Feb 222016
 

If it’s February, it means the Monte Carlo Gala has finally arrived. The Smith School’s signature event of the year brings together current MBAs, part-time MBAs, Masters students, Alumni, Staff and Faculty together for one special night in some of DC’s finest venues.

Last year, it was held at the cavernous Andrew Mellon Auditorium across from the Smithsonian; but this year it was held at the historic Willard Intercontinental. Just a block down Pennsylvania Ave from the White House, we were celebrating in the very same rooms that hosted DC’s top politicians and generals dating back to the Civil War.

Scheduled late enough in the year when we could all gather and reminisce, but not quite enough yet to feel tinges of a farewell sendoff, the Monte Carlo Gala is a priceless opportunity to form lasting memories of the MBA experience.

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Feb 122016
 

Full time programs vs. Part time programs. Each has its pros and cons, depending on your personal circumstances. But one undoubted benefit of full time programs is the sheer amount of time available, especially in the form of breaks throughout the academic year. After all, when else will you have 4+ weeks off, in any job?

This year, I embarked on the most far-reaching trip feasible, fueled by a plentiful mix of frequent flier miles scattered across a variety of accounts and all 3 global (airline) alliances. Star Alliance (via United), OneWorld (via American Airlines, British Airways), and Skyteam (via Delta). Four continents, 5 weeks and 30,000+ miles later, and I can look back on something that was almost like its own study abroad program.

Key takeaways from the trip:

  1. People all over the world speak English. At least basic, limited English. At least among the more educated and younger crowd. Especially those who work in tourism and hospitality. Globalization continues to make the world a smaller place, and (simplified) English is the common tongue of this global village. It’s gotten to the point where, instead of pointing out where English is spoken, it’s more accurate to point out the exceptions where English is NOT commonly known in at least its basic form. Examples: Peru (Little need for secondary language beyond Spanish, maybe a little Portuguese), Morocco (Secondary language tends to be French)
  2. Uber is incredibly useful if you have a working cellular data connection. Go from Point A to B without any communication necessary with a driver, haggling, ensuring the correct destination, ensuring proper denomination of cash on hand, etc.
  3. Standards have caught up around the world’s largest cities, but not prices. Private drivers? Fancy dinner in a nice restaurant? Mexico City or Saigon can deliver the same caliber of food, decor, and service to a comparable place in New York, but at a fraction of the price. Feel what it’s like to be in the 1%, even if it’s just for a day.
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A misty day on Machu Picchu (Peru)

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New Year’s festival-goers in traditional clothing at a local temple in Kyoto

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The evening comes alive in light and activity in the historic center of Hoi An (Vietnam)

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Just one of the sights and sounds on overdrive at Robot Cafe in Tokyo

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Admiring the view from a rooftop bar high above Saigon

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A long exposure brings out the lights on a perfectly preserved canal in Kyoto

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Gearing up for Christmas celebrations in downtown Mexico City

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Volunteers hand out Christmas presents to local children in a coastal village (Peru)

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Manga and Anime central: Akihabara District in Tokyo

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Locals settling into dinner in a bustling souk in Doha (Qatar)

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A lone oasis in the middle of the dunes (Peru)

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Snowshoeing to a view of the Appenzell region (Switzerland)