Ilitch School of Business students travel to central Europe to study how culture can affect business decisions

Students sitting around a table with plates of pierogi
Students enjoying Pierogi at a Polish restaurant 

Learning how to effectively manage global supply chains means learning how companies around the world operate. Students in the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland: Global Business Experience class got a firsthand lesson in how industry works across central Europe.

Assistant professor of global supply chain management Kevin Ketels helped put this course together, and traveled with the students as they visited companies and universities in Poland, The Netherlands and Germany.  

“One of the big appeals of this trip is that students get to experience the culture and diversity of three countries,” explained Ketels. “They have different languages, food, people, styles and we want the class to compare and contrast the culture, business and history and the role each plays and how they intersect.”  

During the 15-day course, students visited industries and universities to see how their social, political, and cultural differences shaped the business environment. Students toured museums and cultural sites, like Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and were encouraged to use their free time to explore their surroundings. 

Marina Calvachi, a senior marketing major from Chelsea, Mi, spent her time exploring her host cities with the rest of her class, and using the public transit systems to do so. This experience sparked a new interest.  

“I live at home and commute to Detroit from Chelsea, but there’s an out of use train station by my house,” says Calvachi. “How amazing would it be if I could jump on the train and go to Detroit for school. I could have so much more time to work or relax and read a book. That’s something I’m really going to miss about Europe.”  

Calvachi chose this program because she had always wanted to study abroad, and she felt this was her opportunity to do so while learning more about business and culture.  

“I think having a good understanding of the world and other people’s perspectives is super important, especially when it comes to business,” says Calvachi. “From a marketer’s standpoint, being able to better understand who you’re talking to, your target audience and how things work is very beneficial.”  

Calvachi and her fellow classmates didn’t just pick this up from company visits, and lectures, but from talking with people who have a different background.  

“We had a lecture on food logistics from Colian Logistic, and after we went to a beer garden and some of the students were

Students sit around a table in front of a projected map of the United States
Study abroad group after a meeting with Colian Logistic

able to sit with the contact and talk about history, politics and industry,” says Ketels. “They told me that having a conversation with our local contacts was better than any lecture they could have had.”  

Although the registration deadline has passed for this course, interested students can learn more about the program, and prepare to register for next year as Calvachi would certainly recommend.  

“You have to take this class, it’s so much fun,” says Calvachi. “You learn so much and I think that was one of the best things about our group going over there. It’s very eye opening to understand the world and international relationships and just be appreciative of the United States and know that we have a really big impact on the rest of the world.” 

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