Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Saturday in Prague

Sunday in Prague

It was a gloomy and rainy day out, but moods were at an all time high as we were able to sleep in again today and we knew that the Prague Castle was gonna be a wonderful site to see. I slept in until about 12 and then decided to go to KFC with Jared and Brandon. We saw Grant and Hailey there so we all ate together. We then headed back to the hotel cause we were to leave for the castle at 1:15.
        We then departed for castle and after taking the subway and waiting for the tram for 20 minutes, we arrived at around 2. Petr, our tour guide, was supposed to meet us out front of the castle, but we could not find him and took advantage of that by taking a whole bunch of pictures. We eventuall saw him and made our way inside the castle. First, we went inside the Church of the Virgin Mary which was first built in the year 870 making it the oldest church in Prague. We saw wonderful apses, naves, and stained glass paintings of the virgin mary and the nativity scene. There were also tombs for the members of the Premyslid Dynasty. People used to believe that stepping over the graves of one of these people would cure a toothache. Grant joked saying that these people must be the original tooth fairies.

        The church of St. George was next and it was nothing near magnificent as the Church of the Virgin Mary. It was almost empty of everything so we did not stay very long. The torture chambers were next and they were very interesting. We tried to guess what they did with certain contraptions, but I don't think we ever figured them out. We saw cages, chains with spikes, hand chains over a fire and a long spinning board. None of which sound very pleasant had you been tortured on them.

       That was as far as we got in terms of viewing the castle so we walked back to the subway. Once back to the hotel I watched soccer and took a nap waiting for us to depart for our free dinner. Dinner was very bittersweet because we knew that it was our last dinner and that we were going home soon. We took another group photo after dinner as if we already didnt have enough and then we were on our way. Once back at the hotel that night, I packed and watched some more soccer. We decided to pull an all nighter so that we could sleep better on the plane. (This strategy didn't work out too well). So we went and got food at around midnight. I got a very spicy Doner Kabab which was excellent. Then we waited in our rooms until our dreadful 2:30 departure time to the airport.

Conner Dodge

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

There's No Place Like Home....

Wow, two weeks really goes by fast when you're having fun. It seems like only yesterday, our grou was meeting for the first time to set plans for our trip. Now, we have parted ways for the last time. I really enjoyed my time with everyone. I honestly believe we couldn't have had a better group of pople. We all stuck together and were still making jokes and laughing during our last flight. So, what to do now?

After being greeted by the loving customs department in Minneapolis, we were allowed to venture out on our own. The first thing I did was use a public bathroom....without paying! Everywhere we went in Europe, even the train station that we paid to go into, charged you to use a "public" restroom. I never thought something as small as that would mean so much to me. It was so nice to walk throught the airport and understand what people were saying around me. Next item on the list, some American food!

When returning home, my mother had cooked a large dinner. Her famous meatloaf and mashed potatoes were the warm smell I was welcomed home by. I dashed to the kitchen and stuffed my face. It was so nice to be able to sit at the kitchen table and eat dinner with my family. I could say whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I loved not having to walk back to the hotel after I ate, but sit down and share stories of the trip and catch up on news from home. After dinner, I sat on the porch and listened to nothing. I live out in the country and it was so nice to be able to listen to nature and enjoy peace and quiet. The next thing I can't wait to do is to sit out on the deck and watch the stars. Last night, we had a storm blow through so it cut my peace and quiet time short.

After dinner, I fell asleep. I was practically in a coma. It was the best sleep I have ever gotten. I fell asleep around 9 and didn't wake up intil after 10:30 this morning. I could continue to sleep but I figured I better get up or I would regret it when trying to fall asleep tonight. Today was filled with homemade food, laundry, and catching up on homework.

It is so nice to be able to leave my house and drive my car when I want and not have to wait for public transportation. It's also amazing not to worry about your driver reversing on the interstate! It was sad to see the trip end but I am so thankful I took the opportunity to go. I met amazing people, made great friends, and created memories that will last a life time. Until next time, Eurocats. (Remember Teri, reunion soon!)

