THE BELLS — Pure adrenaline is the only way to explain the overwhelming excitement felt as the surging engines of a Boeing airplane lift the monstrous machine off the ground and into the air, sending a group of 16 Crusaders on their way to Europe.
It isn’t every day that students get the opportunity to study abroad in Belgium and Germany, but 14 students had their chance to go overseas during spring break. Those who went on the trip were enrolled in either international economics or international finance.
Senior international business major Daniela Loera is no greenhorn when it comes to traveling. She’s been on three trips with the McLane College of Business.
“Study abroad is a chance to not only learn about stuff from professors but see it happen and play right out in front of you,” she said. “It’s important for Americans to understand other cultures instead of staying in their own little bubble.”
The group of students, led by international business professor Dr. Michelle Reina and economics professor Danny Taylor, hit the ground running after a seven-hour flight from Chicago to Brussels, Belgium, where much of the European Union work occurs.
The group spent three days in Belgium. They visited the Parlamentarium, where they learned about the European Union’s parliament.
They also met with senior trade adviser Ira Bel and economic officer Marco Sotelino at the U.S. Embassy Annex. These men explained the economic state of Belgium and how Belgians do business much differently from Americans.
Sophomore finance major James Ewing had gone on a trip to Europe before but never to study abroad. Before college, Ewing visited Italy, but he found Belgium and Germany to be quite different.
“It really showed me that just because you’ve gone out of the country once, you’re not even near to seeing the whole world yet,” he said. “Every single place is totally different. The way of life is different, and to really understand that, you have to go experience it for yourself.”
After their time in Belgium, the students traveled by train to Frankfurt, Germany, a large European banking center and home to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. At the stock exchange, they had a VIP tour and learned about how differently Americans and Europeans look at the stock market.
The group also visited the Deutsche Bank headquarters where they listened to a presentation about the international vision of the German bank. Their last banking visit was to the German Central Bank. The students heard a lecture on European economics and the European banking system and then explored the Money Museum at the German Central Bank.
With the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in negotiations right now, a knowledge of the EU is more necessary than ever.
“Understanding the European Union is important to U.S. business students because the EU accounts for 20% of world trade today, and the EU countries continue to be major trade partners with the U.S. Furthermore, the U.S. and the EU are currently in negotiations to establish a free trade agreement,” Reina said. “If it’s approved, it would create potential business opportunities for U.S. companies in the EU.”
The trip concluded with a jaunt to the historic town of Heidelberg and a Rhine River Valley tour.