A number of undergraduate students are studying in Germany and Switzerland during a two-week study abroad program focused on globalization and management.
This is the second year of the program, designed by Kelley School faculty member Elizabeth Malatestinic.
Below, students will chronicle their time as they travel through Germany and Switzerland, learning about the culture in each country, employment practices, and learning to better understand the challenges of preparing U.S. workers for expatriate assignments.
Germany: Days One and Two
We are Andrew, Isabel and Sonia! We are traveling with Professor Elizabeth Malatestinic and Professor Judy Wright for a study abroad trip to Germany and Switzerland, where we will be learning about German and Swiss culture and more specifically – each country’s system when it comes to human resources!
Other students will be posting in this blog as well; please follow along to hear about our journey!
The past two days have been spent in and around Frankfurt, Germany. The first day we arrived got a little tiresome, as we were pretty jet lagged. However, we got to experience and explore the interesting city of Frankfurt: where tradition and modernization meet. Here you could be standing in the large open traditional German platz, and in the background catch sights of the large glass skyscrapers that make up the downtown area. Our first day was filled with many firsts: ordering food, interacting with locals and trying to fight the sleepiness.
Our second day included a big first as well: Our first company visit!
Today we visited Procter & Gamble’s Frankfurt location, where we listened to a presentation given by seven local students who explained their involvement within the company’s commercial apprenticeship program. The students described the occupational opportunities that they would experience throughout the entirety of their three-year bilingual program. To be selected for the apprenticeship program, it is similar to that of an undergraduate internship in the United States: Students must send in their ‘letter of motivation’ and ‘CV’ (both comparable to a cover letter and resume.)
Throughout their three-year immersion, students will engage in every major aspect of the company’s operations including logistics, accounting, sales, marketing and human resources. Toward the end of the program, students wrap up by working in the department in which they wish to work full-time following the conclusion of the apprenticeship program.
We found it quite interesting to learn about the differences in experience programs offered internationally directly from students our age.
Following the presentation, we went on a guided tour of the company’s innovation center: Specifically, the diaper innovation center. The facility was designed around adapting to the needs of their specific consumer – a mother. Diapers go through continuous testing to ensure the company remains on top of the game in terms of product quality.
After our visit to Proctor & Gamble in Frankfurt, we set off for a group boat tour of the Rhine River.
We arrived at a small town outside of Frankfurt to board our boat and tour the picturesque scenery surrounding the middle part of the Rhine River. Not only were the landscapes and views breathtaking, but we also got to learn about a very important part of German folklore and culture. Our boat tour took us right past the Lorelei, a steep slate rock that bends along the middle gorge part of the river. The bend was once notorious among sailors and merchants who traveled through the Lorelei because of all the lives that were lost there due to strong undercurrents. All the tragedy surrounding the pass inspired the poem “Die Lorelei,” written by Heinrich Heine, one of Germany’s most famous literary figures. The poem tells the story of a beautiful woman who would lure men to their death along the pass.
After enjoying a beautiful afternoon exploring the Rhine River via boat and learning about German folklore, we were given the evening off to spend at our leisure. Once we got back to the hotel, groups split up and headed off into the city to explore the various restaurants, shops and cultural locations that Frankfurt has to offer.
Thanks for reading! Check back again tomorrow to hear how our third day went!
Germany: May 16, 2017
Today was one for the books!
We kicked the day off with a trip to Eli Lilly – Germany. We met Markus, who was in charge of our visit and also a huge sweetheart. Markus invited several speakers from the Lilly team to cover interesting topics. We learned about Germany work councils, expatriates and self-organized groups. There were many American vs. Germany business practices compared throughout our visit, which was an interesting take-away for all.
After a very generous, free lunch from Lilly Germany, we were off to Heidelberg.
Heidelberg is a historic town nestled in mountains and highlighted with the famous Heidelberg Castle. A tour guide informed us of all the fascinating history of the castle and its inhabitants back in the day. The castle was originally built in the 1400s, but additions continued into the 1600s. Though the castle saw many wars, there was still much of its original essence remaining. Also, fun fact – We got to see the world’s largest wine barrel!
