This American student chose to enroll in a term at Hotel Institute Montreux as part of his school's Study Abroad program. Find out what he gained from the experience.
Studying abroad is truly a life-changing experience, with tremendous personal benefits. It’s a chance to try something totally new and scary, and to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone.
As a global industry, hospitality transcends borders and cultural boundaries, which means any international experiences you can gain will also give you a competitive edge in the international marketplace. That’s why, when University of Denver hospitality management student Kevin Pereira-Leon heard about the study abroad program at Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM), he jumped on the opportunity and enrolled for a term.
“I've always thought of Switzerland as being the heart of hospitality and luxury. I realized that if I wanted to work in this industry, I needed to experience Swiss hospitality for myself.” A partnership between Kevin’s school and HIM made this possible.
HIM’s Study Abroad program offers students enrolled in other universities three different ways to study abroad and gain valuable international experience. Kevin chose the option in which he could study in Montreux for three months and earn credits towards his degree at the University of Denver.
Here are four ways Kevin has benefited from his study abroad experience:
The Study Abroad program at Hotel Institute Montreux is geared towards students majoring in hospitality or business management who want to gain international and practical experience.
How does it work? You can select one of three options and customize your term by choosing up to five courses (15 credits), plus an optional language.
Learn 3: Choose a term and spend three months in the classroom.
Learn 6: Choose two terms and spend six months in the classroom.
Learn 6 Work 6: Choose two terms and spend six months in the classroom, followed by a four to six month internship in Switzerland or worldwide. Our career coaches will help you every step of the way to help you make the most of your internship.
“I have been able to take classes that weren’t offered at my school back home, for example the “High Tech and High Touch Experiences” module offered as part of the Luxury Brand Management specialization. Though my school’s curriculum does have a focus on luxury, it doesn’t go into how to market luxury which is something I really wanted to understand.
“I also chose an Introduction to Art module because I was curious to see how art connected to hospitality. I learned that it's important to be able to have conversations around art and to consider the meaning behind the design you choose for your hotel.”
Kevin’s world has expanded as well thanks to his study of French. “I thought it would be important to gain some basic language skills to be able to communicate with the local French-speaking population. It is a lot easier to learn a language immersed in an environment where everyone speaks it. I can't go to a restaurant and expect them to know English.
“It’s great to be able to learn a language in the classroom and then head out directly to the shops and restaurants to try it out. In ten weeks, I have been able to gain enough French skills to be able to communicate with waitstaff. I am also realizing more and more that, if you want to work in Europe, French is a key language to learn.
“The fine-dining experience at HIM (where first year students learn the fundamentals of service in a training restaurant) is very professional and taught me a new way of providing outstanding customer service. I learned about the different courses of a menu: amuse-bouche, the main dish, the wines, the cheese board, dessert, and how to surprise the guest with unexpected gestures. I will be working in a country club back home next summer and would like to apply what I have learned at HIM to elevate the guest experience there and add the Swiss hospitality touch. Including cheese as a dessert is not common in the US, for example, but I would like to try to start offering this.
“Something else I have really appreciated about HIM is the possibility to work directly with the industry thanks to the many partnerships it has with leading companies. As part of the "Portfolio Management" class for example, we were given one million imaginary Swiss Francs to invest!
“We were given an Excel spread sheet created by portfolio managers at Edmond de Rothschild which included a list of Swiss stocks and a short description of each company. We were able to choose from the best performing companies here in Switzerland and see our portfolio grow as we sold stocks at real prices. It really motivated me to look into what companies are doing and what's going on in the Swiss market.
"Montreux is a small city and whenever you go for a walk down by the lake, you end up seeing a familiar face. Everything you need is right there in the center of town and easy to get to. Montreux also feels very welcoming: not only is the school really welcoming, but the town itself also welcomes you because you're a student. I think that’s really important for a study abroad program - you're not just another student in a city of 10,000 people."