Start-Up, Quarter 2

The first quarter of the semester is over, and tomorrow we start the last 6 weeks of school. I arrived in Breda on Jan. 28th, so it’s been almost 3 months abroad now. My time here has been very enjoyable thus far, and I look forward to my remaining time here.

The first quarter of school was wrapped up with presentations from every group in the IBV minor. There are 16 groups, split into 8 project groups. The quarter so far has consisted of some lectures, business trainings, group case discussions, and group work for the case projects that are assigned. Our main project this quarter was to explore the potential for Foster’s Group to export their wines from Australia into different countries in Europe. Each project group was assigned a different country, and after turning in a report, two people from each group were required to present their findings in front of the entire IBV student population, with teachers acting as the Foster’s Management Team. Students and staff were able to ask questions and make criticisms during the presentation. For some of the students from other countries, including myself, this was a new and strange thing to not give a presenter complete attention and hold questions and comments until the end. However, I believe it provides more of a business environment setting.

Matt and I, being American and speaking the best English of most of the students here, of course gave the presentations for our respective groups. We have a bit more responsibility in our roles during group work, as we are relied upon to make sure our group’s paper is properly written. It’s a challenge that I don’t mind to take on, and I’m sure Matt feels the same way.

This next quarter, each project group is working on a new external project with a real company. My group’s assignment is to look into the possibility of a cooperation being set up by lobster catchers in Nova Scotia, Canada, and exporting their lobsters in Europe, with Hungary, France, and the Netherlands being the first three countries that we will look into. This project should prove to be even more challenging than the last. It’s exciting because if we actually find out that this export plan is viable, we are going to take steps to actually start the business up.

There are a lot less exams here at Avans, as I’ve only taken two so far! However, I feel that school over here is challenging in a different way. Problem-based learning places a lot of emphasis on self-learning, something I’m not used to from going to school in the states.

Matt and I are also taking part in a graduation preparation course, in which we start a research proposal paper looking into a problem or the current conditions of an area of business. We are expected to write the paper so that it would be a helpful research for the company that we will intern for. We meet once a week (Friday morning… not cool after getting used to the BTC no Friday classes), and attend a lecture from one of the professors, and then split into small groups to critique each others papers and seek guidance from the other profs.

It’s been a wild ride here so far. I’ll try to stay updated with this blog, but for now I’ve got to get back to work on my above mentioned research paper.

Tot Ziens,

Rob

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