Sunday, September 23, 2007

There and Back Again: A WEMBA Study Tour Recap

Well, we had a fantastic time! Words don’t do justice to the South America International trip, which we shall remember for a lifetime. Those classmates of ours who weren’t able to make it (or who just wimped out) missed out on a once in a lifetime experience. I’m really glad that I helped lobby (through the power of The Blog) to go to South America on our study tour, as it’s a place that I probably won’t visit on my own. Although after this trip, perhaps I will return. No one was robbed, no one got hurt (well, except for Zia’s ironing board accident and the wild dog attack that Mike and Frank survived), and we had a great time.

The true value of the trip is measured in the relationships that were strengthened and new ones that were formed while we were here. A lot of people I talked to said that they had gotten to know a number of classmates that they don’t ordinarily talk to in San Francisco, as well as their wives, girlfriends or husbands. We experienced two different cultures and countries, which was great. I think we didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, and we all ate too much and drank too much. I was thinking that I would lose some pounds while we were here but after eating my fifth steak by day six I knew I was in big trouble.

If I were to give advice, here’s some for Class 33:

  • Sample the local food and drink as much as you can. There’s nothing sadder than seeing your classmate high tail it for the nearest Mickey Ds. I literally ate 5 pounds of steak in about 3 days, and now I have tasted a real churrascaria, a caiparinha, an Argentine golden trout, and a Malbec wine.
  • Lots of work on the committee. If you are on the committee, be prepared for a ton of work in organizing the trip. Props out to Clifton, Ale and Loren for all the hard work. You guys deserve a credit or three.
  • Bring medicine. I owe a big thank you to Dr Lim, who had some antibiotics when I was sick in Rio. Thanks Charles! Lesson learned: the MDs in your class are really helpful if you get sick when traveling.
  • Side trips are fantastic. I went to Rio before the trip, and then to El Calafate afterwards. Those were two great decisions, and they really enhanced my experience. We were talking about it later and those of us who went really had a much better experience. It’s hard to get the time off for work but it’s totally worth it. Use those Starwood Preferred Guest points on your side trips, and the rates we got were $45 USD plus points for each night’s stay.
  • Don’t bring a laptop. There are internet cafes everywhere in South America, and all the hotels we stayed in had free internet available, even in El Calafate. I thought I’d use mine more, and I didn’t. Blackberry email was fine throughout the trip for the most part.
    Bring a Skype headset. Cuts your phone bill down tremendously! Be aware that Skype is blocked in some countries though. It was fine in both Brazil and Argentina.
  • Study materials for Term 5. I’m not going to retain anything I read, but at least I got some reading done on the flights there and back again.
  • The travel agency was below average. I got home and discovered that I had a big package from Accent with my itinerary and travel tags in it. Completely useless! You would have thought they could have sent it a bit earlier. It wasn’t a big deal, but you’d think they could do better.
Finally, I think that everyone agrees that we owe the South American International Study Tour committee a huge THANK YOU, because of all of their hard work. Clifton, Ale, Loren and other people on the committee did a fantastic job in dealing with a lot of things that most of us never saw. In addition, John Lyon deserves some big props for being our coordinator as Sandra wasn’t able to make the trip. Professor Dyer and Lodish also deserve a big thank you for all their work. Thank you thank you obigado and muchas gracias! You guys were great, and we think you should deserve some academic credit for all the hard work you put in. I’m sure glad we didn’t go to China, as Zia would have had to plan the whole thing himself!

Now it's back to work!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a cool trip! How much did it cost? Did the committee plan the entire trip, including making all contacts at your sites, or did someone give you a list? Thanks, appreciate it== rk

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