By Rebecca Chen Ruan ‘15
If the blizzard hasn't totally shut off internet in Chicago, you might have seen the photos of sunshine, weekend trips and parties on Facebook from students studying abroad. Photos can lie – just as my parents and old friends still believe that my MBA life is only about dining out and nightlife, you may assume the we study abroad students have no idea what classes we are even enrolled in at other business schools. The pictures are real, but I do get more than a vacation out of the study abroad experience. I think studying abroad is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I may never have thought of living in Barcelona for three months, if not for the exchange program. The city made me fall for her at first sight – the Gaudi architectures, the artistic vibes, Catalan food, great (and cheap) wine, and nice weather. Proximity to the Mediterranean gives it a beautiful beach and milder winters. As Booth IBEP has partner schools all around the world, from Cape Town to Beijing, you will be able to find somewhere that fits your interests. (Even if you look for something similar to Chicago, there is one finance-savvy business school called LBS in another city with bad weather.)
Though missing all the events with friends in Chicago, you will be able to expand your network with the locals and exchangees from other business schools. Taking IESE for example, where I am studying, the school currently hosts approximately 50 exchange students, which accounts for almost a quarter of its class size. The IESE students try their best to accommodate us – last week we went to a Spanish wine tasting event hosted by an IESE student at her home on the terrace, with a panoramic view of night Barcelona. Meanwhile, dealing with the feeling of FOMO is unavoidable – I may even have had momentary thoughts about flying back for Winter Formal.
To prove that we do STUDY abroad, I will end with a little (prejudiced) insight on the academics. As a Booth advocate, I believe that nowhere else has academic quality compatible to ours, or as rigorous standards. However, in international schools you can see the same cases from a different angles: the viewpoint of Europeans (in terms of regulation, unions, accounting system, etc.) and the angles of different corporate functions, as each business school has its own strengths.
Ok, that’s the first version of my story why studying abroad is a great decision. Do you want to hear the second version?
It keeps me away from Chicago winter.
Rebecca is a second-year currently studying abroad at IESE in Barcelona.