German Business Students to Negotiate at St. Thomas May 2013

A partnership between the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business and the Fachhochschule  Trier in Germany offers their students a unique experience. Students meet peers from other countries; discover cultural differences and commonalities; study international business, trade laws and ethics; and apply that knowledge in contract negotiations.

Hauptmarkt public square is Trier's main marketplace

Hauptmarkt public square is Trier’s main marketplace

Trier is the oldest German city, with an approximate population of 105,000. It is located in the very west of Germany on the banks of the Moselle River, near the Luxembourg border.

Business students from the Fachhochschule Trier will visit St. Thomas (May 27th to June 1st) to engage in simulated contract negotiations with St. Thomas students as part of the International Business Law course. (BLAW 303) Site visits and meetings with executives from multinational organizations will provide insight and exposure to legal, business, contractual, ethical and cultural issues that business professionals face in international business.

Past Participants’ Comments
Jens Hoffmann ’12 M.B.A. of Frankfurt, Germany, wrote:

Before I came to Minneapolis to pursue my MBA at the University of St. Thomas, I studied International Business at the Fachhochschule in Trier, Germany. In 2008, while at Trier, I took an International Business Law class that allowed me to travel to Brussels, Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Trier with UST Opus College of Business students.

From a student’s perspective, I found this opportunity enlightening because it provided first-hand the cultural challenges faced when doing business internationally. The site visits and lectures were insightful as you glimpse real issues that companies face. The learning experience is unforgettable; you discover issues that you might not have encountered at home.

Contract negotiation is awesome, but just as important is the “down time” outside of the classroom. You’re in another country, not just as a learner, but also as a traveler, visitor and unofficial ambassador of your country. During tours of the city, sightseeing, barbeques and friendly get-togethers, the students will learn more about each other and their respective customs and perhaps develop long–lasting connections.

As someone with little experience in international contract negotiations, I enjoyed this course tremendously as it helped me form a better understanding of several new cultures, as well as business and legal issues. Venturing into global exploration in this way will broaden your perspectives and extend your grasp of world–wide issues, giving you a real competitive edge in the business world.

Ben Sandstrom of CSW in New York, wrote:

Without a doubt, the Reverse Study Abroad Program at St. Thomas had the most impact of any course of my collegiate experience. Inevitably, it has played a large role in my career. As a marketing student, it organically enticed me to question the process behind the products we so easily take for granted.

With the exchange students, you learn business through social experience. We were to interact with them, all the while knowing that they were, in essence, our client; we needed to do business with them in order to make the grade. From the start, it was essentially one large business deal, taught at a real world level. It is said that college prepares you for the real world. Whoever said that has definitely taken International Business Law.

Students arrive in Minneapolis on May 27th (Memorial Day). There will be a welcome barbeque for them on the St. Paul campus (I believe they will spend some time in Chicago before arriving at UST).  The German students will be in St. Paul for that week and will depart for Germany on Saturday June 1st.  Among the presentations we have tentatively planned would be site visits to a Minnesota based fortune 100 company and to a major international bank.  There will be an ethics lecture and a presentation on comparative labor law, in addition to students negotiating their contracts. Last time, the subject of the contract negotiation was a collection of German knives in a hardwood knife block.  It is likely to be the same for June of 2013.

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