Thursday, March 19, 2009

Plitvice Lakes: Most Beautiful Place I've Ever Seen.

More to come :)

Rock Candy.......and More Company Visits: Chromos Agro, Coca Cola, & Geofoto

The next day was by far the roughest. We had three company visits from 8am until 4pm. The visits to Chromos and Coca Cola reminded me of my dark days in a packaging factory. Chromos Agro specialize in pesticides for both large-scale and small-scale farmers. Coca Cola provided us with a tour of their bottling facility and a presentation on their sustainability, HR, and business plan. Free coke lanyards and bottle openers were provided. At Geofoto, we had the opportunity to meet the CEO that founded the business in 1993. They do aerial maps similar to Google Maps for large businesses. We had the chance to look through their 3D glasses that allow them to distinguish buildings and trees while outlining the landscape--that was pretty sweet.

The last event of our packed day consisted of a speech and discussion conducted by Kelley School of Business Professor, Larry Davidson. He spoke of his opinion on the current economic situation and provided answers and comments for questions from listening participants. The macroeconomic topics he mostly touched on were the idea of fiscal policy vs. monetary policy, the GM crisis, investment banking issues (transparency issue), and the world economic situation's impact on Croatia. This was an honor to be able to attend. Afterwards, we had mystery Croatian pizza and our favorite beverage, Juicy--an awesome Croatian brand of juice.

Later in the night we had the opportunity to talk with three Croatians that were fluent in English. This gave great insight into the similarities and differences that we share with them. They knew a lot more about American culture and music than I expected. This evening was quite productive in developing a deeper understanding of Croatian views on America.

The company visits were very interesting, but the most epic event of the night was when one of our student travelers proceeded to eat a rock that she thought was candy. [wow]

The following day we were to leave for Split early in the morning.

Zagreb Chamber of Economy, Magma, & Ambassadors

Ok, I'm a bit behind on our trip progress. Time constraints and lack of internet access are making routine blogging difficult. The other blog that I provided a link to in a previous post is very up to date, so checking that might be beneficial.

But to catch us up. . . .

Monday morning we started off our day with some decent breakfast (eggs, a lot of bread, Juicy, and warm milk??? yeah, the warm milk is quite odd and hard to become accustomed to). After breakfast we went to the Zagreb Chamber of Economy for a presentation and meeting with two upper level executives. They provided us with a great amount of information on Zagreb and Croatia's economy overall. This will be very helpful when writing our research papers upon returning to the states. After this meeting, we went downstairs into the lobby to find there was a company that awards other firms with the best packaging techniques was having an exhibition. Then we made our way to the headquarters of a retail giant in Europe, Magma. We toured their warehouse and design department. They gave us nice gifts consisting of a t-shirt, a wallet, a side bag/fanny pack/athlete purse (I don't know what to call it- haha) that the Croatian Olympic Team used in olympics. They also gave us a generous gift of a huge book with information on Croatian brands. This book is very nice, but is making many of us worry about the weight limit on our suitcases.

Later that evening, we attended an awesome dinner that consisted of us, IGBS (International Graduate Business School--a school that is partnered with Kelley in Zagreb), and American Ambassadors for Croatia.

I am currently trying to catch this blog up on our progress, and will add pictures later. I am going to begin a new post for the next couple days. Please check this post, and the next few entries in the future because I am going to update them with deeper content and supplemental pictures.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday: Tour of Zagreb, Soccer Game, Dinner

That next morning at 9:30am we embarked on a walk across Zagreb with a tour guide. The tour was very entertaining and informative. I will upload the pictures to the slide show rather than describing each one in the blog. The tour and all the beautiful places in Croatia can only be described as awesome. After the tour we ate lunch at a neat restaurant located on a slanted hill. Alison put a photo from this dinner on our other blog, which can be found at

After eating, a few of us ended up at a tourist store with many Croatian souvenirs. I purchased a hand-carved wooden fold-up chess set and a Croatian scarf. Joey also bought a scarf and Nathan picked up a wooden plate. These wooden objects Nathan and I decided on became problems later on in the day.

Upon paying for our items, the lady at the register informed us that there was a soccer game starting in about an hour between Zagreb and Dalmatia. We hopped on a tram and made our way to the giant stadium on the other side of town. After waiting in line and buying our tickets, we traveled up to the gates to enter the game. Apparently, it is only acceptable to wear shades of black/white/grey or the color of your soccer team in Croatia. Americans in bright clothing stand out very much. Stares are a common occurrence while we walk through the city. We learned something else about Croatian culture at the gate entrance as well. Nathan and I were refused entry because of my chess board and his plate. They told us to find a kiosk and ask if we could leave it with them until the game was over. On Sunday, nothing is open. Every place that we did find open contained absolutely no worker that spoke English. Nathan and I eventually decided to just take our 30 kuna (about 6 dollars) in losses and go back the hotel. The others said the game was pretty entertaining though. Ringo made a scene once again here when he "accidentally" smacked a large angry drunken Croatian soccer fan-haha. Handshakes were exchanged, but not before Croatian curses from the man and apologies from Ringo. Thankfully, all ended up well.