We took a funicular rail into downtown Heidelberg. What is a funicular railway, you may ask? It is similar to a cable car, which moves up and down the mountainside.
After free time downtown, which included peeking into gift shops and sampling crepes, it was back to the bus to head to our next stop: Walldorf. After check in and a buffet dinner, we were all ready for bed and excited for a big day tomorrow.
Germany: Days Four and Five
We are King, Hollie, and Andrea! As mentioned in the previous blogs, we are traveling with Professor Elizabeth Malatestinic and Professor Judy Wright to Germany and Switzerland. If interested in reading more about our journey, read our group’s other blog posts that were previously posted.
On day four, we got the opportunity to visit SAP in Walldorf, Germany and we were greeted with a cultural breakfast that included hummus, fruit, jam, Iranian and Turkish delights, and many other varieties. This breakfast was really impactful because SAP is internationally known for their diversity initiatives and it was interesting to see that right away they were proud to be culturally diverse. After having the cultural breakfast, they began to present some of their key programs to help us learn about the diversity actions that they implement.
SAP is building a movement to take Business Beyond Bias through innovation, customers, and employee engagement. They have the 1st employee led initiative with an aim of encouraging all SAP employees to feel welcomed.
One of the ways that SAP completes this initiative is with their flexibility towards their employees. One of the presenters was a single mother and she was able to work her full-time job while still being with her son when he was out of school. SAP offered her different hours in order for her to still do her job and be a mother. SAP focuses on accepting everyone no matter what and people can choose to live their life how they want.
This was further represented in how they treated their differently abled employees. For example, they use black backgrounds with white text and specific font to make it easier for the visually impaired to complete their work efficiently.
We also learned that they have a program known as Talent WIN that recruits passive candidates to work for them as an employee. They use creative social events to make the candidates interested in coming to these events in order to show them the benefits of working at SAP. Some of these events have included playing soccer with professional players, going to a Cirque De Soleil show, and rowing. At each of these events, SAP finds potential candidates that they want to interview and most events end up having a new employee being hired.
We really enjoyed this visit because it gave us an interesting view on how diversity programs can be approached. One thing that we took away, that we believed most people in the group had not known before, was the term differently abled. In the U.S., it is common to use the term disabled in regards to individuals that have special needs. It was very eye opening to hear this new term and many of us plan on using this term in the future.
In the afternoon, we drove to Stuttgart, Germany where we took a small tour of some of the government buildings before going to get ice cream and visiting King Street. King Street is a shopping center that is comparable to the Edinburgh outlet mall. It was interesting the German version of stores that we typically see in the U.S. and shop the different products that they offered. Most of us went shopping for souvenirs for friends and family. At dinner we tried new food at local restaurants and weren’t disappointed. Some students felt little homesick and were relieved to find a Pizza Hut. This day, mostly everyone called it an early night, as everyone was tired from past couple of days.
Day 5 was a relaxing day for everyone. Our wake up call was not until past noon, giving us time to sleep in or enjoy early morning at leisure. Some students decided to take a trip to the zoo while others went to the Porsche Museum in the Northern Region of Stuttgart. These students were able to use the public transport, which was a fun experience because a lot of students had not used public transport before.
The zoo was very different from what we had experienced in the U.S. because the animals had a lot more freedom to roam around. It was very shocking to see the employees taking an elephant for a walk, peacocks roaming around an open garden, and monkeys that could climb out of the top of their enclosure.
At the Porsche Museum, students enjoyed the exhibits from past centuries with cars ranging from the first cars ever made by Porsche to concept vehicles in production. This experience allowed people to appreciate culture behind the motor industry and take really nice selfies.
During the afternoon we had a chance to visit the Mercedes Museum and learn about what the company stood for. Throughout the visit there were many moments when the whole group felt dumbfounded due to the involvement of Mercedes in motorized vehicles. One of the biggest surprises came at the beginning of the tour when the tour guide told us what the Mercedes emblem stood for. The Mercedes emblem, the three pointed star, means engine domination over motorized vehicles on land, water, and air. This really was surprising because everyone is used to seeing the emblem but only few know the actual meaning behind it. Another surprise included how involved Mercedes was in motorized vehicles and how many things the company invented or helped improve to make modern vehicles operational.
