Taking Luxury Marketing, we’ve been learning about value based pricing, the exclusivity of the products, and the quality of materials and craftsmanship that goes into it.
The more we dig deeper the more I want it, which is a problem for my bank account. So, I’ve been eyeing a YSL wallet for a few months, but I could never justify paying the price for it. While doing research for my class, I learned that luxury brands often use the geographical pricing strategy, making the products cheaper in France than in America due to shipping costs and taxes.
After complicating, I pulled the trigger today. Ahhh, I’m so excited. Now, let’s see if I can control myself and not buy all the things before I leave lol
People often forget that I am in France for school, and not just a month-long holiday. With school comes, homework and assignments.
You may be wondering what it’s like studying in a different country, especially one one which over 98% of the students are international exchange students. And even more specifically one that is only just 4 weeks.
Fragonard Perfume Museum + Mystery Shopping (Masion Margiela)
Yves Saint Laurent Museum
So far, my team has been working on our Luxury Brand Project for Hermés. We did intense amount of research about the History + Heritage, Brand Identity + DNA, Marketing Mix, SWOT Analysis, etc which lead up to a 10 minute presentation. This was the main project for this class. Other groups has Louis Vuitton, Dior and Christian Louboutin We only have a few classes left and will be doing smaller assignments regarding retail.
This course has been so much fun. It taught us a lot about the luxury industry and how different and unique it is from any other industry. These visits are so awesome because we get to take the classroom outside and see it first hand.
For example, we read about Hermés, it’s values and brand identity, but it wasn’t until I walked into the store and got to see the products first hand and experience customer service was when I really understood what I read.
For our perfume unit, my group was assigned the Replica perfume by Maison Margiela and had to create a new fragrance for millennials, in which we had to include describing the base, middle, and top notes, the 4 P’s, product, price, promotion, and place.
So, this is where it gets weird. We have 2 classes for this topic, with 2 totally different teachers.
The first we are focusing on a start up where we evaluate the target market, the risk, as well as other factors we may need to consider.
My group is working to start a Currency Exchange Machine that will have 4 different currencies. For example, if you arrive at the airport late and the currency exchange counter is closed, you can insert your USD and get Euros. They currently have Multi-Currency ATMs but they require a debit card and doesn’t not allow you to exchange cash for cash. Same goes for when leaving and returning home, you can exchange your unused currency for cash if your home country. We are looking to start this company in Hong Kong and expand to the USA and France.
This week, we had a guest speaker who is a 25-year old French Entrepreneur, who shares with us his story and gave us tips on what it takes to get your start up off the ground. We dove into unicorns, start ups that have made $1B+ and discussed different types of funding and incubators. He, then, took us to visit his office at Le Tremplin, which is an incubator for the sports industry.
For the second, International Business class, we’ve only had twice so far so I’m not exactly sure what we’re focusing on, but I do know that we have 6 page dossier due on July 9th followed by an oral presentation. We aren’t having this class again until July 4th so it’ll be crunch time. My group mates and I decided to research Uber in China and explore why Uber decided to enter the Chinese market, the risks it faced and why it decided to leave.
We will also be visiting the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Again, not too sure what we’ll be learning there but our teacher makes it sound like a big deal, lol.
So far, the classes have been great. It’s a lot of group work (which I usually hate) but for the most part my teammates have been really good. Always great discussions and I’m learning a lot. We do a lot of activities that makes it fun. I’m not looking forward to the essay but other than that I’ve really been enjoying my courses.
A slow start to my Saturday, but I met up with a friend to go on the Seine River Dinner Cruise. The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the view was beautiful.
There was a photographer on the cruise and his colleague came around selling the photos. €20 for the photo, so I purchased one. She gave me the receipt and she charged me €40. I tried getting her attention and she ignored me and walked away. The photographer came by and I mentioned it to him and he said he would get her. The cruise ended and she was no where to be found.
I got back to my hotel and told my friends what happened and they were so sweet. They said “The paper is really glossy and good quality.” “You’re makeup looks bomb in the picture.”
