NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Nearly 25 students from Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business spent 10 days in France learning about the management of bakeries, champagne houses, French fashion brands, chocolate production and more through SFA’s study abroad program.
From May 15 to 25, the faculty-led trip featured tours of the Graindorge cheese dairy, the Lanson and Mignon champagne houses, and the Musée du Parfum. Students also visited cultural sites, including the Louvre Museum, Versailles Palace, Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Reims Cathedral, Père Lachaise Cemetery, the Paris Catacombs, and Montmartre, the artists’ quarter.
“Visiting businesses abroad certainly gives the students context for many of the concepts they learn in class, which is important,” said Dr. Matthew Lindsey, chair of SFA’s Department of Management and Marketing and a faculty advisor for the trip. “However, for many in the class, this experience opens their eyes to the potential opportunities outside the community where they grew up, be it in another part of our country or the world, and that is priceless.”
Dr. Mikhail Kouliavtsev, chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, also guided students through class lessons throughout the trip.
During the bakery visits, Silas Brown, human resources senior from El Paso, learned about the “cultural significance of bread for the French, be it the croissant with ingredients specified by law or the baguette, which was made long and skinny to be easily carried.”
Students explored the differences in how separate companies marketed similar products and noticed that pride and tradition were important factors in running these businesses.
“It was impressive how the champagne houses capitalized on the regions of France they were in and grew global companies without compromising the integrity of the company or family name,” said Kathryn Duncan, management senior from Plano. “And the bakers took such pride in their jobs. One was so proud of delivering consistent products to his neighborhood for 35 years every morning.”
In between class lessons, students enjoyed free days spent at events like the French Open and gained a greater sense of history by visiting sites like Omaha Beach in Normandy.
“I feel really lucky to have visited Normandy American Cemetery,” said Bryson Harris, sports business senior from Texarkana. “It was just so humbling to go to this place where so many American soldiers who fought for our freedom are honored.”
For some students, this class was the first chance they’ve had to immerse themselves in another culture. The trip also helped students hone their traveling skills for future excursions.
“I definitely feel more confident to travel to other countries in the future,” said Jorge Huerta Caratachea, management junior from Tomball. “I know how to prepare before traveling and what I should understand before entering the country. I also feel that I can travel independently.”
To learn more about SFA’s College of Business, visit sfasu.edu/cob. To learn more about SFA’s study abroad program, visit sfasu.edu/study-abroad.