Our trip home started at 3am in the lobby of the hotel. We got our breakfast boxes and loaded the bus. It was sad saying bye to Petr. We had a good time with him in the Czech Republic. At the airport in Prague they called you to check your bags in by flight which was different from how we do it in the United States. I breezed through security and got to our gate an hour and a half before the flight. I wanted to make sure that I slept well on the long flight so I went and grabbed and red bull and a vanilla muffin which tasted like white cake. We departed from Prague at 6:25am and landed in Amsterdam at 7:55am. We all went off to get some food before the nine hour flight and about twenty minutes after we all went our own ways, we realized that we needed all twenty-two of us to go through security at our gate. I managed to grab some chips and a sandwich while I rushed to the gate. The security at the gate in Amsterdam was different from how we do it in the United States. We had to go in groups of four to have our passports checked and they asked us questions. They were making sure that we weren’t bringing anything back for anyone else. Then we had to go through security all over again and get pated down just to go sit at our gate. We boarded our flight on time at 10:20am and headed to Minneapolis! On the flight I watched the movie Taken and watched a couple episodes of Two and a Half Men. I managed to get some sleep on the flight and we arrived in Minneapolis before we knew it! Once we landed in Minneapolis we had to go and clear customs. I stood in line to hold our spot and when the rest of the group joined, everyone in line was not happy. We had to pick our bags up and take them to a different location for them to make the connecting flight and then go through security again. We got to our gate with about 45 minutes until boarding time. We went to a little market in the airport and got a snack for the flight. We boarded our flight and left at about 3:10pm. We landed in Kansas City at about 4:45pm and I rushed off the plane to the baggage claim to see my mom! I had a three hour drive back to Omaha ahead of me. We got my bags and then hopped in the car and headed that way. I talked with my mom for about a half hour before I fell asleep for the rest of the drive home. When I got home to my apartment I was greeted by my dog and boyfriend! We had dinner and I went on and on about our trip. I managed to keep myself awake until about 11pm so that I could try and get back on my normal sleeping pattern.  Overall we had an easy travel day and managed to not get stuck by any delays!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day off in Prague

Furtunately we were able to have a day off to do our own exploring of Prague but unfortunately, due to a fun night of extra curricular activities the night before, we got a late start to the day. We made it to some shops to spoil our family members with authentic Prague items. I really think my family members will thoroughly enjoy the items i have purchased for them. Now that i look back i really should have bought a souvenire from each country we were in. That is one thing i regret. After we finished up shopping for the parents and family, the fellas and I went on a nice 2.5 mile scenic jog of the city. Half way through I'm in the front of the group and I hear from a few yards back "Grant.... Hold up..... wait...." and I turn around to see Connor doubled over with his hands on his head. I feel like we got better on our day off. It's very important for the athletes in the group to stay motivated and continue their training on the trip. All together this trip has been an unforgettable experience with great people. Allison was single handily the best supervisor this group could have asked for along and we can't forget her partner in crime, Teri. Those two keep the trip pretty laid back and smooth going. I'm very glad I got to know this group of people and hope to keep in touch with all of them as we finish up our final years at Northwest.

Gmoney, Out

Friday, June 27, 2014

Last Business Day in Europe...

Today marked the last visits  on our study abroad trip here in Europe. It's hard to grasp the idea that in two short days we will being parting our ways for good. On our last professional dress day we visited HP and Prague College. Both visits were very informational.


We started the day off by being able to sleep in, which was amazing! First on our agenda , was to visit HP. Out of the 11 business visits, HP was my favorite. Marta Blachnik, the "Talent Acquisition" or employee recruiter, geared the entire presentation towards us. She started the visit off with questions about us. Out of the businesses we visited HP was the only one to ask questions directly towards us during the entire presentation. Instead of being lectured on the CZ economic situation or history of the company, Marta described the graduate program that HP offers. The HP graduate program is known as "Young Guns", operating in its fifth year, and has over 100 graduates. The program consists of four main points which include; networking, working on interesting projects gathering experience in numerous fields, and opening the door to new career opportunities. Upon graduation, HP offers there graduates  position in one of their many fields. HP believes that throwing new employees into their line of work on the first day is the most successful and efficient way of training. When you think about it, they're right. When I started my job back home, I was thrown onto the work floor the very first day but now they have you watch another person work for a week before letting you loose. Another lesson I enjoyed was the mentoring aspect HP offers. They believe that every single person at HP, no matter what the job title is, should be mentored by each other. The seniors mentor the "fresh meat" and vice versa.

