06/10/14
Taiwanese and Italian Flags

Two Worlds, One Family

Taiwanese and Italian Flags

Taiwanese and Italian Flags

In life, we are always confronted with the ultimatum of choosing. Yes or no, left or right, in or out. In the beginning of my college career, I was often asked the question “So, which are you more? Italian or Taiwanese?” I wasn’t sure how to respond because I did not know that I had to pick one ethnicity. Growing up with both my parents, I never realized that I was unique, that having a Taiwanese mother and an Italian father was different. I felt that many of the traditions and customs I practiced originated from both cultures; I was an equal mix of both.

With my mother, I went to family gatherings at restaurants and there I learned the importance of respect towards elders, table manners and of course, I was able to discover all the different delicious dishes. When I was young, I would accompany her as she went grocery shopping at Chinese supermarkets and I observed her bargaining skills. She also had me attend traditional Chinese dance classes and enrolled me in Chinese school in hopes of me perfecting the language.

My memories with my father, however, are quite different. I went to Italian restaurants with him where table manners didn’t matter; the food and company did. We visited the butcher to make his famous meatball recipe and he showed me how to socialize and told me to always be kind and friendly to people. Although I was not a religious person growing up, my father told me about his Roman Catholic educated and educated me about the beliefs. We would visit his relatives often, as that was an activity that he held dear, as did my mother. Although they both introduced me to different lifestyles, I was able to find a healthy balance of both.

It is important for people to know about the differences and the similarities between cultures. By doing so you learn how to adapt to people and lessen the chance of any miscommunication. This is useful when attending college because you are exposed to a diversity of students and will need to speak with them. In a business setting as well, you need to learn how to network properly as etiquettes vary among countries. As someone who grew up feeling as if they did not belong in any one community and felt pressured to choose a side, it was a relief learning that there was no need to choose at all.

05/28/14
Vienna (second from left) in Hallstatt, Austria

Dispatches from Austria: Part I

Vienna (second from left) in Hallstatt, Austria

Vienna (second from left) in Hallstatt, Austria

Spending an entire semester abroad takes daring and a sense of adventure. Vienna Liu definitely has both! She spent last fall in Austria, in the city of Vienna, where she had the adventure of a lifetime. While in Vienna, she kept a journal of her experiences. Check out the first part below!

 

My First Day in Vienna Oct. 2nd, 2013

After tightening my seat belt and taking a few deep breaths of excitement, I was all but ready to be carried off to Vienna, the city that I have only dreamed about since my childhood. Yet, in between these moments of joy and excitement, I also felt anxious, slightly worried, and unsure of myself. What if the city of my dreams was totally different in reality from the mesmerizing scenes of European villas that my mind stored? What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way? Would someone lend me a helping hand or would I find no one to turn to for help? What if…?

When I finally arrived, I couldn’t help feeling very lost. The streets were nearly empty, the shops appeared to be closed, the houses were flat, yellow buildings with grotesque and medieval architecture in comparison to New York’s fancy skyscrapers and bustling streets filled with people from everywhere in the world.

I suddenly felt very helpless among this empty void of space and flat buildings. “Entshuldigen Sie, Wo, wo.. ist Schaffergasse,” I asked stutteringly in German a few passersby that I found. With the help of a map, hand gestures, and a few words of English here and there, I was glad to have finally made it to my dorm by the end of the day.

 

Oct. 10th, 2013 – Vienna Central

While I was on my way to purchasing a local phone, I saw many beautiful Greco-Roman style buildings in the main district which was dotted with modern, European boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. Similar to New York City, there were tourists from all over the world in Vienna’s central district, yet the atmosphere and the quaint little shops also made the area distinctive. I could see the traditional vendors and restaurants selling schnitzel, stuffed sausages, and other local specialties.

 

Vienna's "Innere Stadt"

Vienna’s “Innere Stadt”

Vienna Central, also known as Innere Stadt, has a rich and beautiful history. During the early 10th century, the city center was covered by a Roman military camp. To this day, traces of the Roman conquest can still be seen around the city.

 

Trip to Krems Oct. 18th, 2013

After washing up and eating a quick breakfast, I went out into the daybreak. In the early morning, there was still a lingering mist from the night. The streets were almost completely vacant save for a few cyclists rushing to and fro. I caught the train from Karlsplatz and it took me half an hour to get to Heiligenstadt, At the Heiligenstadt station, more people were coming in. The clattering of their footsteps brought me back to the busy NYC subway stations. After another half hour of waiting, I was on the train to Krems. As I sat near the window, I saw very pretty pastures and little houses dotted neatly in a row along the green hilltops. When I got to Krems, it was 9am. Outside, I immediately smelled the fresh shrubs and flowers. I took a shuttle bus to the beautiful Danube Campus which was located in the middle of hilltop residences. Arina, the program coordinator, gave me a tour of the campus and showed me the different buildings there. The student cafeteria and hostel were located conveniently nearby. We took the elevator and reached the top of the building, where Arina showed me my classroom. Through the glass windows, we could see the top of the green and yellow hills. It was a great view.


Coming next week: Vienna’s first day of class and her visit to Hallstatt.

If you’re interested in studying abroad, check out the programs and destinations available to you. You can also stop by the Weissman Center for International Business during walk-in hours.

About Vienna Liu: Vienna is completing her M.S. in Statistics this semester. She studied Linguistics at Tulane University where she enjoyed learning about other cultures and languages.

05/14/14
WTWNYC 2014 at Baruch College

Check Out These Business Events in NYC!

