International practical course in two different countries from abroad

International course program in Public Relations (2012 and 2013) which placed students from United States in two different European Countries (France and Romania), for two weeks in each country, in partnership with two universities. The target groups were the undergraduate students from United States/SIUE Illinois, with the aim of learning the professional practice in an intercultural context.

In each country, students are involved in an intensive program of practice in public relations agencies, doubled by three teaching sessions (each for 2-3 hours) at the university. Their program in the agencies was three days per week, in which Senior experts presented in an informal way the projects of the agency. In the other days of the week, students received teaching sessions at the university.

In France, the course was organized with Universite Lumiere 2 from Lyon. The university placed all the 12 students in the same public relations agency. In Romania, students were placed in three agencies (4 students in each agency). After each day (of practice or theoretical courses), students participated in a debriefing session with the coordinator (dr. Sorin Nastasia from SIUE).

The activity from Romania was finalized with a Student Workshop, in which students from Romania and United States presented practical cases.
It was repeated in 2013 in Germany and Hungary.


More Information

Impact

What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?

The outcomes refer to the enrichment of their theoretical knowledge and to the gain in abilities by learning case studies and practice details in professional agencies from abroad. Also, students were able to understand the specifics of practice in different cultural environments and on different markets.

Success Factors

What are the enabling conditions (e.g. institutional, economic, social/cultural, regulatory) that needed to be in place or played a facilitating role for the good practice to be successful?

The dissemination of the project to professional contacts might facilitate the success by attracting more agencies or companies available in assisting the foreign students. Also, the project should receive more institutional support by formal partnerships and facilities.

Constraints

What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?

A first constraint is the lack of budget from the universities that were partners. The project could not be continued, because there were funds only for the organizers from SIUE University, and the other two universities participated on a voluntary basis. Another constraint was the difficulty to coordinate the connection with universities and agencies/companies in three different countries. And finally, a potential barrier was the lack of understanding the culture in the two partner countries.

Feasibility & Sustainability

What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?

The practice could be extended easily in all areas. It requires a very clear route (fixed long before the trip) and a detailed schedule, since participants stay only two weeks in every country. To save time, Senior experts and agencies could explain the tasks and instruct the participants.

Replicability & Upscaling

What are the possibilities of extending the good practice more widely? What are the conditions that need to be in place for the good practice to be successfully replicated in a similar context? What are the steps that should be taken/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated / up-scaled, but adapted to the new context?

The project could be replicated in other fields and transferred to other countries. The number of participants is limited to 20-30 students in a round because of the difficulties of coordination.

Lessons learned

What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?

The students who participated learned especially the specific of the practice in two European countries: the practices and the markets were different in Europe in comparison with United States. Also, they noticed differences in the professional approach between France and Romania (differences that were caused by cultural factors, but also by the social and economic factors). They also learned to increase their flexibility in using the professional instruments and techniques according to different cultural contexts.
As one of the hosts of this project, the team from SNSPA Bucharest also gained a supplementary amount of intercultural experience in the professional field.

Context

Please provide some information about the context and initial situation that can help in fully understanding the action (e.g. information about the national system, applying regulations, etc.)

Although Romanian students participate more and more in Erasmus exchange programs, they didn’t have the occasion to meet foreign students and to evaluate their culture (but not by aggressive behavior). For them, an International course (even when they are hosting the course), is an occasion to know people from abroad interacting with their culture.