Considering One of Liautaud's Study Abroad Trips? Consider Know Europe!

I just returned from participating in one of Liautaud's study abroad trips: KNOW EUROPE. This month-long trip included four countries in four weeks. It was a lot to take in. But with the help of 36 fellow students from multiple universities and a generous onsite staff, not only did I have a great time, but our team won the 2013 Know Europe Award.

We spent time in Brussels understanding how the pieces of the European Union fit together to benefit and position Europe for the 21st century. We were provided with insider lectures of the EU Parliament, Commission, and Council. Additionally, local scholars presented on the EU from a variety of different perspectives (governmental, marketing, economics, etc.). The overarching theme of all of the lectures drove toward preparing us for our month-long project: creating a marketing presentation for a US product being brought to a specific market in Europe. We were divided into groups on the first day and given our product (either a beer, wine, or liquor product). My group's product was a seasonal sweet, white wine from the Duplin Winery in North Carolina. After researching the different markets, we decided to craft our pitch around introducing the wine to Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam, in addition to riding bikes and visiting the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum, we visited several different wine stores to better understand the market we were considering. The first-hand marketing research we did was not only invaluable for our project, but also allowed other members (more interested in the in-person experience than in the actual project) an opportunity to shine. With our project on-pace, I took an afternoon off exploring and enjoyed several beers at Brouwerij 't IJ, a microbrewery, and had a wonderful time talking with other tourists from Texas. We also toured the amazing marketing efforts that are The Heineken Experience as an example of understanding your target market and communicating effectively with them.

In France, we had time with advisors and our group to gel our plan and begin crafting the presentation. Prior to the trip, a previous winner of the Know Europe Award and Liautaud 2012 alumna, Adrienne Nadeau, fielded my big and small questions about this trip, both academic and experiential. She prepared me for the nascent skills my undergraduate classmates would come to this project with. My teammate and Belmont MBA candidate, Liz Moore, and I knew that we would shoulder the design and execution of the project. We asked our undergraduate teammates for targeted feedback and specific research that allowed for them to contribute to the project while also recognizing their current skill set. We wanted everyone to be a part of the project and deliver a high quality product. Liz's great logo redesign and research into Dutch culture that led to our campaign was pivotal to the success of the project. I headed up strategy, research structuring, campaign roll-out, and wine name change. It was a great team experience with a quick and good working relationships developed under deadline pressure that mirrored real-life project management and team project work.

Paris provided a nice respite from our projects (since we weren't looking at the French market) and well, as these smiles from Victoria, Benoit, and Tori show, it was fantastic. We rode our Velib bike-sharing bikes across Paris (not bad since several of us did not ride bicycles in our own much smaller towns). We visited tourist spots, shops, and restaurants on both banks. We happened to be there on the longest day of the summer, which Paris celebrated with every type of music on every corner across Paris, be it a jazz quartet or full salsa band. It was incredible.

Barcelona provided not only a change in climate but also language: Finally I could speak to people without asking first if they spoke English! Indeed, the quick Castilian Spanish of the region, not to mention Catalan, proved challenging. It was nice to speak people and hear the pride with which they loved their region and town. The quick ease with which they were eager to recommend their favorite restaurant or shop to me that I might not have otherwise know about showed that Barcelonian want visitors to get to know the tourist spots as well as the local Barcelonian places. While we visited many different sites and museums (and several excellent charcuteries) in Barcelona, my favorite activity ended up being a hike along the foothill outskirts of Barcelona. As you can see from this photo, we were able to see the entire town.

Of course, we had too many tours and times to name in this blog post. But if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend the Know Europe program to supplement your Liautaud experience.

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Catherine Jefcoat, MBA/MPH 2014 candidate, recently led the team that won the Know Europe's 2013 Know Europe Award. The month-long study abroad trip culminated in an extensive marketing plan/presentation competition. Her team competed against nine other projects from around the US. Want to see more pics of the trip? Check out fellow MBA student Jason Deno's Flickr album.