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UT Knoxville BUAD 217 - Travel Experience in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica Final ProjectFinals have just ended, and school was over for the semester. However, the classroom was about to change for the next eight days. I went straight from leaving school to the airport the morning after so needless to say I didn’t have much time to think about what I was about to embark on. In this paper I’m going to be talking about my experiences in Costa Rica. Specifically, I will cover the differences in business culture, differences between Tico’s and Gringo’s, and my expectations and impact the trip left on me. I personally am a big fan of traveling so I was excited in general for the experiences I was soon to encounter. I had done some research on Costa Rica prior to the trip so I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed upon arrival. Also I had read the papers we were given, but things on paper are a lot different than when you are witnessing something hands on. In America a lot of times in business culture we are stereotyped often times as heartless or that it’s all about the money. Which in a lot of cases is true, giving us the fitting nickname “Gringo’s”. Something very valuable I took away from the trip though was listening to business owners and members of the community. Money to them didn’t mean happiness. They wantedto do something they loved, and to get personal with the people they did business with. Often times when you’re talking to an American they’ll ask you what car you drive, or how many square feet your house is, or how many cars you have. Which wealth in America is usually measured by the amount of income you earn. In contrast, some people in rural towns such as Bahia Ballena, their method of transportation was an old bike or walking and most of the houses were fairly small. So from an American standpoint we would think they were poor andunhappy. Which ironically, Forbes labels them as the happiest country on the earth. However, Costa Ricans didn’t but a price on their happiness, they cared about building relationships, their family, and enjoying their days at work. We were given reading from Travis talking about a fishermen and a businessman that wanted him to expand his business. I think that story was one of the biggest things that stood out to me early on. We work our whole life to be able to do something we love and are passionate about. So then the fishermen told the man he would be working his whole life towards doing exactly what he was already doing. It really made you think, and it made me almost wonder about my future career. I began to think maybe instead of looking at the biggestaverage salary for jobs, I should look elsewhere. I haven’t changed my mind on Supply Chain Management. However it really made me question if it’s going to be something I enjoy doing. Which I think could help me down the road. Because they aren’t looking forward to retirement like most Americans do. They go to work every day and love what they do, many times leading to much greater happiness. There are some differences in business culture between the two countries so I could seehow sometimes business with Costa Rica could be difficult. They are much more laid back than us, not always punctual (Tico time), and won’t discuss business with you until they get to know you. Which could really get on our nerves due to our generations need of instant gratification; we want things right now. I do think our business culture could change for the better by learning from them though. Maybe we could become more personal and build a lasting relationship with the native businessman. Possibly early on we could be more concerned with getting to know our business partner rather than just talking numbers. We could also make surewe don’t leave a massive carbon foot print and try to be sustainable such as they’ve succeeded in doing. If a company the size of Abbott can be sustainable then there’s no excuse that other big corporations in America can’t as well. Coming into the trip I didn’t have big expectations because I personally would rather go into something with an open mind. But something that was very surprising was truly how tourist centered their economy was. It was very evident through most locals being able to speak English exceptionally well, as well as US dollars being accepted basically everywhere. We were literally in the middle of nowhere in the Osa Peninsula and a small little restaurant on a hillwould take US dollars. It was just very interesting to see how they’ve adapted their lives aroundnecessity of the tourists. Something I also didn’t expect which surprised me just as much was how eco-friendly they truly were. It was insane that even the smallest towns were passionate about having sustainable business operations while at the same time being conscious about recycling their used oil and using biodegradable soaps. It was very surprising to me though that within the last decade that they had standardized trash implemented. For the longest time theyjust burnt their trash. The reason it was so shocking was due to the fact they were so much more passionate about it then we are. We have recyclable areas and trash trucks everywhere inAmerica for decades. Yet you go to many households and few people compost leftovers, have gardens, or even recycle. They truly respect the environment and understand that we need to do as much as we can to be eco-friendly. It was all across the spectrum as well. From lodges, tointernational companies such as Abbott Vascular, to a small tour company like Bahia Venturas.I really think this was a positive experience, and something I could bring up to possible employers down the road. It truly was an educational experience and not some luxuriousvacation. Most of my relatives were actually fairly shocked when they saw everything we did and some of the things we were able to learn. I believe that learning hands on is the best experience and way to learn as well. It’s totally seeing something different on paper and in pictures compared to the real thing. There are few experiences like this offered in a lifetime. It allowed me to make many new friends, and also educate, and open me up to a totally different


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