On her very first time outside of the U.S. traveling to Vienna, Austria, senior student Peyton Bykowski finds out that WU is worlds away from Ohio State. She shares her exciting times on the Students Exchange Program attendning Vienna University of Economics and Business Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (WU) during fall semester of 2017, and the cultural differences she has discovered so far.
I have never traveled outside of the United States before hopping on a massive plain to Vienna for 4 months. Was I nervous? Absolutely. No matter how much reassurance I had received from research and personal stories, I was still scared to fly across the ocean in to an unknown experience. I was nervous I would get lost and lose my way. I was worried about the language barrier, since I do not speak German. I was also scared of traveling alone, as I had never done so for a long journey or period of time. But, I had done my research on Vienna and the university, WU, and had a basic idea of its layout and modern feel as well as what the city would be like. In regards to WU, the new WU campus was built in 2013, but the Vienna University of Economics and Business was founded in 1898. The campus contains only 6 main buildings in 25 acres and is only 10 minutes walking distance from one end to the other. In total, the WU campus is about the same size as the Fisher College of Business alone (WU is a bit bigger in terms of ground covered but not by much). Considering that Ohio State is one of the largest universities in the U.S., WU’s size in total was a bit of a change.
As mentioned, the new campus was built in 2013, so it is extremely new and up to date (pictures below). The campus had many architects, but was primarily designed by the famous modern architects Zaha Hadid and Laura Spinadel. As a result, the campus is extremely innovative; with a spaceship-looking library, a rainbow building, and other edgy buildings. It is extremely clean with a lot of coffee shops and eateries for those gaps between classes. However, because it is so small and tuition is free in Europe due to high taxes, the campus doesn’t contain the kinds of facilities expected in the U.S. For example, the campus does not have a free gym, so you must make your accommodations elsewhere (i.e. McFit). To make up for it, the campus is extremely friendly and easy to navigate. It has all of the latest technology and is truly meant to foster educational experiences, not just facilitate lectures.
There are also some different practices I have noticed on campus before my arrival and during my stay here. At Ohio State we have regulated schedules, with your week looking pretty much the same as the week prior and the week to come. At WU, that is not the case. Classes tend to be longer (2-4 hours on average) with classroom changes every week and irregular times. Some classes will be regulated (same time, same day every week) but classrooms may change weekly. It is vital to check every week to ensure you have an understanding of which rooms you are to be in, at what time, and for which classes. Going through the syllabus early for each class is important, as it can help prepare you for your stay here in Vienna and allow you to make proper travel arrangements.
Another noticed difference is the typical dress code, not only at WU, but in most of Europe. While there is no actual “dress code,” students tend to have a more dressed-up wardrobe when attending classes. This can be from jeans and a sweater to a skirt and blazer. I have never seen sweatpants or athletic-wear on campus, as you do not come to class to lounge or work out later on campus. It can be seen as disrespectful to professors to dress poorly, so knowing that “looking good” was a quick tip I was glad to learn early. There is also no “school spirit.” I rarely see students sporting WU apparel, which is the opposite at Ohio State.
Some other practices and administrative differences are in the grading scale and post-lecture ritual. The grading scale at WU is 1-5, with 1 being an A and a 5 an F. In regards to post-lecture ritual, is it customary to knock on the table once the class is finished. This is seen as a “thank you” and is a sign of respect to the lecturer. In my first class the knocking occurred and I wasn’t sure what was happening. It wasn’t until my German language course later that week that I learned about the knocking after our class went over classroom customs.
Being on another part of the world has being a new, and exciting, experience for me. In some regards I knew what to expect, and in many others I didn’t know. Overall, while there are a lot of differences between Ohio State and WU, I am thrilled to have chosen Vienna. While the campus and classes are extremely different to what I am accustomed to, WU was the perfect campus to have that experience of something completely different. The professors are kind and helpful. They are extremely accommodating and, most importantly, want you to enjoy your time here and will help in whatever ways they can. This is a very international school, and the professors understand the challenges of being either from another country or being an exchange student. The students themselves were extremely inviting and aided in getting me situated around the campus and in my classes. The campus is friendly, fresh, and a wonderful place to be. When coming to a new continent, let alone a new country, WU- Vienna was the perfect choice in finding the right combination of a new experience mixed with a place I could easily call home.