After a long night exploring the city, I decided to stay in on this Saturday to do laundry, possibly get some homework done and start to get ready for dinner this evening.
I go down stairs to the washing area and follow the directions but the machine won’t take my money. Not too long after, one of my classmates come in and we begin to struggle together. He tries everything to mess with the machine. After about 20 mins of us fussing, we hear a coworker around the corner. He goes to ask the worker for help. Turns out we need to put our coins into a change machine to get token and the token is what goes into the machine.
While I wait an hour for my clothes to wash, I figure I’ll start straightening my hair. I plug my hair straightener into my outlet converter and let it heat up. A few minutes go by and I hear a ticking noise and smell something burning. I immediately unplug my hair straightener and noticed I accidentally plugged it into the single voltage slot as opposed to the dual voltage! UGH. So, my hair straightener is down & out for this trip.
Paris is the city for fashion, especially with Men’s Fashion Week going on while we’re here. Some really dress to impress while some days other go the more casual route.
Despite if you want to show off your new fit or relax a bit, it can be difficult choosing your outfits in Paris. The weather fluctuates so much. When I arrived, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was pretty hot. Which we heard the previous week was all rain. I has so fortunate to hear that we just missed all that rain. But I may have spoke too soon because it rained Thursday morning as we were heading to our luxury tour. By the afternoon, it was hot again. This morning, freezing cold. Actually all day has been pretty warm, low of 54 and a high of 73. What I am dreading is next week when we have a high of 102. Omg, I don’t know how I’ll survive. The weather is pretty unpredictable so you really need to think about what you hear wisely. A tip I got today, was to wear layers. Like an onion, you can peel the layers of through the day.
So bright and early at 9:00AM, we meet to head over to school for the first time. We attended a welcome meeting where they introduce everyone and go over the program and we get a brief tour of the campus. We eat lunch, which was interesting. Not bad, but most of was cold. I noticed that they drink their beverages room temperature. I really like some ice, but that’s just me. After our one hour lunch break, we go to our first class: International Luxury Brand Marketing. The lecturer is so nice, funny and wants us to enjoy our time here. She went over the the course materials. All really exciting and fun stuff. In France, their grading scale is 0-20, you need a 10 to pass. Wow, sound great. 2 absences are automatically equals in failure. Being 5 or more minutes tardy is equivalent to an absence. She continues to explain how we’re graded. You come to class, you get a grade. If you don’t, you don’t get a grade. We have a few case studies, field visits, a presentation and a group project. We were placed into groups of 5-6 for a research project. My group got Hermès. I’m so excited to learn more about it. So classes are typically set in two-3 hour blocks each day. After class at 4PM, we immediately head to our evening activity.
We walk to the Park of Saint Cloud and hang out. We start talking and our program student helpers use WhatsApp to communicate with everyone. But some of us aren’t able to use What’sApp because we can’t receive SMS Text Messages (Green Bubbles for iPhone users) with only WiFi. So, all us no SIM card folks, make a 40 min walk to the SIM card place. We get there and it’s a small machine in a convenience store type shop. The woman there doesn’t speak English. Our student helper talks to her briefly and lets us know that he has to head back to the other group. So, there we are left to get our SIM cards and find our way back in our own. I get my SIM card and used a girls earring to open the SIM card port. Just when I think everything goes smoothly. SIM not supported. It was currently 6:00PM, which means it’s 6:00AM back home. I call my mom for help. I need to get in touch with AT&T to figure out how to unlock my phone. & of course, my mother saves the day and my phone works. She was able to add the AT&T passport to my plan for the next 30 days. So, now I can get What’sApp.
I drop by the grocery store to pick up a case of water. I purchased six- 1 liter bottles of Evian (because it’s the only brand I recognize) for about €3,50. If you see my IG story, you’ll know that one of my classmates paid €9 for a small bottle of water from the vending machine on campus.
