More Than a Trip: Students gain first hand experience of business in Europe [Archives:2006/961/Reportage]

July 3 2006
Students at Proctor & Gamble in Geneva, Switzerland.
Students at Proctor & Gamble in Geneva, Switzerland.
Abdul Kazi
“Besides visiting and exploring top companies in the trip, making new friends and strong relations with the students was the most valuable thing for me” – Salem Al Ameeri says, one of the Yemeni students in the group.

30 students from the School of Business & Management (SBM) at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) recently returned from a 2 week Business Study Tour to Switzerland & Germany. The students belonged to different nationalities and backgrounds, creating a rich mix of cultures. Some were from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, Algeria, Saudia Arabia, UAE, and Yemen.

Carol Houser, Director of International Programs at AUS has been organizing these successful study tours for the past 6 years. “The study tours are one of the most beneficial activities the student can participate in. Students are able to see how what they have been learning about in their class is put into action. They are able to meet with Presidents, Vice Presidents and other top level management of some of the biggest companies in the world.” says Carol.

The group visited European headquarters of Daimler Chrysler, Oracle, Schindler, Procter & Gamble, Credit Suisse, Swiss ReInsurance, Siemens and Motorola. The top management of these companies met with the group and presented an overview of the company, their products and their position in marketplace since foundation. Students gained vital information about the companies and learnt how business is practiced in real life. The students then had the opportunity to interact with these top level executives and questioned them about various strategies and issues in their respective companies.

Apart from serious meetings, the students had many cultural visits such as Linderholf and Neuschwanstein Castles, Deutches museum, and the Jungfrau Mountain. The students showed a lot of interest in learning about the history during their visits. The visit to Jungfrau Mountain in Switzerland was filled with excitement and fun. For most of them, it was the first time they had seen snow in their life.

This was a compact trip including everything it could in the limited time. It gave the students a preview of the future by visiting the companies and a short synopsis of the past with the cultural visit. Other than that the students learnt to live independently and gained a lot of knowledge about Europe which they would not have learnt without such visits.

Other study tours conducted by AUS are to Florida during the spring semester, and one to Japan/Hong Kong during the fall. Every year students wait eagerly to sign up for the study tours which are one of the most important activities at AUS.

The study tour does not only end with the visit outside the country. Before leaving for the study tour, the students have to write a report which includes brief overview of all the different companies and cities they will visit. It is counted as a course for the students, where they gain 3 credits for it with follow up classes once they return and a visit to some of the local branches of the companies they visited abroad. In addition they write another final report and submit it on the last day of class, which includes what they learnt from each place they visited.

Amal Al-Ashtal, another Yemeni student says “The trip was an eye-opener. Visiting those leading companies broadened my perspective of the business world, extending beyond textbooks and lectures.”