SFA business students and their faculty advisers visited the world-famous insurance company Lloyd's of London during a study abroad program this spring. Pictured from left are (front row) Randi Barner, Ava Cannon, Jenni Howsman, interim dean Mike Stroup, professor Keaton Grubbs and a representative of Lloyd's of London; (middle row) David Oliphant and Lauren Washington; and (back row) Alyson Moore, Chelsea Wemhoff and Nolan Zale.

Ten students and faculty in the Nelson Rusche College of Business at Stephen F. Austin State University engaged in an international business trade and finance study abroad program during the spring 2010 semester.

Business majors and minors enrolled in the GBU 475 Special Problems - Europe Business Capitals 2010 course participated in classroom work on international trade and finance during the spring semester. The course culminated in a 12-day trip to Paris and London in late May.

"The holistic approach of the study combines rigorous academic work with cultural experiences and on-the-ground international business contact," said Dr. J. Keaton Grubbs, professor of the course. "When the dust settles and students reflect on it all, they are typically amazed at their personal and professional growth."

Classroom instruction included study of a selected international business text, research papers on the demographics and economies of France and England, and a Harvard Case Study on wine wars for the U.S. market involving France, Australia, and U.S. wineries, distributors, and governments. Students also viewed videos to become familiar with the culture of the two countries, took part in European tea and dining etiquette events, and had lessons in basic French.

At the end of the semester of study, the students traveled to Europe accompanied by Grubbs and Dr. Mike Stroup, interim dean of the college.

"I had the unique opportunity during the trip to see how the study abroad experience made a difference in the lives of these students," Stroup said. "Many of them shared with me how this course and trip taught them much about the world around them and about themselves, both in terms of their personal growth and expansion of their life's goals and objectives. That's what we strive to do in the Rusche College of Business-to change in a positive way the lives of our students."

In Paris, the group was hosted for lectures and tours by the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Court of Arbitration, ERG Group (interim executive management and angel entrepreneurial investing), the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy, and ExxonMobil Europe. Cultural experiences included a River Seine cruise, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Cathedral of Notre Dame, Montmartre and the Basilica of Sacre' Coure, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees and the Palace of Versailles. During free time, students enjoyed traveling the Paris Metro system and exploring the shops, sidewalk cafés and French cuisine.

The group also traveled to London via the Eurail train beneath the English Channel. Professional venues for lectures and tours included the Bank of England, British Broadcasting Company and Lloyds of London. Cultural events included an open-top bus tour of London, a Thames River cruise, the London Eye, and the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, together with Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Hyde Park, Royal Courts of Justice and St. Paul's Cathedral.

The group also was privileged to witness the pageantry of the Queen's procession from Buckingham Palace to open Parliament. During free time, students traveled via the London Tube to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Beatles Museum and Harrod's, as well as experiencing fish and chips at a British pub and shopping along Oxford and Regent streets. Following the flight back to the United States, the students completed their study by preparing a formal paper including reflections on the professional venues, cultures, and personal and professional experience and growth that resulted from their study abroad.

The Rusche College of Business plans to continue offering travel courses that enable students to experience global business activity in a variety of destinations.