It’s hard to imagine, but our CAP experience has now been over for a week. The final days in Stockholm were a blur. We arrived directly at an event sponsored by the U.S. Embassy, with the remainder of our days filled with site visits (including meeting with the sustainability department at H&M) and cultural tours. On a Friday morning we presented our findings to our clients at the American Embassy in Stockholm.
And then it was over. Just like that.
Immediately following the CAP, a number of my classmates fanned out across Europe for a few days of leisure. Planned trips included Portugal, London, Prague, Warsaw, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Norway. As for myself, my wife met me in Stockholm and we hopped on a boat to Estonia.
From the comfort of my hotel room in Tallinn, I scanned a host of travel photos posted on Facebook. Through this exercise, I came to appreciate one of the most lasting take-a-ways from my CAP experience – the ability to forge closer bonds with my classmates. Two weeks on a bus in Scandinavia brought me closer to a fantastic group of talented and interesting individuals. In the years to come, I expect these relationships to bear fruit personally and professionally.
Before returning home to the States, my wife and I had one additional night in Stockholm. Upon hearing of this news, our client at ClimaCheck – Klas Bergloff – offered to take us out for a night on the town. Our last evening in Stockholm underscored the final two lasting take-a-ways from my CAP experience.
First, I relished the opportunity to interact with Klas both on a professional and personal level. Not only did Klas impart me with valuable lessons about international businesses, I learned a great about Swedish culture and attitudes through our discussions over beers and plates of herring. One learns infinitely more about a culture through these types of organic interactions than through organized tours of popular tourist sites.
Second, I came away with a more profound understanding of globalization. Because of the small domestic market (Sweden has a population of approximately 9 million people); virtually all successful Swedish start-ups must have plans to expand to international markets. One of Klas’ business partners told me “we must be global from day one.” This represents a stark contrast from the thinking of many smaller firms in the United States.
With about 12 hours left in Europe before our return home, my wife and I met Klas at the Photography Museum in Stockholm. Klas scored tickets to the grand opening of a new exhibit by Sally Mann. Monique and I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony. There we were in Sweden – 4,000 miles from our home in Capitol Hill – to see a photography exhibit of an artist from Virginia.