The concept of “Core Courses” is unique to the DIS study abroad experience. The organizers have hit the mark in giving your academic experience an identity. They know that you are studying abroad to capture the life and culture of the country and the surrounding area. Instead of asking of you to wander around alone, they integrate travelling, exploring, and case studies into the repetoire. You will tour around different parts of Denmark and Europe within your core course. As I am enrolled in the International Business (Section A) core course, my reflection will be pertinent to said course…

On Monday, February 6th at 4:30AM, I was awoken to the sounds of a chicken cocka-doodle-dooing and an atom bomb warning siren. No, I don’t live near a chicken farm nor was there the immenent threat of a devastating explosive. That is acutally the phone alarm I use to pull myself out of my deep slumber. Yea, it’s as crazy as it sounds. My host parents can hear it from their room on the other side of the house. The security of the alarm is nice, especially when I had a bus to catch in Copenhagen at 7:00…the bus that would take our class to Ribe & Haederslev for Core Course Week.

After fighting through layers of thick snowfall, I managed to drag myself and my suitcase from the Copenhagen Central Station over to the class rendezvous point. Once we got on the coach bus, however, I got to relax for the next 3 hours as we began the trek over to Esbjerg in Western Jutland (mainland Denmark). As we pulled into the first company HQ’s parking lot, I brushed the excess roadsalt off my brogues and fixed my shirt to make myself more presentable. At all company visits, the dress code was business casual; make sure to pack a couple shirts, pants, a belt, and some nice shoes!

I only had a vague idea of what to expect before making the first company visit. The presenters at Viking Life Saving Equipment soon set the tone/routine of what to expect for the rest of the study tour. At Viking, they gave us a factory tour, briefing us on their products, its primary use, their customers, and market positioning. We would go more in depth on the operations of the company including which metrics are most important to them and how their value chain looks. For the last 20 minutes of the visit, we were given the opportunity to fire away some questions. This would be the format that all companies followed. However, Viking Life Savings Equipment, LEGO, Ecco, and Danfoss are all very different companies, each with their own identity. For that reason, each company had elements to make their experience unique (ex. playing with LEGOs, inflating life rafts, relevant competitor information, etc.). It was VERY interesting to see the thought process and production of the products that you wouldn’t otherwise have known.

Key take aways: Danfoss is everywhere and you don’t even know it. LEGO, the largest toy manufacturer, is a Danish company. Ecco captures close to all of its value chain. Viking Life Saving Equipment holds onto a lot of its customers through a smart and premium vertical integration system.

DIS also understands that breaking away from all the seriousness is equally as important. Within the delicately designed itinerary, the organizers have been able to throw some fun activities into the mix. In Esbjerg, we tried our hand at Curling. I never knew sliding a stone and sweeping some ice could be so difficult. It was almost embarassing to see the skill gap between the instructors and the class. However, there were some surprising sharpshooters and custodial skills among our class. Later in the trip, we took a ferry to cross the water and continue our drive back to Copenhagen. But, not before we made a stop at the Odense Chocolatier for a lesson on making Flodeboller (a traditional danish dessert; basically chocolate covered marshmellow).

We business majors aren’t always unfun and souless! In fact, through these activities and group dinners, the class built a sense of camrarderie. This is key, as we prepare to depart for Berlin and Prague for our long study tour in 2 weeks…

 

Feel free to ask any questions or provide feedback!

 

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