Germany: May 19th and 20th
This is Daniel, Tami, and Dayana here, and we are going to tell you a little about the fun and adventurous things we did on May 19th-20th of our Germany/Switzerland trip.
For the beginning of our day, we took a long bus ride to Munich where we had the opportunity to see several historic buildings, try some new food, and enjoy time with friends.
We first started out by spending some free time walking around and getting lunch. A few of us utilized this time to climb up one of the clock towers to get an amazing view of the city and some picturesque photos of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel of the Neues Rathaus town hall
The Neues Rathaus was constructed in 1867 by a man named Georg Von Heuberrisser. It’s world renowned gothic architecture makes it a famous tourist attraction for people all over the world.
Once we all met back up, we met our tour guide and got back on the bus. She took us on a drive by the Olympic city where in 1972, several Olympians from the Jerusalem team were taken as hostage and murdered. We also drove past the BMW museum which was interesting to see. We learned that the blue and white colors in their logo represent the German state of Bavaria.
After the bus tour ended we took a very brief walk back to the church with our tour guide. One interesting thing that she pointed out on the way back was the architecture of the “onion church”. Apparently, when that church was built, it set a regulation stating that no other building in the city may be taller than the two “onion pillars”
After our tour ended and we had some time to ourselves so we were able to walk around and enjoy some good food. However, a hailstorm did pass by trapping some of us in one of the department stores for some time.
When it comes to the food, we ate dinner at Hofbrauhaus, which is popular restaurant located in downtown Munich. The restaurant opens up to a giant dining hall full of people drinking and eating a wide-variety of German food. Giant tables lined the floor with not a open seat in the house. A band was set up playing some the most popular songs the Germans know and love. This was an exciting place to see! In order to get a seat, you have to act fast and grab a table once you see a group get up from a table or you have to ask others if you can share a table with them. We all had to split up into smaller tables because of the scarcity of open tables to fit so many people. The waiters act fast to serve so many guests. They are quick to approach you, thinking you already know what beverage and food choices you want.
The next day we had lunch at a similar style restaurant Augustiner-Keller. It was interesting to see the different atmospheres of the two restaurants. This one was a lot less crowded and had most of the seating outside. We had a set menu of salmon, potatoes, vegetables, and ice cream as a dessert. This was just as delicious as the other food we have had so far in Germany. From each restaurant you can purchase the different types of beer mugs they use when serving. Each brewery has their own design on the mugs and was fun for us to look and buy different types of drinking glasses.
As part of our free time, we could ride rented bikes for a few hours around the city. On the cool things we saw was locals surfing in rapids in a small river. Around this area was the English Gardens. Many of the locals crowd around this big open park to enjoy the springtime sun by playing cricket, walking, biking, and just laying out in the grass.
Munich was an engaging experience filled with several interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants.
For our second day in Munich, we traveled out to the city of Dachau. The city of Dachau has very much a dark history due to the fact that it was the location of the first Nazi concentration camp built in Germany. Before we arrived, we had a brief preparation talk with our tour guide so that we were aware of the things that we would be seeing. We know that many people in the group were very interested in visiting Dachau because it is such an important part of not only German history, but also world history. We believe that everyone knew the importance of remembering those who suffered and perished in the concentration camps.
Upon arrival, we received an audio listening guide and a map which really helped us get a deeper understanding of the the areas in the camp as well as the artifacts. We enjoyed that fact that we were able to walk around at our own pace and not be rushed. We realized that it helped give us a better understanding of what we were seeing because there was simply no interruptions.
In the camp, most of the buildings have been reconstructed but everyone was still able to get a real feel of what it had original looked like. In the building that was the former maintenance building, they had a wide-variety of exhibits with artifacts of real individuals that were held at Dachau and also information about the formation of the Nazi party and the Dachau concentration camp. The most thought provoking part of the visit would have the short movie that was played about Dachau. This film helped everyone see just how horrendous the condition were, and also the suffering that took place.
