What can I say about two weeks in a country I have always dreamed of going? Words always seem to fall short, especially when people ask “What was your favorite part of going to India?” Well in short, everyday I woke up thinking that the day before was my favorite day. Everyday I learned something new and fell in love more with one of the most diverse countries in the world. The cultural visits were amazing and surreal, and we always learned about their history and significance, which made me more appreciative of the culture. The corporate visits exceeded, by far, my expectations! I honestly thought they would only  be vaguely interesting, but every company we visited gave us the opportunity to learn something new. We were able to see the company culture first hand, and see a variety of industries. Though in many ways our cultures are different, I think seeing their companies from the inside showed us how we were similar as well. From UNIBIC cookies to NH Hospital, I left everyday more interested in the career path I have chosen. The company presentations always tied their information to something relatable, especially for Supply Chain majors. Going to India really made me appreciate their unique culture- from the famous Indian “head shake” to the autographs the children asked for at the school, they are such a beautiful people and I will be happy to return as soon as I can!

Categories: 2017 Trip

I am so happy I got to go on the India Study Abroad trip! I had so much fun alongside 21 other great students and the wonderful Dr. Gaspar! I learned so much about the different cultures, languages, and lifestyles throughout India.

We started off in the capital of India, New Delhi. It was a beautiful city in which we got to visit Jama Masjid, Humayun’s Tomb, drive by the India Gate and the Lotus Temple. One of the most interesting things to me though was the consistent smog that covered the sky. As New Delhi is one of the top three most populated cities in the world, this could be expected but it was definitely eye-opening to not be able to see the sun clearly throughout those few days. We drove to Agra the next day and visited the mesmerizing Taj Mahal. That was one of the most amazing things to see and a great thing to check off my bucket list.

Mysore was the next city we visited and it had to be my favorite city by far. Although the drive there was a little long, it let us see their town even better. Leaving such a huge city, it was so nice to see the more rural side of India. There were palm trees everyone (yes palm trees), colorful homes, students walking home from school, and mom and pop stores all around. It was a great place to shop, get henna, and some of the boys even got custom suits made. Many called it the “sleepy town” as almost everything closed at around 9 at night, which may be another reason I loved it so much.

Throughout our time we got to visit a lot of businesses in India. We visited the American Center, Hero Motorcycle company, Infosys, Otis Elevator Company, Akshaya Patra, and UNIBIC, India’s largest cookie providers. Although I loved all of the corporate visits we had, Akshaya Patra was by far my favorite. They are a non-profit organization that help feed low income students at local schools around India. They taught us about their mission, goals, and how they run their business. Afterwards we got to be hands on and help feed the students. Those kids are filled with so much love and interest that it was great to have the chance of talking and hanging out with them.

There are a million other things I could talk about that I loved from this trip. Experiencing a completely new country with 21 initial strangers who I’m now great friends with. The long bus rides traveling all around India that let you talk endlessly with everyone on the bus. The amount of times that we played Mafia, Heads Up, or literally just Heads Up 7Up on the bus. Freaking out by the crazy ways that they drive, don’t use lanes, motorcycles cut 18-wheelers off, and drivers almost running us over every single day. Going to café’s and having a million photos of y’all show up on their Facebook page. Going to buffet restaurants and being baffled by the 40 items that come with it. Also, being baffled that the most ordinary looking things on the menu are actually the spiciest! All of this and so much more! If someone is questioning on going to India, do it!!! It was absolutely an amazing experience!

Categories: 2017 Trip

I can’t believe it has nearly been a week since I arrived back in America! Coming back to the US has been a bit strange for me because I feel that I grew accustomed to the sights and sounds of India very quickly. Everything back home is orderly and expected; I miss the chaos of India. I know that I am very lucky to have been born and raised in the US, but this trip has sparked something within me. I am already itching to plan my next trip and discover new cultures! Thanks to this trip, it has further confirmed my desire to one day live outside of the US. India was more than I could’ve hoped for and I am so grateful it was the first country I visited abroad.

