Blog post

Experiencing International Tax Week in Italy

Derby is one of 10 institutions involved in International Tax Week, where students come together from across Europe to tackle contemporary tax issues. This time taking place in Italy, final year Accounting and Finance students Asad Ahmed and Shakur Sackey reflect on their time at the annual event.

7 May 2024

We were two of the 15 lucky students selected to attend International Tax Week in Grottammare, Italy at the end of 2023. Our lecturers put the group together based on our attendance, extra-curricular activities, grades and contribution towards the course. The trip gave us an opportunity to learn beyond the classroom as the experience related to real world scenarios. We were able to work with students across other EU universities on transfer pricing activities, with the chance to present in boardroom-like situations. We hoped to expand our knowledge, gain an insight on life in another country, meet new people and most importantly, to enjoy ourselves in the novelty of learning in a new setting.

To Italy

We arrived at Rome-Fiumicino International Airport, and met fellow UK students from Birmingham City University and Coventry University who were also attending the event. A scenic three hour bus journey to our destination of Grottammare unveiled breathtaking landscapes of snow-covered mountains, picturesque valleys, and charming small cities.

While en route, rest stops at local shops offered a taste of cultural differences, from language to diverse products. The journey exposed us to a rich tapestry of foods, providing glimpses into the vibrant and varied Italian way of life.

Students on the International Tax Week trip

Checking in

After our scenic three hour journey, we reached the charming Residence Hotel Le Terrazze. We received our room keys, each one including a balcony with a seaside view. Situated right by the beach, the hotel provided a picturesque setting for the week. With two swimming pools, a conference room for lectures, a dining hall, and a bar, it promised both relaxation and convenience. Our location was also near to the town, something we would get to explore later on.

Sharing global snacks

Representing various backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultural beliefs, our gathering indulged in an icebreaker of snacks brought by each participant. Hailing from Switzerland and Belgium, we savoured iconic chocolates like Toblerone. Birmingham City University's contribution included the beloved Dairy Milk chocolate and tea bags from Typhoo Tea, reflecting the city's ties to these renowned brands. Our culinary journey extended to the origins of Bakewell tart, named after the Derbyshire town where it first graced tables. To top off our Derby connection, we shared well-known local brand, Thorntons chocolate. The diverse flavours mirrored the unique stories each of us brought to the table.

Our students with British culture snacks
A selection of British culture snacks to share with our peers from across Europe

Working together

We participated in a collaborative project with students hailing from universities in Italy, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. The focal point of our learning journey was a fictitious company called 'Q Watch.' Split into 15 groups, we jumped right into the complexities of transfer pricing, presenting our findings to a board of directors on day one. In order to bring a practical aspect to our theory, we wrote a letter outlining our research. 

The conclusion of our group project was a rigorous audit, where we defended Q Watch's hypothetical presence in Belize to a panel of auditors. This let us get to grips with the complexity of international tax through a practical activity. The bonds forged, lessons learned and challenges overcame during this journey showcased the transformative power of global collaboration.

Visiting Ascoli Piceno 

We also got to venture into the town of Ascoli Piceno. A group photo expedition to find musical instruments and animal sculptures helped us take in the local history. We were able to trace the flowing Tronto and Castellano rivers that sculpt the town’s terrain, culminating in vibrant surroundings scented with sweet pastries and fresh coffee. Roaming through vibrant bars, the atmosphere burst with laughter and the sound of glasses being raised, while we enjoyed every moment of our free time.

Piazza del Popolo in Ascoli Picenco city square

The Gala event

As the curtains closed on the final night of International Tax Week, we gathered for a spectacular Gala event. The evening doubled as an award ceremony, adding a touch of glamour to our academic endeavours. Awards were presented to outstanding groups, with accolades for social quiz champions, stellar presentations, and the group who best captured Ascoli Piceno's monuments through their lenses. Winners were treated to Italian wine, gifts, and certificates in recognition of their achievements. After a three-course dinner, the night transformed into a lively party, providing a fitting conclusion to an enriching week of collaboration, learning, and celebration. 

A transformative experience

Our experience of International Tax Week 2023 in Italy was transformative. We delved deep into transfer pricing, expanding our knowledge. Networking with peers from different universities around Europe enhanced our cultural understanding and teamwork. Presenting ideas to an international audience honed our skills. The connections we forged endure, proving invaluable for ongoing collaboration and cultural exchange. We can wholeheartedly recommend this enriching trip to fellow students who are given the opportunity – it's an unparalleled opportunity for global insights, professional growth, and network expansion.

Grazie Italia for the invaluable lessons and memories!

Looking out at the night-time views
Shakur Sackey

Shakur Sackey

I am currently studying Accounting and Finance BA (Hons) at the University of Derby. Beyond numbers, I find joy in playing football, immersing myself in diverse music, and expressing creativity.

Asad Ahmed

Asad Ahmed

I am an Accounting and Finance student at the University of Derby. I love being creative and spending time with friends and family. I also have a deep interest in technology, specifically Apple products.