As we said, most of the structures were reconstructions due to the fact that most of the original buildings were destroyed. The reconstructed barracks helped us see how tiny of a space prisoners were forced to live in. The guide stated that the barracks were built to initially hold only 6,000 people, but by the time the camp was liberated there were over 30,000 people held there. We were also able to see the gas chambers that were used at Dachau. In each room, there was a plaque that stated what the prisoners would have to do when they arrived to this gas chamber. Walking through each room was extremely eye-opening because we were walking the same path as those prisoners who were on the way to their death.
Retracing the footsteps of those that suffered terribly helped everyone realize the importance of taking time to visit places like Dachau and remembering the events that took place and lives that were lost. Our tour guide left us with this quote by George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Germany and Switzerland: May 22
Hallo, we are Harprab, Aaron, Jackie and Hayle!
After a relaxing day in Füssen and visiting local towns and churches our next stop was to the Neuschwanstein Castle! A hop, skip and a jump away from our hotel room we arrived to the bottom of the castle. From the ground, the uphill hike looked intimidating. Our tour guide, Charlotte got us tickets for a bus ride to the Marienbrücke bridge to take a view of the castle, this bus ride being completely packed and bumpy made the ride a very fun experience. The Marienbrücke is a bridge with enchanting views of the castle. Neuschwanstein Castle belonged to King Ludwig.
This castle inspired a Disney movie, specifically Sleeping Beauty’s castle. King Ludwig had a hand in all the planning and building of his castle, which took 17 years to make, with some floors still unfinished. Unfortunately we could not take pictures of inside the castle but we have a good enough memory to describe it to you.
Ludwig was into art and literature, with his key symbol being a SWAN. And was very knowledgeable on it and made sure every detail was precise. Every room told a story relating to his favorites art. Starting in the throne room, this room was inspired by faith. The chandelier was modeled after a Bavarian crown, with several candle holders and many intricate jewels, while weighing 1 ton! We moved onto this bedroom, which had a gothic theme. This room was very detailed orientated, with his headboard in the shape of a church. All the windows in his room were glass designed. We’ve included a picture of a Swan, from the Swan kings village itself!
After the amazing castle tour, Aaron had the opportunity to paddle boat at a lake near Neuschwanstein Castle. He mentioned that the scenery was beautiful, and that it was a perfect chance to relax and reflect on the trip up to that point.
He even managed to capture the moment in a selfie!
Now to make the most out of our last day in Germany. We were allowed to have some time to shop and explore the region of Füssen, and the scenery and amazing view was priceless!
Then, the drive to Switzerland (Four hours), sleeping most of the time…BUT once we saw the amazing views of the Switzerland – Staying awake was not a problem for the rest of the trip!
We want to end this blog with these amazing views; the same ones portrayed on the Internet and TV became reality. ENZOY!
And DANKE for visiting this blog!
Switzerland: May 23 and 24
Hello readers! We are Chris, Jalee, and Jon and we will be writing about our first two full days in Switzerland.
May 23, 2017
This morning we had our first Switzerland business visit at Emmi.
Emmi sells delicious dairy products on a global scale; many of which we got to try. Although Switzerland is a neighboring country to Germany, we have already noticed some major differences.
First of all, things are more expensive here. The Emmi representative mentioned that many will buy their products in Germany instead of Switzerland for the cheaper prices, which causes distribution problems and negatively affects supply and demand.
She also made the point that whereas Germans tend to be more direct, people in Switzerland are more hesitant and less straightforward. Swiss people are also more private and have less of a tendency to be open to outsiders. Though we have already seen business differences in Switzerland from this visit to Emmi, some things will continue to be universal. The most impactful of these universal values that was mentioned at Emmi was the necessity of globalization.
“We came to a point where we couldn’t grow anymore in Switzerland. International business continues to become more and more important.”
