Rhett Ledford's Summer 2014 Know Europe Experience

This past summer, I embarked on a month long journey through Europe as a part of UIC Liautaud's Know Europe program. The trip was truly life changing, and I recommend it to anyone considering to study abroad. The program allowed me to visit some of the most beautiful cities in the world, make  lifelong friends, and earn 6 credits in just one month. 


I visited Brussels (Belgium), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Normandy and Paris (France), and Barcelona (Spain). As the only UIC Liautaud student, I was joined by 20 others  from various universities throughout the US. We were assigned a very interesting group project that entailed marketing American beers, wines, and liquors in European Union countries. Before we began the program, everyone was asked to propose an alcoholic beverage company for the group project. My selection of Chicago’s very own Half Acre Beer Company was chosen as one of the five finalists! 


As we traveled through Europe, we attended different universities and worked on our marketing plan that was to be presented at the end of the program. The coursework throughout the program included lessons on economies, marketing, and cultures within the European Union. A good portion of our research was primary; we interacted directly with locals at bars and asked them questions pertaining to consumer behavior in the alcoholic beverage market.  This was a great opportunity to learn firsthand about the people and the culture in the cities we visited.

 
The first stop was Brussels and we spent a lot of time at the world renowned “Delirium Café”. We also took a city tour and visited the EU Parliament. Brussels is a very historic city with great architecture and a huge variety of beers. Next we were off to Amsterdam where we visited the city’s wonderful museums, and the Heineken Experience. We had

classroom time at Holland University where we learned about the artistic and creative ways to market to consumers. Amsterdam is a very unique city unlike any other that I’ve visited; I think everyone should experience it at least once in his or her life. 

The third city we visited was Le Havre, which is just outside of Normandy on the coast of France. One of my favorite day tours was of the World War II D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery and Memorial on its 70th anniversary.  

 

Another incredible day trip we took in France was to the small commune of Étretat. Étretat is known for its breathtaking cliffs and ocean view. Then we traveled to the beautiful city of Paris.  The program arranged a boat tour on the Seine River where we saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and other remarkable landmarks. We also enjoyed a citywide music festival in Paris. A group of us visited the Eiffel Tower and had a picnic while listening to live jazz.  

 

 

 

Our last stop of the journey was Barcelona. We were there during the summer solstice, which is celebrated in Spain as the night of San Juan. It was a huge celebration where everyone in the city headed to the beach to light bonfires, fireworks, and party until the sun rose. In Barcelona, we also presented our final projects. My team received an A+ on our strategic marketing strategy for Half Acre! 


Overall, I would recommend this trip to anyone at UIC Liautaud. It was the best trip I’ve ever been on!  I learned a lot about myself, European cultures, the amazing people with me, and the incredible cities. I also learned a lot from an educational standpoint about international business and marketing. The Know Europe program is a once in a lifetime opportunity that all students should take advantage of. 

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