This week we travel to beautiful Barcelona. Two of our JU students traveled with Barcelona Study Abroad Experience this summer and interned in the International Business field! One of them was Amanda Detmer. She interned with Asics Iberia and learned so much in a span of 6 weeks about Spanish culture, politics, and business practices abroad.
Over the summer of 2018, I interned abroad with BarcelonaSAE from May 20 to June 30. I interned at the ASICS Innovation HUB EMEA located in Barcelona, Spain. I also had the opportunity to travel throughout Spain, to Holland, and Portugal. This was an experience of a life-time, and I enjoyed every second of it!
Some cultural aspects that were different in Spain included greetings, work hours, and punctuality. Spanish people greeted each other by kissing three times on the cheek. They would go to work around 8-10am and get off around 7-8pm. In Spain, it is culturally acceptable to arrive late to scheduled meetings, where in the United States it is very important to arrive early/on time to scheduled meetings.
At ASICS, I was part of a team of five interns working on the TENKAN-TEN project. I researched specific markets to find and recruit the best sports and well-being start-ups to join this program. This was known as the “scouting” process. My team and I spent most of our days searching the internet for start-ups. After we found start-ups that met the criteria, we would add them into the Customer Relationship Management system. After we added the start-ups into the system, we would send out our “first contact” emails where we would try to capture the attention of the start-up by using minimal information about the program. We called this the “fish hook.” After we received responses, we would explain more about the program. At the end of the “second contact” email, we would ask to set up a video call with one of the founders/CEOs to discuss the program further and to establish more of a personal relationship. Video calls were a time for start-ups to ask any questions they had, and I would explain more in depth what the program had to offer. Most of the time, my supervisor was with me during these calls, but I would handle most of the talking. At the end of each video call, the end-goal was to get the start-up to apply. Fun fact: one of my start-ups I found made the final selection!
One major challenge I faced was living in a different city where I didn’t speak the native language. Before going to Spain, I thought I would get to practice a lot of my Spanish, but everywhere I went, natives spoke Catalan. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Catalan, it is a mixture of both French and Spanish. This made it difficult to communicate with the natives, but I did learn a few words in Catalan! One thing I really miss about Barcelona is the way people interact with each other. It feels like everyone cares a lot more about their relationships. People greet each other by kissing on the cheek, doing things for others without asking, and spending 1-2 hours eating at meals so they can enjoy each other’s company.
One thing I learned about myself during my time in Spain was I struggle a lot with change. At first, I struggled with trying new foods and getting used to new customs such as eating lunch after 2pm or dinner after 8pm. After about a week or two, I started trying new foods (because I had to eat), and my body was adjusting to my new meal times! On my first day of work, I took the wrong metro and ended up in a place 30 minutes away from where I needed to be. I had to call BarcelonaSAE and try to explain where I was because I didn’t realize I was actually lost; I thought they gave me the wrong address. We finally figured it out after about 10 minutes, and they suggested I call a taxi. Once I got my taxi, I arrived almost 1 hour late to my first day. Oops! At least my boss was understanding! 😊
If you are scared to study abroad, that’s ok! It is completely normal. But to ever overcome your fears, you must throw yourself into that situation. I traveled to 10 countries prior to my Spain trip and was still extremely nervous. One girl I met on my trip told me she had never been out of her own state, let alone her own country! At the end of the journey, she told me she was glad she stepped out of her comfort zone. In the beginning she was scared and skeptical, but now she wants to continue her love for travel.