We woke up to our last day in Barcelona. Jake was our leader today. We took the subway to the classroom we have been in several times before and Rich from Barcelona SAE led a discussion about cultural issues in international business. We learned about having to adapt to another country's culture if you want to be successful in international business. One interesting exercise was about the issue of personal space. In the US, we are comfortable with more space around us, while in Spain they have less personal space. We got into pairs and had to talk to each other with our toes touching. It was really uncomfortable, but it makes you aware that in other countries that amount of space (or lack thereof) might be more expected.
After the lecture we took a bus out to a mansion in the hills where we had an amazing final group lunch. We ate a ton of food and took the opportunity to enjoy eachother's company for the last time as a group.
Tomorrow we travel back to the US. It will be a very long day, beginning with a 3:50am bus pickup to take us to the airport. We have a long layover in Paris, then fly to Chicago, followed finally by a bus ride back to Green Bay.
I hope you will allow me to get philosophical and maybe a bit sappy for a minute to close this blog as this will be my last entry. I saw a quote in my Twitter feed the other day that I think is really appropriate. It said, "You go away for a long time and return a different person -- you never come all the way back." You can argue whether two weeks is a long time, but I think the amount of time is irrelevant. With international travel, you definitely do return a different person with new perspectives not only on the country you visit but your home country as well. Joe and I have seen a ton of growth in our students. They have become willing to try new foods, able to communicate with others who might not speak English, and confident in their ability to navigate through a new city. I think we have made international travelers out of many of them, as they are all talking about the other places they want to go in the future.
This has been an amazing group to work with and I couldn't be more proud of them. They made Joe, me and NWTC look really good. I am feeling sad that I won't spend time with them anymore and there are some I may never see again once they graduate (although I hope they friend me on Facebook so I can see what they are up to). Being able to lead study abroad trips is truly one of the greatest privileges I have as an instructor at NWTC. And this group may have spoiled me for all future groups. I don't think any of us could have asked for a better experience.
Thank you to everyone at home who has followed along with us on this great adventure. I have enjoyed bringing it to you.