Embankment of river Odet and cathedral of Saint-Corentin reflecting in water, Quimper, Brittany, France
Georgina Watson recounts travelling to France to participate in a marketing simulation game with students from six nations.
When my tutor interrupted our lecture on the ethics of dissertation writing to announce a trip to France for a week, it’s safe to say, my ears pricked up and I quickly awoke from a trance. The idea of gaining some well-needed marketing experience, whilst spending a week abroad seemed too good to be true. But, the fact that there was no mention of price made me a little apprehensive. I quickly arranged a meeting with my tutor and, to my delight, found that the University had offered to make a contribution to the travel costs involved. It was a no-brainer: I was going!
Like most people, I’ve always loved going abroad, whether with family or friends. But, I think there’s something very unique about travelling with people you don’t really know. When I was 14 I went to Germany on an exchange trip, and at 16, a Geography trip to Iceland, both of which were with people I was familiar and friendly with. This trip to Quimper was different for me, whether it was because I was travelling with people whom I’d never met before, because it’s been a few years since I’ve been on a ‘school trip’, or because it was to gain experience in an industry I’m not yet all that familiar with, I’m unsure. Nonetheless, I was nervous.
After early morning introductions, staggering through London, a whirl of endless trains, rail replacements, and much complaining about the weight of my rucksack, we made it to Quimper. Admittedly, I hadn’t done much research, but the town was a beautiful surprise and really lifted my spirits. The treacherous journey was soon forgotten after I had met my group for the week. The groups were made up of different nationalities: English, French, German, Italian, Romanian, and Dutch. The practice (‘Zero’) round was beyond helpful, as we all got to grips with the database and familiar with each other.
As the days passed, competition got tougher, new markets opened, reports were written, and the anticipation for every round’s results grew more and more. Immediately, we took the lead and also gained the best grade for our halfway report. We also came out with the top grade for our final presentation, a particularly proud moment for me as President of the group. Academically, it was an amazing experience, as all the theory learned over the past two years was put into practice. I can say that without a doubt, it improved my personal skills in leadership, communication, data analysis and decision-making. However, it was the sense of independence I gained, and the motivation to learn and achieve more, that were the most valuable things I brought back with me.
Outside of the classroom, the week was filled with socialising over crêpes and beer, mingled with the learning of foreign slang. The local French students were very accommodating and went out of their way to help us, especially when it came to transport. Highlights for me include: the afternoon trip to a fishing town Concarneau, visiting a local brewery, the international buffet, and going to the strangest little club (regrettably, twice!). The farewell dinner came around too fast and I wasn’t the only one to get a little emotional by the end of a lovely three-course meal, and several bottles of wine!
The journey home was much less stressful than the one there; it was filled with tales of the week and plans for the future. Overall, it was both physically and mentally challenging, and by the end of the week I was exhausted. However, the planning and execution of the Markstrat programme was impeccable, the atmosphere was amazing, and it was obvious that everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. The opportunity to go somewhere new, to meet new people and experience different ways of life, while gaining valuable knowledge, is rare and should not be missed. I’ve kept in contact with some people that I met over there, and have plans to visit them in Brittany later this year. My only wish is that I could do it all over again!
Georgina Watson, Marketing with Advertising student.
Thank you Edge Hill and to Fiona Syson for making it such a worthwhile trip.