Marketing study abroad trip to Iberian Peninsula opens new business and cultural doors.

Barcelona. Madrid. Toledo. Lisbon. Sintra. The Portuguese coast. So reads the itinerary for the 20 Florida International University (FIU) students who participated in the March 2012 study abroad program to the Iberian Peninsula. The program was organized by the Marketing Department and supported by FIU’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

According to Elisabeth Beristain, program director for the College of Business Administration’s marketing study abroad programs, the trip offered the students a unique opportunity to gain knowledge regarding specific in-country marketing and marketing communication challenges and opportunities.

The packed agenda included presentations by local experts during visits to U.S.-based Bank of America, Burson-Marsteller, Y&R Advertising, as well as three Spanish companies, El Corte Ingles Department Store, Freixnet Winery and MANGO Design Center.

The FIU students at MANGO Design Center, one of three Spanish companies they visited during their marketing study abroad program.
The FIU students at MANGO Design Center, one of three Spanish companies they visited during their marketing study abroad program.

Business lessons learned.

“I learned how the legal environment in different countries shapes the way companies do business,” said Ernesto Ruiz, who is pursuing his marketing and international business degrees. “I also learned the different strategies that companies use to target customers in specific countries. For example, because of the recession and hard economic times, department stores in Spain are aiming promotions directly to tourists.”

Marketing student Katherine Maceda found the marketing exercises related to American companies KFC, McDonald’s and Starbucks operating in Portugal and Spain most enlightening.

“I saw first hand how these companies market to these countries based on the consumer behavior and history,” she said. “I analyzed the different menus, store setups and customer service. It was great to see everything I have learned in the textbooks come to life.”

Cultural insights gained.

During the city tours, Maceda developed a new appreciation of art and history and sampled delectable new cuisines.

“The most interesting food I tasted was a “pastéis de Belém” in Lisbon, a dessert that only three people in the world know how to make! It was truly delicious,” she said.

“The combination of business learning and cultural immersion, not to mention the great people I met, made the entire trip a unique experience,” Ruiz said.



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