Adam Wolf reflects back on when he started the Global Option in Business program, on what he was not aware then, and how the program has changed the way he thinks. He encourages others to join the journey as well!
Before I came to The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, I did not know what to expect. I never thought about the Global Option program, I never thought about what I truly wanted. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to stay in business. I thought about things in a pretty closed-minded way because I hadn’t yet been exposed to the type of international stimulus to build my personal character. Before I started the program, I wasn’t ready for what was coming my way.
As an operations management major, I was not generally too sure of how to define a supply chain. The only thing that I really heard about from the news was in terms of China ‘stealing jobs’ and I did not understand where that ever came from in the first place. My major was a recommendation as Operations Management because my school did not offer supply chain specific curriculum.
Another perspective difference I had before I joined the program epitomized the idea of considering residents of another country as ‘foreign’ as opposed to ‘international.’ I did not even think about what that difference meant until I had it applied in another context. The idea behind the argument to consider members of another country in your resident country (or the other way around) is in the scope of applying it in different perspectives. In short, if you were to go to India, you would be considered a ‘foreigner’ there; that doesn’t feel good! It’s important to keep this type of distinction separate because, as I learned later, it affects the way that you perceive members of your future company in the workplace.
The perspective difference is not meant maliciously against those who still use the term. Rather, I write about the difference to raise awareness. A lot of people in the United States never have the opportunity to leave the country. A lot of people never have the opportunity to go to college. A lot of people never have the opportunity to participate in the Global Option Program at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. Although I’m scratching at the surface of another blog post where I talk about my growth after the program as a whole, I think it’s important to raise as much awareness as I can.
All in all, the Global Option served me well in terms of changing the perspective that I had before the program. I would in no ways call myself stupid before I started the program, and I think that given enough time in life, I would be able to change my previous ideas of global business. However, the most meaningful way the program affects me to this day revolves around how it has changed the way I think. I wanted to do the best job possible of painting my life on a written canvas to show the ways that the Global Option program has affected me. I hope that whoever reads this can think about how this will affect them in the future, or even join the program itself!
Rachel Horvath looks to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to examine her experience interacting with companies in Hong Kong and Mainland China as a 2017 Operations Global Lab participant.
Our travels in Hong Kong and Shanghai for the 2017 Operations Global Lab gave our group the opportunity to experience the impact of cultural differences in a professional setting. While getting used to the subway system and fast-paced nature of the two cities proved to be a challenge for me, an even bigger adjustment was learning to adapt to the customs of our Chinese host companies.
One of the most memorable visits of our trip was to Totole, a large food producer based in Shanghai that, among other things, makes products with the uniquely Asian “umami” flavor. After our tour of their chicken bouillon plant, we had the opportunity to meet with the president of Totole. This meeting highlighted the importance of power distance that is part of Hofstede’s cultural dimension.
China’s high power-distance rating was made clear through a few characteristics of the meeting. First, the carefully arranged seating situation placed the president at the center of the table, with his advisors to his side and our group on the other side. Next, Professor Dickstein and Zach were presented with expensive green tea that was poured and refilled throughout the meeting. This is a sign of both wealth and respect for the leaders of our group. He spoke through a translator and maintained strong eye contact, and at the end of the meeting we presented gifts in a more formal manner. In Chinese culture, the presentation of gifts as a sign of respect and hospitality is an essential part of doing business with both domestic and foreign partners.
I would contrast this visit to our GM-SAIC visit where the woman, an expat from the US, made her presentation much more informal and interactive. The GM-SAIC plant is a joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Company, so this visit was a perfect example of the intersection of east and west that could be found in Shanghai. The woman who presented also discussed her experiences as a businesswoman living abroad while her husband and family are in the states.
China’s collectivist culture was most obvious during our visit to Wong International Holdings. We were shepherded around by multiple employees who were all eager to answer any questions we had, and it was clear throughout the day that our tour was the result of a group effort on their part. When we were being shown the technology, two of the men who had developed the tablets gave the presentation together, and worked with one another when handing out the tablets or explaining technology.
