Thursday, March 12, 2009

Initial Thoughts of America - on my way to Wharton

I am about to embark upon an exchange program at Wharton at UPenn. I will be a foreign exchange student in the US. I (along with 34 of my INSEAD colleagues) am joining the Wharton second years for one quarter - their last. I'm living in the International House. I'm so exotic, I know.

I decided to do this for a bunch of reasons, though it was a very difficult decision, since there are huge negatives.

The negatives:
  • Matt (and the Kitty!) are in Singapore - along with all of the good food
  • I miss out on a period at INSEAD - including a class on international development that I really wanted to take
  • I miss out on recruitment season at INSEAD in Singapore (though who knows how many companies are coming to campus this year!)
  • I chose Wharton over Fontainebleau where INSEAD's other campus is - I didn't think it was financially fair of me to be away (and pay double rent, plane tickets, etc.) for two periods - which means I don't get to go to Fonty at all
  • My friend in Singapore, Gal, is due to have her baby today, and I won't be there at all for her and Ohad for the first two months of the baby's life. Though this wasn't a major factor in my decision, since business school has to come before all of this stuff this year, I got very sad last night when I saw her and thought about the fact that she has no family here, and I wish I could be more helpful - and I can't wait to meet the babes!

The positives:
  • I have the opportunity to study at the #1 business school in the world
  • I have the opportunity to experience an American MBA, which I think must be very different than my SUPER international one
  • I have the opportunity to meet students from another business school (if they talk to lowly INSEADers like me)
  • I get Wharton on my resume, which is not small, since no one in my world seems to know INSEAD, even though it's the #5 business school in the world according to the Financial Times (and very high on all other international rankings)
  • I get to be in the states for nearly two months (which I wish wasn't a reason, but it is)

The good news is that some of my favorite people I have met at INSEAD will be with me at Wharton (Adonai - who promised to guest blog about having the name "Adonai", Adile - my first real friend at INSEAD, Bala, and some others).

So, I am now on my way to Philly, via Michigan, where Shana (and Joseph her almost-one-year-old) is coming to see me, and Jill is coming to see me, and we all get to spend time with my mom who is stuck at home with her foot up. Before Michigan, though, I was in Japan, and now I sit in DC. After 24 hours of traveling I hope to freeze my arse off while I wait for my dad at DTW in my fleece, because my coat shell is MOLDY and needs to be washed before I wear it. (eew)

Some initial thoughts of being in the US...
  • People are FAT. I know this is so cliche of coming back to America, but it's really true, and it's really noticeable compared to Asia!
  • You don't have to think about if it's okay to flush the toilet with toilet paper (even though I did).
  • People are harsh and cold (at least the flight attendants are).
  • People walk way better in this country. They don't zig zag as much (except my dad - he does), and they seem to just walk faster. I have only been here for an hour, but I haven't been frustrated yet, and in the customs line, no one tried to push ahead of me when I didn't immediately move up right behind the person in front of me. Also - the people behind you let you get off the plane, which does not happen in Asia. You have to PUSH your way into the aisle if you want to get off in front of the last person in the last row.
  • There are good bagels here. I haven't had one yet, but I can't wait to.
  • People talk LOUDLY on their mobiles! In Singapore (Asia?) people are on the phone a lot, but they're quieter. I have been sitting here for about 40 minutes, and I can tell you the industry that all of the people around me work in. SHUT UP! I DON'T CARE!!
  • Also - the US looks generally run down. Asia doesn't look like that (other than maybe some of the random cities...Medan?). Mostly everything - like airports - are new, or it's just super rugged, dirt road, but that's not run down, it's just poor.

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