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Dr. Julian Gaspar talks about study tours at EM Strasbourg

Publié le August 8, 2017, Mis à jour le August 21, 2017

When was the first programme in Strasbourg organized and how did it go?

The very first summer study abroad programme that I conducted was for five weeks starting the last week of May 2001. It went very well considering the fact that I was conducting the programme for the first time. 

How has the programme evolved over the years?
I refine the programme each year logistically so that the programme runs more smoothly and provides students better experience. For example, after two years, I moved our place of residence to Citadines Place Kleber, which was much more conveniently located to the Homme de Fer tram station as well as the Gare Centrale where students could take trains for their weekend travel. I obtain input from students each year after the programme so that I can make the following year's experience better. The programme is robust and provides students a wonderful cultural and educational experience of France and the European Union within the five-week period. I try to bring along a total of 30 students each year, but one year I brought 33 students and I manage them myself with solid support now from Dorina!

How is the programme structured (in terms of classes and visits)?
My students take two courses during the five-week period: (a) International Finance that I teach, and (b) European Integration and Business that is taught by an EM-Strasbourg faculty. We have two 2.5 hour classes three days a week. Normally, I teach from 10:00-12:30 after which students have an hour for lunch and my EM-Strasbourg colleague will teach from 13:30-16:00. I also try to include a couple of guest lectures. Each week, one day is devoted to corporate visits. This year, during the first week, we visited with Mercedes Benz in Rastatt; during the second week we visited with the European Commission in Brussels; the third week we visited with the European Parliament and the Council of Europe; and during the fourth week we visited with Deutsche Bundesbank. I give students a quiz the week after the corporate visit to make sure that students pay attention to corporate presentations/discussion. They are graded on the corporate visits. My students also take a mid-term test and a final exam during our 5-week stay in Strasbourg. Finally, my students are required to write two blogs that are posted on our website. The first blog provides their initial impression of Strasbourg and France and the second blog provides a reflection of what they learnt about Europe/the European Union during their five-week stay in Europe. As you can see, the programme is quite demanding: the students work hard and play hard!

What is the added value of this programme for a TAMU student in your opinion?
My Strasbourg study abroad programme is transformational for the students! They are required to come with an open mind so that they gain immensely from their European experience. Many of them have never been to Europe, so it is an eye-opener! Over their five-week stay, they have a three-day weekend that enables them to travel in groups to different parts of Europe and for one weekend, the whole group travels with me to Brussels and Paris. By the time the programme is over, my students have bonded together and some have made friends for a lifetime. The value added to students participating in my programme is the maturity and self-confidence that they develop in an international environment and they are able to appreciate the global environment better than if they just stayed in College Station, Texas. From an academic standpoint, students can use the two courses that they take in my programme toward either their "Certificate in International Business" or the "Certificate in European Union Business" programmes --a sort of minor in International or European Union business.

What are your students' feedbacks?
I would recommend that you visit the following student blog site for details: http://mays.tamu.edu/france/category/2017-trip/

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