Country of the Rising Sun and Essentials of Intercultural Communication

This is our fourth installment to the series in the «Doing Business in…» elective course offered in Autumn 2018.

In light of current globalization and intercultural integration, it is crucial to study the essentials of cross-cultural communication. “Cross-Cultural Negotiations: Doing Business in Japan” is a course offered at BI, which provides an exceptional opportunity to experience cultural differences and learn how to use them in a business environment.

Interview with Ásdís Sæmundsdóttir, 2nd year MSc in Business Student majoring in Logistics, Operations and Supply Chain Management

Traditional Japanese Dinner

My name is Ásdís and I am from Iceland. I did my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Iceland but came to Norway to take my Master’s degree. This is already my second year at BI as a master student. Time flies! (laughs)

This semester I had the opportunity to choose elective courses and customize my degree, which was very cool. I chose the «Doing Business in Japan» course mostly because of the practical experience I could acquire. I believe it is very nice to travel and study at the same time.

Agree, I feel like it is the best way to learn. Could you please tell us more about your trip? What did you guys do?

Yes, of course.  BI has organized this course in partnership with Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in Beppu, a small city in Southwest Japan. The APU campus is huge with many buildings around, so students have to walk a lot to get to different classrooms. On our first day, we went on a sight-seeing tour around Beppu.

We visited Takasakiyama Monkey Park, which is a popular reserve at the base of Mount Takasaki and Oita City. I do not want to exaggerate, but I think there are around 1300 monkeys.

Wild Monkeys in the Park

Wow. That is a lot of monkeys!

Yes, and they are completely free. The park is their home, where they can walk freely.

Next day, we went to the hot springs. Since I am coming from Iceland, for me it wasn’t really a surprising experience, but my fellow students from Norway thought it was amazing. However, it was still very interesting to see how Japanese hot springs are set up, the surroundings were quite different from what we have in Iceland.

Japanese Hot Springs

One of the most memorable experiences I had in Japan was the Yukata Experience (summer kimono made of cotton). It was fun to wear it and, most importantly, we got to keep the dresses 🙂

The Yukata Experience

This sounds like a lot of fun! How about your class? Was it pretty diverse?

It was a pretty big group of students. In total, we had 29 MSc students, all coming from different MSc in Business majors. During our stay in Beppu, we had lectures and cross-cultural sessions at APU with Japanese students. It was very eye-opening and interesting to see how differently we look at the business negotiations. This course has a continuous grading, so we have a term paper and a presentation to submit, everything is based on what we have learned before and during our trip to Japan.

What did you like the most about this course? Would you recommend taking it?

I think this class is a very good opportunity to learn the basics of intercultural communication. The trip itself, of course, is the best part of the course. I liked that we could actually travel to Japan and experience cultural differences ourselves, meet a lot of interesting people and learn from them. I would definitely recommend taking this class, in fact, all the “Doing Business in…” classes at BI are unique, as they provide a great opportunity to study and explore the world. I believe this kind of mix yields better learning results!

Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts, Ásdís 🙂

Interested in reading more about the other “Doing Business in…”? Check out our articles:

  1. Guten Tag, digital and innovative Berlin! by Artem Myreev, 2nd year MSc in Business (Marketing) student.
  2. Curtain up for Tanzania and Doing Sustainable Business in Africa!  by Matthias Breil, 2nd year MSc in Business (Finance) student.
  3. Norwegian way of doing business – Bergen Trip! by Nargis Karim, 2nd year MSc in Business (Leadership and Change) student.

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