Luiza Duarte stands with an umbrella in historic Berlin

Master of International Business trip provides global business perspective

By Luiza Duarte (MIB ’19)

I have always been curious about learning and understanding different cultures, which developed my passion for traveling. It was also one of the incentives for me to come from Brazil to study in the United States. When I go to a new country or a new city, I make sure I do my research beforehand. I look for the typical food of the region, read reviews about the tourist points, search about their history, and mostly, about their culture. I aim to be the most respectful tourist I can and follow the country’s values and norms. However, I believe the best way of indeed acquiring knowledge is by visiting the city and experiencing it – that is why I am thankful for the opportunity of participating in the GIE to Berlin.

Berlin impressed me in many ways. It was much bigger and much more diverse than I thought, and it keeps growing and diversifying. It is becoming one of the most visited cities in Europe, and it is also a hub for innovative ideas and start-ups. People are coming from all over the world in search of opportunities Berlin has to offer; that fascinated me. Also, the city has such an interesting history that stirred my emotions from the moment I arrived there to the very last minute. 

On our first day in Berlin, we had a tour around the city that was very helpful. The tour guide gave us a better and broader knowledge of the impacts of all the wars in Berlin that Germany participated. The architecture of the city was a mixture of historic and new buildings that were restored after World War II and the Cold War. For the most part, they tried to redo it to look very similar to what it was, but it was still possible to see the differences. The Berlin Wall was also very impactful for me. I cannot imagine a city suddenly being divided into two and having one side with much worse living conditions than the other. People were so desperate to go to the Westside that they were willing to risk their lives. Nowadays, we could see that there was a substantial infrastructure investment on the Eastside, making the difference between both almost inexistent.

The GIE also allowed us to get to know more about their business culture. We had exciting and informative sessions with employers from different parts of the world and unique backgrounds, which gave us diverse perspectives and points of view. Out of the few companies we got to know, three of them caught my attention the most. The first one was AXP, which is a company that helps start-ups prepare for when they are trying to obtain funding. Every once in a while, they invite few people to watch a couple of entrepreneurs pitching their ideas and afterward ask them questions, give feedback, and vote for the best idea. We were lucky enough to visit them on one of these days and listen to a few exciting pitches about very nice and innovative ideas.

The second was a visit to Tillhub, which is also a start-up that has been growing exponentially. Their product is a payment software that assists business owners not only with the payment process but also with their inventory. One of the founders did an exchange program at UF, and he was very enthusiastic and excited to talk to us. He gave us an overview of how he started the company, how he managed to get funding and his plans for Tillhub. The last but certainly not least was Volkswagen. We visited their electric car manufacturer in Dresden, a historical city two hours outside Berlin. I was fascinated with their infrastructure and with the process of assembling the cars. We did a tour around it, and our guide explained to us everything about electric vehicles and how Volkswagen started manufacturing their e-cars and how much it has grown.

The companies are very well structured, with their next steps also very well planned. Start-ups see Berlin as a place to invest, with market potential, and a city that empowers you to pursue your dreams. I must confess that at the end of the week, I even wanted to become an entrepreneur. I had a great time in Berlin. I was able to observe the business environment as well as to get to know a beautiful city. The GIE also gave me the possibility of taking some time off and going to two other countries; Spain and Denmark. I am still astonished by everything I learned in all those places and the fantastic experiences I had.

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