BY Steven Masso
Eleven students from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley traveled to Germany this summer as part of a two-week study abroad course in marketing.
Dr. Reto Felix, assistant marketing professor in the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, taught the course, called “Topics in Marketing.”
The students studied at Leuphana University, in Lüneburg, located in the northern portion of Germany.
The course itself is a general business class with a strong cultural component, Felix said, and is designed to introduce students to the many facets of a global marketplace. The students had traditional classroom learning at Leuphana University, but also gained the first-hand cultural immersion experience through field trips and excursions.
UTRGV Nursing major Alexandra Torres
‘Studying abroad gave me an increased awareness of not only our own personal health, but also of the well-being of our environment on a global scale.
‘IT’S NOT BETTER OR WORSE; IT’S DIFFERENT’
“The students’ slogan here has been, ‘It’s not better or worse; it’s different,’” Felix said. “Studying abroad is very impactful. You may not remember being in the classroom in five or 10 years, but you will remember studying abroad.”
The group went on several field trips, pedal boating in Schröders Garten, shopping in Berlin, visiting the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Site, and touring the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, a visitor attraction focused on automobiles.
Alexandra Torres, a UTRGV nursing major from Palmview, said the trip to the Autostadt had a big impact on her.
“They had an exhibit there on sustainability of the environment, where they demonstrated the amount of waste each country produces and the amount of water wasted,” she said. “It was shocking to see it visually, how drastically we are negatively impacting the planet.”
Torres was not the only student moved by the trip to Germany. Carlo Flores, a senior International Business major from McAllen, said it made him rethink his major.
“This trip more or less changed my trajectory, influencing me to pursue an advanced degree in International Relations and Global Affairs,” he said.
Being able to have debates with German students, in their environment, expanded his view on several world issues.
“Having a thorough discussion with master’s students at Leuphana University regarding the tariffs the Trump Administration has placed on EU exports to the United States created a lively discussion,” Flores said. “Having that experience, and listening to the different perspectives, was really quite amazing.”
Felix emphasized for students that Germany is one of the leading countries for environmental responsibility. For that reason, he said, the culture in Lüneburg was very different from what the students were accustomed to.
“A lot of the buildings don’t have air conditioning, so the students were sweating more than they do in Texas,” he said. “Many people use bicycles and don’t depend on cars. They recycle. They’re willing to walk five minutes to recycle.”
Torres said Germany’s varied approaches to environmental concerns has been an eye opener, and she hopes she can bring some of it back to the Valley.
“Studying abroad gave me an increased awareness of not only our own person health, but also the well-being of our environment on a global scale,” Torres said. “Exercising, eating healthy, as well as recycling and water conservation are part of Germany’s lifestyle, and I strive to adopt that lifestyle and encourage others to do so as well.”
UTRGV STUDENTS – STUDY ABROAD: GERMANY
· Steffy Cortes Sanches, International Business, Pharr.
· Valentin Davila, Accounting, Edinburg.
· Jose De Los Reyes, Management, Brownsville.
· Carlo Flores, International Business, McAllen.
· Alexandra Garcia, Marketing, Mission.
· Orlando Garcia, Biomedical Sciences, Mission.
· Yesenia Garcia, Accounting, Weslaco.
· Edward Markowsky, Management, Palmhurst.
· Anabel Morales, Management, Brownsville.
· Melissa Ruiz, Management, Brownsville.
· Alexandra Torres, Nursing, Palmview.