Study Abroad adventure mixes business with pleasure

Lloyd Vliet along with his sister Vivian visit the French Alps in Chamonix, France.
Lloyd Vliet along with his sister Vivian visit the French Alps in Chamonix, France.

By Alyssa Naimoli

A global supply chain program might sound boring to some. However, when interest in such a program carries one abroad to Europe, visiting the likes of France and Switzerland, one may take on an entirely new perspective.

Lloyd Vliet, a senior marketing major, received the opportunity of a lifetime this spring. He went abroad to France and Switzerland in a global-supply-chain-focused study where he had the opportunity to practice the French he has been studying for years and saw more than he ever expected.

“I studied in France and Switzerland for a week with Dr. Eder and Dr. Denbo,” said Vliet. “The trip was focused on global supply chain. We visited several companies, headquarters and manufacturing plants.”

The tours didn’t end there. During their travels, Vliet and the rest of the students visited the FedEx facility and the port in Marseille, France, Becton Dickinson’s glass syringe manufacturing plant in Grenoble, France, and a chocolate company, Favarger, in Switzerland.

“While in Switzerland, we visited Nestlé’s headquarters in Geneva. We also visited the last family-owned chocolate factory,” said Vliet. “It was really enlightening on how businesses operate on a global scale.”

This major-specific trip, as well as other trips like it, are very beneficial to students.

“The advantages of going on major-specific trips are that students can take a course that is focused just on one class and really learn about one particular subject,” said Kim Algeo, assistant director of the Center of International Education. “Students become more independent, learn about themselves and a different culture, and they have global experience on their résumés, which is important in today’s competitive work environment. Students that return from being abroad also have more to offer in the classroom, as they can talk about their experiences and share with their classes what a particular class may have been like abroad compared to here.”

Visiting France was a dream come true for Vliet.

“I’ve always wanted to visit France. I’ve studied French I-IV and composition and translation in college,” he said. “My favorite part of this trip was the culture. I really felt like I fit in there.”

The trip wasn’t all work and no play, though; Vliet had the opportunity to visit a mustard mill and winery in Burgundy, France and had the opportunity to visit a handful of restaurants.

“We had free time at night to do things that we wanted to do and we got to go to a lot of really nice restaurants. To be completely honest, I didn’t know food tasted that good,” said Vliet.

Because of the cultural differences, the students were surprised that wine was cheaper to purchase than water.  “One of the kids in our group ordered the water at a restaurant,” Vliet said. “It ended up costing him nine euros and our wine was only four euros.”

One of Vliet’s favorite memories was the trip to Chamonix to see the French Alps.

“We actually saw the solar eclipse happen from the summit of the mountain top. It was so breathtaking; literally, I couldn’t breathe at the top of the mountain because there wasn’t enough oxygen,” said Vliet.

The French Alps, the mountain top from which one can see three countries, — France, Italy, and Switzerland — is a  something that people can go their whole lives without seeing and that became a favorite site of many on the trip.

“I think everybody would agree that the trip was really well planned and well organized with really thoughtful cultural and business visits,” said Vliet. “Everything in France is just so beautiful, and it was really cool to see how they have preserved these beautiful old buildings over the course of so many hundreds of years.”

printed in the 4/1/15 edition

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