The University of Iowa

Opening doors and tearing down Zoom walls - Virtual International Business in the Asia Pacific

August 31st, 2021

In every measurable way, business is booming in Asia. It’s also a leading innovator in some of the most important arenas of the day: e-commerce, entrepreneurship, and artificial intelligence. The Tippie College of Business provided a unique study abroad experience that traveled four different locations in the Asia Pacific: Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia. The adventure featured lectures from professors in each of the four locations, briefings from leading businesses in the region, and fun cultural activities.  

The pace allowed me to fully get invested in the area we were learning about. Each week allowed us to immerse ourselves in a different environment. During the first week, we learned about Singapore and took some unique cultural tours of the area. Next, we traveled to Australia and New Zealand where we did several business briefings as well as cultural experiences. Lastly, we traveled to Hong Kong and had several business briefings with industry professionals from the Asia Pacific region who talked about the business atmosphere there.   

"Around every corner were intriguing and interesting cultural experiences to make the Zoom wall disappear. I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything else."

We did a few different “walking” tours of cultural aspects of the country we were learning about. Right off the bat, we started with a tour of the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. This experience was amazing! Throughout the tour, we were able to ask questions and the guide who was walking with the camera was so informative and was able to provide us with so much information. A lot of this information gave so much insight into how the economy works within that area and how businesses work together to better themselves. After a few days of lecture classes learning about Australia and that part of the Asia Pacific region, we took another “walking” tour of the Sydney Harbor and the Rocks District. This tour was so interesting as we learned about the cultural stance of that area and the historical atmosphere. I found this tour so informative and interesting; I must see it for myself. 

"I enjoyed making the meat pies and have already made it two more times."

Each culture is so uniquely different from one another, and it is hard, being virtual, to fully immerse into the environment. However, this class allowed me to, at least, get a glimpse. We had a cooking class with a professional chef from Australia where we made meat pies and lamingtons. We were all zoomed in and separated, but it felt like we were all there together because of the community atmosphere of the class. I enjoyed making the meat pies and have already made it two more times. The chef kept checking in on us and it felt very personalized for each one of us while still being in a group.

Another interesting part of this study abroad experience was the business briefings that we were provided. Each briefing was different from any previous ones as it allowed us to focus on a different part of the business world in international places. The business briefings were different from one another, but that is what made it so much fun. One briefing that I found very intriguing was Russ Macumber who works in digital marketing. While he was talking with us, I was so interested in each aspect of the discussion because that is something that I am interested in pursuing. Associated with the business briefings, came the networking opportunities. Shortly after class, I connected on LinkedIn with Russ, and he gave me insight on how to get a “leg up” on the competition so I can stand out when I am viewed on my LinkedIn. This was an amazing opportunity because my connection is ultimately helping me in my journey in the future.  

During the class, we worked on a group project where we set up an international office with a company that was looking to expand. The project included a PESTLE analysis, a SWOT analysis, as well as recommendations, and an executive summary. This along with the case study were great real-life applications of the material that we were learning. Dr. Low helped guide us through these applications and they helped me understand how the information that we had learned would be implemented. In addition, Dr. Low would mention something in class and then the business briefing would talk about how they were specifically implementing that into their business now or how they had used it in the past. 

Something I have always struggled with has been allowing myself to accept myself and just be the best that I can be. However, due to this experience, that has changed. I now understand how to be more adaptable. It is a fast-paced world, especially in business. The virtual tours strengthened this transition because they allowed me to fully understand how precious the little things around me are. In the current age, it is so easy to get caught up in technology, but this experience took me out of that atmosphere. 

In conclusion, this experience for the past three weeks has been eye-opening. It changed my perspective on several things: personally, and professionally. Around every corner were intriguing and interesting cultural experiences to make the Zoom wall disappear. I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything else. Not only am I a more well-rounded person but I am also able to use the adaptable skills I have learned to benefit me in my future education and endeavors. 

University of Iowa student Patricia Wozniak participated in the virtual course Introduction to Global Business: Asia Pacific during the summer of 2021.