This post is a part of the Student Blogger series - each post is written by a current UCLA Anderson student, and provides first-hand perspectives and experiences about being an MBA student at UCLA Anderson.
Some say the MBA is about the degree, others about the network; I say it is about the experience.
July 25th, 2016 was the first day of the MBA experience at UCLA Anderson for over 100 internationals from the Class of 2018, like myself. I arrived from Israel with high hopes and a real intrigue as to what would await me during my MBA. That first day I met friends from Peru, India, Taiwan, Nigeria and more. Almost 9 months later, it is time for me to recap this experience.
First, let's get the hard part out of the way. It is OK to be frightened. For many, the MBA is the first time out of their home city or country, the key being I said "many." And that is something I learned on day one. No matter what excites you orfrightens you, there is always someone else who feels the same way. I for one am a comic book lover, and guess what, on the first day I met a classmate from China whose avatar on WhastApp messenger is Deadpool. So believe me when I say, during the MBA at Anderson you won't be alone.
Being an international student means having experiences that are different from most of my classmates'. The food I grew up with, the languages I speak, the places I have been to, all are unique in their own right and the great thing is people want to learn about them:
- Food - whether it's biryani, ceviche, hummus or spring rolls, in my short time at Anderson I have clearly tried more international dishes than ever before. A big part of being at Anderson is getting to know people, making friends and building a network. Well, there is no better way to do so than over a good meal. I have attended international-themed Anderson Afternoons (our weekly Thursday afternoon MBA-wide get together), participated in small group dinners and visited tons of restaurants. In each of these events, I've had the opportunity to learn more and more about my classmates and make new friends along the way.
- Language - studying in English can be tough. Keeping up with the readings, understanding what is going on in class or even being able to follow a conversation in a loud bar can be difficult when English is not your first language. Luckily at Anderson people are aware of this. From students reaching out to help others with class homework, to study groups meeting after classes to make sure their counterparts understand what was taught, the community here has been incredibly supportive of the students who struggle with the language. Not only that, but more and more students are trying to learn new languages while they are here. A little secret: the most popular one seems to be Spanish.
- Places - the biggest perk of being an international student if you ask me? Being certain that you have lived in a country or city someone else is dying to visit. From the moment I stepped foot on Anderson, classmates have been coming up to me asking about visiting Israel, and I calmly answered that my Israeli co-students and I would be hosting a Spring break trip to Israel. Student-organized international Spring break trips are a long standing tradition at Anderson, with Japan, Israel and Morocco being organized this year. Seeing the interest in all of them and knowing that over 150 students will be joining them is an incredible feeling.
9 months have gone by, 13 months remain. I can only look forward to eating new food, speaking with more classmates and visiting new places to continue to shape my MBA experience. Believe me, this is as integral a part of it as classes and networking are.