Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 6, Friday March 17th: Last Day of the Trip

Friday, March 17th marked the conclusion of our week long stay in Paris. Our week was filled with exciting visits to French businesses as well as important cultural sights; Friday was no different. To start the day, the group enjoyed a complimentary breakfast at our hotel, where Professor Yang talked about how to increase our intercultural competency and then surveyed the group on our overall experience of the course. The survey was successful in highlighting the positive aspects of the course and refining our feedback.

After a restful morning, members of the group enjoyed lunch at Canard et Champagne, a restaurant specializing primarily in duck. The restaurant exuded a unique Parisian vibe with art from French films displayed on the walls. In addition, the restaurant was quite innovative in creating duck-oriented meals. For example, duck was served as a burger or platter, among various other forms. With an extensive repertoire of meals, the restaurant also served meals such as fish and vegetarian options. The lunch was a nice way to end our group's shared journey in tasting French cuisine.

Following our lunch, the group took a tour of Fragonard Perfumery, a well revered perfume house located in Paris. The tour encompassed the century old history of the perfumery and the intricate manufacturing process involved in perfume making. The scope of detail inherent in perfume creation was astounding to the entire group. At the conclusion of our tour, we were able to partake in "smell test." The purpose of this test was to analyze the various different scents in some of their perfume samples. Common scents were reminiscent of citrus and flowers.

I speak for the whole the group when I say that studying business in France was an incredible learning experience. Nevertheless one aspect of France stands out particularly in my mind. I noticed a stark contrast between France's labor oriented mindset and the United States of America's consumer-orientedmindset. In other words, I felt that France was more focused on the worker than the customer, as opposed to the United States which I feel is the opposite. For example, my phone died one night around midnight, so I left the hotel to find a convenience store. To my surprise, none were open. In the USA, one would surely be open. I found this difference to be particularly intriguing. This study abroad trip enabled myself and the rest of the group to make such informative observations about both French culture and international business

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 5, Thursday, March 16: Paris School of Business, Galeries Lafayette, and Theatre in Paris

By Abdullah Ammar and Zuyi Wang

We went to several places in Paris. Firstly, in the early morning we went to Paris School of Business and we met Gavin Browne (Director of Partnerships) and Sylvaine Castellano (Director of Research) in the school and they gave us an interesting lecture about wine. They served us two bottles of good wine, gave a lecture about wine testing, and Gavin told us some interesting facts about the exchange student program. Paris School of Business is an innovation school. This school seems like a good choice for people who is interested in studying business in Paris.

We then went to Galeries Lafayette a shopping mall including international brands inside that attracted many tourists from different parts of the world. Customers will have a different experience when they do shopping at the mall.  The tour guide gave us a historic background about the mall. One tip for visitors, the top roof of the mall has an insightful view of Paris.

After that, we visited an innovative company called Theatre in Paris. They provide subtitles for English spoken visitors who go to watch French shows. The founder of the company gave us a presentation about the technology and the marketing. We all think creative and worth thinking.

At night we went the Edouard VII Theatre for a show called The Prize. The show itself happened to gave us a little knowledge about the French culture and it was easy to understand it because the subtitles were in English and it was clear. At the end, we had a nice day for knowing not only about new businesses in Paris but also a little bit of the culture in France.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Day 4, Wednesday, March 15: AIG, Montmartre, and Disneyland Paris

By Bridget Gifford and Sonia Melendez

Our fourth day in Paris began with a trip to AIG, a global insurance company. We traveled to La Défense, the business district of France, by taking the métro which is the French equivalent to the subways of New York City.  After we used the métro for several days, we felt much more comfortable transferring to different lines in order to reach our destination; our confidence was aided by our experience using the subways in NYC.
AIG company sign

After arriving at AIG, Richard Deguettes provided an introduction to the history of AIG and discussed the impact the 2008 financial crisis had on their company. Mr. Deguettes stressed that we truly live in a global economy, as he discussed how the United States Housing Market Crash impacted their business.  Once believed to be a business too big to fail, Mr. Deguettes recalled giving a financial presentation to his board members on the day of the Housing Market Crash. At the beginning of the presentation AIG’s stock was around $75, and by the end, it was at $5. In that moment the future of AIG seemed very gloomy. All the papers were writing that AIG would most likely have to file for bankruptcy. Employees and clients were nervous as they had little understanding of how the United States’ Economy would bounce back. Due to the time difference, Mr. Deguettes and his colleagues had late nights of worrying. Finally, AIG would receive the news that the Fed would loan them money to keep them stable during this financial crisis.

Group lunch
This news was still rather difficult for Mr. Deguettes to explain to his French employees and clients, who had no understanding of who the Fed was. As a result, Mr. Deguettes stressed how critical it was to teach all employees about international business so they would have a greater understanding of the world and terms like “The Fed.” In addition, Mr. Deguettes talked about how during a time of crisis, the most important things are communication and honesty because your employees and clients need to feel that they can trust you. For about two years, AIG changed their company name because their brand reputation was so hurt by this whole ordeal. However, AIG has been able to fully repay their loans to the US government, has slowly built up their reputation and trust with their employees and clients, and has proudly reinstated the AIG name.

