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Muskie's MBA Exchange Rationale Essay

When I finally decided to apply to an MBA program, one of the key factors in choosing Sauder was the high percentage of international students and availability of various exchange opportunities. One of the regrets of my undergrad degree was not going on exchange. Scheduling was the main reason I was unable to go on exchange at UVIC, however at Sauder an exchange term is much better integrated into the program, a fact I'm eager to take advantage of.

I applied to UBC while living in Japan and there were many things I failed to accomplish while there, such as mastering the language and visiting all four major islands. As a result, I was initially considering a possible return to Japan as a student. Ultimately I decided to rule out all schools that didn¡¯t offer a new cultural experience. In addition to Keio, I ruled out WHU as I had lived and worked in Germany for several months and all the schools in the UK, US, and Australia. This still left a considerable number of interesting options and after much consideration and research I came up with the following rankings.

Although I considered the two Hong Kong schools as well as NUS, after consulting with some people whose opinion I trusted I chose Tsinghua number one. As it is situated in Beijing it just seemed the most Chinese. In addition to regretting not traveling more in Japan I had also intended to visit China while I was living in Asia. I've always been keenly interested in history and China's history is longer than almost any other. Although I often questioned my success I have studied Japanese on and off since high school. Since Japanese makes extensive use of the Chinese character set I can already recognize and comprehend numerous words such as:


which is ¡°beef¡± in both languages, pronunciation is another matter. Knowing how to read and write Japanese should give me a ¡®leg up¡¯ in learning Chinese.

Information was a bit scarce on Tsinghua, however it seems to be a school like Sauder that places an emphasis on internationality. It has some interesting partner schools and a distinguished advisory board filled with influential people in the IT industry. Finally Tsinghua appears to have an ample selection of courses offered in English, though information on the classes was limited. Also the ¡°newness¡± of Tsinghua as an exchange partner appeals to me.

Another area of the world I've lived and worked in and am keen to revisit is Europe. Indeed the decision on which region I wanted to return to was more difficult than which schools to rank. One of the great advantages of Europe is the ability to travel quickly and easily not only within the country you are in, but also throughout the continent. And though I've visited a half dozen or so European countries, the majority of my traveling in Europe was condensed into a whirlwind two week tour after my software consulting contract was completed. When I lived in Germany I worked hellaciously long hours and did not have much time for sightseeing or learning the language. Although I do not regret my time spent in Europe, I hope for an even better experience should I have the opportunity to live there again.

While in Japan the European partner school I immediately considered was SDA Bocconi as I'd always wanted to visit Italy. However while talking to the second year students from the various schools, the students who did the best job of selling their school were the Danes. In my travels I've always enjoyed bumping into Scandinavians. Something about the mindset of people who live in the North I identify with. The more I researched the school itself the more I became interested. It had everything I was looking for: a new culture to experience, an international focus, and ample classes offered in English. My Danish classmate Sverre gave it a solid endorsement saying the education was comparable to my third choice Rotterdam.

Rotterdam is the most famous and highest ranked by the ¡®so called¡¯ experts so why did I rank it third? Chalk it up to Danish salesmanship. Rotterdam also has everything I was looking for in an exchange opportunity. I've never truly visited the Netherlands. Rotterdam strives to be international and offers all its classes in English, making it a superlative exchange school by my criteria even if I did rank it third.

Perhaps I don't have the most well defined career goals of my MBA class. One thing I determined while spending several years underappreciated on the lowest rungs of the software development ladder was I didn't want to be a programmer for forty years. I knew I needed to do something to elevate myself above the crowd beyond just working hard, so I enrolled in a master's program. In the future I hope to find a job, which I enjoy and am able to earn a comfortable living at, likely in the IT industry. I've often discussed opening a business with my sister that is the reason for the Entrepreneurship specialization.

I've always had a myriad of interests and taken an eclectic selection of classes. My specialization allows me a great deal of freedom in choosing my courses. I ensured I had all the required modules completed prior to going on exchange to maximize my flexibility when choosing classes at an exchange school.

I've had a lot of international experience, from hosting and being an exchange student while a high school student, to working and living abroad in both Europe and Asia. I've also traveled to such diverse countries as Yugoslavia and Cambodia. I've taught ESL and studied foreign languages, which gives me an appreciation for the difficulties in learning and communicating in a non-native language. I've gotten along well with the vast majority of my classmates including the large international contingent. I'm outgoing and personable, and was surprised to be nominated for class president. Though I didn't win, everyone seemed to enjoy my campaign because I tried to infuse it with humor and honesty. Peter Chow described me as the Ralph Nader of the election to which I replied, ¡°Yah the third option no one really wanted.¡± I was more than fine with the outcome as I really wanted to go on exchange.

Words and Images © Andrew "Muskie" McKay.
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