Building Your Global Career

Having aspiration of working abroad one day, Katelyn Mistele attends a professional speaker event at Copenhagen Business School (Denmark) about setting yourself up for a global career. She learns about the pros and cons of having a globally mobile career, and shares her insights on her experience studying abroad and what she gained from being abroad.

Copenhagen Business School is like Fisher in the fact that many companies and speakers frequently visit the school to give talks and recruit. There was an individual who is currently work with Maersk, the largest shipping company in the world, but also worked with P&G with Gillette, who put on a presentation one day. I decided to attend as the message of the talk was marketing yourself and setting yourself up for a global career. 

The individual who was giving the talk has led a successful and extensive global career. He is from London but after working with P&G for a few years in London he made a jump to Switzerland. From that he changed companies and spent the next decade jumping between Singapore and London with Maersk. Today he sits in Denmark still working with Maersk and his career is still mobile and he will most likely make another career move soon. This background was so interesting to me because I have always heard about individuals being globally mobile with their career but this isn’t as common in the United States. Instead, we see intercontinental movement with jobs. The speaker proposed that the major contributing factor to his ability to be mobile in Europe is the European Union and how it is easier to be mobile for work here than it is across boarders in other parts of the world. 

He asked us to brain storm a list of questions regarding what we would ask if we were asked by a company to confirm that we are globally mobile. As a class we came up with questions regarding the length of the assignment, the preparation in cultural terms before the project, questions regarding the location itself, and the opportunities for development during the assignment and after the assignment. There are a lot of deciding factors that go into deciding if an individual wants a global career and its important to keep in mind aspects regarding preparation and development. In terms of preparation the speaker told us that small moves as opposed to big ones have more problems. For example a jump from England to France is harder to adjust to than a jump from England to Singapore. Another key factor to take into consideration is the development opportunities during the assignment and after the assignment. A lot of times with expatriation assignments there is high failure rates upon arrival back to ones home country as readjusting seems to be harder. The speaker told us that during his return from one of his projects his mentor told him to not talk about his experiences that much because people back at home really don’t care that much. He said it was so hard to keep his thoughts and experiences completely to himself but he said in the long run it was worth it and helped him to get back into to the English culture faster. 

This presentation was very interesting for me as working abroad or on abroad accounts is something I am definitely interested in looking into in the future. At a first glance I, as I am sure most other people would be, just think about the location. We all want to travel and work somewhere cool, but there are many important factors that contribute to what would make this a successful assignment and contribute to a successful global career. The speaker also suggested that if we have any inkling to go and lead a global career that we should. He said that the 70-20-10 model can be applied to working on international assignments as 70% of your learning in your career happens on the job and the best way to learn and grow in an international environment is to just take the job. The 20% is learning what happens with peers or mentors and the 10% is “classroom learning” which can happen in the class room or even on the internet in the form of training videos. All parts of this model apply to any assignment but the speaker was trying to point out that you learn the most from being on the job so if you want to grow your career internationally it makes the most sense to take international opportunities as they arise because that’s when you’ll learn and grow the most. 

He also mentioned how the environment of global employment is changing. There are now an increase in short term assignments which last less than two years and this is a positive as it is making people more mobile. However, there is a downside as customers do not like when people continuously rotate as it is harder to build long term relationships. Also companies are starting to now really look at the cost of expatriation as it is very expensive. So the question that is facing employees and businesses today is what is the balance? 

Personally, I hope that at some point in my career I have the opportunity to go on an expatriation assignment. After spending some time in Denmark, I have grown so much culturally and learned a lot. Only these international experiences can provide you with this personal growth. It is one thing to just read about a culture and learn about its nuances but you really do not reap all the benefits of cultural exposure and integration unless you go and live in the culture. I personally have become not only more mindful of my nature, but also have picked up some of the Danish cultural traits. For example, Jantelov is an integral part of Danish culture. At its core, Jantelov is the idea that everyone is equal and on the same level and the Danish peoples actions should be in accordance with this idea. It goes further to describe how if one fall the society will catch them and help them back up. After being here and living in this culture I definitely can see aspects of this part of their culture and I am hoping that I will be able to assimilate parts of it into my everyday life and bring this part of Danish culture with me back to my life in the United States. 