After the meeting, we headed over for lunch in Montmartre at Au Cadet De Gascogne, where we all really enjoyed the food and the restaurant played French music for us. On the way to the restaurant, we climbed up the stairs to see the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It was absolutely beautiful and the view from the top was just stunning. We explored the city for a while, taking in everything around us. The streets were much less crowded than New York, but there were still people on every corner trying to sell you books, Paris souvenirs, and paintings. After a bit of walking, a few others decided to get crêpes, which were delicious!
Sacre Coeur

After exploring Montmartre, a few of us decided to go to Disneyland Paris, which was about one hour away. We were surprised to find that the theme park's signs were mostly written in English, and that nearly all workers spoke to us in English.  After reflection we decided that this could stem from the fact that Disneyland Paris is the only location for Disney in Europe, so tourists from many local countries bring their families to this park, and that English is a common language among these travelers.  The park was very clean, and we noticed several signs in bathrooms and near rides that asked for feedback regarding the service and conditions of the park, which was unique to this Disney location and something that we were not expecting.  We ended our night with a beautiful fireworks show that highlighted some Disney movies that took place in countries other than the United States, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ratatouille, Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan.  We had a great day!
Disneyland Paris

Service Feedback Sign
Waiting in line for the Indiana Jones roller coaster!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Day 3, Tuesday, March 14: Wavestone and More

By Sabreena Khan and Sanjay Sukhdeo

On Tuesday, March 14, we visited Wavestone, an innovative consulting firm in the business district of Paris. It was interesting to note the cultural differences regarding the environment of the firm as well as the way business is conducted within it. One of the first things we noticed was the open and less formal office structure. The room in which our meeting was conducted was called the "creation" room. This room was used for brainstorming and its creative function was reflected in the layout which included unique furniture, decorative banners, and a playful grass-like floor. Innovation was crucial to the employees and culture of Wavestone and it could be seen not only in their modern work spaces, but through the way the younger presenters conducted their meeting. For example, rather than lecturing us they provided us with an interactive case study to encourage us to work as a team and think diversely. We believe that their close proximity in age to us made the presentation more relatable and aides in their effort to be innovative.

In comparison to Wavestone, we found that other businesses like BNP Paribus and AIG were more structured, formal, and closed-off. For example, at BNP Paribus' presentation, their power point was filled with numbers, formulas, and dense information that felt more like a lecture rather than a learning experience. However, at Wavestone the power point was more of a visual guide to refer too rather than to read off of. Lastly, we observed that BNP and AIG did not place as much emphasis on modernity and innovation as Wavestone did. We believe this could be due to the fact that both of these companies are much older and may be less likely to change their culture and mission.

Some other cultural differences that we noticed include meal time, public cleanliness, and openly talking about politics. During many of our meals during our week in Paris, we observed that the wait time between ordering a meal and receiving it as well as finishing a meal and getting the check were longer than we were accustomed too in New York. In New York, we are used to doing everything at a faster pace and dining in France made us reflect on some of our customs. We also noticed how clean the streets and subways were which was a nice change from the environment in New York. Lastly, there were a few instances where a conversation about politics was initiated by a French person and it was different from the way that we mostly avoid discussing politics with strangers. While being in a different country was a little intimidating, it was a learning experience that rewarding for both of us.

Aside from business visits, we also took the time to explore Disneyland Paris.We were both very excited to see how the park would differ from locations in the United States. To our surprise, many of the rides and attractions like the tea cups and Dumbo the Flying Elephant were almost the same as the ones at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. While the park was filled with tourists from many parts of the world, most employees were fluent in English and many of the food options were more American than French. The most exciting part of the night was definitely Disney Dreams, the laser and fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty's Castle. We were lucky enough to get a spot right in the front and center for the show and even got to witness a proposal before the fireworks started. Nevertheless, the show was nothing short of magical and definitely marked the highlight of our week in Paris.

Disneyland Paris

Monday, March 13, 2017

Day 2, Monday, March 13: The Louvre, BNP Paribus, La Cigale

By Vanessa Harrison & Frederica Halikias

Frederica and Vanessa Outside the Louve Museum
Today we started off by going to the Louvre Museum. It is the largest museum in France and is home to the famous Mona Lisa painting done by Leonardo DaVinci. DaVinci also has four other paintings in the museum but they are definitely not as popular as the Mona Lisa. As we walked through the museum, we saw works of art from different eras and time periods including Ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Greek pieces. Unfortunately, due to the size of the museum and the amount of time given, we were unable to see a large portion of the exhibits. Although the Mona Lisa is a rather small painting compared to the others in the gallery, it attracts the most attention from tourists as it is a world icon. It is protected from crowds by a barrier and has additional glass to protect it from possible damage. It was surprising to see how small the Mona Lisa painting was, considering it is so popular and most people are under the assumption that it is much larger than it actually is. It was interesting to see history come to life through physical artwork pieces rather than textbooks as we use in school.