After we got back from the game, I took a nap--as I said in an earlier post, the jeg lag is winning the battle with me. In the evening, many of us went to a restaurant that the tour guide recommended. Once again, Nathan treated himself to an odd choice of wild boar, and the rest of us had fairly common meals (mine was ravioli). The wine in Croatia is very good. We all sang "Happy Birthday" to Alison, and she did her best to finish the small piece of cake they gave her. She said it tasted as if it were made with rum-haha. At least it was free! :) After we finally figured up how to split the 11,000 kuna check, we went home for the night.

It was a very eventful day that ended on a good note.

Next on the agenda: Meet in lobby at 8:45am for meetings with Zagreb Chamber of Economics and MAGMA.

Aquarius Dance Battle '09

Later that evening we wanted to experience the nightlife in Zagreb. We decided on Aquarius, the best nightclub in the city. I will keep this post short and sweet -- bullet points will be sufficient to sum up the evening. The key moments are as follows:
  • Tram halfway there, the other half on foot
  • Every place is just "300 meters" away
  • We are initially the only ones in Aquarius
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors
  • Joey, Jason, and I talked about being from Cincinnati
  • Aquarius becomes packed just after midnight
  • Emerging Economies-Croatia Group arrives to the dance floor
  • Dance battle between the Hoosier Girls and Zagreb's Finest
  • Ringo takes the stage and out-dances all
  • Abbas makes a friend
  • We arrive home by taxi, safe and sound

Next on agenda: Meet in the lobby at 9:30 for tour of the city. [ouch]

"Make Me a Sandwich"

Upon arriving to Croatia, we were transported from the plane to the airport by a shuttle bus. This was the same case while in Germany. Many of us found this quite odd compared to American airports that have boarding right out of the airport facility. The airport was also very small. Overall, it was a great relief to finally be in the country we've been hearing about for the past couple months.

My initial reaction to the country was a bit of shock mixed with intrigue. A combination of large war torn apartment buildings, small homes with tiny fields for growing produce, and hundreds of billboard advertisements encompassed our first sights of Zagreb.

This was very different from anything I've seen in America. However, some things apparently remain consistent as you travel to Europe. The first song we heard was by the popular American rock band, Nickelback. This was very disappointing for me because I personally can't stand them. :-/ Don't worry, my mood was quickly lightened by a large amusing advertisement for a concert that is coming to Zagreb. [Please see picture below]

Yes, it's Beyonce. Those who know me will find the humor/irony in this. :)

Ok, the first thing we wanted after getting our initial look at the country and settling into our hotel was food. We all ventured the streets and ended up at a place named "Purger." We failed to take into account that meals in Croatia are made for families and all ordered separately. Nonetheless, the portion sizes were very large. Nathan, just as he has during nearly every meal so far in Croatia, decided to be risky with his order. Sheep stomach was apparently pretty tasty. I'll take his word on it-haha. Next to him was another interesting dish ordered by Jason, squid. I chose to be much more conservative with my order of "Seasoned Hamburger Steak." I may have been better off with the squid. It was basically a greasy hamburger from the Wendy's in Bloomington with no bun or condiments, lol. Below is a picture of the restaurant and a picture of the sheep stomach (left) and squid(right).

After eating, we ventured back to the hotel. I will save the rest of the evening for the next entry.

Come Hither

It seems that time has flown by since we signed up for this course in September. I honestly can’t believe it’s already spring break and time to go to Croatia. I am Jimmy Kyle Jackson from Brookville, Indiana, and I will be blogging during our time overseas. I'm a current junior in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University majoring in finance and supply chain management. Although we are a bit behind, I plan to do my best to catch the blog up with the progress of our trip so far and to keep filling it with increasingly interesting content as we travel through the country! Enjoy!

Overall, our trip here was not that bad. In Indianapolis, Abbas had some transit visa issues for our planned stop in Germany. The airport eventually figured out their mistake and we were on our way. The layover in Washington D.C. was insignificant. The scrabble-like game known as “Bananagrams” kept many of us busy during the wait. Although it is a routine event for some foreign students, the international flight to Germany was a completely new experience for some travelers, including myself. The smoothness of the overseas flight was very nice compared to the gyration-filled travel we had in the smaller regional jets. The cramped leg room made is very difficult to sleep. However, Ringo has managed to defeat jet lag and poor sleeping conditions to rack up a ridiculous amount of sleep compared to the rest of us. Professor Sprinkle and I are hurting the most from the lack of sleep, but we will survive—we’re Kelleys.

I have now made a promise to myself that I will one day fly first class, so I too can have a lounging chair and foot rest on an 8 hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean rather than the tiny area we were granted. Seeing their amenities made us all bitter and jealous. Overall, the flight to Germany was decent. Flight attendants and restless elderly travelers returning from a cruise apparently became angry with our loudness. I personally feel that our loudness was acceptable considering there was a creepy European man standing up and dancing to the music in his headphones for a third of the trip. Once again at Frankfurt the airport lived up to the stereotype and created more boarding issues. A few of our students had a scare when they were given stand by tickets. They eventually did get tickets and we were on our way to Croatia (finally).