Meghan Matt, a sophomore international business major from Mound, Minnesota, will study abroad in Panama from December 27 to January 7. Matt chose to apply for the Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Panama program because she wanted to experience Latin American business culture. Leading up to their time in Panama, students develop a marketing plan for a Panamanian teakwood farmer and will work to implement it during their trip. She said, “I am most looking forward to meeting the local farmer who we have been writing a marketing plan for in class.” As one of the college’s Distinguished International Business Scholars, she also plans to get an internship in China and spend a semester in Denmark while pursuing her degree at Nebraska.
Tips for Packing - 12/14/17
Anticipation is building because in less than two weeks I will be in Panama! I tend to be that person who has a suitcase packed the week before I am scheduled to travel. I love seeing everything laid out and ready to go, triple checking I have all I need. I brought packing early to a whole new level for this trip because I am spending two weeks of my winter break back home in Minnesota and the other two weeks in Panama. Currently, there is a 70-degree temperature difference between the two places. My bulky winter jacket laid on top of my swimsuits during the drive up.
I like to consider myself an expert packer. My family has always traveled light to avoid the costs of checking a bag. I spent three weeks in China and fit all of my stuff in a carry-on. I have found that if you plan well, you do not need as much stuff as you may think.
I will share with you my top three packing tips:
1. Make a list. Before you do anything else, grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything you know you need for the trip. I list the necessities and then go through my travel plans day-by-day, writing down what I will need. Nothing feels better than crossing something off your list when it gets packed. I always bring the list with me and use it to pack before I go home. It is a good way to make sure you did not forget anything.
2. Cut back on shoes. Shoes take up the most room, and often times I end up wearing the same pair or two the majority of the trip anyways. I allowed myself three pairs for Panama: my favorite sandals, a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of wedges. I always try to wear the bulkiest of the shoes I am bringing on the plane.
3. Bring extra socks. This may sound like a weird tip, but I swear that every time I travel I either lose socks or dirty them faster than I was planning. Extra socks are especially important for a trip to Panama where you will be hiking and on your feet a lot.
Fortunately, American Airlines permits a free checked bag for their customers traveling to Panama. Even so, I still tried to pack light and only bring the necessities. Dragging around an obnoxiously large suitcase is a pain, especially where you are traveling somewhere you have never been before. Now that I shared my packing tips with you and self-proclaimed myself as an expert packer, I hope there is not a future blog post in Panama about forgetting something important.
Hard at Work - 11/15/17
Today marks week eight of class in preparation for my trip to Panama. I will be traveling with a group of 19 other students. To prepare for our trip, we separated into two subgroups. Our semester project is to create a marketing plan for a local teakwood farmer in David, Panama. Mr. Rios, the farmer we are working with, has no prior exposure to business in the United States. He asked us to research the U.S. market for teak and present our findings in a final paper that will be shared with his company while we are in Panama.
My nine fellow team members are part of the “West Coast Group” because we are focusing on the teakwood industry of 25 states in the western part of the United States. The other students are part of the “East Coast Group” and are developing a separate marketing plan with the same requirements and for the same Panamanian farmer. Throughout the semester, we have gathered information on the teak market in the states. The research is primarily coming from reaching out to U.S. companies via both email and cold-calling who are importers of teak. The goal is to gain information on their current teak distribution methods, costs, purchasing priorities and quantities. The more answers we get about other company’s consumption, the easier it is to write a beneficial marketing plan for Mr. Rios. So far, the work is challenging, but the end goal of being able to present a useful blueprint for an actual business keeps me motivated.
With only 42 days until departure, I am busy finalizing the essential details of my trip. I have been in and out of the Health Center getting the required shots for my health clearance to enter Panama. I am double and triple checking the details of my flights with Dr. Osiri (director of International Business program) and Dr. Ibrayeva (assistant professor of practice in management) to ensure I have it right. My passport is ready for a new stamp on its pages!