"A week in Poland and few more days spent traveling across Eastern Europe proved to be an unforgettable experience. New friendships were forged, while the old ones were reinforced. MBAs are such a diverse group of characters and nationalities that one's life can only be enriched by being around them."
-- Kresimir Bencic
International business took on a whole new meaning for 36 Illinois MBA students who spent a week in Poland in mid-January. Although their trip -- coupled with extensive classroom work -- earned them academic credit for a course entitled International Business, the visit also opened their eyes to business challenges in an economy still evolving after decades of stagnation under Communism. Krzysztof Obloj, EMBA director for the Warsaw University School of Management, an affiliated program with the U of I College of Business, hosted the group and was responsible for coordinating the classes, factory visits, and a session at the US embassy in Warsaw. The final segment of the class will be held later in the spring semester when Obloj visits the Urbana campus.
While in Warsaw, which was almost completely rebuilt following World War II, the group took time to enjoy a different culture and a different way of living. The impact on the class of a somber afternoon trip to Auschwitz is beyond description.
The Illinois MBA program coordinated the logistics of the trip, which was underwritten in part by the College of Business. The program hopes to make a similar international experience an annual event.
Three of the students who traveled to Poland kept diaries that are excerpted here.
Kresimir Bencic is a first-year MBA student from Croatia who notes in his diary that he convinced a fellow MBA student to visit Zagreb, Croatia before traveling to Poland. Bencic suggests to readers of his diary that they forgo work and "book a month long vacation on the Croatian seaside. If you are interested, visit www.adriatica.net (n.b. the Writer is aware that this is a clear case of shameless advertising, but he is doing it in the best national interests of his country)."
Texan Cory Cruser is also a first-year MBA who admits he "really had a rough time going from life in the Austin, Texas, hill country to life in the East-Central Illinois cornfields."
Yi-Lung Han hails from Taipei, Taiwan. Charlotte, as she is called in the MBA program, considers herself well traveled yet felt kinship with characters in the movie "Lost in Translation" during her visit to Poland.
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