A concept I have seen happening a lot in the workplace over here is charity and strong team building programs. At HP, they are given four hours per work month to donate their time to a charity of their choice. Marta said that they don't always take those hours each month, but instead they let them build up and take a few days off to contribute to larger charities. As for the team building aspect, HP provides a party at the end of each fiscal year for the entire company to join in on. Each department has their own teambuilding strategies and sports teams they can play on within the company. I think this is a great idea for every company to be able to build realtionships with your co-workers and potentially increase productivity and energy within the workplace.


As for history, HP gave us a little bit of their background. When hearing the company "HP", the only products I knew that they produced were PCs and printers. Although, the printers and PCs are the most stable product and the hardest to be hired under, HP offers a lot of other products. Some of their other products consist of servers, storage, networking, IT management, big data and analytics, and security. This company is present in over 170 countries world-wide with $120 billion in world-wide revenue. HP employees over 324,000 people.


After our visit, we were able to catch a bite to eat on our own. After returning to the hotel and changing out of our business wear, Ashley, Emily, and I decided to catch a bite to eat down the street. Sherwood's is the place to go in Prague! Emily and I have been there for dessert, lunch, and dinner the past three days. Today, I decided to go outside of my norm (pastas and burgers) and tried the duck. It was actually quite good. The only complaint I have is that I'm still extremely full and miserable 4 hours later. While waiting for our food, we decided to look around the restaurant at the waiters and noticed quite a few things that would not be tolerated in the US. The cooks didn't wear hair nets or gloves while in the kitchen, waitresses were able to wear long, painted fingernails, and you can order a pack of cigarattes right from the bar tender!


After lunch we visited the Prague College. Upon arrival, it was nothing as I expected. I thought it was an actual campus like ours but instead one college was fit into a building the size of Valk. We were able to hear from the dean and the chair of the business department. Prague College is quite a bit smaller than Northwest with only 600 students from 93 countries. Their tuition comes out to roughly $6,900 per year. To finish a bachelor's degree in Prague, it only takes three years. The class sizes are about the same as a normal business class at Northwest with 20-25 students per class.


I can't wait for our free day tomorrow! Emily and I plan on touring the gardens and returning to the John Lennon wall, time permitting. For dinner we would like to go to the James Dean restaurant, recommendations are welcome! As for the night life, we plan on popping into a small 80's place where they play nothing but the oldies. As for now, Emily and I are getting ready to go to dinner at the best pasta place we have ever had by the Museum. Chow for now!


By: Ashley Burnett 

Logo of the College we visited in Prague

History of the HP logo sign located in their CZ office

Roof-top picture of Emily and I after the HP visit
Day 2 in Prague

It was a little cloudy for our first day in Prague and about the same temperature as in Vienna. We had to wake up pretty early and be ready to go around 8:15.  From there we headed to our first tour in the Czech Republic and visited T-mobile. There are 10 million inhabitants in Prague and almost 6 million of them have T-mobile. This stat kind of amazed me because I have sprint and so do a lot of my friends back home so I do not think of T-mobile as being a phone company powerhouse. The European Union in 2008 decided to stop charging money for roaming data. This has caused a huge decrease in the T-mobile revenue and the phone market as a whole in the Czech Republic. They have had to adapt a lot to still be successful and work hard every day.

