Business Visit Day 1 with Pandora. Pictured: Salome Montague and Shelby Keith. Photo Credit: Kayla Roberson

It’s been just over a week since we returned to the University of Alabama after our study abroad experience in Panama. Reflecting on the entire experience, I am just thankful for the opportunity that was provided to me. During our week in Panama, we had the opportunity to interact with professionals from numerous multinational companies. Nestle, Pandora, and COPA Airlines just to name a few. I was fascinated by how many companies are seeking to expand their business ventures in Panama to reach the Latin American market. When we visited ProPanama and the U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Service, I learned more about the benefits of expanding business ventures to Panama. Panama offers many incentives to businesses to establish locations in Panama (think tax breaks and removing tariffs).

The Panama Canal, which connects North and South America, makes Panama a prime location to establish business. Panama’s proximity to Latin America, plus numerous airline carriers allows business to base their Latin American markets in Panama and still effectively reach Latin America.

It has always been important to me to become multilingual. I think it is an important skill in the world today, especially with the expansion of globalization. The world is more connected than ever before, with messages reaching all sides of the world in a matter of minutes. I found it interesting that the majority of people we interacted with at the different businesses spoke both English and Spanish, and many even spoke Portuguese or another language. COPA Airlines shared with us that they require their flight attendants and some of their other staff to speak Portuguese as well as Spanish because of their flight routes to Brazil. In addition, many people living in Panama are from other Latin American countries, creating a melting pot of cultures in the country. Even though this trip was business focused, I returned to the US further inspired to continue my studies in Spanish and strive to become fluent in another language.