I strongly believe that cultural integration and sharing is something that I think will not only benefit myself and my career but could benefit a lot of individuals. As the speaker suggested 70% of learning happens on the job, and I think this can extend to study abroad or any cultural experience. It is important for myself to take advantage of these opportunities, and I hope that someday I will have the chance to go on an international assignment and further learn and mold my own cultural identity. 

My Danish High School Experience

Katelyn Mistele talks about her visit to the local high school to talk about cultural differences. She shared her surprise, experiencing a very different high school system, and touches on what she has learned about the U.S. and how these experiences changed her cultural views.

Today I had an amazing opportunity to go into a local Danish high school and give a talk about cultural differences and my experiences as an exchange student from America in Denmark. I decided to participate in this opportunity and the experience was extremely insightful and rewarding.

For starters, the Danish high school environment is dramatically different from the environment in the United States. When I first arrived on the high schools campus everyone looked very old and mature from what image I had in my mind of “typical” American high school students. This I thought can be attributed to two factors. First off, high school in Denmark is only three years long and most students take a gap year or years after completing elementary school. So the students I had a chance to talk with today about cultural differences and my experiences were all 16 to 20 years old, so not dramatically far off from my age. As well, Danish students are given a great degree of freedom in their high school experience which I think also lends a hand to how mature they were in comparison to how “typical” American high schoolers act. 

The degree of freedom that the Danish students get at high school was honestly shocking to me. Students were able to leave campus to get lunch or coffee during breaks. In some schools in the United States this happens to some degree as well, but the Danish students almost seemed as if they could come and go as they please whereas in my high school it was a highly regulated process and we had to check in and out when we were leaving. In addition, there are many open areas and common areas where students were participating in collaborative group projects. It felt more like a college setting as opposed to a traditional high school where the students are herded from class to class in a structured and efficient manner. Along with this idea of freedom students upon acceptance into the high school get to choose one of six tracks in which they want to study on. Some examples of tracks include biology, business, technology, and social sciences. Once in their track students take a range of courses, but focus on their specialized track which again lends to more of a college like atmosphere. I find this very interesting because I had no idea I even wanted to major in business until my sophomore year in college. Imagine having to have a general idea of what you want to do with your life immediately after elementary school. 

Another dramatic difference that I could see in the high school experience was the fact that Danish students don’t have as large of a sports culture as we can see in high schools across the states. My high school in particular was extremely sports heavy. Most students played at least one sport growing up. However, at this particular high school they didn’t have any sports teams. Instead they had a designated weekend each spring to a tournament of some sort, but that was it. Some of the students asked me about sports culture in the United States. They wanted to know if it was like the movies with cheerleaders, fans, and the band. I was able to provide them some insight to Ohio States football culture which they were very interested in. 

During my time at the high school in addition to learning more about the Danish education system, I was asked to present my experiences so far as an exchange student. I discussed some of the immediate cultural differences I have seen. For example, my biggest adjustment so far has been the fact that Danish people in general aren’t as open and chatty as Americans. After I presented my thoughts the students had the floor and could ask myself any questions. I found it very interesting and eye opening that many of their questions revolved around how safe I felt in the states. They also wanted to get my stance and my peers stance on gun laws. For the Danish people the threats and attacks we have in the states they have never even heard of in their country and they have only seen this through the news so they wanted to get my stance on it. I found it very eye opening and interesting as I have never really given much thought to how some of these events might be seen by other cultures. 

I am so fortunate to have been able to go on this experience. It was extremely interesting and definitely has led me to become even more mindful and aware of how my culture is. Specifically, this experience provided me with insight on how other cultures view America. The idea that students thought that I felt unsafe in America really was interesting to me as I have never thought of Columbus or my hometown as being unsafe. Also the realization that other cultures give their youth more freedom and flexibility to me was interesting as well and I think some aspects of the American schooling system could benefit from less rigidity. This experience of being in Denmark has challenged my cultural views and has shaped them in many more ways than one, and this experience this morning at the high school has contributed to this. 

As I don’t have any pictures from the high school I thought I would share some of my pictures from my most recent trip. I know it doesn’t really fit in with this blog post, but I wanted to give you all something to look at besides words. For spring break myself and some friends from four different universities traveled to Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. It was an amazing experience and so much fun. My personal favorite out of the three was Budapest, Hungary because it felt like New York City in a way and the prices were SO cheap. In Denmark a single cup of coffee is around $6 and in Budapest it was refreshing as I could get the same quality of coffee for around $1 which I am sure contributed to the fact that this location was my favorite. As well I was able to go to the roman baths in the city which was an amazing experience as well.

