Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

Almost There

December 19, 2009
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My head is completely full of ideas to write about: COP15 and the Great Debate; Lunch with the Danes; all the developments in the economy, health care legislation and financial reform. But right now all of us are a little overwhelmed with the finale of this trip.

We’ve been saying goodbye to people for almost a week now, and as each person leaves a part of the experience leaves with them. For the next 48 hours I’m going to stay away from the computer and just soak the last of it in. There will be time to write over the Holiday Break, and I’ll fill in those stories then, but for now, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Glædlig Jule og godt Nytår!


The Last Week

December 15, 2009
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Early this morning I put the finishing touches on my last final, a 15-page essay for my Innovation Leadership class. Advanced Corporate Finance nearly killed me last Friday, but it’s already receding from view. And now here we are, a few days from departure back to the United States.

Last night we had our residence Goodbye Dinner, featuring the finest Mexican food, BBQ and sangria Denmark has to offer in the middle of December. I suppose I could talk about the bonding and the first goodbyes, but anything I would have to say would come out sounding trite.

Instead, I like to think about the wall decorations, sheets of paper covered with our favorite quotes, memories and experiences drawn out and posted for all to see. Not everyone knew every story. There’s no way 80 people are going to become best friends, no matter how long they are living together. But we all knew what at least some of those words and pictures meant. They were the collective experience spelled out for all.

Living this experience has been invaluable in so many respects. The classroom has been enriching, and I do feel like I’ve come away with hard earned skills, particularly in finance. But while the classroom has been intense at times, it really has been secondary to the people and the experiences. That daily ritual of seeing your friends, talking through your problems, and sharing good times and bad. I think people here are thinking a little more deeply about who they are, what they value, and how they’re going to take all of this back to their friends at home. There is no doubt coming here has been expensive, there’s no price tag that can measure the relationships that have been built. Our professors preach networking back at home, and now it feels pretty good knowing my network is global.

I’d also like to think we’re looking at the future. After all, isn’t this the direction the world is going? Smaller, faster, more interconnected. I believe we’re going to live in a world where we’ll be expected to communicate with each other and learn from each other. We’re all going to take this new perspective on the world home with us, and we will all benefit from it.

Nearing the End

December 6, 2009
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I’m coming home in 2.5 weeks. Wow. I’ve been living in Copenhagen for four months, just long enough to get into a groove here, and now I’m preparing myself to leave.

Nobody here really wants to think about it. We’ve all been having so much fun learning about each other and from each other, and as a result, the weeks have flown by and it’s already December 6th.

This experience has encompassed so many aspects of my life the last four months. I know that there will be a period when I need to unwind and decompress and digest the whole thing: the places, the people, the experiences, the knowledge, the joy and sorrow of meeting wonderful people and then having to say goodbye before you are ready. It’s a jumble right now, and one I still can’t quite wrap my head around.

In the meantime, I still have two finals to focus on. It’s surreal to have these real world concerns nagging at you while you’re in the middle of this strange adventure that has dislocated you from your natural environment. But the work needs to get done, the tests taken and passed and the papers written.

And then it will be time to go home. There is sweetness in that too. I know many of us are looking forward to seeing our friends and our families and our cultural comforts. But we also know that we won’t be the same, that Copenhagen will have impacted us and changed us for the better. We realize that we aren’t just Brazilians or German or Danish or Thai or Korean or Italian or French or American, but that we are global citizens. Even though we have differences, we are also connected by our humanity and our values and our goals. We have been living it every day for the last four months.

I know this blog post is a bit disjointed and all over the place, but I think that’s a reflection of my mind and my thoughts right now. I’m just trying to sit back and take it all in for the next several days.