Friday, June 20, 2014
Thursday morning, we got on a bus and headed to Geneva. I have to say, I am a little disappointed with myself for not having secured a ham hock. There is a line in Stalag 17, one of my favorite movies, which is about a POW camp during World War II. The Genveva man has come to inspect the camp, and the German guard is explaining how "nice" the prisoners have it. He goes to the soup pot and attempts to find the ham hock that should be in the soup, but in reality never is. He states, there should be a ham hock!" One of the prisoners then says, 'When we find it, we'll send it to Geneva." Alas, my opportunity to have a picture of me holding a ham hock in Geneva to be able to send to my brothers and dad never materialized, and I will probably regret it for the rest of my life. But on to more important things! The bus trip was fascinating, with us going through mountains, with an occasional village popping up. Getting through the border into Switzerland was easy, and we arrived at the headquarters of the WTO.
On Wednesday, we had our final session at Emlyon, by Niki Papadopolou. She was able to tell us about her experiences as a US expat in France. She talked about the French education system as well. What I found interesting was that even when she began working somewhere it was two years before she had any non-business interaction with her coworkers, and 6 months before she was invited to lunch during work. This is very different from America. Just in my internship, I was taken to lunch by my manager the first day I was there, and have had many opportunities to have lunch with other coworkers as well. We then went back and visited the Atelier de Soie, which is the last place in Lyon which still does silkscreening by hand. The owner is a fourth generation silkscreened, who gave us a demonstration that made it look easy, but I am sure was not. They also explained the process of creating these silk hang ins that use rayon thread, and are hand painted, with each section taking 10 hours to complete.
Tuesday morning, Evan, Joe, Chris Reed, Josh and I travelled down to Universitie No 3, Jean Moulin, in order to talk to university students about their majors, what job prospects they expected after they graduate, and the general job climate in France. It was interesting to see some similarities in their majors, the majority of whom we spoke to were in business/finance. I was impressed with the number of students who spoke English, and the few I spoke to had actually spent significant time studying abroad to help their English, usually in England. In the afternoon, we had another session at Emlyon, where another German professor, Fred Seidel, spoke to us about European businesses. To be honest, I forgot my notepad for this session, and I would like to say I remember every word, but this one seems to have slipped through the cracks for me. Thus I have learned a valuable lesson about always having a notepad, which is something that has been extremely important during my internship, as I have been meeting with a lot of people to discuss their roles and insights regarding my internship project. In the evening, we traveled to the Beaujolais, which was fun. I was surprised at how low to the ground the grape vines are, 40 cm, which they keep consistent. When I lived in Delano, CA, the grapevines there were elevated to about 4-5 feet off the ground.
On Monday, we had our first session at Emlyon. The professor was Han Schlierer, a German, who spoke about Negotiating with Europeans. A few of the insightsthat I found interesting were: We are negotiating all the time. – This is true, although we might not always think about it that way. Essentially, we are always negotiating for just about everything in life. Trade is theft. – He talked about the fact that for much of Europe, their historical culture related to the Roman Catholic Church meant that the idea of doing things for profit was, in many ways, similar to theft. This results in a less capitalistic viewpoint that what can be seen in America. Negotiations are always with individuals. – The relationship is so important in negotiations with Europeans. This is something that I am not good at. Developing good business relationships takes work and effort similar to networking as a business student. I have made efforts to be more outgoing by attending far more events and social activities than is my general desire to do. However, I have realized that the benefits of increasing my network, and building a relationship with those people, will have the potential to open doors in the future. Additionally, I have been able to make more friends this way. Yes, my €4 Oranginas will pay off down the road!
On Sunday morning, we took a tour of Old Lyon, which was very interesting. Our guide explained the history behind the name of Lyon, which at one time was the Roman city called Lugdunum. Our guide mentioned that this was a city that appeared in the comics of Asterix, of which I am a fan, and own several at home, which I have pulled out to read with my oldest kids. Our guide also took us through traboules, which are passageways through buildings, and can be accessed via doors that look like normal doors to a building. It was interesting that the culture at the time was to not flaunt wealth, and thus the buildings all had similar facades, and the courtyards were inside, behind the building fronts. Apparently, in the 1960’s there was an effort to preserve the old town, but our guide showed us a building where the façade had been torn down before it was banned.