For the prework assignments this week, the students researched the European Union, the political environment and the cultural environment of the countries we are visiting. As bad as it might sound, I don't think the students knew much about the European Union, why it was formed, etc. before conducting their research and writing the paper. We have a meeting/discussion with a European Union commission representative in Budapest so my hope with this research is that the students are more prepared for this meeting and can ask educated questions.
As for the political environment, the students seemed to be interested in the similarities and differences more than anything else. I think for some it was very interesting to see the move from communism to more of a democratic system. In the Czech Republic, a constitutional amendment was passed in 2012 that introduced the presidential election by popular vote instead of by Parliament.
The students seem like they are enjoying the research in preparation for the trip and I must admit I'm learning a number of things as well. Teaching business communications keeps me very interested in cross-cultural communication. The students looked at appropriate business attire in each country, whether gift giving is expected, negotiation practices, use of verbal/nonverbal communication, etc. They seemed to get most into some of the intricacies such as only giving flowers in even numbers and avoiding gifts with the company logo. As we all know, gifts with the company logo is common here in the US.
I've been working with our CEPA program coordinator and Jeaneth from the Northwest Study Abroad office to get our itinerary finalized. Many of the students have asked about free time to explore since our schedule is quite packed. I can't wait to tell them that we will have a whole day and the next morning free where they can do what they would like! I worked with Jeaneth and Cornelia to move our Prague Castle visit a bit so it freed up an entire day. This free time will come at the end of the trip which is probably timed perfectly so students can do any sightseeing they want before we head back. I'm wondering if any of students will look at taking the European Express Train to Germany, or other cities in the Czech Republic, or Poland.
As we move to week 3 prework, we will look at the technological, ethical, and regulatory environment in addition to each group making specific plans/options for what we can do when we have smaller blocks of free time in each city. When checking out attractions in Prague, I came across the Prague zoo which claims to be one of the oldest zoos in the world. Since there are just a couple of zoos in America with panda bears, I am guessing a few students might want to pay the $7 USD to go to the Prague zoo which has panda bears. I can't believe how cheap it is compared to what we pay to go to most zoos here in the states!
To close, I'm going to be sharing a few of my favorite travel apps that I've already downloaded in preparation for the trip. I'll be sharing these with the students this week too!
- XE Currency (this already came in handy when determining my currency exchange)
- Trip Advisor City Guides (I downloaded Budapest, Vienna, and Prague)
- Google Translate
- Viber (text and call for free over wifi)
Jeaneth sent an email that included a link to another site with suggested study abroad apps:
That's it for this post. Keep checking in and feel free to check out the student group blogs. Each group is blogging once a week right now but will be blogging daily while we are abroad. To check out the student group blogs, visit "My Blog List" on the right of my blog page.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend! Thank you to each and everyone past and present who serves/served our country!
The Troja Castle is right near the Prague zoo. If a group wants to head to the zoo, many sites say to make a day of it and explore the entire Troja area, including the Troja castle.