So far my Smeal MBA has been a journey of excitement, challenge and opportunity for me. The events that I have participated in after joining Smeal are exciting, value-adding and of course gave good return on my investment of time. You might feel that I sound a little more excited, and yes I am, as I just arrived back from my Global Immersion Trip to the Czech Republic. I will use three words to describe my experience about my trip: exciting, eye-opening and value-adding. My other classmates visited South Africa and China and as we discussed, they all agreed it was a great experience.
The trip truly was an exciting one. We, 43 students from the 1st year MBA class went to explore the Czech Republic as part of our Global Immersion course. Our trip started with an exciting dinner at the Folklore Show where we got to know about the Czech culture. It was not just a dinner, but also participation in dance and music as part of fun activities. The next day we started visiting companies. We visited several companies, and each company represented a different industry. Some examples were IBM, the SKODA car manufacturing plant, a GE Money Bank, The Prague Public Transport Company, Avast Softwares, Zeleny Kruh (NGO) etc. It was exciting to learn how businesses in the Czech Republic were doing things differently, how they were successful in some aspects, what some of the challenges were and how they were dealing with those challenges.
Just before the trip, we had a global perspective course, and it was really eye-opening. We were fortunate enough to compare what we learned, and ask insightful questions to both local and multinational companies operating at Prague. It was really exciting to see how fast the Czech Republic is developing. The modern infrastructure, transportation system (that consist of tram, subway, buses etc.), the combination of old town and modern financial center, the history – everything was exciting. As a business student, I also gained a lot talking directly to people, including the CFO of IBM, a plant tour guide at SKODA plant, the CEO of Blazek Glass Co., the hotel receptionist, local people etc. It was eye-opening in the sense that reading about Euro zone and export economy helps your understanding, but watching live is more significant and opens up your mind for thoughtful analysis.
The tour was definitely an exciting and valuable part of the trip. Having such a tour enables one to learn practically how to analyze a country, its economy and ongoing situations. The learning did not end in Prague. It continued when we all got back to school and shared our observations, findings, comparisons etc., with other classmates who visited South Africa and China.
In a nutshell, the trip is going to be added to my list of favorite memories. This was a time when I enjoyed a lot with my fellow classmates, professors and trip coordinators, and also learned from real life scenarios which was exciting, eye-opening and value-adding.
-Monira Linda, Penn State Smeal MBA Class of 2014