“If everything seems to be under control, you are not going fast enough”… This was one of the tips I got from 2nd year MBAs at my orientation last year. Now I don’t know if I was fast enough or lacked control throughout, but looking back at the last year I can only wonder at what has passed and ask myself “How on earth did I get through all of that?” It was kind of a juggling act to maintain the balance between the ever increasing demands of studies, club duties, GA work, family, other activities and still retain the last bits of whatever sanity I have.
Now, as I close my eyes, I see thousands of mental pictures in a flashback. Images are filled with the scenes from… different corners of the VMH building, the lecture rooms, the community breakfasts and lunches, Rudy’s cafe, our SMG room where I work as a GA, and the case rooms where we spent more waking hours of our last year than any other place.
Then there are the memories of… the February snowmageddon that allowed us a mini-break in the middle of a crazy schedule, the Littlefield project week where for once everyone’s focus was shifted from their status update on facebook to cash update of their factories, the weekly games in our Digital Markets class which our team never even came close to winning (perhaps due to the fact that none of our team members were really fond of the winning prize; a jimmy johns lunch), DMD exams where we wished we had more time but were actually glad for it to be over, and the fun we had making the international students video for Smith website (yes, it’s a good time to promote it once again : http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/mba/programs/fulltimemba.aspx ). And obviously there are the happy hours, the festivities, the celebrations, the bowling nights and the sports fixtures.
And how could I forget those numerous sleepless nights, out of which a few would stand out; the ones when the eluding DMD problems would feel out of reach like that accidental strand of hair in your mouth that you can’t quite grasp, and the ones when I would find myself substantially divided between the ethical theories of Kant, Aristotle and Rawls wondering if it was indeed ethical of them to keep me up at this hour, and perhaps the ones when the Keynesian and Supply side economic theories would keep me away from a warm bed in the middle of cold winter nights.
I also cherish the time I spent at my summer internship in New York, where I was introduced to a totally different work environment than what I was used to, where I got the chance to put the theory into practice, improve my research and analytical skills, learn about the work processes and client management practices, make some friends, and develop professional contacts. Well, more than anything, I miss my lunch breaks at Bryant Park, and the occasional birthday cakes at work.
In between, whenever I got the opportunity to travel and see places, I did and had some memorable trips to Boston, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, San Francisco, Grand Canyon and Death Valley (well, it wasn’t the smartest of ideas to visit the valley in mid-August at noon time with temperatures soaring up to 115 degrees, especially when I was fasting… but it was worth it). And for someone who is not a big fan of museums I visited a lot of them in DC and NY, usually dragged along by someone else. But I must say that most often than not I was impressed.
Now this past year has been a great learning curve for me, both inside and outside the classroom. I took some great courses and developed some fine business skills. I learnt a lot about US culture and the lifestyle here, and more importantly I learnt a lot about myself. I found out my weak areas and worked on them, and I managed to exercise my strengths more often. I figured out that I could survive longer without sleep and food than I had imagined. I learnt that I cannot be burnt out as long as my motivation to work is greater than the workload itself. I learnt not to assume and jump to conclusions, but to process the facts/inputs and analyze them thoroughly. I learnt that obvious solutions might be easier to find but the best ones are NOT usually INSIDE the box. I learnt that there comes a time when procrastination is a solution rather than a problem (okay, I am not so sure about that one; but allow a man his comforting delusions). And I learnt I still find it hard to go to bed early and I still get up at 8 o clock feeling plain terrible.
To say the least, it sure was a crazy year, but one of the best ones I’ve had. It sure was tough, but undeniably good and I would have it, could have it, no other way!!