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.