These “typical tourist” experiences are great, but traveling around Europe has been really eye opening from a cultural standpoint. Everything is so different in comparison to the United States and has led me to become more mindful. My friends and I really attempt to make an effort to talk with some of the locals when we travel so we can get the true cultural experience. For example, in Prague we met some individuals from London and while they weren’t from the Czech Republic we were able to sit down and have dinner with them and exchange ideas. It’s interesting, many European’s are very interested in my views on the current political climate in the United States, and it’s interesting to see how other cultures view the current environment. Overall, traveling in Europe has made me a more mindful individual. In addition, I see myself adapting some aspects of European culture into my own identity. I find myself more relaxed and find myself doing things at a more leisure pace in comparison to the quick and fast paced nature of my cultural identity in the United States. I have some pictures from my trip below, and I already have my next trip planned to Malta in a week! All of these little experiences are incredible and I cannot wait to share more!

Budapest Parliament Building
Budapest Parliament Building 
John Lennon Wall, Prague 
Prague, Czech Republic
Yummy shakes in Vienna, Austria

A Glimpse into Life at Copenhagen Business School

With a few weeks into the semester, Katelyn Mistele shares her experience studying at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark on the Student Exchange Program. From course selections, class structures, exams, to professors, she shares her experience and some tips and advise to adjust!

Hello from Denmark everyone! I am currently on my third week of classes here at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, and I am still learning to adjust to the style of teaching and the general education system over here. I thought it would be beneficial for me to outline the major differences and shed some light onto the Scandinavian style of education. As much as you can read up on these differences, it is very different arriving here and sitting through your classes. I am still adjusting, and quiet honestly starting to love this different style of teaching and learning. As well, I am loving the city of course! I have a few pictures below of the city, but I will write up my next post on more on Danish culture in general and will include more photos with that.

Downtown Copenhagen, specifically the Nørreport Station area!
A beautiful castle right next to my residence!

I am currently studying at Copenhagen Business School as noted before. CBS, for short, is a large strictly business institution. At CBS there are just over 20,000 students either studying their undergraduate degrees or graduate degrees. In addition, there is a large international presence here on campus. Just under 4,000 full time students are international. In my particular exchange semester there are around 500 exchange students, 300 of us being undergraduate students.

The first major difference I realized even before arrival was the variation of courses here. It is a lot different from Fisher. There isn’t just a general business major with 15 specializations to choose from. Instead there are different programs and tracks that correspond with the final undergraduate degree. Examples of these programs are a Bachelors in Business Administration and Philosophy, Bachelors in International Business and Politics, or even Bachelors in Business, Language, and Culture. This original realization made me excited to see what courses I was going to be able to taken once I arrived to CBS.

There are a variety of courses here that are non existent in Fisher. Unfortunately, due to my degree requirements and prospective graduation date I wasn’t able to take many of them, but they have many interesting courses here based in sustainability and innovation which aren’t as common back at home. For example I was looking at taking courses in entrepreneurship, or this course titled: Innovation Management. I am however taking four courses over here and they are as follows: Corporate Finance, Global People Management, Global Supply Chain Management, and Language of Negotiations.

Not only do the types of courses offered here are different but the structure of these courses is very different as well. For starters CBS is actually similar to Fisher in a way that they offer many “session classes” as we call them at Ohio State. Three of my four classes are “Q3” or “Q4” courses which is similar to how Fisher structures their first and second session classes. My other class is a full semester course, so it runs from the end of January through May.

This is where the similarities end however. All courses that I am enrolled in at CBS last around two and a half hours for each class, and each course is primarily lecture based. There are moments in some of my courses for group work, but for courses like Finance it is all lecture based for the entire duration of class. At first when I saw this I panicked as I struggled to stay awake during my 55 minute courses back in Ohio, but these longer courses have grown on me. The professors give you breaks every 45-55 minutes, and the trade off of having long courses also means that you are done with these courses earlier or have less courses during the week. What I mean by this is, I do have finance three times a week right now, but I am done with this course by the end of March! In addition, I only have classes Monday through Wednesday which is fantastic for those who want to travel and explore Denmark as well as Europe! It definitely takes some adjusting to get used to things, but I am growing to like the structure and set up here at CBS.