After our visit with Emmi, we took a guided tour through Lucerne and saw amazing views and monuments that make the city so special. The highlight of the tour was definitely The Dying Lion Monument, which is a memorial for the 800 Swiss Mercenaries who gave their lives defending the Monarchy of France during the French Revolution. We also got to go into a beautiful Jesuit church and walk on a 700 year old bridge!
Later in the evening we went to The Stadtkeller, where we had a traditional Swiss meal and got to see a show. A few members of our group even got to go on stage to play Alpine horns, dance, and yodel! Performers in a cow costume even came out to “lick” the audience. At the end of the show, everyone got involved in the chicken dance and a conga line! The food was great, but the company and memories made were even better!
May 24, 2017
This morning we took a tour of Rego-Fix, a company located in a small Swiss town. The company started out in 1950 with a spirit of innovation and resourcefulness. One of the first innovations this company had was to create a broom poll holder so that an individual could replace worn-out bristles and keep the broom pole. Since then, the company has changed its strategy as it continues with the innovative spirit that started the company. Today, Rego-Fix is a dedicated tool holder manufacturer, which means the company makes the tools to make other instruments.
The company prides itself on having a holistic system and dedication to the precision it takes to create these tool holders. This holistic system allows for the company to compete internationally. Rego-Fix has facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana, China, and Brazil. The sales people regularly do business with international contacts.
One interesting topic discussed during our tour was the use of international patents. Rego-Fix has several patents on tool holdings, but the emphasis is always on how the company can innovate and create a better process or a new patent. The company stays away from relying on its current patents since Rego-Fix understands that they will eventually expire and will be forced to scramble for break through ideas under pressure, which is difficult.
Our final day in Switzerland
Grüezi from Switzerland!
On our last day in Switzerland, we ended it with a tiring day full of breathtaking views! We started the day with an early bus ride to the bottom of Mt. Pilatus. We got to take some pictures by the lake before boarding the cog railway. The 40 minute ride to the top was adorned with beautiful fields, large rocks, green wooded areas, and snow topped mountains.
Once at the top, we made our way to the rail overlooking the Alps. Several group photos were taken, and everyone experienced the joy of capturing their own #KelleyMoment. We then went off to explore the summit and hike the trails to the cross and weather tower on the peak.
After a warm glass of hot chocolate and lunch, the real fun began. We rode down the mountain in panoramic cable cars that were encased in glass and simulated the feeling of flight. The 360 degree views were to die for. At the bottom, our tour guide surprised us with tickets for Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run! The thrill of sliding down the Alps on a sled on an aluminum run is a feeling no one can describe.
Upon finishing the toboggan run, we had some free time to further explore the mountain, grab a bite to eat, or just relax and enjoy the views. Most of us headed inside to the self-serving cafe, where we had the option of cheesy potato pasta, or the American classic, chicken nuggets. This time also allowed us to indulge in some much needed caffeine to compensate for the tiring day that still remained ahead. Inside the cafe there was a live band filling the room with the sweet sound of traditional Swiss music, to which a lady began dancing along with her dog! The relaxing path was nice and subtle, which of course had to be topped off with ice cream and more pictures as the fog finally began to clear from the mountainside.
A small group of us decided to take a trail down the mountain on foot. For about an hour, we hiked down through woods, prairies, down steps, and over bridges. Being able to experience on foot the places we could view from the top of the mountain was a great experience. It was tiring, but the group all enjoyed it! The hike downhill was finished off with a final cable car ride to the very bottom where our bus awaited.
We all sat down together for one final dinner at the hotel. On the menu was roast pork, potatoes, mixed veggies, and vegetable noodle soup, which everyone enjoyed! We had the opportunity as a group to recognize some people who played big parts in making our trip successful including Professor Wright and Professor Malatestinic, along with our bus driver, John, and our tour guide, Charlotte. It was a bittersweet final dinner together as we reminisced on the awesome experiences we had and memories we made. We are tired and a bit anxious, but I think everyone is ready to come back to our beautiful home of Indianapolis with our new perspectives and experiences from studying abroad!
Liz, Maggie, and Shane