The UP Faculty of Management was proud to host a guest lecturer in the framework of the project GOST UP - Visiting Foreign Experts and Higher Education Teachers at the University of Primorska between January 3 and January 13, 2023.
Dr. Arne Baruca is from Slovenia but has lived in the United States of America (USA) for 15 years. Dr. Baruca received his Ph.D. at Texas Pan American University. He has also taught at the Jack Welch College of Business at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, USA. Dr. Baruca's research interests include topics related to brands, sports marketing, and higher education. He is also interested in topics related to the entertainment industry and international marketing. He actively participates in international marketing conferences and seminars. He has presented his work at various conferences including the Academy of Marketing Science Conference, the Association of Consumer Research Conference, the Society of Marketing Advances, and the Sports Marketing Association Conference.
We had a brief interview with Dr. Baruca about life between Slovenia and Texas. More in the interview below.
Dr. Arne, how did your career in Slovenia begin? Also in the academic sphere?
During my Master's degree in Maribor, I had the idea to enter the academic sphere. While working at Cimos, I started thinking about going abroad and started sending applications to a number of colleges across Canada, but eventually ended up in Texas, USA, for a Ph.D. programme. It is now 15 years later and I certainly do not regret the decision I made. I had targeted Canada first, specifically Vancouver, but unfortunately, it didn't work out there. In order to successfully apply for the Ph.D. programme at that time, I had to pass a standardized test in the English language, which lasted four hours, and because the test is public, later on, another university in Texas sent an offer to all the participants of this test to study with them. They offered USD 20 000 in scholarships for students to study, and I could not resist that. At first, I thought that the e-mail I received was spam because it was quite hard to believe the incredible offer. I started making inquiries, and then I found a student from neighboring Italy who had already studied at the college in question, who confirmed to me that the offer from the University of Texas-Pan American was genuine and fraud-free. I then moved to Edinburg in South Texas and the story in the US began.
In Slovenia, I graduated from the UL FPP in Portorož, and in Maribor, I passed all the exams for my Master's degree, but only my Master's thesis remained. In 2016, I was forced to finish due to the cancellation/termination of the old programmes and I wrote my Master's thesis and completed my Master's degree, even though I had already done my Ph.D. at the University of Texas-Pan American. Still, it was necessary to complete my studies in Slovenia. Anyway, it was an interesting journey.
You are an Associate Professor of Marketing at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, College of Business. How would you like to comment on the higher education system there?
Of course, the higher education system is very different, the basic difference is that they have a 4-year degree, compared to Slovenia's 3+2 system. The pace is much more intense, but it is not impossible. There is no diploma in the US bachelor's degree, which is slowly being introduced in Slovenia so that students graduate earlier and do not hesitate to write their thesis. In any case, there are significant differences in the higher education system in the US too, especially between public and private schools.
As your CV shows, you specialize in marketing. What exactly do you lecture on?
I teach courses such as introduction to marketing, marketing in sport, international marketing, strategic marketing, and branding. I teach at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I have also introduced digital marketing.
At the UP Faculty of Management, you lectured students on Marketing as part of the GOST UP project. Can you describe your experience? What is the difference between your students in the US and students in Slovenia?
It was really amazing, a great experience for me, but the beginning was a little bit harder because the students didn't open up right away. In the US, the students are much more open from the beginning and the questions just rain out of them. But here, too, they relaxed quickly and we ended up working very well together. The hours of our rehearsals together flew by.
Do you have any words of encouragement for the students of the University of Primorska about studying and living abroad? What advice would you give them?
Make sure to take advantage of the various international exchanges, because they open up your view of the world, of our everyday life. It is important to be aware of this advantage, to not be afraid, and to remove the barriers to something new. It is a big world, but it is a small world nevertheless. You will meet different people, and cultures, ... Of course, there will be a culture shock at first (again depending on where abroad your journey takes you) but this is normal and you will quickly blend in. At the college where I teach, we have a special programme called 'Cultural Experience' where we send students abroad for two years. In the first year, they go to countries of development, and in the second year, they go to countries that are already developed. This is how we 'force' them to start learning about the world around them. Personally, I think there is hardly any better experience than an international exchange. Then the opportunities just start flowing in.
Do you return to Slovenia often? In comparison between Slovenia and Texas, I guess there are significant differences.
Of course, if I can, I'm definitely in Slovenia once a year, and this is the third time I've been this year. I have to say that we are quite similar to Texas; we are relaxed, and open, we like to have fun, and we are serious when we have to be. In Texas, for example, the houses are very big, incomparably bigger than in Slovenia. San Antonio, where I live, is very similar to living in the Slovenian Karst. It is almost unbelievable, but in San Antonio, we also have a lot of caves and we also have a human fish.
In any case, in the US there is much less attention to health and social security because in Slovenia it is much better regulated, we are just not aware of it enough.
Naložbo sofinancirata Republika Slovenija in Evropska unija iz Evropskega socialnega sklada.