It took me just over two weeks to fully adjust and assimilate myself into the new system. I am on my third week of classes now and I feel absolutely integrated into the life of a student at CBS. Some tips I have for those who are planning on attending CBS or other European countries that have the same style are, first and foremost, really listen to your professors and go to class. It may seem tempting that there aren’t participation grades and that most of the content is posted online, but going to class really helps fully understand the information. Also the professors will help you understand how to handle the work load and drop hints on what work is really necessary to do in order to succeed, and which work is just purely if you’re interested. For example, a lot of the syllabi here at CBS list a TON of reading. If you think Fisher has a lot of reading CBS is easily 2-3 times more, but that being said the professors shed light on which chapters to skip or merely “skim”, also give tips on how to read the content. I would even go as far to say that by going to class and being fully engaged really decreases your workload! Another tip is that when a professor provides you a break during the class, I would suggest that you get up walk around and even treat yourself to a coffee. Two and a half hours is a really long time, but by truly giving your mind a solid ten minute break and walking around helps me personally regain my focus. Finally, another thing I found that worked well for me is to compile my notes and lecture slides at the end of each week. Also to take the information presented in class one step further by thinking critically about certain articles, for example, and by proposing new ways of thinking or questions regarding the article. Some of my exams here allow me to use notes and by preparing from day one there will be less work when it comes time to the exam, and also by thinking critically from day one, I will be able to provide more insight during the exam rather than just the surface level information that everyone will provide.

The last major difference between school here and back at Fisher is that each class is 100% exam based. Meaning that there are no homework grades, or participation grades. The only grade that is recorded is the final grade at the conclusion of the course. The final exams are different too. They have many different formats from the common sit in closed book exam, to oral exams where you write a paper and get questioned by your professor on your final product, and even some courses have take home week long papers! It is very different and slightly intimidating at first, but the the professors talk about the exams in class and prepare you for them, which definitely gives you a piece of mind.

Now before I conclude my thought, I’d like to include some pictures of this amazing and beautiful university for those of you interested and those of you thinking about coming to CBS. I have really enjoyed this partner university already. There are so many opportunities to take new and exciting courses. The structure of the school system is flexible and this is great if you are looking to travel! Finally, all of my professors I have had so far are fantastic and really focus on you simply learning and how to master the content to best set you up for success in the future. So, if you’re thinking CBS, I say yes!!! The partner university has been amazing so far and has introduced me and integrated me into this Scandinavian style of education smoothly.

One of the main classroom buildings here at CBS.
The main library on campus! This is my favorite building on campus due to the massive amounts of amenities it offers and the sleek modern design. I have some of my courses in here, but I also spend some time in the library which has a vibe similar to Thompson but modernized. You could spend your whole day here as there are many classrooms and even a cafeteria. In fact, all classroom buildings on campus have cafes.  I think Fisher needs more than just Rohr!! In addition, in the basement of this building on campus there is a CrossFit club with it’s own gym that I’ve been going to! It’s a perfect location with everything you need as a student.
A photo of the sky light in one of the classroom buildings. Proving to you that despite common thoughts not everything is just the color black here!

Thanks for reading and tune back in later in the semester to hear more about my adventures in Copenhagen! I am of course looking forward to traveling and have been to many places in Europe already, but I am even more excited to further integrate myself into the Danish culture. In the weeks to come I have some “coffee dates” set up with some Danes, and am also getting involved in a student organization, and I am excited to learn more about the culture over here and especially to see how the Danes perceive America! It will truly be eye opening, and I will discuss this in my next post!

Copenhagen: Speaking English, Free Metro Rides, and the Flat-Tax

Will Towers shared some of his mistakes and surprise points while starting his life in Copenhagen, Denmark on the Student Exchange Program attending Copenhagen Business School.

The land of vikings and legos is probably not as difficult to acclimate to as one may think. Although there’s very few signs in English, the population speaks it with fair ease. I’ve picked up on a few common phrases, the most used being what sounds like “tak fa day-a”, meaning “thank you for the day”, a way to say goodbye to someone you just spent quality time with. Other than that, speaking Danish would only benefit me in such specific circumstances like grocery shopping and reading my mails. The former is less daunting, as I’ve come to realize the groceries we buy often describe themselves in many ways on top of their names. The packaging, coloring and buzz words are similar to those in America. Also, it’s pretty easy to tell that “organisk” means “organic”, although some are less easy, like an “orange” being “appelsiner”. In this case, common sense goes a long way. Mail is slightly less obvious – I got a letter from the post office that I originally thought was a slip telling me I was in trouble for walking in a crosswalk illegally. Classic mix-up.

