You are now free to move about the world
I should probably be packing, seeing as I leave for Japan in about 12 hours. But packing procrastination is kind of my thing. So instead I’d much rather be reflecting on another whirlwind just-finished half-quarter, and the International Experience we are all about to embark on. The recently departed Spring-1 was when, for me at least, SOM took on a decidedly international attitude and vibe. February was actually deemed “International Month” and classmates from outside the U.S. shared entertaining and informative presentations about their home countries—complete with a taste of the local cuisine. The gluttonous spree culminated at the International Food Festival a few weeks ago, where the whole school packed in to Donaldson Commons to sample amazing dishes from around the world. The classroom too had a global spirit, as more of our cases focused on international companies (Zara and Toyota were analyzed in “Operations”) and one core course—Global Macro—devoted itself to understanding how saving, investment, imports, exports, and exchange rates inexorably connect all countries with each other. Macro was a good chance to look formally outside the U.S. borders and think more broadly about the challenges and opportunities facing other countries. As we prepared for our trips, many of the Macro assignments became destination-specific, which for me was a great chance to learn about the intertwined economy, political history, and national psyche of Japan. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to travel to some great places. But something feels very different about this trip and I suspect it’s the new worldview and knowledge base I am gaining at Yale. On the eve of departure, I am looking forward to being an “Uber-tourist” for the first time, armed with the usual enthusiasm about new cultures, new customs, and new sights, but now also with the curiosity and understanding of new business models, new government structures, and new methods of production. we’ll all be traveling as burgeoning MBAs so whether we realize it consciously on our trips, we’ll be taking in each experience through new filters and thinking how they can hang on the new “hooks in the back of our heads,” as Dean Oster likes to say the curriculum provides. And while this trip is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the best news is that the Uber-tourist moniker can stay with us. For the rest of our travels, we’ll be equipped with more than just a guidebook: we’ll have our SOM degrees and a stronger understanding of how the world works. You can’t find that in Frommer’s. Bon voyage to all.