I am with a group of 29 MBAs in Brazil over our one week spring break. The students are a combination of first-year, second-year full-time students in addition to several from our professional MBA program at Illinois.
Study abroad trips are a critical part of every students experience at Illinois. Ours has included cultural, academic and corporate visit activities. We arrived on Saturday in the beautiful city of Rio. We enjoyed some time on Ipanema beach and ate at one of the famous Brazilian steakhouses. The following day we visited famous sites in Rio, Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer. We even saw President Obamas motorcade as we were struck in traffic on Copacabana beach.
We left Rio and drove by bus towards Sao Paulo, stopping at Embraer, the worlds third largest aircraft manufacturer. We were provided a company presentation and plant tour. The students started their classroom experience on Tuesday. We have partnered with the University of Sao Paulo, the top university in Brazil. The students are learning from top University of Sao Paulo business professors about the Brazilian economy, business practices and the implications of the this growing economy on the global marketplace.
We have also visited the Brazilian Stock Exchange, IPE- one of the largest environmental NGOs in Brazil, and Itau- Latin Americas largest private bank. Each visit provides a different lens on the Brazilian market.
Connecting with prospective students and alumni is also an important part of these trips. We met five very successful alumni, together with one of our incoming students for the class of 2013 in Sao Paulo.
All incoming student will have an international experience, included in the tuition in fees. In addition to the cultural activities and company visits, each student will also work on a project for a client - similar to an IBC project- in one of our target countries, India, China or Brazil. We believe these experiences not only will prepare students for their careers in the global marketplace, but will also differentiate them from their peers at other schools.