Seeing English signs and ordering food in English at the Huston airport, I paused to realize that I was actually back in the United States. I am feeling bittersweet that I cannot feel the beautiful and tropical atmosphere anymore in Panama but I am safely back in my second home, Fayetteville. These three weeks flown by so fast with a lot of learning, sharing, and memorable moments. This first-hand experience could not have been replaced by taking classes and memorizing textbooks.
First of all, my first impression in Panama was very “Americanized” although it has its own unique features. The culture shock I encountered during this trip was not as huge as the ones that I faced when coming to the United States for the first time. Ethnic diversity, popularity of catholic, the way of communication were only a few examples of what I found similar to the United States. However, service-oriented economy of Panama is definitely distinct compared to other countries. Taking advantage of its strategic location and connectivity, Panama has developed with its limited production ability. Knowing these facts allowed me to understand that different countries tend to focus on their strengths which can be the “competitive advantages” of the country. It might be a commonsense that students learn in class, but actually seeing a significant example of Panama could not have been more effective to get the idea.
Also, visiting the concentrated regional headquarters’ area, I realized that accessibility to other parts of the world for both people and products is making this world smaller and more interdependent. In this globalized era, it is hard to find a product that does not have any relationships with other countries. No matter what the form is, such as procurement, marketing, and outsourcing, large majority of businesses are seeking out to the opportunities of international operation. Understanding of local culture, economy, administration plays an essential role when conducting a business across boarders. The group project that we had during this stay, in which we suggested a solution for a US-based bike company to expand their market in Panama, let me engage in the research process. I was glad to have had a chance where we could apply the fresh knowledge into the real business situations.
On top of everything that I experienced, I loved spending time with all the awesome crews in our group. I felt that everyone was open-minded to the different cultures and perspectives. They were all patient with my limited English ability and were always wiling to help me out. I would love to extend my gratitude to the professor, colleagues, and the university that gave me this great experience in Panama.
Thank you for those who read my journals, and I hope you enjoyed!