With the first batch of the MSc in Global Strategic in Management students about to finish their first term -and therefore their stay in Virginia in the USA-, we thought it was a good moment to go and visit the campus to hear first-hand from the students themselves how they have been doing so far. The McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville, approximately 2.5 hours’ drive Southwest of Washington DC.
My visit coincided with a busy week for the students as later in the week they were scheduled to present to Senior Executives of Tranlin, a Chinese corporation investing in Virginia. The students have been working for many weeks on this project and the presentation to the Tranlin Executives is a culmination of their hard work. I was lucky to be able to join the students in their class Analysis for Decision-making in a Global Context, by Prof. Johnson. The students were doing group presentations as part of the preparation for their end of term presentation.
After the class, a group of 8 students had volunteered to sit down with me over coffee and to go over their experiences in the programme so far.
The students commented that what they enjoyed so much about the programme, is that it represents a total immersion into globalization, therefore also elevating the dynamic class discussions to a whole new level. Full of passion the students were explaining about the exciting ride that the programme has been until now, ranging from the classes themselves, to the interactions with their peers from all over the world and fun social activities that they have organized. As their stay in each of the three locations of the master (US, China and Spain) is relatively short, the students all live together on campus as to avoid losing precious time of apartment hunting in each city. Living together certainly adds another dimension to the whole experience and colourful anecdotes were shared of different cultural and culinary habits “the portions are so big here in the USA” and “here they eat the wings and back home we eat the legs” just to share a few…
The fact that in just one year they are able to gain two official masters and a certificate was highlighted as something very positive in addition to the very strong support they have received from career services. The top-notch facilities at the University of Virginia, as well as the beautiful campus certainly add up to make this such a remarkable adventure.
When I asked the students to sum up in just one word their experience in the programme so far, these were some of the words they used: Intense, Exciting, Merging, Rollercoaster, Global, Differences and Future.
The following morning, Alessandro Conca from Milan kindly offered to show me the campus. The University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. Walking around the campus you breathe the stunning historic atmosphere with old buildings and beautifully shaped green spaces. With Christmas on our doorsteps, many of the buildings and the students residences were charmingly decorated, this topped up with the occasional tree that was still showing the last traces of the fall colours, made for a remarkable serene atmosphere. If you see a US campus through European eyes, what you immediately notice is the sheer size of the place, almost a village in itself. Alessandro explained that they have full access to modern and comfortable breakout rooms for their teamwork, they also have access to a large fully equipped computer room and of course to a plethora of sports facilities, including a beautiful gym, an Olympic sized swimming pool and several basketball courts. The campus has its own (American) Football stadium where our students had the pleasure to assist at one of the matches. For these Football matches UVA Alumni from wide afield flock back to their campus, and organize a complete BBQ festival on the large parking grounds around the stadium, the size of the campus-stadium would be considered a big stadium for many European cities.
The next part of the master programme will be China, where -after the Christmas holiday break- all the students will reunite with their group, a new country and a new chapter to the existing year that is the MGSM! To culminate this unforgettable year, they will all move to Barcelona where we at ESADE are looking forward to welcoming them with open arms to our Sant Cugat Campus.
The gorgeous UVA campus with the festive Christmas lights
Holiday Spirit on campus
Thomas Jefferson who founded the University of Virginia in 1819