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Study Abroad Summer 2012 - Lucas Rodrigues

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FC: STUDY ABROAD SUMMER 2012 | Paris München | Lucas Rodrigues

1: Hello Dr. Schlake, This digital scrapbook contains my answers to our daily challenges. Thank you for a great trip and for your patience with my impatient character - this was my first visit to Europe and I surely got to be overexcited. Hope you are having a good summer so far. Lucas

2: As I arrived in Paris and entered the metro I was surprised to see this little fruit stand inside the metro. The idea is quite simple, nothing very clever about that, but it did strike me how there was nothing like this in the places I have been to in the United States. I have always heard of the French and their unique lifestyles, and how people look healthy despite their heavy smoking and drinking habits. I thought that little businesses like this one could possibly be contributing to having a healthier population. In agitated Paris one might not have much time to have a balanced breakfast or by the time they get home from work, but if they can shop for fruits while waiting for their train inside a metro station, that could make a difference on their diets. The idea could or could not work in the United States. In Washington D.C. eating is not allowed inside metro stations and trains, so that could make people less willing to shop for food inside a metro station. The positioning of such a business would have to be well-chosen. For example, such a business would be successful in areas such as Georgetown or Williamsburg, where there is a large “hipster” population that truly values organic and natural food as an important part of their diets.

3: I was not able to interview this business owner as he said that he did not speak English, and I could not speak enough French to ask him anything beyond whether or not he could speak English. However, he seemed quite happy about his business and I could notice that he was getting plenty of business to his metro station fruit stand.

4: 2007 | Travelling | byFOOT | a | Tarte aux Framboises | a | Saucisse de Lapin

5: washing machines here! | Home | & | Hostel | I solved my food challenge returning to Montmartre in a quest to visit places where the movie Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain was filmed. Of course, I was the only one interested in making such a trip, so the opinions about my food challenge are unfortunately only mine. I first tried Saucisse de Lapin at a little shop in front of Cafe des Deux Moulins, where Amelie Poulain worked. One of the most delicious sausages that I have ever tried – not too greasy, right amount of salt, a good sauce, and the meat itself was also soft and delicious with a little resistance of the sausage skin. I kept walking around Montmartre until I reached a crowded street that had several cafes and a musical group playing really well. I stopped at La Galette des Moulins and decided to try a Tarte aux Framboises. I thought it was not fantastic, but it was quite good – not too sweet and the raspberries were fresh. I found it funny that there was a different price for whether one would eat in there or take out. I was there for the experience of sitting down at a French café, eating a dessert, and listening to street musicians, so I decided to eat inside.

7: I learned that believing in one’s ability to make an idea successful must be one of the most important things needed to be an entrepreneur. Observing the young entrepreneurs struggling to make Flexy Heels a marketable product made me imagine how their daily lives must be. I have heard that one cannot be a part-time entrepreneur as either an entrepreneur puts all of his energies towards his idea, or the idea will not be realized into a successful product. There are both similarities and differences between German and French entrepreneurship, and it becomes indispensable to make comparisons between them and the United States. Becoming an entrepreneur in Germany and in France seems to be more challenging than in the United States. During our visit to the Strascheg Center those young entrepreneurs explained to us how it was difficult to start a business in either country due to enormous bureaucracy. Whereas in the United States companies can start operating as long as they do not infringe existing laws, in Germany entrepreneurs have to find a legal basis that allows their type of business to operate legally. One point that was constantly made about German culture and how it affects entrepreneurship is how Germans are very risk-averse whereas the French are not. The entrepreneurs of the Flexy Heels said that they would have a hard time proving the reliability of their product to the German market. From the different business meetings we have attended, the one that I have liked the most was the visit to the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship. The atmosphere in there was more relaxed without the formalities encountered in the meetings in France. Whereas most students had a hard time staying awake during the presentation at the Carlyle Group meeting, we had a great time interacting with German entrepreneurs. However, this difference might have to do with what cycle of entrepreneurship we were dealing with at these meetings.

9: I visited a “MacDo” restaurant in Paris and there were some interesting differences in there. First, a McDonalds in Paris does not feel as much as part as a fast food chain as it does in the United States. I believe that this is due to the local preference for cafés, so it is possible to eat a croissant and relax at a McDonalds there as opposed to be subliminally controlled to quickly eat my food and leave. I was surprised to see some of the offerings of the Parisian MacDo. For example, I could find Le Macaron, a traditional French sweet. I was predicting that I would see Le Croissant, and they did not fail to deliver it. Of course, I prefer the French variation of the regular McDonalds as the food and ambience in there are much more interesting than their American equivalents. I even think that McDonalds is missing out on some big money that they could make if they opened their French variations inside the United States.

