When I joined the Carlson MBA program, I wasn't sure if I would participate in a Study Abroad experience but I knew Carlson required an International Experience of some sort. Up until last fall, I thought I would just take the International Experience class to fulfill this requirement. Balancing a Part-Time MBA schedule along with full time work and personal life felt like enough without adding in a few weeks of travel out of the country.
As I reflected upon my MBA experience and lifelong goals, I knew that traveling to Europe had always been on my "bucket list." I wanted to experience the continent's history and culture. I got an email one day last fall from the Carlson Graduate Business Career Center promoting the Graduate Global Enrichment Programs. One of these programs immediately caught my eye - "Doing Business in Central and Eastern Europe: Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic." My dad has traveled to Prague a few times for business before and always raved about the city and the beauty and culture it has to offer. I was immediately sold.
I applied last December and was accepted to the program - this was an exciting and nerve-racking day. I was ecstatic for the opportunity to experience Vienna and Prague, but I was equally as nervous for the unknowns of traveling abroad with a group of people with whom I hadn't met before. The months leading up to the trip were busy preparing - renewing a passport, attending orientation and pre-departure classes, but most importantly, getting to know my classmates that I would be traveling with. On May 18th, I took off for Vienna, Austria to begin my two week adventure.
While in Europe for the program, we spent a week in Vienna, meeting our Viennese classmates from WU and learning more about the "live case" project we would be completing with TORO Company. In our free time, we explored the city, took in all the sights, and enjoyed our time together as a Carlson group. Over the weekend, the majority of us made a trip to Budapest, Hungary for the day and night with our Professor David Bartlett. We took Budapest by storm - seeing as much as we could in 24 hours! The final week of our program we bussed from Vienna to Prague, Czech Republic which would be the final stop on our CEE tour. Prague was incredible - a city you could get lost in just walking around. By the second week, our group of classmates had bonded and become great friends. Our final days were busy doing sight visits of TORO Distributors for the project and finalizing our recommendations and presentation.
Our final day of the program was quite memorable. It began with our final presentation to the TORO executive and head of the local distributor, and it went off without a hitch! The day ended with our farewell dinner and an evening out to celebrate. The entire group - 20 Carlson students and 9 WU students gathered together and enjoyed our final night together.
This experience was definitely a highlight of the MBA program. I accomplished all of my personal goals of visiting Europe, learning more about the history and culture, but the biggest benefit was the group of friends and the network I've now created. Thanks to Carlson for providing the venue and facilitating such a wonderful trip and thanks to all my classmates of the CEE Trip 2012 for an unforgettable experience!