 

Over the years I feel that I learned a good amount about India’s culture and customs, but there isn’t any amount of reading or power point presentations that can prepare you for everything India entails. One of the first things I noticed was the traffic!! Experiencing the traffic of India was one of my many favorite moments of the trip. It still amazes me that the people there could drive extremely closely to one another and pay no mind to the lanes clearly painted on the roads. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen; it was organized chaos. There didn’t seem to be many traffic laws, but it still worked so well. Back home I think it’s common for me to see at least one accident a day. I was shocked that we never once saw an accident in any city we visited. Attempting to cross the street in India was a whole experience in itself! I think this is the only occurrence that I never fully grew used to. I think it would take a bit more than two weeks to master crossing the streets of India. I was also very surprised by the vast amount of people we were constantly surrounded by! More specifically, it seems that we were constantly surrounded by Indian men. I grew up hearing that many Asian countries prefer males to females which leads to an unequal ratio, but to actually see it is astounding. When we did see Indian women it seemed that they were always either accompanied by a male or were with a group of women, they hardly ever seemed to walk alone. I truly enjoyed conversing with all the men, women, and children. Whether they were students, professionals, or simply someone you met while waiting in line at More Megastore, there was so much to learn and share with each of them. Indian food is also unlike anything I’ve ever had. It doesn’t compare to any of the Indian food I have had in the US and I can honestly say it was the most interesting food I’ve ever tried. I’m not a picky eater and I’ll try anything at least once so all in all I truly enjoyed tasting all the different Indian cuisine. As a person who loves spicy food, I was a little disappointed on my trip to find that none of the food was as spicy as I had expected it to be. However, all of the food was very flavorful! “Bland” never once crossed my mind when trying all of the food. One of my favorite things to do was to pick something random from the menu of any restaurant we visited. I never wanted to eat the same thing twice there and this really allowed me taste some of the most delicious food!

 

This trip was an experience of a lifetime and I would urge anyone to go! The important thing is to keep an open mind and be ready to be pushed out of your comfort zone. India is completely unlike the U.S. which is probably one of the reasons I loved it so much. There are many things to learn and see so be prepared to take it all in! I am very thankful that I had this opportunity and hope to find myself in India again sometime in the future!

 

 

Categories: 2017 Trip

Wow! I can’t believe the trip is over! That was by far the longest and shortest two weeks of my life! I felt like I had been there forever when it came to walking around the cities, bartering, and ordering food but it also felt like everything went by so fast it was almost like a blur at the same time! It still feels so surreal. I learned so much in so little time. The people in India are so friendly and welcoming. They are all very smart people as well! Most of them know their native regional dialect as well as Hindi and English. Some even know Spanish! It is very clear by the architecture of the old artifacts and places such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and the Mysore Palace that the people in India have always been intelligent people. I am so mind blown by a lot of these places and how they built them so long ago without modern day technology and how they are still standing in pretty good shape today. While being in India, we see things and learn things that aren’t always necessarily the best. This trip opened up my eyes and gave me a new appreciation for life and the things that we normally take for granted. When we visited some of the companies, we were given a tour of the factories and were able to see where and how people worked and the conditions they worked in. They work long hours and sometimes they aren’t in the best of environments. Some places were extremely hot and others were working closely with toxic chemicals and didn’t have a whole lot of protective gear. It was nice getting to hang out with students at the different universities and learning about them and seeing things from their perspective. I remember talking to one of the students about cars and how he wants to come to America so he can drive a Dodge Charger because the roads in India aren’t really made for sports cars. It really opened my eyes to actually see how privileged we are here in the United States. All in all, I learned a whole lot on this trip and it helped me see life in a new light. This is definitely a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. I am so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity to study abroad and to a place most people wouldn’t necessarily pick as a first choice to visit when going on a vacation. We were blessed to have Dr. Gaspar lead this trip and he made it a very special one. I hope to be able to visit again sometime in the future and to continue to learn about the international business environment in India. Thanks and Gig Em!

Categories: 2017 Trip

India was such a beautiful and unique country. It was so different from the United States. The businesses we visited were fascinating. It was surprising to me how their level of sanitation and standards are lower than in the United States. I became more grateful for the FDA here in the states. In many of the company visits, the employees seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing. They had a lot of company pride and even seemingly menial tasks were done with joy and excellence. At one of the company visits, Infosys, I got a taste for just how hard Indians work. They have incredibly long hours. This work ethic begins at a young age for Indians. Even elementary school students go to class Monday through Saturday! Although the people work longer hours than most Americans, they are paid significantly less than a minimum wage worker in America is paid. Almost half the population lives on less than $1 a day. India also was a land of contrasts. As we drove many hours in a big bus, we passed the dirtiest of slums and some of the nicest buildings in a matter of mere minutes.

I loved learning more about the supply chain process through some of the businesses we visited. I just recently decided to major in supply chain management, so I think the company visits helped put a lot of the concepts I have learned and will be learning in the future into a practical framework. I was especially impressed with the Akshaya Patra Foundation, a non-profit that delivers 1.7 million meals every day to needy school children. The speaker talked about just-in-time delivery and how important coordinating the supply chain is to delivering meals on time to the schools—and while the meals are still hot! He also spoke about how they are able to use great economies of scale and achieve high efficiency.