After going to the Louvre Museum, the group went on a business visit to BNP Paribas, where we got a glimpse into their current placement in the market as well as where they plan to be in the near and distant future. In addition, we were able to sit in the official Board of Directors room which was very special. It is definitely not something that the everyday person gets a chance to experience. We were surprised to learn that Napoleon married his mistress in the building where BNP currently resides.

Board of Directors Room

La Cigale, Location of the Concert

Later that night, we attended a Tove Lo concert, with tickets that we purchased prior to the trip. The concert took place at a small venue called La Cigale, which only holds approximately 1,300 people. It was cool to see how the concert crowd consisted of a diverse population of people from various countries including France, Italy, Britain, and of course the United States. We would not have expected people from this country to be so interested in music produced in the United States.

Enjoying the Concert

Concert Crowd

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Day 1, Sunday, March 12: Exploration of Paris

Our First Day in Paris 

Sunday, March 12, 2017
By Jennifer Blandeburgo and Arsie Rombotis

To begin our day, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport located in France at around 11:30 a.m. We went through customs and then were greeted by our tour guide, Catherine who was both knowledgeable and friendly. We took a bus ride to the hotel where Catherine told us about the various sites we passed, as well as the rich history.  It was amazing to see beautiful architecture and history that Paris has to offer. We settled into the hotel and then enjoyed a nice lunch across the street at Royal Cambronne, located in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris. We both started off with a salad with delicious fried mozzarella balls which could be compared to a French version of mozzarella sticks.  For our main course, we both enjoyed beef served with yummy French Fries.  Dining is very important in the French culture.  It was interesting to see how the Parisians really savor their lunch time and use it as a social gathering rather than just to eat and continue with their day.
 Notre Dame Cathedral

Following our lunch, we took the metro to The Notre Dame Cathedral.  The metro is very similar to the New York City subway although we actually preferred the metro.  The trains run very quickly, and it does not take as much time waiting for the next train to arrive. It was easy to navigate and seemed fairly clean. Paris in general seems like a very clean city, and we even witnessed some sidewalks being cleaned as we were walking.

Our group in front of The Notre Dame Cathedral
When we arrived at The Notre Dame Cathedral it was breathtaking to see the unique architecture, as well as the beautiful stained glass windows. During our visit, a mass was being held and it was a unique experience to see a Catholic mass being held in the French language. It was interesting to learn that they no longer perform weddings, baptisms, or funerals at Notre Dame Cathedral, but they do hold masses and reconciliation daily.

Jardin du Luxembourg
Following our visit, we walked along the beautiful River Seine and took a bus to the Jardin du Luxembourg.  The bus system in Paris was very unique because they use the door nearest to the driver strictly as an entrance, and a door near the end of the bus strictly to exit.  This system helped to make stops quicker and more efficient.  The Garden of Luxembourg was breathtaking.  We walked around and saw the whimsical vibe Paris has to offer. We spent some time watching the Parisians while in the garden and it was interesting to see how they interact with one another.  They are very focused on the time that they are in, and don't seem as preoccupied.  When we arrived the garden it was about 5 pm and there were so many people just sitting and enjoying each others company.  You did not see people looking at their phones, they were just sitting and enjoying the beautiful day. Many people were reading books, or newspapers, and enjoying some espresso while savoring the moment that they were in.
Delicious French Pastries 

We ended the night off with a visit to a local pastry shop right outside the hotel where we enjoyed raspberry and lemon meringue tarts as well as croissants. We sat outside of the bakery and admired what a beautiful city that Paris is.  It was interesting that in almost every restaurant with outdoor seating, the chairs are set up next to each other, rather than across from each other.  This was a great touch and it allowed us to enjoy the fresh desserts and reflect on our busy day we had with a breathtaking view.

It was intriguing to see the lifestyle the Parisians live and how different it is from life in New York. People just sit and enjoy the moment, they are not in a rush, they are not distracted by their phones, and they spend their time enjoying the here and now rather than rushing to what is next. Through our first day, we really were able to notice cultural differences between Paris and the United States and are excited to see what more there is to learn and explore.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


By Monica Yang

Hi everyone,

Happy 2017! We are going to visit Paris in March! 🎉🎉🎉

Here you will find relevant information for this trip such as course syllabus, reading materials..etc (see the right panel).

CIE will send you emails regarding the dates for our meetings before this trip: make sure you attend all meetings so you won't miss any valuable information.

Schedules are still working on some minor revision: once it is finalized, I will post it here.

These are all I can think of right now. If you have any question, please feel free to let me know. See you all soon!

The Eiffel Tower, Paris France