Reality Check, part 1

With the end of Pre-Term and the first round of exams last week, many of us students were asking ourselves and each other, “Has ESADE fulfilled our expectations so far?”

As a way of introducing myself on this blog, I want to share why I chose ESADE as the right business school for me and how my actual experience this past month stacks up against those expectations. I’ll start off with two personal reasons that don’t show up in my official application essays!

#1: I sought the freedom to explore my goals and the inspiration to push my personal boundaries. I am not a typical MBA. After receiving a BA in social anthropology from Harvard, I worked in nonprofit arts management in Boston and community development in Guatemala and El Salvador. Any business school would bring new challenges, but would I be able to define success for myself and be motivated to assert my vision at all of them?

Reality: Off the charts! I’ve already learned more about myself, about communicating my ideas and about working with different types of people than I thought possible in such a short time. The leadership class gave me insight into recognizing and resolving disconnects between my possible working environments, goals, values and competencies. In my study group, I’m discovering what pushes my buttons and my team mates’ buttons and what I can do to help (not inhibit) the group’s results as well as my own. Of course, this past month is just the beginning.

#2: I wanted to enjoy a fabulous life experience in Barcelona as well as a top-rate academic program. My professional life has been my number one priority for a long time. An MBA is an investment in my future, but why not live in Barcelona now?

Reality: The first month is an intense period of adjustment. New work. New city. New friends. It takes time. And so, it’s incredible that in a simple 2-hour study break, I can soak up the Mediterranean sun on the beach or listen to music at one of Barcelona’s free outdoor festivals. I can blow off steam dancing until 5am or relax sipping a cerveza in one of Gracia’s plazas. (5am is not late here, by the way!) I checked out the film festival down the coast in Sitges yesterday, and I’ve got tickets to see a renowned flamenco dancer next week. There is a lot out there! The trick is balancing it with the workload. Oh, and don’t worry, your friends back home won’t need convincing to visit you in Barcelona!

I’ll save my official reasons for coming to ESADE—the 1st rate education and research centers, the bilingual program and the international focus—for my next post.

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