A Course in International Business, with
Weinershnitzel on the Side
Summer Program in Europe Gives Student a
Firsthand Look at European Economic Integration
by Whitney Birge '03
This summer I was privileged to join five other
Oberlin students as a participant in the new Oberlin-in-Europe
Euro Summer School. The focus of the program was an in-depth
examination of the changing economic community in Europe and
the impact this change will have on the world. It was a fascinating
look at the evolution of independent nations into an interdependent
group of countries with an unprecedented single monetary unit.
The entire program lasted six weeks and gave
us the opportunity to travel and learn in different parts
of Europe. Joining the six of us Obies were two students from
Kenyon College and one from Denison University. The program
was split into two sections, each lasting three weeks. During
the second leg of our journey, we met up with 25 other students
from around the world, though most were from the United States
Oberlin's own Professor of Economics David Cleeton
taught the first segment of the program, which focused on
international business, at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
This interesting background look at the formation of the European
Union included a visit to Brussels to see NATO and the European
Commission, the latter being much more interesting than the
While in the gorgeous town of Maastricht, we
also took a fantastic class on intercultural communication
that proved how necessary understanding the norms and values
of other cultures is to business. This three-week introduction
to the history and function of the European Union made it
possible for anyone, including a history major like me, to
take advantage of this program and not feel lost in a sea
of economic babble. This period was by far my personal favorite,
because we remained stationary long enough to meet people
in the town and travel on our own during the weekends.
At the beginning of the fourth week we traveled
south to the HEC School of Management in France. Although
it advertises itself as located in Paris, I must inform any
future student that HEC is to Paris what Oberlin is to Cleveland.
France was dull and rainy when we were trapped at the school,
but we did manage to make it to Paris on a few wonderful occasions.
At HEC, we began our classes through the European
Summer School, which connects three different universities
teaching the same class in independent parts. We studied European
Affairs, a continuation of what we learned in the Netherlands,
and European Business Transformations, which focused
on the Internet and its effects on business. HEC took us back
to Brussels to visit the European Commission, but this time
we had lunch with three of the speakers and had a chance to
pepper them with questions for almost two hours.It an excellent
opportunity to chat with people who are working on this extraordinary
fascinating look at the evolution of independent nations into
an interdependent group of countries with an unprecedented
single monetary unit"
For our fifth week, we traveled by train to
Milan, Italy, where, at the Universita Bocconi, we continued
our lessons in European affairs and business transformation.
Here we explored the Internet in detail and learned the most
effective means of creating a business presence on the Web.
Bocconi was much more fun than HEC, as we were located in
the middle of the city and had plenty of time to take advantage
of the excellent shopping.
Our classes ended in Vienna, Austria, at the
Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien. This was a rather anticlimactic
conclusion, as the city of Vienna - while ancient and beautiful
- had little to offer a group of young people. However it
was still a stunning place to visit, and getting fat on weinershnitzel
was a great way to end the summer.
I had an excellent time on this trip and learned
quite a bit as well. I hope this program continues to grow
in popularity and that other Obies have the chance to experience
what I did.
The diary of another participant was published
on Oberlin Online in early September. To read it, click here.