Tag: abroad (page 1 of 3)

Semester Recap

I’ve officially attended my last class at McCombs. Crazy. Wait, you may be saying to yourself, since when do people graduate in December? Not to worry, I’m not done with school but my next post will be from…the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, where I will be finishing my last semester on exchange. Another semester has quickly elapsed, so  let’s catch-up on a few highlights.


One of the coolest things about being 2013 Net Impact Conferencea student (and being in Austin) are the perks. I was able to attend some really neat conferences this fall at a discounted rate or even better, for free. I went to the Texas Tribune Festival, South by Southwest Eco and the Net Impact Conference in California. It was really refreshing to hear from others that are excited about the same issues and to connect with both classmates and peers. I’m not in the posted photo but my McCombs peers are now famous! Continue reading

Hola from ESADE, Barcelona!

Hola mis amigos! Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but it has been a very different semester of me.  Along with Josh, James, and Jen, I am doing my semester abroad at ESADE Business School in lovely Barcelona, Spain.  Don’t fear, we are taking breaks between sightseeing, tapas bars, the beach, and weekend trips in order to enjoy being students overseas.

Jen And James On Train

From the start, I knew this semester would be quite different than McCombs.  First, I have an hour commute to school in which I walk 1/2 mile to the city center, take the 30 minute train to Sant Cugat, then walk another mile to campus. I have to admit it’s weird not to take a car to school, but I love the transportation here.  Plus there is usually good company on the train.

My classes are pretty different as well.  My first class – In Search of a Life Philosophy – merges business issues with art, literature, and deep class discussion.  While not a typical business course, I think this is one of the most important classes of my MBA career.  Josh, Jen, James, and I are all taking it, and therefore representing Texas to be a very philosophical school! My second class – Branding – is a much more typical business class.  So far we have had speakers from Desigual, Moritz Beer, Lenovo, Chupa Chups, and we are able to get a more global perspective on marketing.  My third class – Geopolitics – is helping me learn how different countries and organizations interact, and is the perfect class to take with a ton of international students. My fourth class is an Independent Study, and my deliverable is an overview and analysis of Spain’s current economy.  I have been impressed with both the quality/prestige of the professors and the caliber of students.  Many of my classmates at ESADE are also on exchange, but there is still a very global feel to the student body.

In our free time, we have been making new friends and enjoying all that this amazing city has to offer.  Below is a picture taken outside Quimet y Quimet, which is arguably the city’s best tapas bar.  Our friends from Australia and Belgium joined us.

And here is Josh, James, James’ wife Kristin, and me at the Monastery of Pedralbes. We are doing our best to mix culture and fun!

In all seriousness, I can’t say enough great things about this experience. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to live in a different part of the world and further develop a global perspective. With over thirty Longhorns abroad this semester, McCombs is definitely delivering a global experience to its students. It’s great to be a part of it!

First Two Weeks in Shanghai

Wow, it has been an amazing last couple of weeks!! So much has happened since I first arrived in this city of over 20 million people just over two weeks ago. Shanghai is where I’ll be spending the next 3 months studying on exchange at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and I already think I’m going to have a hard time leaving this place at the end of the program : )

Outside of CEIBS

Outside of CEIBS

CEIBS is a relatively new MBA program, established in 1994 as a joint venture between the Chinese government and the European Union, but it is already regarded as the top MBA program in mainland China. Full-time students come from all over the world, but over 75% are from either mainland China or other regions in Asia Pacific. What is unique about this program (and many other business schools outside of the US) is that a large portion of the 2nd year students go on exchange. At CEIBS over 50% of the full-time class studies abroad, allowing for a very large class of exchange students to come to CEIBS. My class consists of over 70+ exchange students from all over the world – Germany, France, Spain, UK, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and Israel to name a few – making our class extremely diverse. The classroom experience here has been really interesting because of all the varied backgrounds that bring a unique and global perspective to the discussion. Most of the cases that we work on are focused on international or China related topics, such as Tesco’s entry into China (in my Retailing Strategies class) and China Telecom’s IPO (in my Investment Banking class) – which was a deal that my professor actually worked on when he was at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong.

Exchange Students

Exchange students at Nan Xun

Life outside of the classroom has been awesome too. Shanghai is a very modern and international city that offers unlimited options for fun and cultural experiences. I was actually surprised at how westernized the city actually is compared to other cities I’ve been to in China. Here you can have pretty much every luxury you have back home but usually for a fraction of the cost. There are times you feel like you are in China when hundreds of motorbikes are zipping by and thousands of people are climbing on the subway during rush hour, but there are also times that you don’t, like when at an expat bar watching college football. The city itself is really spread out but the subway system makes it really easy to get around. Fellow McCombs classmate Joe Gosse and I, along with many other exchange students, live in the Jing’an district of Shanghai, which is located about an hour away from school but in the middle of the nightlife and restaurant scene. Since most important business deals in China are sealed only after meals and heavy drinking, we figured we might work on those important business skills as well while here ; )

Chinese BBQ

Chinese BBQ . . . Not quite the same as Texas BBQ

Another thing I’ve found surprising is how friendly people are and how easy it is to meet people here. At school the full-time students really go out of their way to meet the exchange students and make them feel welcome, inviting us to work on group projects with them and go out to local Chinese restaurants for beer and food after class. As an exchange student at CEIBS we get to partake in all of the social and networking events offered by the school and are even able to join the CEIBS Alumni Association after we leave. I am definitely taking advantage of the networking opportunities and want to meet as many people as I can while I’m here in China. There are many company presentations held on campus (I attended the LVMH presentation yesterday) and I’ll also get to meet with the CFO of Gap China, and fellow Stanford alum, in a couple weeks!

