Posts Tagged ‘culture’

My Experiences of a Study Abroad Exchange Program in Japan

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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To be honest, one of the main reasons I chose to apply to the Foster MBA program was for its excellent exchange programs with 16 partner schools in 14 countries around the world, which include Japan. I had always wanted to do an exchange program in Japan.

As I recall my study abroad experience and think about how to fit an extraordinary 4-month experience in one short blog, all my senses are awakened once again as if I’m seeing the beautiful red autumn leaves, eating a plate of fresh sushi and meditating in a quiet temple.

To me, Japan is a land of inspiration. Beauty lies in everything, from the Japanese language to the sophisticated art forms, but this beauty is not obvious on the surface. One must carefully observe and learn about Japan to fully appreciate it. In Osaka (a major city in Japan), people call a potato “o-imo-san,” where only “imo” means potato. “o” is a term which is used to show respect, “san” is a suffix used after a person’s name to show affection. In brief, people from Osaka call a potato something like “Dear Mr. Potato.” The Japanese rock garden is an art form in itself, composed by an arrangement of rocks, trees and sand which create different forms and images. The largest rock garden in Japan, which I’ve seen and really liked, depicts the image of a pair of dragons emerging from a sea of clouds.These are just two among tons of examples showing the uniqueness, creativity and inspiration the Japanese culture carries.

As exchange students in Japan, we got a chance to grasp the creativity of Japan in an MBA elective at Waseda Business school called Creative Thinking and Ethics in Business. Nobody would expect to have such a class in an MBA program where you learn abstract painting, talk about meditation and the different functions of the left and right brain. It was one of my favorite classes at Waseda. In a nutshell, the class taught us how to practice creativity through understanding which side of the brain we use more often, through abstract painting to express feelings and how important creativity is to various fields of life, including business. We also learned about intriguing research on the difference between a native Japanese speaker’s brain and the brain of those with other native languages, which explains why the Japanese love the sounds of insects and their cHaounterparts don’t. This class, to me, provides excellent evidence of the fact that creativity is an integral part of the Japanese way of doing things.

Inspiration came from not only the language, the art, and the classes, but also from the people I met. A young Japanese couple who has two little boys hosted me in Kyoto for several days. Since they have kids they could not travel, even though they both love travelling and learning about new cultures. Instead, they host visitors from around the world who come to Japan to exchange culture and ideas. Spending a wonderful time eating, talking with them and their friends, and playing with the boys made me think about my future family. It would be a great idea to host international guests once I have my own family. I’d love to bring in people from around the world who come visit my country, to share stories and experiences with them.

In a few words, this is how I remember Japan: beautiful natural scenery, mesmerizing old streets and houses, unique and exciting culture, and delicious food. And yes, the slogan of its tourism industry is absolutely correct: Endless discovery. Yet, all these features seem static. Thinking about them will bring me back to some points in time in the past. There is one thing I took from Japan that I know will go with me for a very long time: Inspiration.

Ha Tran
MBA Candidate, Class of 2015

It Takes a Village

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Rachel Azaroff bikingThe weekend before the last week of class, I set out on a bike ride with three friends from school. We were excited to enjoy the afternoon outside, and three of us were training for a triathlon that we had signed up for together. On the way home from the ride, my wheel got caught in a railroad track, and I was thrown from my bike. When I came to, I was on the ground and had no idea how I got there! I looked up and immediately felt comforted by seeing a familiar face, one of these friends, telling me that I was going to be OK.

The other two pulled up by bike, and one quickly called 911. One rode in the ambulance with me. She and two other friends from the class who met us at the hospital stayed in the E.R. with me for five hours on a Saturday night to make sure I was okay. I ended up with a broken wrist, stitches in my forehead, and road rash down the right side of my body.

I credit co-chairing the 2014 Business Plan Competition for bringing me together with a friend who generously offered to take me into her home and take care of me in my recovery. She drove me to all of my appointments and took copious notes. She managed all of my medicines for me and checked in on me constantly to make sure that I was comfortable and had what I needed. She even washed my hair for me over the side of the tub—creating a salon-like set-up with a camping chair and a removable shower head—since I did not have the dexterity to do it myself. She took me to my surgery at 6:30a.m. Keep in mind that all of this was during the last week of school and finals, which is a stressful time for everyone.

Throughout my recovery, I was flooded with texts and calls from classmates, professors, and the program office to make sure I was okay. Numerous classmates stopped by to bring dinner, snacks, flowers, and to see how I was doing. One even picked up my mom from the airport when she got to town after my surgery, even though they had only met once briefly.

A few weeks later, when I moved into a new apartment and could not lift anything with my right hand, the Foster family stepped in again. Classmates helped me unpack, hang things with a power drill, assemble furniture and dispose of boxes.

I am from the East Coast, and it was scary to go through something like this and not have family nearby. It was comforting how quickly the Foster family stepped in to take care of me and make sure that I was OK.

Guest post by Rachel Azaroff, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

Preview your life as an MBA

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

As I write this there is a room full of curious people next door listening to staff, faculty and current students talk about life as a Foster MBA. They are here for the first Preview Weekend* of the year and will likely be overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive, but after having countless conversations with current students they should leave with a very strong sense of what Foster is all about.

Current StudentsHopefully they’ll also walk away from a long conversation with a first year student and realize that she has voluntarily given up time in her busy schedule and remained on campus during her first Friday afternoon without class to chat with those interested in Foster. She likely has a list of assignments waiting for her, midterm exams to study for, as well as an endless supply of other demands on her time. This is one undeniable thing about Foster – the students are really n-i-c-e!

This morning I spoke with prospective students from Portland (right down the road a mere three hours) to Hawaii and Thailand (not exactly right down the road)! It’s a huge commitment to travel that far to just visit a school, but it’s a bigger commitment to take two years out of your life to pursue an MBA! I think it’s a wise decision to learn as much as you can about a program before you take the plunge and there is no better way than being on campus and meeting the people who make up the program.

The next Preview Weekend will begin on January 21st. Visit the Foster website for more info.