Category Archives: Student placements

What does China and Belgium have in common?

As a student of Erasmus Mundus advanced master programme, EGEI, I experienced two foreign studying destinations. First country was People’s Republic of China (see also our Chinese Business Culture guide) and the second one was Belgium. Both of these cultures differ a lot from either Slovak or Czech culture, where I have grown up and currently live.

China, Xiamen University campus
Chinese delicacy (chicken feet) that could be found almost in every grocery or restaurant

When I visited China for four months my impressions were very mixed. I was in a group of students from the Czech Republic and I could barely find a person who could speak English, that complicated our situation in substantial way since none of us from our group could read Chinese characters. Moreover, if we were lucky and we met a Chinese person who spoke English, there was a high probability that they did not talk to us even if we asked them kindly, because Chinese people tend to be very shy. This made our trip much more adventurous!

In the academic environment I found that my Chinese classmates were very hardworking, even more than hardworking! I could see that these students experience high pressure in relation to their academic results caused by their parents and economic situation.


Overall, I would characterize my stay in China as a powerful experience, it made me realise why China has such a powerful economy since it is driven by people who have hard work and determination which is not often seen in other European countries.

Belgium was a “different kettle of fish” when compared to China.

The country was much more familiar to me, since it is still in Europe! But, I observed that people in Belgium had different ways of thinking. For example in school, they approached their study more responsibly when compared to the Czech schools, they also rejected any form of cheating. I like this approach of honestly and responsibility.

In Antwerpen, Belgium

Personally, I found Belgian people as masters of compromises, since due to their multi cultural society they were able to accommodate all differences and took their time to understand each other’s points of view. Also, they seem to me to be on the one hand very noble on the other hand somewhat conceited.

Business Culture guide as part of the describes Belgian behaviour with a lot of details and I can simply agree with the description provided according my experience. In particular, making extravagant physical gestures such as hugging is very inappropriate for Belgians at the first meeting.

In Brussels, Belgium
University of Antwerpen campus, Belgium

I think I benefited tremendously from both study trips. By engaging in international study, it helped me to be more able to get along with foreign people from various countries. Based on my experience I realized that it would have been very useful for me to know prior to the trips information such as – where should I look for accommodation, what kind of transportation is the most suitable, what to expect from academic environment, what facilities for studying can I expect, cost of living in the specific area, language matters such as whether most people speak English and so on. Therefore, when I discovered the Business Culture guides for the 31 European countries, which includes all this information and much more, I think that would have been a great practical tool prior to my trips.

For my future trips I will be more prepared since this business culture website gives me a brief overview of a specific country. In addition, I can find information that is most necessary to have before you go abroad. Especially, I find good hyperlinks provided in these web pages that give more information if you need, so you do not have to browse somewhere else and you have it all in one “place”. On the other hand, I would have like to have extended to more countries not only Europe!

By Peter Víťazka,

Slovak student studying in Czech Republic. Currently student at Erasmus Mundus advanced master programme “Economics of Globalisation and European Integration”

Help for working, studying or visiting another country

My name is Roxana Matei and I have been on a mobility programme for a semester as an Erasmus student at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real, Spain.

When I become an Erasmus student, I realized that before you go to another country you need some basic information about the culture, people, city or region you are visiting. If you are lucky, it is also helpful to have a friend who will be willing to help you in finding an accommodation and, in general advice on how to integrate more easily into your host country life – which in my case was Spain.Roxana Matei

Once I arrived in Spain, I had to familiarise myself with my new rented flat, which was shared with four other flat mates from different countries, also Erasmus students, and of course, participate in the classes, introduce myself to the professors and to the Erasmus coordinator. The beginning was unusual with a lot of new things, new people and different kinds of life and attitudes, but I managed to adapt to it very easily thanks to my new colleagues, who were very friendly and willing to help in everything they could.

I heard about this website from the coordinator of this project from the Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania, Mrs. Adriana Grigorescu.

I think it is a real help for those who want to work, study or visit another country. For a better country integration, information on work-life-balance, geographical notions and basic knowledge about the culture of the country are always very useful.

When your first contact with a new culture and mentality is based on this basic information, it is easier to adapt and make a good impression at the outset of your visit, especially for those who participate in the work and travel program. Otherwise, your experiences will not be as positive as it could be.

Now I´m working in a Spanish-Romanian Association which is helping Erasmus students, tourists or other people who go to Romania for studying, working etc. and also those who are going with the same purpose to Spain. I help them with their cultural adjustment and I am always suggesting to them to use student placement and social media facilities as mentioned on the website resource.

Social Media platforms are a very simple and functional way to find new friends, opinions, information about the place you go to and, in general, enjoy your experience of your new country from the moment you join the local social network.

