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Doug Newell, Class of Fall 2011

"I am a law student at UVA right now studying corporate transactions and securities law. The U.S. economy is becoming increasingly globalized. Investments in foreign markets are now critical for economic growth and the world of American business is no longer isolated to transactions solely with other American corporations. Simply put, to succeed as a business lawyer I will need to have an ability to interact with clients and parties from other countries and cultures. 

My experience in the Czech Republic and with UPCES in particular showed me the effect that history, geography, and culture have on an individual's identity and way of conducting himself. Up until my study abroad experience, I assumed that people of other cultures always had the classic American response of "I'm doing well!" when you asked them how they were doing, even if they were actually not doing well. It was a culture shock to speak with a Czech person and have them straightforwardly tell you how they were doing when all you expected was a standard optimistic response. This straightforwardness, I learned, derives from the arduous history of the Czech Republic and attitude of realism that emerged from it. From this experience, I learned that to truly connect with individuals of other cultures (even other American ones) I needed to have an understanding of their history, upbringing, and background. Having this understanding helps to better facilitate interaction with individuals in both business and personal settings. I am eternally grateful to UPCES and my abroad semester for the realization that not everybody in the world thinks like I do, and for the ability to connect with people of different cultures."