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DBi Costa Rica January 2020: Sustainability & Culture Soaking in Central America

By Eric Bauer

In January, I had the privilege of joining 37 of my classmates on a trip to Costa Rica through Stern’s ‘Doing Business in’ (DBi) course. It was my first time to ever visit the country, and the curriculum, learnings, and fun that was had, made for a memorable trip.

The week started once I arrived at the InterContinental hotel in San Jose, where I was greeted by some of my closest friends and classmates. We relaxed during the first night over some drinks, caught up on how our holidays were, and rested before our early morning bus ride to INCAE Business School the next day. INCAE, Stern’s partner school for the trip, is a top global MBA program with campuses in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and hosted us for classes during our time in the country. Throughout the week, we attended a set of lectures on INCAE’s campus that were led by their top-notch faculty. In just a few short days, we learned a lot about Costa Rica’s culture, economy, and sustainable business practices through a combination of lectures, group discussions, and in-class simulations…all of which made for a stimulating series of classes. In addition to these in-class sessions, there was a “field-trip” component to the course as well. In order to experience in-person some of what we’d learned, we visited CooproNaranjo, a local coffee cooperative, as well as La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park. Since coffee production and ecological tourist attractions are important parts of the economy, as are avenues through which sustainable businesses are practiced, this component of the course really helped to accentuate our in-class learnings.

While learning about the economy and business of a different country are the focus of the DBi course, soaking in the local culture and having a bit of fun are just as important. From group dinners and happy hours, to free time for self-exploration, there were plenty of opportunities to do both. Additionally, although the curriculum of the course is planned over five days, much of the class, including myself, decided to extend the trip to Costa Rica for additional sight-seeing and fun. During this time, I trekked to downtown San Jose, where I experienced the open-air markets and indulged in some of the local cuisine. I also took a day trip with a few classmates to Playa Hermosa, a beautiful black sand beach, where I got to surf for the first time ever. The ability to combine the structured course with an additional leisure-fueled few days, made for a very worthwhile and well-rounded trip.

As I reflect back on my trip to Costa Rica and my time at INCAE in January, I am reminded just how much I learned about this small country that I hadn’t ever known or thought to research before this class. The DBi structure, in tandem with the self-research required for the pre-course assignments, allowed me to take away a load of invaluable information. I enjoyed DBi Costa Rica a great deal and would recommend the course to anyone interested in learning about doing business in Costa Rica and experiencing all that this wonderful country has to offer. 

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