A very useful tool to helped you save much time and energy

As a PhD Student in Management within the Doctoral School of Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania, I had the opportunity to benefit from an international mobility of five months in Verona, Italy – a great experience that has made a positive impact on my scientific research and also on my inter-cultural relationship skills.


In April 2013, almost one year after the end of my Italian experience, I had the opportunity to participate in the working meeting organized by Valahia University which focused on the international project Passport to trade 2.0 (P2T2). At this meeting, I discovered the information about the P2T2 project and its website resource.

With an attractive interface, this site is a collection of well-structured information about business culture and etiquette in 31 European countries. This information is current and very useful, given the growing number of young people wishing to study or work in a dynamic and multi-cultural European environment.

Although the initiative of the project team is great, I believe that, in order to increase the efficiency of this approach, it would be appropriate for all information on this website to be available also in Romanian language and the project to be widened to all European countries and universities to help in aligning this initiative and work together to identify opportunities to study and work in Europe. At the moment full information is available in English and only a summary for 31 countries is translated into 8 other languages – Romanian, Czech, French, German, Greek, Bulgarian, Finnish and Italian, although the Google Translate tool is integrated into each web page allowing you to get a translation into over 70 languages, is is not very accurate when it comes to conveying complex meaning.

I believe that the  Passport to Trade 2.0 project has developed a very useful tool that could have helped me save much time and energy which I invested in organising and conducting my international mobility trip and which I recommend with confidence to all young people who want to enjoy a learning experience or who want to work in Europe.

Ana-Maria Tudorache

PhD Student in the Doctoral School of Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania

Explore – I am sure you will have no regrets

My name is Sebastian Popescu and I am the manager of S.C. East Soft Consulting – an Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME),  specialising in computer software. I was invited to attend a meeting held at the University of VALAHIA from Targoviste, Romania, were I found out about the Passport to Trade 2.0 (#P2T2) project and the website resource planned to be developed.

As an SME company I am very interested iSebastian-Popescu-manager-S.C.-East-Soft-Consultingn opportunities to grow our business in other countries and therefore information about business culture in Europe was very welcome. Every day I realise that the online environment is increasingly offering us new ways of advertising and staying in touch with our customers.

In late September 2013 I had to travel to Germany for business. Knowing that on the P2T2 website ( I can read a lot about business customs in various countries from Europe, I took the opportunity to find out more about Germany and their attitudes toward business communications and foreigners.

During my Germany visit I understood how important it is to know the customs of a country and of people you intend to contact. I refer here to the first business meeting and the first business conversation. From the P2T2 website I found out about German rigidity that is well described and in this way I knew how to approach the business meeting. It is very interesting how they respect what they discussed and how they kept their word. Taking this into consideration I prepared my presentation and business proposal to be in very short and clear statements. After the business meeting, that I consider to be a successful for starting up of a new cooperation I feel that for my preparation for the business meetings the website was “my lucky key” to success!

This site really helps you to adopt to the model of the people and business cultures you meet in 31 European countries. On the website I liked to find information about the attitude to foreigners and some of the taboos in each country.

Small things such as how to greet, habits of people when they are at a dinner meeting, conversation topics to be used for ice breaker discussions could make you an agreeable business partner or could be considered offensive and therefore jeopardize any potential future business collaboration.

I am planning to study the content of the website in more detail and pay particular attention this time to the social media tools and strategies available. I am confident that I will gain a lot of useful information for my business development. I am also thinking to ask one or two students from the Faculty of Economic Studies University of VALAHIA to have placement assignments in my company where they will help us to get better in the use of social media and some other tips on how we can improve our business for international trade.

If you are an SME manager or employee and you have some spare time use it to explore, I am sure you will have no regrets, certainly you will gain useful knowledge!

I found all the typical French cultural characteristics

Having spent almost two years in England as a student, I am pleased to see that this website lists all the important cultural characteristics of the British people. is a powerful tool for students, business people and individuals who are looking for a helpful resource to communicate with other European citizens face-to-face or via the Internet.

Being French myself, I found all the typical French cultural characteristics and the requirements for a good negotiation or communication with French people. Saying “bonjour”, shaking hands, being on time… as many other elements that are so important in France and that you need to learn and be aware of when in France!

I experienced myself the difficulties related to differences between English and French ways to communicate during my several trips. Knowing how people react or act can be really helpful in many situations when you are in a new country and dealing with other business cultures!

This website will drive your success in communication in Europe. I am happy to finally find out a useful and ergonomic tool to run my business projects and encourage you to have a look (and more!) on this great website.



Pierre Boulay

Commerce international – Administration Import/export – Quadrilingue

Lyon Area, France
International Trade and Development