Chris Cieniuch had a choice to make.
He could go the traditional route and take a marketing class at University of Michigan-Dearborn this summer.
Or Cieniuch could take the same class in Italy.
For Cieniuch, the answer was easy.
He boarded a plane with 30 of his UM-Dearborn classmates in May and traveled to Italy as part of the International Summer Program in Management (ISPM).
Marketing lecturer Chris Samfilippo has led UM-Dearborn students to Italy the past six years to participate in the five-week semester abroad program.
“The classes we offer are required for the B.B.A. program,” Samfilippo said. “Taking them in Italy adds learning you can only get when you study abroad.”
UM-Dearborn students could enroll in marketing and organizational behavior courses, both of which are required under the College of Business’ B.B.A. program, while in Italy. The courses were co-taught by Samfilippo and a professor from the University of Padua in Italy.
“It’s interesting because I have to alter my teaching in Italy,” Samfilippo said. “So rather than illustrate with U.S. brands like Wal-Mart and GM, we sometimes have to talk in terms of Prada and Ferrari. And measures are described in euros, grams and kilos rather than in pounds, dollars and cents.”
Cieniuch also had to adjust to the teaching practices in Italy. He’s used to learning about marketing in terms of the automobile industry, but in Italy, the native professors focused more on the fashion industry.
“It was definitely interesting to experience a completely different culture,” said Cieniuch, a senior studying supply chain management. “We’d travel from Thursday to Monday.”
A two-hour flight to Barcelona only cost Cieniuch 95 euros, which equates to about $130. He also visited Prague, Munich, Rome, Florence and Venice during his five-week trip.
“When we first left, no one really knew each other, but by the end, we were like family,” Cieniuch said.
This year’s ‘family’ of 30 UM-Dearborn students doubled the ISPM enrollment in previous years and included three students from Oman.
UM-Dearborn plans to return the hospitality this month, as the university will welcome several students from the University of Padua. The Italian students will live at The Union at Dearborn and can enroll in three business courses that wrap in late August.
“This trip expands their worldview, whereas before, when they graduate, they might say, ‘Oh, I want to work in New York or Chicago,’” Samfilippo said. “Now they say, ‘Oh, I want to work in Brussels or London.’ It’s so eye opening for them. The thing I hear over and over is, ‘I’ll never be the same.’”