The crosswalk hasn’t been the only mistake I’ve made since being in Denmark. The metro system is a highly efficient one and its made my time here much easier to navigate. At first, however, I assumed it to be free as there were no tollbooths, no collect points at the entrances for money: simply a waist-high large blue circle that people seemed to press when entering the stations. In my mind this was a tracking system, so that those who ran the operation had a general idea of the traffic being accounted for. It took a not-so-friendly metro ticket patrol officer to inform me that these blue dots were where people scanned their metro cards, a small credit card solely used for boarding the metro. She let me off with a warning entirely based on the American charm I let off on her.

Not being ticketed by that metro officer was a blessing. The average cost of a metro ride is about $1.50 and the cost of the ticket for not paying is $125. When you put it like that I have no problem paying the blue circle. That extra $120 I saved will go a long way! But not too long – alas, Copenhagen has what is best described as a flat-tax. Everything, yes everything, is subject to what has been told to me is a 25% tax. Coffee and beer are the two commodities this strikes me the most in. An average beer will be upwards of 8$ and a cappuccino could run you the same. When it comes to this, I’ve learned I must adjust (obviously) my expectations. These things are meant to be enjoyed, not just consumed. The act of going out for a beer with friends actually becomes more revered in a strange way when you know a beverage this much. It’s not ideal, but it’s good in it’s own way.

One week into my courses and the differences are greatly welcomed. The classes here are much differently structured than those at Ohio State. My shortest class is 100 minutes long – however, each class will break for 10-15 minutes every 45 minutes or so which makes learning more digestible. I actually enjoy this structure more than jumping from brief class to brief class, as it allows me to focus-in on one subject at a time. The grading is also different. All of my courses have a final paper at the end, which is much more welcomed than the mass-scantron paranoia that I’ve grown accustomed to in Columbus. I’ve even gotten to have 1-on-1 time with professors during class! Quite a few firsts; if it weren’t illegal and impractical I’d be tempted to extend my stay.

Some things I’m looking forward to:

  • The weather has been constantly bleak and hovering around 30 degrees (F). According to every local I’ve gotten to know, Denmark’s springtime transformation more than makes up for the dreadful weather of the winter
  • Come April 1st, half of my classes will be finished. That means a lot less time spent reading and in-class and a lot more time spent exploring Scandinavia
  • I’ve gotten close with a yoga studio owner I’ve even been working with. I have the feeling our relationship will evolve and he can be a mentor for myself in my journey to becoming an instructor.
  • Finally, I look forward to what I can’t envision now! The most rewarding aspects of my trip have been getting lost, meeting strangers by coincidence and finding the hidden beauty in not having a plan!

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

The Same, But Not The Same

Explore the Danish education system with Kelley Jiang as she studies on Fisher’s Student Exchange Program at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) – Denmark. Learn about the institution and what classroom life is like from Kelley’s perspective, comparing initial observations during her first week along with what she has learned/adapted to several months after.

First and foremost, I attend a school where the whole university is dedicated to business education whereas most students in America will attend universities in America that have business colleges within the system as well as a college of arts and science, education, and so on. The first thing I learned within the first couple days of being here is a little taste of how casual business etiquette when it comes to communication/dress in the classroom. The first thing the welcome speaker informed all the exchange students is that we should address our professors at CBS in a email or face to face using their first names and specifically said not to use Professor “last name” or Dr. “last name”. He said it makes them feel old. That was a total shock to me since most professors at Ohio State take how you address them very seriously and might not even respond to an email if they were addressed in the wrong way. Also, I have noticed that communication via email is generally slower than what is accepted in the United States. We learn from Fisher that the typical response time to an email is about two business days whereas here professors take anywhere from five days to two weeks to respond. Therefore, if you have a question I would recommend asking a peer first and then going directly to the professor in class or during drop in hours if you need a quick response.

Now that I have dove into the classroom setting a little, I want to continue to talk a bit more about what it’s like during an every day class in terms of lectures, accepted behavior in class, and learning styles. CBS had previously informed us that the teaching style in Denmark has many differences than what we are used to in America, during the first week of class I was pretty interested to go to class and see what this “different” way of teaching was. I found, however, that the classes are surprisingly very similar to what I am used to at OSU. The professor lectures during most of class and asks if there are any questions at the end, where maybe one or two students will raise their hand only to ask a technical question about the schedule or a certain due date. But as I began going to more and more classes I noticed more and more differences.

