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Settling into Santiago

Sixteen adventurous Quinlan graduate business students and two professors (Dr. Reilly and me) are assembled and orientated to our new week-long home in Santiago.  This alternative Spring Break is part of the study-abroad course, Management 475, Cross-Cultural Aspects of International Management.   So far we have had great weather (85 degrees and sunny) and wonderful tours with historical commentary about the architecture and beauty of the city.  We can see the Andes from our hotel, and will explore them as well as the coastline later in the week.

It is Monday, and this morning we visited AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Chile to learn details of international trade and an overview of the business environment in this thriving emerging South American economy.  Much of the produce and fish we eat in the U.S. comes from this country, which is about twice the size of California.  Beyond the fertile central agricultural valley, however this skinny country houses amazing geographic diversity.  To the north is the world’s driest desert, while in the south volcanos, lakes and glaciers are found.  To the west is the Pacific coast and to the east the rugged Andes Mountains.

We are on sensory overload as we hone our observation techniques.  Students are focused on understanding and comparing specific sectors for their group projects (public libraries, supermarkets, transportation and wineries), while attempting to comprehend the historical, political, legal and cultural nuances that influence the micro and macro-environments.  In addition, they are alert to innovative sustainability initiatives.  One surprise was the nearby Intercontinental Hotel with an exterior skin of sodded grass, an initiative designed to regulate the interior temperature and conserve energy.

Later today we are meeting with representatives of Groupon, an international branch of the Chicago mother ship.  After that we will hear about an entrepreneurial start-up La Bicicleta Verde from U.S. expat Peter Murphy.  The day will conclude with a three-hour ride on Peter’s “green bicycles” through the city, ending at a local watering hole where we will be treated to a cocktail party.

As the week progresses I will document more details.  In addition, our Quinlan students will be contributing their take on the experience and their investigations of specific topics.  Meanwhile, please know that we will be applying liberal amounts of sunblock and enjoying the beautiful weather, food and companionship in our temporary home.

  • By Sheila Keyser on 3.4.2013 at 11:03 pm

    When traveling from the airport to the center of Santiago, one will be struck on how the terrain resembles that of the Phoenix/Scottsdale area in Arizona. With blue skies and abundant sunshine, along with colorful mountains and very low humidity, the resemblance to the Arizona climate is unmistakable. But that’s where the similarities end.

    As I traveled closer to downtown, what I wasn’t prepared for, was how beautiful and modern the buildings are. Most of the city is made up of high rises, gorgeous contemporary glass structures with terraces and balconies that have foliage spilling over it’s railings.

    The country of Chile has a population of 17M and 80% of its people live in Santiago. However, even though most of the population live in tall buildings, when walking around on the street, it still feels comfortable, without feeling overly crowded.

  • By Carrie Beeks on 3.16.2013 at 7:36 pm

    I choose Mgmt 475,for two reasons: further my knowledge and understanding of international management and have a rare opportunity to explore Chile through the lens of a study program. I had no hesitations or reservations about visiting Chile. From everything I had read and heard I knew Chile would be great!

    Settling into Santiago did not take long at all for me. Having the warm temperatures, beautiful Andes Mountains and friendly Chileans it was easy to settle in to the week long stay.

    I arrived to Chile tired from the day long travel getting to Santiago. I was so excited as the plane got closer to Santiago and I could see the beautiful mountains and sun – resting was definitely not on my mind! I was ready to explore Santiago! I arrived on Saturday afternoon and I expected chaos in the downtown area where we were staying. Instead and to my surprise there was a sense of ease and calmness in Santiago. Even though it reminded me of other global cities I had visited. I immediately felt like I had stumbled upon a city that has been kept a secret. From the moment I arrived I felt like it was a very manageable city to live in.

    I found it to be a positive contradiction to Chicago. The traffic or as I have learned the ‘taco’ is just as busy and congested as Chicago but quieter! I rarely heard a horn blast or sirens blasting. I live in downtown Chicago and that is a constant sound.

    Two of the things things I really enjoy in life are biking and my dog. I loved seeing so many bikes in Santiago. From the business person going to work on their bike to the recreational bike riders after business hours riding through the parks I felt as if I was home because I often ride my bike in Chicago through the parks after work. I was a little surprised to see so many dogs in Santiago, both the pets and stray dogs. The stray dogs did however, give me heart attacks every time they chased a car and tried to bite their tires!

    Within a short period of time in Santiago I experienced several amazing activities and I have enjoyed them all. Some of my favorite activities with the group included: the welcome dinner at Le Flaubert. I really enjoyed the restaurant and discussing the upcoming trip. My second favorite activity was the biking tour which gave me a wonderful tour of the city. My third and absolute favorite activity was the visit to Vina Mar Vineyard! That was the best. So beautiful and the wine was great! It was the perfect farewell to the program in Santiago! Beyond the activities through the program I had great dinners, met some of the nicest Chileans and took in the city.

    My favorite company meeting was with DDB. I absolutely thought the speaker at DDB was perfect and I enjoyed the presentation emencely. The main thing I hoped to gain from studying in Chile was a ‘real’ understanding of the country and not just what the country, tour guides or advertisements want you to know. I wanted to know the good but also learn more about the bad and ugly. The presentation at DDB gave me just that. Along with commenting on all the great things that Chile has to offer there was a great conversation about the challenges Chileans face, the society and norms that have shaped the country. It was very interesting to learn more about the social classes. I had known prior to coming to Chile about the social classes in Chile but hearing about in more depth from someone who lives in Chile was very interesting and gave me a much better understanding of the culture and country.

    One of my favorite things to do while traveling internationally or anywhere for that matter is to see how the local customs and artifacts are similar or different from my own. It was interesting in Chile to see the differences. I noticed immediately and appreciated the formality and manners that Chileans express to each other and to me. I also experienced and saw the laid back feel and appreciation for life and being in the moment. It was rare to see someone at a restaurant on their cell phone. People seemed engaged in their conversations and in the moment. One thing that is common at meetings and different gatherings is having coffee. However, there is a small difference I noticed frequently. Except for Starbucks I never saw coffee served or offered with paper cups. The use of glass coffee cups and saucers were the norm. In the U.S in most situations we use paper cups more often. Even in the offices we visited I didn’t see paper cups for employees or visitors. I have appreciate this for two reasons: formality and less waste.
    Some of my favorite memories of Santiago are:
    •Avocado and more avocado!
    •The restaurants on Isadora street
    •Wine
    •The formality
    •Metro station- so much cleaner than Chicago
    •Free Wifi – almost everywhere
    •Seeing families together and children in the park
    •The business activity
    •The parks
    •The people and new friends I made!

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