There were only five minutes left.
Five minutes left until a small group, which included two Austrians and two Americans, had to present their innovation concept in front of a classroom which overlooked the European cityscape. A classroom filled with the same students with whom they’ve shared the past week exploring the small treasures of Graz, Austria.
“Okay that’s a good idea, let’s move on”, the eager American student would anxiously recommend. The relaxed Austrian student would doubtfully state, “But wait, I am not so sure, maybe…” The American student would grow irritated.
I am that American student. Perhaps all tri-state area residents share the same cultural DNA that makes them overly conscious of time and its short promises. While working with Austrians, however, I was exposed to their beautiful, and quite admirable, work ethic which I have since been able to incorporate into my own.
It is one of the invaluable souvenirs that I was able to bring back with me.
The Austrians that I have had the pleasure of working with often worked with great precision and attention to detail. Whereas I was focused on generating the most ideas and concepts in the short time granted to us, my Austrian cohorts had a different priority in mind. They were, in contrast, focused on generating a few ideas that were well developed and analyzed.
Unlike the Austrians, we are sometimes so consumed with maximizing productivity that we fail to notice the details, where opportunity for progress and true innovation hides.
Although I have learned an exceptional amount of information regarding specific start up strategies, implementations, and the technicalities involved in bringing an idea to fruition, I appreciate these invaluable lessons that I have learned as a result of collaborating with students abroad.
These students embraced my classmates and I with the warmest welcome. They included us in every activity, excursion, and celebration. As a product of our high involvement with the Austrian students, I am grateful to have learned what I did. I am beyond grateful to be exposed to a culture that was not my own. Most importantly, I am grateful to have learned how to incorporate their best practices in my own.
Possibly even more valuable, are the friendships that this course has gifted me. These are friendships that serve as the foundation for mutual support and endless networking possibilities. Participants of TEA will be able to continuously collaborate with one another and discuss entrepreneurial opportunities with students who we would not have otherwise had contact with.
The lectures and presentations, of course, provided me with useful and applicable information but the friendships and collaborations with the Austrian students exposed me to an involved, candid experience of the Austrian culture, the entrepreneurship mindset on another continent, and an admirable work ethic that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I could only hope that, one day, I will have the privilege to spend another 5 minutes with my friends abroad.
Written by Sydney Garcia,
Montclair State University Class of 2017