In many company overviews that I have seen at Fisher, there tends to be one or maybe a few people discussing the company, but they usually have much more defined roles in the presentation. Typically, in the US one person will do an entire part of the PowerPoint before moving on to the next person. This same style of collaborative presenting was also seen at TAL Apparel, Continental, and Crown during our visits, speaking to the broad reach of Hofstede’s cultural dimension of collectivism.
Overall, this trip allowed myself and fellow participants to broaden our knowledge of international supply chains while at the same time deepening our cultural competencies and ability to adapt to different styles of doing business. For me personally, the trip gave me the opportunity to bring my specialization in Operations together with my minor in Chinese in a way that has enriched my experiences both in a classroom and professional setting.
Kirk Nordbusch, 2017 participant in Operations Global Lab, shares photos of his 5 favorite attractions in Hong Kong and Mainland China.
Hong Kong and China are rooted in tradition but have experienced massive technological advancements in the last few decades. As such, the main attractions in China include both modern and antique destinations. Here are my top 5 favorite places to visit in Hong Kong/China.
Lamma Island- Hong Kong: My favorite location of our trip. To get to it you must take a ferry. When you arrive, you will be greeted by an amazing view of tree covered mountains and shoreline. Walk a few minutes and you’ll be at one of several beautiful white sand beaches. The seafood there is also amazing! (Sadly, there are no llamas on Lamma island).
Victoria Peak- Hong Kong: Victoria Peak is the tallest mountain in Hong Kong. To get up to it, you take a Peak Tram, which is essentially like a bus on rails. Once you reach the top you have a fantastic view of the city below.
Tian Tan Buddha-Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong: The tallest sitting Buddha in the world. Weighing 250 tons at 112 twelve feet, made entirely of bronze. Pictures don’t do it justice. This statue is huge!
The Bund- Shanghai, China: probably the most famous view in Shanghai, the Bund is a waterfront area along the Huangpu River. The pointed building is the Oriental Pearl tower, which is lit up at night in rotating colors. As you can see in my photos, it’s worth it to see at night!
Humble Administrator’s Garden-Suzhou, China: This was initially a private garden of a former government servant named Wang Xianchen. It contains a variety of beautiful plants, trees, and buildings to see, all situated around a large pound that stretches through the entire garden. My favorite part of the garden is in the far back portion, where there is a designated area just for tiny trees.
Sydney Roth, 2017 participant in Operations Global Lab, details the lessons she learned when the CEO of Wong’s International Holdings Limited invited her group to a high-end lunch in Hong Kong.
In May of my junior year at Ohio State I went abroad with the Fisher College of Business to experience a country that was very foreign to me. For two weeks I went on the Operation’s Global Lab trip to Hong Kong and Shanghai where we had many incredible experiences whether cultural or business oriented. One of the experiences that stood out to me in particular was the business lunch we had with Mr. Wong. Mr. Wong was an Ohio State graduate and currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wong’s International Holdings Limited, which develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes electronics products.
Having never experienced a business lunch in another country it was very interesting to see how the Chinese executives conducted themselves and conducted the lunch. One of the unique things I learned was that after someone at the table pours your tea it is respectful to lightly tap on the table with two fingers to thank them, who knew! In addition, having heard that the Chinese business environment is very hierarchical it was to my surprise how Mr. Wong treated us, as guests, as his equals and showed genuine interest in getting to know our interests and thoughts on certain matters. Being that he has been very successful and runs a large company it was very respectable to see that he would take time out of his day to meet with us students for a very nice lunch.
It was also very interesting speaking to Debbie (Mr. Wong’s assistant) during the meal. As someone not very informed on Chinese dining etiquette it was very interesting to learn a few more tips from her about which chopsticks to use at what time and the correct way to eat certain dishes.
Overall, this experience and trip far exceeded my expectations and was an incredibly beneficial and fun journey to be a part of.
Taylor Hassel, 2017 participant in Sustainable Business Global Lab, shares her photos of the must-visit places in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As I traveled to Europe for the first time this past May with the Sustainable Business Global Lab, I had no idea what to expect. As many eager travelers do, I spent my weeks leading up to the trip Googling and researching all of the places I would soon be seeing. Yet nothing could have prepared me for the vast differences and experiences I was about to encounter. Traveling to The Netherlands and Denmark opened my eyes to the differences between the United States and Europe, and exposed me to places and things I have been beyond grateful to experience.
