Europe faces severe disintegration pressures but European MBA students would have none of it as they continued a tradition of yearly meetups. Between 7-9 April, over 120 Europeans from 8 schools (Booth, Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Yale and INSEAD) met in Mystic, Connecticut for a week-end of drinking, eating and chatting.
Mocking each other’s accent, cuisine and politicians, participants demonstrated the best of European camaraderie. Calling alcohol alcohol (instead of frosty beverages), being slightly overdressed and partying till 5am, the retreat really felt like being back in the Old Continent. Booth was represented by 14 students (half first years, half second years) - a solid number for the farthest participating school with low number of Europeans relative to other schools.
Small seaside town Mystic with a long fishing history proved to be a pleasant, if hard to reach, place. Having filled every single restaurant in the town for Saturday brunch, we were certainly attracting a lot of attention. Especially when answer to the usual “where are you from” question was followed by a list that often exceeded number of people in the group. Mystic features the US largest maritime museum with several preserved ships including the last surviving wooden whaling ship. Some people also visited nearby vineyard, aquarium and adventure park. However, everyone’s favourite activity was the evening party in a rented mansion.
Booth participants appreciated the opportunity to meet new peers from other schools. Nikolai Oudalov says: “It was a great way to expand my network to other business schools, make new friends and have lots of fun!”. Irene Dien says: “I loved meeting other MBAs and learning about their experiences.”
However, cross-school mixing still offered some space for improvement. With so many people and just two days, there was little chance to get to know each other well. As Irene says: “I would definitely appreciate if the organized events more strongly encouraged interactions between schools and forced people to abandon their home bubbles a bit.” For Boothies, it would be also nice if some of the future meetups could be take place in the Midwest. However, dominance of East Coast schools makes it very unlikely to ever happen.
The European Union is often criticised for lacking European demos - shared sense of citizenship. Nevertheless, among MBA expats shared European identity was clearly felt and national clustering was almost unseen as participants mingled freely. Perhaps, one needs to step outside home to truly appreciate it.