Later, in the night, my roommate and I head over to room a few floors up to where some students were making burgers. So delicious. We just left at around 11:30PM. Which is crazy because we all have no sense of time with the sun setting at 9:30PM
I apologize for the delay in posting. Let me tell you the jet lag is real. But ya girl made it, alive and well in this beautiful city of Paris. Let me catch you up to speed on the craziness that went on. So, last you heard the Delta flight attendant was in relaxing in the spa. Great news, she showed up (pretty quick too, must I add) the crowd applauded as she made her grand entrance. That was Saturday night. Aside from that small hiccup with the flight attendant it was pretty smooth. I sat next to a nice lady and her daughter, who were so grateful to be sitting next to me, instead of some creepy person. (I felt that same way.)
We landed in Seattle, where I had a 7 and a half layover at would normally be 2:00AM for me. Shoutout to SEA-TAC airport for their curved couches that create the perfect place to sleep, but of course I’m too paranoid. There was too many times where I fought myself to keep my eyes open. I pushed through and we started boarding at 11:50AM for our scheduled departure at 12:46PM. We begin to taxi then the captain comes on, letting us know there is an issue with the thermometer and that needed maintenance. So, we sat on the plane with no movement for the next hour and a half. The 10 1/2 hours flight felt the longest ever. If I learned anything on that flight is that you survived an almost 11 hour flight by getting drunk LOL. Just kidding, but 5 people around me constantly ordered drinks all night.
Arriving at CDG airport at 9:50AM, was when the nerves started to kick in. I need to make my way to my hotel all by myself. So, I go through customs, super easy and painless. Then my luggage came pretty quick. I, then, headed to a single stall restroom to reorganize my bags due to the previous overweight luggage fiasco. While being in there for just a few minutes the janitor started pounding on the door and yelling at me in French. She continues this for at least another 3-4 mins as a finish arranging my belongings which is taking me longer because I feel pressured with her yelling at me.
I need to look for the information desk. I see it through some glass windows and I approach a large door that says “EXIT” in green letters. Naturally, you think green means go. I was mistaken. A woman stopped me and said “no” as she pointed to a sign across the room that says “Sortie” in blue letters. I follow that sign and turns out sortie means exit. I make it to the information desk where I pick up my portable WiFi pack and I ask the guy the easiest way to get to my hotel. He gives me a map, circles the trains I need to take and lets me know that there is a 10 minus walk from the train station and my hotel.
I make my way to the train, a lady sees Im confused and said “for train go straight, go straight and then down” then hands me this paper in French so I don’t understand. She said “donation” and I said “oh, I’m so sorry. I can’t.” She rips the paper out from my hands and continued on.
(( Later I found the front zipper of my backpack open. I can’t remember if I left it open on accident or if she trying to pickpocket me with someone behind me. Luckily all my bags have locks on them. Execpt that front pocket, which I kept empty for that reason. Or again, maybe I’m just paranoid. ))
I finally get down stairs and need to buy my train ticket. I go to the information desk for help. I needed a one way pass to La Defense. She tried to convince me to get a Navigo RAPT month card. I explained to her that I don’t need one. I just want a one way pass. She tells me I need the month pass as it would be more cost effective. I say okay and walk away. I find another information help person and he, too tried to get me to get the month pass but he finally explained to me how to get a one way ticket. I purchase my ticket and I’m off.
I get on the train. I just want to say and huge thank you to Dr. Kim and Dr. Luke for teaching my how to use the trains in Japan. Because if not, I’d still be at the train station trying to figure it out. I make it to my last stop and I’m in a food court mall, and don’t know how to get out. And again, my favorite thing, I go to the information desk. The lady tells me it would be easier and faster to take bus. 5 min bus ride, 3 min walk as opposed to 15 min walk. (The last guy told me 10 min walk, but okay) I purchase my €1,90 bus ticket and wait and the bus station. I get on the bus and it looks like I’m only 3 stops away. After the first two stops, I suddenly realized we’re going in the opposite direction. We go to all the stops and the driver announces this is the last stop, your ticket expires here. I ask him about Léonard Di Vinci stop, that’s where I need to go. He tells me that we are on the other direction, but he tells me I can stay and he will continue around in 7 minutes. My 5 minute bus ride turned into a 2 hour bus ride, but I made it. On a positive note. I got my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower while on the bus (as you see pictured) I arrived to my hotel and went to the front desk. I let her know what program I am from and tell her I will be staying here but I need directions to a neighboring hotel to meet my program leaders. She said “no, keep going” So I continued to walk and I found the other hotel. Met with my program leaders, was provided with that Navigo RATP month train pass everyone was trying to convince me to buy, and we go to check into my hotel. The guest service agent sees me with the program coordinator and apologizes for turning me away as I was correct. As I head up to my room, my program leader says we will be meeting at the other hotel at 4:15PM to go on a tour. That gave me 10 mins to get to my room and change.