The following are some what I found to be the highlights of the time I spent in the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen:
Nyhavn – As one of the first images that pops up when looking up Copenhagen, Nyhavn did not disappoint. A beautiful port in the heart of Copenhagen became the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, have some afternoon ice cream, or just sit and people watch. It was easily one of the most crowded places we visited, but seeing the beautiful buildings and enjoying the atmosphere made it a can’t-miss sight.
The Little Mermaid – Another popular tourist attraction, the Little Mermaid was a small but beautiful statue a short walk away from Nyhavn. As one of the most notable attractions in Denmark, the statue is often surrounded by tourists, but it has a rich history behind it. The statue also sits near a quaint park that truly rounds out the whole experience.
Church of Our Savior – Of all of the beautiful churches we visited while in country, the Church of Our Savior stands out, and not just for its iconic spiral tower. We were lucky enough to witness the church’s massive organ, which has more than 4,000 pipes. Additionally, after a 400 step trek, we were able to stand at the top of the spiral, which offers an amazing bird’s eye view of the city.
Tivoli Gardens – As a die-hard Disney fan, the inspiration behind the Disney parks was at the top of my list of things to do in Copenhagen. Tivoli is a small amusement park, with plenty of rides, beautiful gardens, and of course, plenty of food. It is a great place to spend an afternoon releasing your inner child.
Papirøen – Translated to “Paper Island”, Papirøen is the heart of Copenhagen’s street food. With booths representing cultures from all around the world, it makes for a very tough decision when it comes time to eat. Located across from Nyhavn, Papirøen also offers a beautiful view of the canal and makes for an awesome experience.
Jonathon Snell had the opportunity to work with Sequent through the Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP) and learn many invaluable skills.
When I was handed a flyer for a program that had applications due in just two days, I had no clue that it would lead me to such an impactful experience. The Ohio Export Internship Program was very beneficial to my learning and helped me grow in the field of international business, but it wouldn’t have quite been the same without being placed at Sequent after. I knew right away that I would face some unique challenges with this as Sequent does not export a product like most companies in the program, but rather their services, knowledge and expertise.
I hit the ground running with an event in Dublin, Ireland that was only weeks away and hadn’t been done by the company yet. In one week, I called 400+ companies and created flyers and other advertisements for the event. The next, I created an agenda for the panel discussion, wrote bios about the panelists and their respective companies, and put together a PowerPoint. All of my projects before this had been school projects and I thought coordinating those with classmates and a busy school schedule was a challenge. Working on events with people who are in a time zone 6-hours ahead makes my past projects feel like a walk in the park. Although those were great practice, finally getting to take part of something bigger was way more satisfying. I was working on things that others were relying on, and I was relying on them, and all parts were necessary to make sure the event went off without a hitch.
Furthermore, I finally was at a job where I was treated like a young professional, not a kid. The team went to Ireland and D.C. (sadly travel wasn’t included in the program) and I was trusted to stay on task in the office alone, complete what I needed to, and find work for myself when needed. With this time, I was constantly doing market research and writing reports, something that I set a goal for early on. I researched everything from the PVC industry in Europe to where foreign domiciled companies were based out of when coming to the U.S.
Perhaps the biggest challenge I had with this internship was working on the website. I had not done any type of IT work before this but I learned pretty quick. I tried so hard because I knew that is what Sequent needed of me at that moment and I wanted to do everything I could to be a valuable asset to them. I started with just finding simple issues like broken links, that turned into creating new webpages, then that grew into redoing half of the website with graphics, designs, updated text and a little bit of coding. Getting to learn this and see it take shape on a live website was incredible.
Not only that, but I got to help on a few side projects as well. I accompanied Bill and Rita on a sales call to meet a new potential client. There was a couple of recruiting calls with companies who were overseas and that was impressive to see the coordination in that. I then later got to help Aimee on a presentation she was dong at a nearby university. I really enjoyed working with someone who asked for honest feedback and made it a real consideration on what she was working on.
