Welcome back to the second installment of my adventures in Europe on the International Business Exchange (IBEX)! For a refresher, feel free to check out my first post.
Midterm exams are in full swing here at HEC Paris. I like the variety of topics I’m learning so far. Some highlights: Beginner Français has taught me how to introduce myself in conversation and discuss basic facts about French companies, while Luxury Wine Marketing has opened up a whole new perspective on the centuries-old tradition of categorizing wines in the three major wine regions in France. Also, my Mergers & Acquisitions class is a thorough, detailed expansion of such topics as valuation.
Outside of the classroom, I have been travelling most weekends to become even more immersed in the study of European history and cultures. One of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever visited is Claude Monet’s residence in the region of Giverny, France.
If you’ve ever been captivated by the idyllic nature scenery and colors of this Impressionist artist, I would highly recommend a trip to the place where such famous works as Water Lilies and Japanese Footbridge were created! The immaculately kept gardens and house create amazing context for a lifestyle and important art movement in French history.
In mid-September, I ventured into warmer weather with a weekend in Barcelona, Spain. While my tastebuds were treated with paella valenciana and natillas de leche, I also enjoyed the creations of Antoni Gaudí by visiting landmarks like La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. The Festival of La Mercè also happened while I was there, so the night was filled with sounds of open-air concerts and traditional Spanish dancing. With all its architectural, artistic and culinary hallmarks, Spain is a treat for the senses.
Next up, I flew to Stockholm, Sweden to visit the artsy Södermalm neighborhood, sing at the ABBA Museum and get my meatballs fix! I’ve been absolutely enamored with Swedish culture and design for many years, so visiting my number one destination on this semester abroad was really a dream come true. It gave me a sense of being back in my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods, while maintaining its bright Scandinavian colors and hospitality. The city is to modern, ultra-minimalist fashion culture what Paris is to classic luxury goods, so needless to say this fashion lover was ecstatic to finally experience Stockholm’s strong design sensibilities. I would return to this beautiful, forward-thinking city in a heartbeat.
Last but not least, I decided to pay a visit to my friend and fellow Sternie Kim Pham (BS ’14), who is living and working in Dublin, Ireland. After a month in Europe, it does come as a bit of a relief to be back in a predominantly English-speaking country! I highly enjoyed taking in the rich literary tradition of Dublin, which is home to some of my favorite writers like Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and W.B. Yeats as well as the Library at Trinity College (one of the oldest research libraries in the world). In addition, Kim and I took a day trip through the Irish countryside and Cliffs of Moher, which is truly a spectacular natural landmark. Hearing the fisherman traditions of the Aran Islands and cultural quirks of locals gave me a deeper appreciation of Ireland than any cheesy St. Patricks’ Day tropes could.
That’s all I have to share for now! It’s been a whirlwind month of travel adventures, making new friends and snapping an Instagrams’ worth of memories. It’s truly been inspiring to learn all of the cultural singularities, historical contexts and heritage that make up these remarkable European cities. Diving headfirst into these experiences helps me to better appreciate people from all backgrounds and ultimately myself.