I had no idea what was in store for me but I did have a couple of goals when I signed up for the Winter Southeast Asia International Business Seminar. Some of these goals were to make a few good friends, to learn more about how businesses abroad operate, and to enhance my resume.
Coming in, I didn’t know anybody that was participating in this seminar. I traveled all the way to Bangkok by myself. This made me very nervous, but I was ready to experience something different. Traveling by myself actually gave me a lot of confidence, which is not something that I was expecting. By the time of arrival in Bangkok, I had interacted with people from different parts of the world and from different careers, this allowed me to quickly grow more than I personally thought possible. I landed with a new excitement to get out and learn more instantly.
When I met the leader and two students of this seminar, I realized pretty quickly I was one of the few people still earning their undergrad, and further, being 19 years old, I was the youngest student there. I started to think that this would be a problem for me trying to make friends. Upon arriving at the hotel, I met my roommate Tess. She was extremely nice and already had met many of the participants. Thankfully, being Tess’s roommate helped me feel encouraged that I would be able to start new friendships on the trip.
On the second night of the trip, many of us students made plans together to go to the Sky Bar, and then a rooftop restaurant after. One of the guys wasn’t up to the Sky Bar’s long-pants dress code, and the way that everybody worked together to get him in with us was so great. This night, I feel like so many friendships were made so effortlessly. These friendships lasted the rest of the trip, and hopefully for much longer.
In the end, I am actually very thankful that IBS assigned roommates for us because, for me, it really added to the social aspect of this trip.
My second goal for this seminar was to learn about businesses abroad. I think the most helpful company for my purpose was Osprey Packs. First, we got to tour their Vietnam Headquarters where we saw their dining facility, their offices and some of their seamstresses. We met with Michael Henderson who told us a lot about the move to Vietnam from Colorado, and why they moved so much of their business abroad. This was very interesting, but the tour didn’t end there.
Although some aspects of business in Vietnam showed lower standards of business than what we are used to in the US, we also were shown where companies in the United States could improve. Many Asian companies provide lunch for their employees, and dinner when overtime is worked. This is a great benefit to employees, not just because they get fed, but when everybody takes their lunch at once it is a time to socialize with those who work with you and relax.
My last goal was to enhance my resume. Although this trip was very short, I was able to get so much valuable experience out of it. I learned how to adapt to new environments and new cultures, how to communicate with people from different upbringings, and I learned a lot about the expectations of business practices across the globe.
This International Business Seminar enabled me to achieve all of the goals I had going into this trip, and so much more. I am thankful for the effort that the staff made to make this seminar the most educational and fun experience that I could have imagined.
The opportunities that I had on this trip, I don’t want to admit it, but they are things that will probably only happen once in a lifetime. I am very blessed that I was able to participate in such a great program with even better people.