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Costa Rica provides insight about Latin American business

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

LAWRENCE — A group of 15 Master of Business Administration students and 15 Master of Accounting students from the University of Kansas School of Business crossed the Caribbean to spend winter break in Costa Rica.

Charles Krider, School of Business professor, and Suzanne Scales, assistant director of the school's Institute for International Business, led the Master of Business Administration (MBA) students in the study abroad program. The University of Costa Rica School of Business hosted the group and provided lectures on business and culture, Krider said.

"It's a good opportunity for students to know that they can do things differently in another country and it still works out," Krider said. "We have classes in international business and we talk about it, but to actually go there and experience it adds to the educational component that students have in the School of Business."

Krider said the program has been very popular with students and expects it to continue in the future.

"Costa Rica was a blast," said Fur Finley, an MBA student from Colby, Kan. "It's nice to see how U.S. companies do business in other countries. It gives you a better feel for international business."

"The purpose of the program is to familiarize students with how business is done in Costa Rica," said Carol Rose, director of the Institute for International Business. "Much of what they learn will apply to other Latin American countries as well."

Lisa Ottinger, director of the Masters in Accounting program (MAcc), and Mark Best, alumnus and School of Business lecturer, led the MAcc students.

"Over the last few years, participation by MAcc students in graduate business school study abroad programs has definitely increased. Many of them studied abroad as an undergraduate student, but the business focus of the graduate trips is very different and enlightening," Ottinger said. "The experiences on the trip really open their eyes to the Costa Rican and Latin American culture as well as to the business environment of the area."

"With the rise in demand by MAcc students, it makes sense to create more accounting-specific study abroad experiences," Ottinger said. The Costa Rica program provided joint activities with the MBA group but also included separate accounting lectures and a visit to the local Deloitte office.

"This made me a lot more comfortable trying to travel internationally for work," said David Cohen, a MAcc student who graduates in May. "It's definitely something I will pursue in my career knowing that it's easier to acclimate to a different environment than I originally thought."

During the program the students attend classes and lectures, experience cultural activities and visit companies such as Procter and Gamble, Baxter International, Café Britt and local Costa Rican firms, Rose said.

One of the local companies, an oxcart factory, was one of the most interesting parts for Mark Best. "All the machinery is connected by conveyor belts and powered by a water wheel," Best said. "I've done a lot of company tours in the U.S. and it's all about automation and what the computers can do, so it was really neat to see that step back."

For more information on studying abroad, visit here.

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