Stay tuned for more updates from China!  And please reach out if you have any questions at all about studying abroad.

Texas MBAs Take On South Africa

This is a guest post by Blair McGrain, a member of the Texas MBA at Dallas-Fort Worth class of 2013. This past December, Blair took part in a global trip to South Africa as part of the Texas MBA Program. He recounts the experience in the post below.

View of Cape Town

The city of Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by daniel.berlin on Flickr.

South Africa was always on my travel “bucket list” and a place that held a great deal of intrigue to me.  After experiencing what is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of things to do and see, I was absolutely blown away by the natural beauty of the country and the warmness of the people.  Plus, I had the added benefit of forming even better relationships with some of my Dallas and Houston program colleagues.

It all started with a well-run and fantastic agenda the school put together for us.  I’m sure it’s not easy herding 40-something students from place to place and keeping them fed and happy…but they did a great job keeping us organized, providing learning opportunities, and keeping a good balance between school and fun/culture.

Johannesburg, which is the epicenter of business and commerce in South Africa, is a bit dangerous and filled with a troubled past that you can almost feel in the air.  But what came across in the people we met is a sense of determination to create a new and better path forward.  Yes, some terrible and atrocious things took place over the past 60 years but most people seem to have embraced forgiveness as the way to a better society.  The township of Soweto (part of Johannesburg) is a tough place to see as a Westerner but I have to say they are the friendliest people I’ve ever come across.

Our trip was partitioned with Johannesburg on the front-end and Cape Town and the Cape Region on the back-end.  It is hard to find a fitting description of how beautiful Cape Town and the region truly is, and I was warned that I’ve probably never seen anything like it.  They were right.  I’ve traveled to many places in the world and I was surprised at the sheer number of must-sees.

The Cape Region wine country was a bit like “Sonoma meets The Rockies” and only an hour’s drive from the city.  It would have been stunning in any weather but we were fortunate to have the most crystal-clear day you’ve ever seen.  Plus, the outdoor luncheon and wine were pretty tasty too.

The Cape Town area also contains one of the world’s leading botanical gardens on the gradual slopes of Table Mountain. Listed as a World Heritage Site and claiming to have to more plant species than any other garden in the world, it was an amazing spectacle for anyone who loves the outdoors.

My travel tales would not be complete without a vivid description of our cage diving experience with the Great Whites off the southern cost of the Cape Region.  Upon my return I told everyone that it was simultaneously one of the most amazing and most miserable experiences I’ve ever had.  Seeing a 15-foot Great White a foot in front of you should be on everyone’s bucket list.  One of the other groups even experienced one biting the submerged metal cage they were in—inches from their faces!  What it made it such a miserable day was the seemingly endless seasickness that came with 18’ swells that day.  I never thought it would end…but I do have a funny visual of our group—14 of 18 total—lined up down the side of the boat throwing up one after another.

Ahhhh….good times.

Global Trip To Austria Exceeds Student Expectations

This is a guest post by Israel Contreras, a member of the Executive MBA at Mexico City class of 2012. Last month, Israel took part in a global trip to Austria as part of the Texas MBA Program. He recounts the experience in the post below.

It had only been a few hours since we had our last exam that I took the plane to Vienna, simply for an 8-hour stop before touring to Prague, Berlin and Budapest (so I practically was not in Vienna until I got back one week later for the Seminar).

By the time I arrived to Vienna (again), I was already amazed by the charm of Eastern Europe, but this city totally exceeded my expectations. Not only because the beautiful palaces and gardens everywhere, but also because the cultural ambience and cosmopolitan lifestyle. If that was not enough, the academic and professional experience we had, made it an invaluable and unique experience for me and my classmates.

Group at welcome dinner

Welcome dinner at Salm Bräu

It all started with a welcome dinner at Salm Bräu, a traditional and historic brewery, distillery and restaurant (all in one!) where we had the opportunity to share local dishes (and beer of course). Then, during the following four days, we spent the morning at IMADEC University (our academic host in Vienna), enjoying very interesting lectures from prominent businessmen and politicians in the region, as well as from the Mexican ambassador in Austria (being that Mexicans make up 88% of the class, we were curious about what an ambassador does – living from our taxes!).

Students at the Austrian Parliament

Austrian Parliament

One of the most fascinating speakers was Karl Von Habsburg, an Austrian politician and the current Head of the House of Habsburg, and the Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece. He is also the grandson of the last Austrian emperor, Charles I (If Austria was still an Empire, he would be the Emperor!). He shared with us his opinion about the current economic turmoil in the Euro zone and the consequences after the presidential election in France (which had occurred just few days before).

During the last day of the seminar, we went to the Austrian Parliament for a guided tour, where we also had the chance to talk with Andreas Schieder, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance. It was a great opportunity to hear directly from an authority with an active role in the current situation, his thoughts about how to address the economic crisis in Europe and the future for the European Union.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace

After the sessions at IMADEC, we spent the rest of the day visiting the city’s downtown and its multiple landmarks. Whether it was an impressive palace (Schönbrunn or Belvedere) or a music/opera venue (the Staatsoper or Musikverein), Vienna had something spectacular to offer every single day.

Finally, we celebrated the end of the Seminar with a dinner at Wiener Rathauskeller, another stylish and traditional restaurant in Vienna, where we toasted to our future and for the great experience the program was. After the dinner, everybody took diverse routes to continue their own trip in Europe (in my case, I went to Holy Land). After all, we still had one week for the MBA Convocation!

I have to recognize that this trip definitely exceeded our expectations. And I want to take the opportunity to thank all the program staff and my classmates for making this journey an amazing life experience.

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