To begin, whereas Powerpoint presentations in America are normally used as a supplement to a lecture, normally containing some sort of outline or key terms (minimal words), the Powerpoint presentations that the professors use here contain the majority of the information also presented verbally (full paragraphs). Also, because the Danes are more casual and simplistic, you will rarely see professors dressed up for lectures, wearing business casual at most. This dress code contrasts to the many suits you would see daily on Fisher’s campus. As a result, I did not have to dress up for a presentation in class at CBS, but most likely would have had to if I were presenting for a class back at Fisher. Although I expected myself to feel relieved at not having to dress up for a presentation, I surprisingly felt a little uncomfortable and yearning for my blazer. Because I have been trained to accept this dress code for presentations, I felt as though my credibility as a professional was lowered when I was giving my presentation even though it probably was not. As I reflect back to my presentation, I also felt like I personally was not taking the presentation as seriously because of the lax classroom atmosphere. Never thought I would miss my pantsuit.

In terms of accepted behavior in class, I noticed after a few weeks that many times Danish students will challenge one or many of the points that professors make in class, almost to the point where I feel like the students are challenging the instructor’s creditability. But I realized that this is common in the classroom and even encouraged. I find this difference exhilarating and academically stimulating not only for personal growth but to create a positive learning environment in the classroom.

For learning styles, it is a test of self- discipline. Class lectures are ultimately a supplement to the majority of learning students do on their own mainly through reading and outlining text. Lectures are only once a week on average per class and attendance is also completely optional. You will find, however, that the Danish students will attend most of the classes regardless of the attendance policy. I would also highly recommend going to as many classes as possible because there will be ungraded exercises and assignments that will prepare you for the final exam, the classes will keep you accountable with staying up with the content of the class, and most of the professors are extremely friendly and helpful if you need help with anything or just want the opportunity to network. Technically speaking, there is virtually no homework and the only assessment is done at the end of the semester usually in some form of oral/written presentation. So you have one shot to defend what you have learned which will determine your final grade. As a result, students must learn to organize their studies efficiently, attend classes even if attendance isn’t taken, and also have to be disciplined in keeping up with class material on their own.

I will end with some basic knowledge and tips to fellow students who are interested in doing an exchange at CBS or even in applying to the university’s bachelor/master’s programs:

  1. You must be very self-disciplined in your learning habits in order to do well in classes.
  2. Most classes last the whole semester while there are also some half semester classes similar to ones at Ohio State with an exam at the “end” falling normally in the middle of October—therefore don’t take a Q1 (first half) course if you are planning on traveling during October break because you might have an exam during that time.
  3. Although most lectures are in English, most professors have a strong Danish accent and you have to pay a little bit more attention in class sometimes.
  4. You will probably find that your weekly schedule varies from week to week—classroom locations/times change all the time and you must check a virtual calendar constantly to make sure you show up in the right place and time.
  5. Also give yourself A LOT of time to find your class because the buildings can be very confusing to navigate.
  6. It is normal to have a couple days where two or more of your classes overlap in time—most people will either attend the most important class or go to part of each class.
  7. The food at the canteen is good and relatively cheap (I eat lunch at CBS during the weekdays).
  8. CBS has three main buildings that are each located conveniently next to a metro stop but also can be reached by a bike path that connects all the buildings.

That’s it for now. Hope you found this helpful!

SP

Relaxing on the lawn in front of Solbjerg Plads Academic Building.

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

Ready, Set, Bike!

Listen to Kelley Jiang’s advice as she starts her life in Copenhagen, Denmark and experience her first steps in the city studying and living abroad on the Student Exchange Program. 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kelley Jiang and I will be starting off my third year fall semester studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) on the Student Exchange Program.

My highly anticipated European experience began before stepping foot on European soil. As soon as I boarded the Norwegian airplane, I immediately felt like a foreigner. I was no longer in a cramped and uncomfortable Delta or United Airlines plane, but flying in a seat that I could actually fall (almost) comfortably asleep in and with a ceiling that was so high I could not reach it with my arm fully extended.