Here at sequent I learned a lot of new skills, I learned how essential it was to learn new skills to stay ahead, and I really learned that I could be whatever role I wanted to be as long as I gave it the effort it required. I was a sales caller one day, a marketing specialist the next, a researcher the day after that, and a computer coder after that. All of these things I’ve never been great at but I did them the best I could and that’s all this company really cared about. They gave me everything I needed to learn and grow.
Thank you Susan, Rita, Bill, Aimee, Joe and the rest of the Sequent team for all of the opportunities you have given me and experiences that I will not soon forget. I look forward to continuing working for Sequent this fall semester.
Alex Bouterse had the opportunity to participate in the Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP) where he was able to create his own path both inside and outside the classroom.
When I first heard about the Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP), I was immediately interested. Learning how to export and be a valuable asset to a business was exactly what I wanted out of my first internship. I applied immediately to be a part of the OEIP Class of 2017.
Once I was accepted, I began eagerly looking forward not only to the internship but also to the classroom aspect of the program. The class, which focused on making the student the teacher, was unlike anything I have experienced in college. It was challenging being the one to have to prepare a lecture along with three other students from three different universities in the Columbus area. However, with the challenge came the reward of acquiring a mastery over the material and getting to know my colleagues in a deeper sense than I have in group projects for other classes.
In fact, the relationships I’ve made have been one of the most beneficial aspects of OEIP. Between case groups, lecture group, and the final project group I was able to connect with classmates and other professionals in the exporting field more so than any other class I’ve taken while at Ohio State. By getting to know other people through working on projects with them, I was able to learn more about exporting because each person was intelligent and had different ideas to bring to the table.
The things I learned and the people I met in class proved extremely helpful during my time at The Pipeline Development Company (PLIDCO) in Westlake, OH. Almost as soon as I got there, I had to be the expert on things such as export compliance and INCO terms, which I wouldn’t of been able to do without relying on some of the contacts I made in class.
Logan Cahall reflects on his experience in 2017 Sustainable Business Global Lab, as well as elaborates on his time in Denmark and The Netherlands as a first-time international traveler.
My experience in The Netherlands and Denmark was very valuable to me on many levels. At a surface level, this trip was my first ever time outside of North America, and this taught me a lot about myself and my capabilities for being able to travel and be out on my own. Coming into this program (The Sustainable Business Global Lab), I knew that it was very structured and that I wouldn’t have to worry about things like arranging taxis to get around in-country or trying to find accommodations during my stay, but I still was nervous about my lack of experience being abroad and what I’d do if things didn’t go as planned.
Before my departure, I stressed about things like navigating the airport to get to my connecting flights and about making sure my money was secure as I traveled, as I had heard many things about the notorious pickpockets in Europe. I asked everyone I knew that had experience traveling abroad for their insider tips and for whatever advice they could give. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous as the day of departure arrived, which was an odd feeling for me as I’ve always seen myself as very self-sufficient and independent.
During my first day of travel, I was surprised at how smoothly things went, that simply using common sense to stay safe and get around was all that was needed. As I navigated the airports and made my way to my eventual destination, my confidence grew. As I met up with the rest of the group and got settled in-country, my worry dissipated and my sense of adventure came alive. At every opportunity I got, I was seeking out new corners of the cities we visited, seeing what memorable landmarks or glimpses of history and architecture that I could find, traveling as far as my legs could take me.
Beyond this though, relating to the business visits and culture in-country, the trip showed me how companies in other countries differ from those in the United States. I picked up on small cultural differences while abroad, such as how often Danish companies encouraged us to question them and ask any questions if they didn’t explain things properly or there was a significant language barrier in any way.
The trip also encouraged me in that I could move to a European country even if I’m not fluent in the language, as practically everyone was able to speak English and it reassured me that I’d be able to learn the language in-country over time without feeling overwhelmed. Following my trip, I immediately began planning for when I could travel abroad again, and I was also inspired to finally book a trip out West to spend a few weeks backpacking and exploring.
When I look at companies to potentially apply for, whether for an internship or to work full-time, I would now consider a position out of the country, as it’s now something I’d approach with excitement and possibility, where before I viewed it simply as an impossibility, something I never would be able to handle. My trip abroad really informed my view of myself and my belief in my capabilities, and it really sparked my sense of adventure, and I cannot wait for my next opportunity to get abroad and experience more of what this wonderful world has to offer.