           Once the visit was over we headed back to the hotel to get some food. We went to a random hotel restaurant on the main strip and I order the pork tenderloin. Something I have noticed in Europe is that the food at restaurants seem to be much healthier and is definitely a reason why there are so few obese people.
          We then preceeded to go to another business tour to a company called Avast. Avast is an old word not used anymore meaning stop. It is fitting for the company as they are an antivirus company which stops viruses from infecting your computer. I learned that there are hundreds of thousands of viruses for PC's and only thousands for Macs. Avast sells free antivirus software along with a 40 dollar and 60 dollar package even though the speaker claimed that the free one is identical with the 40 dollar one. They do not market at all and just use word of mouth and rely on people to suggest using avast because of its superior protection. For every computer sold at certain stores like Best Buy with Avast installed, gives the company ten dollars. They also won a prize for being the best place to work at. The speaker said that it was very fun to work there because it is so relaxed and a fun environment. Right when we walked into the room the speaker pulled up a photo of some of us at a club that had been posted to the internet as a joke. He had also memorized all of our names and picked on Grant as an example of getting a virus. He chose to say Grant watched porn and got a virus and that once Avast detected one it would not let Grant go back to the site. The only future problem Avast foresees is that sometimes it can pick up a false positive which can ruin a computer. If there is a massive false positive issue then likely no one will use Avast anymore and the company will go out of business.

         For dinner we went to a very good place and I ordered a burger which I have ordered a lot. Then we headed back because no one felt like going out. All in all, great first full day in Prague and I am looking forward to the days to come.

Conner Dodge

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Today we actually got the opportunity to sleep in. Last night I got the most sleep that I have gotten this entire trip. This morning someone came to the hotel to speak to us from Johnson & Johnson, his name was Vladimir Kosek and he is a healthcare compliance officer. He has worked for Johnson & Johnson for 13 years. This presentation was interesting to me because he made sure to point out the differences between how they do things in the Czech Republic and how we do things in the United States. Johnson & Johnson has three sectors and they are medical devices and diagnostics, which make up 40%, Janssen pharmaceuticals, which make up 36%, and then consumer, which make up 24%. This was interesting to me because all I am familiar with is the consumer section and that is their smallest sector. One big way they differ from the U.S. is that Johnson & Johnson is an umbrella company, which means that they are all under one legal entity. There are many companies under the Johnson and Johnson brand. Just to name a few thee is Gynecare, Ethicon and Codman. Here in the Czech Republic they do not have as big of an issue with keeping doctors like Austria and Hungary do. The average salary for a doctor here is $2400 a month. We found out the Czech Republic has one of the worst age structures in Europe.

Ways in which the Czech Republic differs from the United States were very interesting. All people here have health insurance and there is almost no co-payment. Since there is no co-payment there is a low level of private resources in healthcare. You can pay for private care but you have to pay for the WHOLE procedure, not just the difference. There are also 7 sickness funds and 58% of the population is in the major one. There is also no stability in healthcare financing. Compliance and corruption is also a problem here and there is low adoption to new technologies and new procedures. This is because there is no clear process for lobbying and relationship management. I’ve also learned that it seems to be a trend in Europe that they get way more vacation time then we do in the U.S. The standard so far has been about 5 weeks!

After the Johnson & Johnson presentation we got free time to go eat and we went into a little grocery store here to get a delicious sandwich for lunch. After lunch we went to go meet with Cisco. They deal with software and a lot of other technical things that I do not understand. There we learned about trends that they are seeing and the biggest one is mobility, which I’m sure surprises no one. Another trend is smart-buildings and he showed us how they can control LED lighting with your phone or tablet. We also learned that 46% of organizations are planning to transition to internet connects and this is because the cost of internet is going down. In 1998 it cost $1000 and by 2012 it only cost $2.34. One crazy prediction that have made is that by 2017 video will exceed 66% of all mobile data.

For the rest of the night we are going to get ready and go to a local pub to watch the world cup! Tonight it is Germany v. USA. I’m excited we get to experience watching some soccer here in a local pub and get to cheer on USA at the same time! It will be nice to enjoy a few drinks and get to sleep in again tomorrow!
This is a picture of a pretty building we saw on our walk to Cisco!

This is a picture of the sign right inside the Cisco office!