It’s nearly December, which is hard to believe even as I write it. The first three months of my MBA endeavour have been exciting, challenging, and have flown by.
An opportunity to perform a self-inventory arose during a Thanksgiving (Friendsgiving) dinner last weekend. I took a moment to pinch myself that this journey I had so eagerly studied for, worked towards, and moved across the Atlantic Ocean for (with the support of my partner); had quickly and unassumingly transitioned to feeling at home.
The community of Said Business School now feels like a family. I’m making a deliberate effort to get to know each one of my classmates (easier said than done) and the common room has a warmth to it when I pass through between classes, team meetings, and studies. I have forged what I can already tell will be lifelong friendships and learned as much through cases as I have through lively discussions during class. The pace of the academic calendar here demands that we work hard, but I’ve also heeded advice to remain open to serendipity. In the classroom, this has ignited a new curiosity in analytics, finance, and markets; thanks in part to some inspiring professors. All my classes thus far have been with my section (B!) of 70 or so, and we’ve bonded closely.
The notion that the school is deeply embedded within the larger university has proven itself more true than I could have realised; Mansfield College has been a home away from home. I feel honoured to be one of this group of brilliant students across different disciplines which provides an atmosphere ripe for interesting discussion and friendship. At a recent dinner, my discussions with law, economics, and a few fellow MBAs ranged from Sri Lankan politics to intellectual property laws for indigenous peoples, and naturally, Brexit. When classes and work are done for the day, I hop on the bike to the university squash courts to practice with the squash team, full of medics, scientists, and economics students. Court sprints are a sure-fire way to make you forget about homework, for a bit. This routine has ensured my days are full and I’m able to meet the next day. The recent weather means that a pit stop to warm up at the pub is sometimes required on the way home.
The city of Oxford itself is a unique incubator, an intellectual playground of sorts. Early in the term, I had to forgo hearing from the Hiroto Sakawa (CEO of Nissan) and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (Ranil Wickremesinghe) (both separate events) to see Hilary Clinton unveil a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt at my college. Remarkable, these were free events within walking distance to learn and engage with world leaders. I’ve taken advantage of the close proximity to London (under an hour by train); a city I love, but it’s hard to leave here when you do get some free time to roam. And while it’s an intellectual playground, it’s not a bubble: it’s a place that takes on tough questions to create a stimulating learning environment (see: recent Oxford Union speaker list). I’m excited to continue taking on tough questions, learning, and growing in this unique place.
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