WTWNYC 2014 at Baruch College

WTWNYC 2014 at Baruch College

Have you heard of World Trade Week? Each year in May, trade organizations and businesses come together to celebrate and promote international trade. Events and seminars are taking place all month around the city. If you have an interest in international commerce or want to network with professionals, check out the full calendar of events. Some events require paid registration, but others are completely free.

Definitely check out “MCC Young Professionals Going Global”, a networking event that will be held in the West Village next week.  Tickets are $15, but refreshments will be provided.

The kickoff to World Trade Week in NYC is held at Baruch each May with an awards ceremony and breakfast. This year, I helped organize a “Share Your Knowledge” station where guests could submit tweets that would be displayed live throughout the venue. Check out some of the tweets we sent out below!

05/13/14
Get your popcorn ready!

Unwind With These FREE Movie Screenings!

Get your popcorn ready!

Get your popcorn ready! – via Gothamist

This semester is coming close to an end and finals are right around the corner which means summer is almost here. Unwind from all the stress by enjoying free movie screenings! The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy has released the schedule of free summer movie screenings sponsored by SyFy, a network of NBCUniversal, which has sponsored the free movie series for the past seven years. Check out the complete list of movies you can enjoy next to a beautiful view of the East River and Lower Manhattan.

05/12/14
A McDonald’s drive-thru in Vietnam via McDonaldsCorp

Ronald McDonald: The Global Citizen?

A McDonald’s drive-thru in Vietnam via McDonaldsCorp

A McDonald’s drive-thru in Vietnam via McDonaldsCorp

When you think of the phrase “fast food”, the first thought that probably comes to mind is two large golden arches. This is in no way a coincidence; it’s the direct result of the power that McDonald’s has in today’s society.

Since it first opened its doors in 1948, McDonald’s has extended its reach to over 119 countries. McDonald’s has been able to takeover in countries because the company assimilates fairly well by putting its own spin on local cuisine. For example, after opening up its stores in India, McDonald’s had to adapt its meat-based menu items to a country that is for the most part vegetarian.   To counter this problem, McDonald’s came up with the McAloo, a familiar set of buns with a potato patty instead of meat in the middle. Similarly, the franchise offers the McBurrito in Mexico and the Big Kahuna in Australia.

Vietnam is the latest country to be inhabited by the franchise in its conquest to achieving global domination. Business is doing extremely well in Vietnam for the fast-food giant as the branch has served more than 400,000 customers in its first month of business. In the first 24-hours after opening alone, roughly 22,500 customers were able to sink their teeth into McDonald’s world famous burgers and fries – which for most, was the first time.

A big factor as to whether or not McDonalds will survive in Vietnam is the price point of its products. McDonalds is known for being a place where you can eat on a tight budget here in America but how does it stack up in Vietnam?  The company’s $3.10 McPork burger doesn’t look too appetizing when compared to Vietnam’s average salaries and typical food prices.

This brings up the question of whether or not McDonalds is even needed in other countries. The company isn’t really doing much for farmers, as most of the meat and potatoes are imported straight from the U.S.

It is unrealistic for McDonalds to be a staple in the Vietnamese diet, as most only make $185 a month and a burger ranges from $3-$4. For now, the success of McDonalds in Vietnam will be a direct result of the economy and whether or not the people of the country are ready to give the Golden Arches a chance.

04/4/14
Athens protest, 2010 – via Joanna

5 Easy Steps to Creating Your Own Economic Crisis

Athens protest, 2010 – via Joanna

Athens protest, 2010 – via Joanna

You’ve probably heard one of your professors mention Greece’s ridiculous amount of debt or Spain’s sky-high unemployment rate. But just how did this great, big mess start anyway? Read on to discover the patented 5-step process behind every economic crisis, as demonstrated by members of the European Union.

  1. Borrow money…

Before the Eurozone was created, the cost of borrowing money was high for some of the weaker nations in the continent. The introduction of a common currency made it easier for these countries to borrow from other well-off nations. Between 2002 and 2008, it was incredibly easy to obtain credit and countries like Greece, Spain and Italy started taking on more debt than they could handle.

2.  …but don’t pay it back

The countries that lent this money didn’t carefully examine their debtors’ creditworthiness.  A lot of the borrowed money was spent on real estate, which drove housing prices up and created a real estate bubble. Once housing prices crashed, homeowners were left with mortgages that were worth way more than their homes.

If only... - via Images_of_Money

If only… – via Images_of_Money

3.  Don’t ask for help

The nations at the heart of the Eurozone crisis are the “PIIGS” countries: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. Greece received the most attention at the start of 2010 when the country’s finance minister stated that Greece owed 300 billion Euros to its creditors. Later, it was revealed that Greece had mismanaged its finances in previous years and downplayed the severity of its problems. According to the BBC, former Prime Minister George Papandreou said …it was ‘out of the question’ to resort to an International Monetary Fund loan.”

4.  Share the wealth

After Greece admitted that it was in over its head, the European Union began to investigate the financials of its other members. Borrowing costs in Spain and Italy were rising sharply and their government bonds—traditionally a safe investment—were becoming riskier and riskier to invest in. This was especially troubling given that these two countries have the largest economies out of all the PIIGS countries. Unemployment was at record highs.

And last, but not least…

5.  Panic

People were already hesitant to take on risk once the bad news about Greece came to light. But the realization that Greece wasn’t the only country in danger of defaulting on its debt spread fear throughout Europe. Once it became evident that these countries were in much more trouble than they seemed, banks and investors all but stopped lending money.

And there you have it—a recipe for your very own economic crisis.