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Study Abroad Blog

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Parlez vous, clase?

When I decided to study abroad in Dublin, I imagined myself spending my days in classes with my fellow Americans and some Irish students as well. I was so very wrong.
 Almost all of the students from both CEA and ISB, representing America, France, Germany, Spain, Mongolia, and more!

Since I'm in the international business program with CEA, I was hoping to take classes that would give me an understanding of international business enough to be figure out if that was something I might want to pursue, but what I didn't know was that I would get to experience the international business much less learn about it. Our classes are a combination of CEA and International Business School (ISB) classes, so half of my classes are pretty much all-Americans, and the other two are pretty much all-French. I'm one of three Americans in those two ISB classes.
 A snap of the entrance to the Irish Museum of Modern Art

I must admit, being a minority (in a way) for the first time in my entire life is jarring. My classmates learn in completely different ways. They talk during class because that's normal for them, and they aren't trying to write as much as they possibly can to keep up with the professor, and they aren't completely grade-driven. Their learning style is completely different, and the class dynamics are unlike anything I've ever experienced before.
 A view from my everyday walk to class

If you're a business major too, you probably know that there's a lot of group work. But here, there is so much more group work than I am used to. It's been very difficult, I must admit. Group work tends to be tough as it is, but when there's a language barrier, it becomes so that much more challenging.
 The best fuel for homework there is - a cappuccino from the bakery across the street from CEA's campus

I had a presentation on Monday that was worth 50% of our final grade. I was the only American in the group, and I was with two French students and two German students. We had had a very difficult time working together because it was clear that everyone had fantastic ideas, but we didn't know how to say them in a way that everyone could understand. With such a high weight on the grade, everyone was stressed, and the inability to make connections between each other and get on the same page made the project a battle that we all had to win in order to pass the class.

Our presentation went fine. It was not my favorite one, but here's the thing that I realized after a long phone call with my parents afterwards. The lesson wasn't how to create a marketing communications plan. In reality, that wasn't the lesson at all. The lesson was how to actually accomplish a project with people of different cultures because the second each of us walk out of our universities and into an office building that is exactly what we'll have to do.

My classes with CEA and ISB have been so different from my classes at home because the focus is not on the material here. Studying international business isn't about learning the trade laws and the importance of cross cultural values. It's about learning how to work with people you don't have anything in common with, and in my opinion, that's one of the most valuable lessons that can be learned.

 The courtyard of the Irish Museum of Modern Art

Victoria N. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently a junior studying Commerce & Business at Rhodes College.

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