My biggest fear upon landing in Copenhagen was that all the signs would be in Danish and I would have no idea where to go. Although I have traveled to Europe before, it was one of those trips you sign up with 70 of your closest friends (and chaperones) through an international touring company, in my case we booked through EF Tours. Anyways, as my “Buddy” assigned to me from CBS picked me up and took me to my housing accommodation via the Metro my first thoughts can be summarized in 3 words: Pretty, quiet, and bikes. The Scandinavian people are breathtakingly gorgeous—but they all look very similar—, the city was very quiet/quaint for a city, and there are so many bikes that the city has a separate raised lane and traffic lights to direct bike traffic. There is even “bike rush hour”.

In just my first days exploring some of Copenhagen I have learned a lot. First and most importantly, everyone bikes. Although everyone here might be able to speak English well, everything is written in Danish. After successfully ordering my first meal here I thought, “This isn’t so hard! Everyone speaks English. No problem”. But going to the grocery store is a different story. I should have known things would be different when my roommate accidently bought yogurt instead of milk on the first day because it came in a carton identical to what milk comes in. Although I didn’t mix up any foods on my first trip, I didn’t realize after checking out with several items that in most stores you have to pay for a grocery bag. After my items were scanned I stood at the end of the cashier table for a good minute while looking for the grocery bags and then finally realized that people had brought bags with them to put their items in. Just when I thought I had got away with no one trying to speak Danish to me or noticing that I was a complete foreigner, I not only drew attention to myself by having to get back in line to purchase the grocery bag but I also had to speak up in English to ask the cashier about the bags. Instant perspiration inducing moment. My next few trips to the grocery store were definitely still very rocky. The trips take me triple the time it would normally take in America because I have to carefully decipher what the item is by its context clues (there are no English translations on the food labels). And even after I am confident I have chosen what I wanted, I will open a fruit smoothie juice to find the oddest tasting fruit flavor ever or pop a piece of chocolate in my mouth and find out that I had bought chocolate covered licorice (EW).

The biggest immediate struggle so far is definitely finding foods that I like and that are affordable. After several trips to the grocery store and I have learned that it’s worth swallowing your pride and asking someone for help if you need finding something or translating a label. Also, you must learn to accept the fact that there will be many things you purchase in the beginning that you absolutely hate and mistakingly bought thinking it was something else. You will lose some money to buying then immediately tossing grocery items, but it will happen to every exchange student. Other than that the people, I have noticed, are also different but not in a way that would make it hard for someone visiting to fit in. People are nice and don’t treat you like a tourist when they find out you can’t speak Danish. The weather, despite many warnings, has been gorgeous every day so far. The city center is breathtaking and definitely worth many visits.

Some other observations after 2 and a half weeks are:

Official procedures: One of the first things you have to do as an exchange student is register for your CPR number. This stands for “Det Centrale Personregister” in Danish and is the American equivalent to a social security number and how you receive all the free services provided by the socialistic Danish government like free healthcare. If I were in America I could easily look up a straightforward set up directions with details on how to do this. But in Denmark everything and everyone is extremely vague. One person will tell you one thing and another person will tell you another. The website that has the instructions is in Danish and there is not much help provided, so you will have to be ready to attack it trial and error style.

Fashion: Black, black, and more black. Scandinavians are minimalistic—wearing mostly neutrals. Instead of wearing stylish shoes to match a great outfit they seem to wear sneakers with everything, even when getting dressed up. Also, leather is definitely in.

Buildings: Reflects the fashion here, minimalistic as well.

First Impressions: The stereotype is that Scandinavians are known to be cold and without feelings. But the reason why Scandinavians might come off this way at first is because most of them are brutally honest and therefore do not do fake interest in someone like some Americans are known to do when they are actually disinterested in meeting someone. Although they might not make the first move to begin a conversation, once you break the silence (and my own fears of judgement) and begin talking to a Scandinavian they are actually quite friendly. Don’t be afraid to start up conversations with locals! Especially in Denmark where almost everyone can speak English.

America: A place where everything is super-sized. My perspective of America while living in Copenhagen has been realigned. Everything here is smaller. The buildings, the roads, the cars, meal portions, grocery stores, etc. At first I thought that everything in Copenhagen is just smaller, but now I am beginning to feel like everything in America is enlarged.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you got a little taste of Copenhagen!

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Selfie with one of many bike racks.
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Nyhavn, Copenhagen. Typical touristy area.

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