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Photos: International Experience: Uruguay

Students reflect on an immersive trip to Uruguay led by Professor Lorenzo Caliendo and TA Matias Cancela ’22.

Shay Liu ’23

Over spring break, I, along with 20 other classmates from the MBA program, had the opportunity to travel to Uruguay, the home country of Yale SOM’s beloved Professor Lorenzo Caliendo and 12 million cattle (fun fact: there are more cattle than people in Uruguay), as part of Yale SOM’s International Experience course offerings.

It was an intense week of cultural appreciation, learning about the intricacies of business in Latin America, company visits, enjoying local delicacies, and celebrity sightings. 

Activities included:

  • Engaging with various speakers on topics relating to healthcare, the Uruguayan economy, and sustainability in the beef industry
  • A tour of the city of Montevideo
  • Visiting business and political leaders at Uruguay’s largest free trade zone, Zonamerica
  • Networking with Uruguayan MBAs who gave the best recommendations for local social spots
  • Touring the futuristic office of unicorn startup Globant with the aim of using digital cognitive strategies to reinvent and transform organizations 
  • Meeting inspiring students and educators from a Liceo Impulso, a private school with a mission to provide opportunities for low-income students 
  • Living in San Pedro del Timode, a historic estancia (South American horse ranch), where we experienced horseback riding, hearty home-cooked delicacies, and took in the history surrounding us in the 200-year-old compound 
  • Planting trees at a eucalyptus plantation and observing the thinning process of grown trees, hosted by Agroempresa Forestal, a company managing forestry and agricultural funds to create a positive impact)
  • Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the gambling industry within the Enjoy Punta Del Este’s Casino
  • Enjoying an incredible wine tasting at sustainable vineyard Bodega Garzon
  • Meeting the famed artist and sculptor Pablo Atchugarry at his workshop in his foundation

Throughout the trip, we enjoyed delicious meals, though the week was notably capped off with a farewell lunch at La Huella, possibly the best beachside restaurant in the world.

Every activity was truly a highlight, and I gained so much insight into how a geographically small South American country has produced such successful economic outcomes.

Haillie Whitman ’23

One of the many highlights of the trip was our visit to Zonamerica, a free trade zone located in Montevideo. There, we visited with multiple companies across a variety of industries to learn about their businesses. We rode scooters around the office park to get from one company to another. One of the companies we visited included Satellogic, which specializes in high-resolution satellite imaging. We also toured the warehouse of Costa Oriental, a large logistics services company. The day ended with a networking event with representatives from the various companies and MBA students from across Uruguay. It was a great way to gain exposure to business in South America and meet new people!

Yale formation on the beach
La Huella
Student group
Students dining
Group photo

Gayatri Mehra ’23

This trip has been the highlight of my time at SOM so far! I especially loved visiting Liceo Impulso, a free, privately run school that aims to close learning gaps for low-income students. As a former educator, I appreciated learning about another education system and seeing best practices from high-performing schools in the U.S. adapted for their context. I loved talking to students and hearing about their experiences and dreams and I was grateful to see a glimpse of the school’s warm and welcoming community. Many companies we visited talked about how the education system was key in their decision to locate themselves Uruguay and in building a strong talent pool, and so it was inspiring to see an organization striving to ensure that all students in Uruguay have access to the same opportunities.

Liceo group

Peter Elser 23

Uruguay is a small yet fascinating country, which offers diverse opportunities. I was very impressed by how organized the country is and how political stability has developed over the past four decades. While doing our visits, we met with Liceo Impulso, a private foundation that subsidizes education for kids within unprivileged/dangerous areas. This gave me a sense of unity—how small things may have huge impact on an entire group or population for future generations.

Tori Izumi ’23

Making new friends across cohorts and horseback riding across expansive grasslands at San Pedro Del Timote was my favorite perk of the course! Not to mention the immaculate wine tasting experience at Bodega Garzon, accompanied by rich olive oil and the best bread I’ve had in ages.

Horseback riding
Horseback riding

Charlotte Benishek ’23

Our visit to Agroempresa Forestal’s timber plantations was a highlight for me. We observed the complete lifecycle of timber, from planting to harvest, and even planted some trees ourselves. Watching a tree be cut down and processed was definitely not something I could have done as a tourist, and the visit gave me a better understanding of this industry that produces one of Uruguay’s major exports.

Agroempresa Forestal’s timber plantations
Agroempresa Forestal’s timber plantations group shot
Agroempresa Forestal’s timber plantations

Malcolm Davis ’23

The highlight of the trip was definitely getting to know Professor Caliendo and my trip-mates at a late-night bonfire in historic San Pedro del Timote.

Uruguay Sunset

International Experience Courses for 2022