We saw a similar theme at NH Hospitals, where they offer healthcare to the masses in India. Because they serve such a huge population, they are able to achieve great economies of scale and increase output for each machine they have, thus reducing cost per patient significantly.

We were able to visit a university in Mysore called SDMIMD for a day. It was a blast getting to know all the students there and learn more about their lives. Although India is drastically different from America in many ways, our visit to the university and getting to know the students, playing games with them, dancing, singing karaoke, doing a scavenger hunt—it all reminded me that we as humans have so much in common, too. It’s so beautiful how our world is diverse, yet at the end of the day, our humanity unites us.

Categories: 2017 Trip

Wow, what an amazing two-week experience it has been to travel around India with 22 students from Mays and a great professor. I’ve been back home in Texas for 6 days now and already miss it. While we were in India we went on many corporate visits to really see how business were run in India. I think one of my favorite visits was to the Infosys Campus in Mysore. They first took us on a small walk through an area of their campus until we reached the building where we learned about the history of Infosys and what they’re doing now by educating and paying their students before they pass an exam and get to officially work for Infosys. After this we got to tour their entire campus by golf cart. It was one of the most amazing campuses I have ever seen. They had stores, soccer fields, basketball courts, a swimming pool, and even a bowling alley! Another one of my favorite visits was to Unibic’s factory. This visit wasn’t one of my favorites because of the luxury or beauty of the property, it was one of my favorites because it truly put into perspective some of the differences in working conditions in India compared to the United States. Also it put into perspective the difference in how regulated factories and food products are in India compared to the United States. One thing that I noticed on the corporate visits we went on was how well we were treated at every company, and how much dedication to their practice all the workers and students at every company and school we went to had. All the students I talked to said all they did was study and school related activities, most of the schools even had curfews for their graduate students, with the girl’s curfew being around 10 pm and boy’s curfew being around midnight to 2 am. If I could go on this trip again I would jump on the opportunity. It was an amazing and eye opening experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who was interested in learning about international business.

Categories: 2017 Trip

Lasting Impression

I never expected for such a short trip to leave such a lasting mark in my life. As I reflect back on my time in India, so many thoughts, memories, pictures, sounds, tastes, and smells flood my mind. The trip was full of far more than corporate visits and business agendas. What has impacted me the most was the immersion into a vastly different culture than my own, a culture rooted in far different beliefs and understanding. My eyes have been widened to the depth, height, breadth, and length of the love of God and his heart for all people to know Him.
India is a highly spiritual place. The diversity of languages, religions, and people combine to create a rich culture. I have never witnessed so many physical representations of beliefs and idols of worship. The ornate mosques, Hindu temples, and Buddhist monasteries are amidst such poverty and brokenness. The stark contrast of high wealth and stricken poverty proved shocking to me.
However, as I reminisce on the trip, what struck me the most was the people. The people of India are an incredibly kind, warm, and hospitable people. Meeting the students and interacting with families of all different kinds are my most cherished memories. The more I learned about the lives of the students we were able to meet, the more I realized how each of our similarities outnumbered each of our differences. Growing up on the other side of world did not change our desire to be known, loved, accepted, successful, and impactful. The dreams and aspirations of the students I met were not different from the students at Texas A&M. The customs may differ, but our hearts remain the same.
The study abroad trip through Mays opened my eyes to a completely different framework of thinking. I was able to see and experience a completely different and beautiful culture. I would not trade my experience for another. The students, mothers, children, and families we were able to meet have truly changed me. I am so thankful for the experience.

Categories: 2017 Trip

When I thought of India before going on this trip, I thought of spicy curry, Bollywood movies, and really crowded places. While I still think of these things when I think of India, I also think of much more. I think of a nation full of people who are intelligent and hard working. I think of a place home to one of the world’s most amazing structures. I think of a place that is home to over 1.3 billion people. I think of a place filled with opportunity.

As people, our perspectives are shaped by the experiences we have – both good and bad. This trip is no exception. During the trip we were able to see a lot of India’s future – an emerging economy that seems to be on the precipice of affluence. However, we were also able to see the juxtaposition of poverty and wealth very clearly. Despite its best efforts, India is home to many who have so little. Hearing how most of those fortunate enough to have work make less than 300 dollars a month was jarring. It made me realize just how much I have to be thankful for and how different life is for others on this side of the world. Being able to visit Akshaya Patra and help serve those kids was incredible. The smiles and extreme excitement on the kids’ faces, as well as the repeated requests for selfies will not soon be forgotten.

