June 24, 2009

Guest Post from the European Field Seminar Blog

The following post was originally written for class participation as a part of the European Field Seminar. Boston University offers four field seminars that travel either to Europe, Asia, Brazil, or India. To see the other 16 posts from fellow attendess, head over to http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/2009-European-Field-Seminar-Participants.

Connections, Bikes, and Ex-Pats (June 8, 2009)

Before I begin to talk about our meetings and adventures on the 8th, I have to mention my fantastic off-day on the 7th. During the fall and spring semesters I work part-time as a Graduate Assistant in the Graduate Admissions Office. As a result, I have the opportunity to meet and greet hundreds of prospective students and I get to spend even more time with them at admitted student open house events. At one of these events I met Thomas Eisner, a prospective full-time student living in Paris. Little did I know, I would be traveling to his city in June. He noticed a status update on Facebook and before you know it I was getting a personal tour of the city. The walking tour was a perfect way to spend the off day.

On the morning of the eighth we hopped backed on the Paris subway and headed toward the La Defense area to attend our first meeting at JCDecaux. The advertising firm pulled out all the stops, treating us to a presentation in their rotating presentation hall delivered by their Director of Marketing Strategy. Ms. Mari detailed the entire Cyclocity project and the unique challenges presented by the Paris project and the development of Velib.

Our second meeting took us to Business Objects, a unique firm developed with both French and American characteristics and employees. We spoke with Timo Elliot and Michael Thompson, both ex-patriates who told us about their firm, the merger, and their life in France. They presented one curve designed to display the satisfaction of ex-pats over time--which included one deep trough of dissatisfaction. Timo and Michael shared their personal experiences and emphasized the importance of assimilation and maintaining strong personal relationships during the process. As a person interested in work abroad, this part of the presentation was especially interesting.

Invest in France hosted our group for the final meeting of the day and was forced to improvise. The Managing Director was only able to speak with us for a few minutes before departing but the agency found two other speakers to take our questions. We discussed France's unique requirements for greenfield investment and their interest in building local employment. After our final meeting we enjoyed a typically French dinner--lasting over four hours and including more courses than I am able to count. All in all, a good day.

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