I met with my roommate, she seems really nice and we both headed to the tour. We were shown where the trains were, grocery stores, shopping mall, etc. We ate dinner, grabbed a few things and called it a night.
Probably the most stressful day of my life. It doesn’t help that I don’t know a single French word. But my hopes are still high, and I hope to really enjoy this crazy ride.
IS 393: Pre-Departure Orientation was so beneficial. We had our Global Education Adviser as well as a number of Student Assistant Advisers to help walk us through the process and help prepare us.
We learned that culturally its a huge adjustment to go to another country. It will take some time to understand and to become comfortable with their new environment. Different isn’t always bad. It’s an opportunity for growth and expanding your mind.
Cultural Diversity: The existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society.
Culture Shock U-Curve: generally moves through four different phases: honeymoon, frustration, adjustment and acceptance.
Adaptation: the process and time it takes a person to integrate into a new culture and feel comfortable within it.
On the first day of class, we played a game. We couldn’t speak or make gestures. We had 4 groups of 4. We each read the instructions and played the card game. At the end of the game, the winner moved to the next table clockwise and the loser moved to the next table counter clockwise. We played another round of the game with 2 new members. Still not speaking, it was clear, we all were confused and didn’t have the same understanding of the rules of the game. We continued this two more times. Some students would just follow along adapted to the rules of that table, but others tried to make their table play by their original set of rules. After 4 rounds of this, we learned that each group had a different set on instructions. This was to teach us that at home, we have cultural norms and a way of doing things. When we travel internationally, we will see a different way of life. We have two options, to be stuck in our ways, and force them to adapt to our lifestyle OR being respectful of their culture and learning what its all about. We need to remember are visitors in their home. How would you feel if someone came to your home and tried to force their rules on you?
4 Article Reviews: an article that relates to the political, economic, or social situation in your host country
4 Country Briefings
Economics, Environment and Population
Final Report and Presentation
Once accepted in the UH Hilo Go Global program, we are nominated to our partner school. But we still need to go through the partner school’s application, which I’ll discuss in a different post. For UH Hilo, we are required to submit the following forms before the last day of IS 393 classes.
It was extremely helpful and less stressful to have a group of people that are in the same situation as you, that you can share your experiences and get suggestions from others. We also get advice from students who already walked in our shoes and wants to help ease the process for us. I really think all study abroad programs should have this course.
Throughout the semester, we also worked on getting Visa/Passports, Financial Insurance, Flights, and much more. Stay tuned as I dive deeper into those topics.
Studying abroad was something I’ve always wanted to do. But I often heard how difficult it is, and the long application process. This caused me to never actually take the steps to apply.
In September 2018, I got an email from my university’s Center for Global Education and Exchange inviting students to participate in a Study Abroad program in France and Belgium with their international partner. This was something I couldn’t pass up on, because what did I have to lose? So, I applied for the Transatlantic Mobility France Summer 2019 program. The application was pretty painless. It required some basic information, such as the following:
Previous Foreign Travel Experience
Short Answer Questions:
Why do you want to participate in this program? What concerns do you have about spending four weeks in France and Belgium?Describe yourself in 20 words or less.
2 Personal References
In December 2018, I got great news! I had been accepted to be a nominee of behalf of UH Hilo. At this time, I found out that I would need to add a class to my schedule for the semester. All study abroad students at UH Hilo are required to take IS 393: Departure Orientation. You can read more about it here.