When I think back on this trip I will remember the many laughs, the questionable tactics used by street vendors, the many times Ryan was being mobbed by Indian children, and many other things! However, the thing I will remember most is the people. The people we interacted with, whether they were college students at SDM or servers at a restaurant were all so different, yet so similar at the same time. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to visit India and be shaped by this experience.

Categories: 2017 Trip

About a week has passed since we left Bangalore to make our daylong journey home. I don’t know that I have yet fully processed and reflected upon all that we were able to see and do, but I will give my best effort to put it into words. India is a country full of life. It is home to 1.25 billion people who are lively, energetic, and hopeful. They are people you cannot help but love. We had the pleasure of interacting with businessmen in a number of different industries who all share a passion – to see India and its people flourish. We spent a day with MBA students at our partner institution in Mysore who are bright, ambitious, and very good dancers. We served lunch to young students at a school in Bangalore, and I have never taken so many selfies in my life. We saw some beautiful things like the Taj Mahal, Mysore Palace, and even a few elephants, but found far more beauty in the hearts of the people who vibrantly reflect the image of the God who created them.
But India is not without pain, suffering, and brokenness. Even while we were there, news spread throughout the world of an outbreak of sexual assaults over the New Year in Bangalore. A few hundred million people live below the poverty line. Young children and adults frequently approached us asking for money. But in every place that we saw pain, we also saw something redemptive. We bumped into a bold and loud protest fighting against the mistreatment of women. We met with the Akshaya Patra Foundation, who is fighting to see that children do not go hungry at school. We even heard about the many policies the current administration is pushing to promote cleanliness, better infrastructure, and limit corruption. Almost everywhere that there is injustice, there is a fight against it.
Above all, I left India with an appreciation for the variety that there is in this world. Going to a place you’ve never been filled with people who don’t look, think, or act like you is strangely refreshing and humbling. Traveling to the other side of the world and interacting with it has an effect of making you feel really small. And I consider that a huge gift. So thank you, India.

Categories: 2017 Trip

Overall, the corporate visits proved that India is a rapidly emerging economy. My top companies were Hero Motorcycle, Infosys and Vinays. Other corporate visits were the U.S. Embassy, Otis Elevators, Naryayana Hospital, Akshaya Patra Foundation, a non-profit that provides lunches to public schools and Unibic Cookie Company. In their own ways, each business has a stronghold on their target market and are in the processes of expanding an already successfully company.

Hero Motorcycle has a monopoly on the motorcycle market, and we could easily see this while on the road. Hero is Indian-based manufacturing company with a presence in over 50 countries. Manufacturing facilities exist in India, Colombia and Bangladesh to accommodate their large international demand. It has a functional business structure and a localization approach, where the product is customized to fit the needs of the local market. Something that sets Hero apart from other manufacturing companies is that this company has a long-term retention plan for employees. The average employee spends up to 10 years with Hero, and the speaker had been with Hero for 32 years. This shows that Hero Motorcycle focuses on training its employees and keeping them with the company for as long as possible. Hero Motorcycle was also named “Manufacturer of the Year” in 2016. Hero is one of many Indian manufacturing companies that are a force to be reckoned with.

Infosys is a software development company that is based in Mysore, India. As an IT major, this was my favourite corporate visit. Infosys was founded by a young Indian man, and the company quickly took off and is now on Forbes List of Billion Dollar Revenue Corporations. When we arrived on the Infosys campus, it looked like we had stepped into another world—we couldn’t possibly still be in India. The buildings were new and huge, the foliage was green and perfect and the roads were spotless—to the point that workers would scrape the dirt of the street after a car drove by. Something that sets Infosys apart is the fact that they ‘share’ corporate wealth with each employee through stocks, which was unusual for an Indian corporation. The facility we visited in Mysore was a primarily training facility. Students from 18+ countries would train there for 6 months in various programming languages before being sent to their assignment. Infosys has a solid global presence, and I can personally prove this as they were one of my top companies at career fair last semester, before I visited the Mysore facility.

Cultural visits proved that India is a diverse country- in religion, language and income. Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists all lived in complete harmony, as we saw when we visited each of these major religions’ prayer sites. This did surprise me, as coming from a background in Islam, most religious sects may ‘get along’ but not in harmony as it appears in India. Language also varies dramatically from state to state. Students in SDMIMD were not phased when another student spoke a language that they didn’t know. Therefore, the language of communication is English. Students begin learning English in their first years of elementary school. Lastly, going into India, I knew that there was going to be a significant polarization between the rich and the poor. In one picture you can see a massive, sleek, first-world building with men in suits going to work with young children begging for money. All while the street is cluttered with cars and rickshaws with merchants selling people trinkets to their cars. India was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am thankful for the opportunity to visit this unparalleled and incomparable country.

Categories: 2017 Trip