10: In Marienplatz, I decided to interview adults and middle-aged men as I assumed they would be more interested in discussing economy and politics. It seemed to be a good choice as people were actually interested in discuss a subject that also interests me. I interviewed 5 males, ages from 34 to 52. People are concerned about the Greek financial crisis and its repercussions to the German economy. Germany plays a leader role in the European Union and it is Greece’s biggest creditor, so some of the people who I have interviewed have opinions about what Germany should do about it. People seemed to be upset with the idea of Germany bailing out Greece. Some said that Germany has to pressure Greece to leave the EU as there is a risk of default, and that could greatly affect the rest of the European Union. Others agree with Merkel regarding her strictness regarding helping Greece. One interviewee had a different opinion, stating that Germany was taking advantage of this crisis to pursue its own interests instead of genuinely helping Greece. Unemployment is still a concern among Germans, although recent numbers have shown improvement. Although unemployment rates are low in Munich, other parts of Germany, especially the former East Germany faces very high unemployment rates, and that is a big burden to the whole country. Since the German economy exports a great deal of goods, unemployment rates are supposed to rise due to the debt crisis. Most people are very optimistic about the near future of their economy, although they are confident that Germany will survive this crisis and remain a powerhouse. According to my interviewees, their economy’s growth is probably going to slow down due to the recent European financial crisis. Some people are confident on Merkel’s ability of solving the debt crisis in a way that protects the German economy. There is optimism about the inflation because that has been well controlled during recent times and it is not expected to rise.

11: Most people agreed that Germany’s strength is its power to export goods, especially involving technology and engineering. According to one of the persons I interviewed, it has to do with the tax structure in Germany that highly benefits exportation, and some protective non-tax barriers that make difficult the entrance of foreign products in the country. Germany is a large producer of cars, especially luxury cars. People also said that Germany’s main competitive advantage is the education of its population. The country was able to survive different crisis because people were well-educated enough to adapt to challenges. Workers have strong ethics, and that is a great advantage to Germany. The country’s high investments in technology was also cited as a competitive advantage. Most people agree that the Euro brought benefits to Germany. German products became more attractive to other European countries as the Euro made them more affordable than when they were during the Mark times. The Euro was meant to make European countries more equal, but it did the opposite, increasing Germany’s power over the other countries. However, it seems like the German Mark was a symbol of Germany’s mighty post war recovery, and some people dislike it. As the largest economy in the Eurozone, Germany is making great efforts to protect the currency since the debt crisis. If the European Central Bank has to buy the debt of Greece, that will mean that Germany is going to be bailing them in order to protect the Euro, and that is not being well-received by Germans.

13: For my dessert challenge I went to Cafe Hlzl with my friend Sandra Mrnjavac, who I had met in the United States and visited along with my friend Edgar and their son Leonardo after our study abroad program. She recommended me this place after we went to the Schloss Nymphenburg. The ice cream tasted great and it was clear that it was not industrially made, but the unique presentation was what I really liked.

15: Unfortunately, I fell sick during my stay in Munich and used our free day to rest because I knew I would stay longer in Munich. I stayed at my friends’ house, and after I recovered we went to some nice places. One of the places that I liked the most was the Schloss Nymphenburg because of its many hidden gardens and sculptures. I wasn’t expecting much from this visit, so I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this place. I also visited the Englischer Garten and went to a really nice outside biergarten Chinesischer Turm. I started to admire the lifestyles of the Bavarians. It seems to me that Bavarians make everything perfect and pretty and live a calm life. Chinesischer Turm had people from all ages in a really relaxed atmosphere enjoying good beer. To be sincere, I was thinking it would be a psychedelic experience to see random naturalists walking through the park after having a liter of HB beer, but I guess that didn’t happen on the day I visited it because the weather was somehow cold. Nevertheless, I guess I had the Bavarian biergarten experience and I am quite satisfied about it.

17: Like most students who were at the Olympiapark, I was quite curious about the waterball in park’s lake. The attraction consists of transparent gigantic balls that are closed by a sealed zipper and can fit a person. The ball is filled with enough air that allows a person to breathe inside it for about 30 minutes, but the time inside it is limited to 7 minutes. Visitors are directed to the lake where they try their best to move the ball without losing their balance. The apparently easy task proves to be nearly impossible because of the way the waterball interacts with the water. It is hard to say if the people inside the ball or the friends who are watching them are the one having the most fun. It doesn’t take long the observing people decide to take on the apparently easy challenge. Since I lived in Rockville for almost 5 years, I immediately thought that this attraction would make a lot of money if it was copied at Rockville’s Rio Center lake. The waterball would become a great attraction at Rio, and I am sure that people would line up to join the fun, and that would collaterally increase revenue for the businesses around it. I have researched this attraction and discovered the company that runs the waterball at Olympiapark. Details can be obtained at this website: http://www.ganz-muenchen.de/freizeit/olympiapark/park/waterball/am_olympiaturm.html

19: I believe the most remarkable person on this trip is Katty Adrianzen. Katty’s life story is quite impressive as she left Peru without even knowing English, and she has achieved more than most through a lot of hard work. Nevertheless, Katty seemed to be one of the people who enjoyed this study abroad trip the most. Most of us were impressed by her ability to deal with locals and extract the most from this trip. Whereas most of us stayed within the limits of our comfort zone, exploring Paris in Munich solely in the company of other UMD students, Katty was able to meet locals who would show her the best of each city and also take her UMD friends along to enjoy the town. Katty is a few years older than most people on our trip, but she seems to have one of the youngest and most adventurous spirit among us.

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