Now that I am back in America I can truly see what a great trip I have had in India. Before leaving I didn’t fully know what to think about India, and I saw it as a bit of a mystery. All I really knew about it was from a few Indians I had talked to, a few prep classes, and the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” (the movie wasn’t exactly the best source). Now that I have been there, I realize that it isn’t really mysterious at all. The cultures there are more different than many countries are from each other, languages and customs change from city to city, and nobody ever seems to know exactly what they are doing, but in the end it is no more mysterious than anywhere else. India is a place with kind people, fantastic food, beautiful scenery, and rich history. I don’t think my life could have been complete without a visit to somewhere with so many different experiences to offer.
I came to India to learn about some of the unique business practices in India and some of the cultural differences I saw while I was there, and I certainly got that, so I will share a few. When we were at Tyson I was awed by their ability to make money in a place where there are so many vegetarians, food spoilage is far harder to prevent than in developed countries, and where there is a major lack of infrastructure. Traditional American business models just don’t work here, so Tyson had to increase the product line to fit Indian tastes, increase their number of hubs for distribution, and provide superior training for their employees to overcome transportation obstacles. A significant cultural difference I noticed was that Indians have a different view of time than Americans. They are typically okay with taking longer to eat, taking time out of their day to get to know someone, and they don’t really adhere to schedules very well (which really frustrated some of our group). To Americans, most of India seems chaotic, slow, and inefficient, but there is just a different way of doing things here that anyone coming here needs to know to be successful.
Overall this trip has been the greatest learning experience of my life. India has so much to see and do, and to see even a small portion of it has been spectacular both personally and academically. It has been the trip of a lifetime and I can’t think of a better way to start my summer than by studying abroad. I want to thank the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business for offering such a great program, Dr. Anand and Dr. Ellstrand for leading the trip, George and Charlene Edwards for their generous scholarship, and my friends and family for their emotional support. What a great trip!