising sign for Bocconi students interested in career opportunities with KIKO Milano.

Overall, it was great to hear about an Italian company and the types of candidates the company is seeking. KIKO requires an initial interview, meeting with the line director of the position you are interested in, online assessment, and an English test. English fluency is a requirement in all departments except accounting. The ideal candidate is dynamic, with a great attitude and fashion sense, and an international mindset. Definitely a great opportunity for someone looking to work in an industry heavily involved with international markets.

I was particularly excited to hear the Proctor & Gamble presentation because the company has such a strong presence on OSU’s campus and I have previously had the opportunity to participate in P&G information sessions with some of the student organizations I am involved with. The four recruiters that presented during the P&G session based the thirty minutes around one central question “Are you ready to be the next P&G top manager?” After touching on why P&G is the place to be and identifying their ideal candidate the “Top Manager” event was explained to the group. Basically a fast track to growth opportunities, the “Top Manager” event and “P&G Group Case Competition” give students the chance to show off their talents and improve the likelihood of earning a job offer. Very interesting and reminiscent of case competitions at Ohio State.

BlackRock, Inc. was one of the final presentations of the day and I wanted to give myself a chance to hear what a financial company had to say, as finance is something I’m newly exposed to in my Corporate Finance course this semester. BlackRock is a multinational investment management corporation based in New York City and the company is the world’s largest asset manager. The presenter was fabulously British and instead of speaking specifically about BlackRock, used her time as a skills session on interviews and assessment centers. The focus was on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing and CV’s (AKA resumes, for some reason all of Europe and the UK uses this term) and how to nail an interview. The moral of my 30 minutes- Prep yourself before you wreck yourself.

General Observations About the Career Fair:

  • The students were not dressed in “business professional” (surprising for a university of primarily business students and Europe’s top business school). Recruiters at the career fair were dressed in their normal professional attire, but it seemed to me that only a handful of the students who might have been interviewing were truly dressed in suits. I believe this might have something to do with the culture and the nature of professionalism required at the Bocconi career fair. Maybe these students not dressed up were simply interested in preparing themselves for future opportunities rather than seriously dropping off resumes and hoping for interviews.
    • At Fisher you would not be permitted to enter in jeans and a hoody carrying your backpack.
  • Company information sessions took place during the career fair
    • Usually these take place as independent events organized by career services, or are hosted by Fisher student organizations during weekly meetings
  • Students as well as alumni are permitted to attend the career fair up to 3 years after graduating from Bocconi
    • Fisher students must be enrolled to attend the career fair
  • Almost as if hosting an on-campus event some of the companies were handing out goody bags of sample items
    • I’ve never received more than a fancy pen with the company’s name on it from a career fair at Fisher (maybe I just haven’t talked to the right people)

Overall, I believe the career fair was fairly similar to those I have attended at Ohio State. It was definitely smaller in scale, but similar in the way that students were approaching stands of companies they were interested in with hopes of dropping resumes with the recruiters. The approach to recruiting also seems to be similar with interviews, resumes, and general communication between recruiters and students. However, in general the opportunities presented at the career fair span far beyond the borders of Italy. Students at a Bocconi career fair are much more likely to encounter job offers in other parts of Europe and the UK depending on the companies they approach. Although companies that recruit in the U.S. offer some opportunities abroad they do not typically start new employees at international locations (at least from my experience). This is definitely the result of the way in which European countries operate as a whole with a standardized currency and similar employment laws.

Much like back home, students at Bocconi are constantly looking for ways to get ahead in their future business careers. Despite the competitive environment I was surprised that more of my peers in the exchange program were not determined to suit up, attend the company presentations, and get face-time with international recruiters. I think it is easy to get caught up in the allure of traveling while you are an exchange student, and although I have loved every second of exploring new places with my friends, I think it is also important to remember why we are here. We are here because we are competitive business students who have the desire to explore the world in which we live beyond the borders of our home country. We are here because we had the drive and motivation to apply for a competitive program that we believe will open the doors to opportunities beyond an undergraduate degree. I am absolutely proud and blessed to be here.

As a fourth year student planning to graduate in the spring I am beginning to struggle with the idea that I will be making a decision about full-time employment in the coming months. On one side of the spectrum there are people who tell you to work hard, always keep your eye out for the next opportunity, and never be afraid to try new things. On the other side there is encouragement to relax, after all, you’ll only ever be 21 in Europe with the world at your fingertips once. Ohio State and Fisher College of Business have taught me to work hard, always. I am not the type of person who is pleased with doing average, and can sometimes be too critical of myself. I am excited to return to OSU and figure out what my next steps after graduation will be, but for now I think the best advice I can give myself, or anyone else who might be in a similar situation would be- use this precious time to make memories and have experiences that will build you up when you sit down to write a cover letter, perfect your resume, and prepare for an interview. Not everyone is ok with leaving their home country for 4 months, and not everyone will get the chance– recognize the opportunities you have here and now and take advantage of them.

Until next time!

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About the Author: Jayna Wolfe, Senior, Logistics Management. Student Exchange Program- Italy.