At a time when ‘together’ comes with a small side of anxiety, and ‘new friends’ are something we haven’t thought about in nearly two years, coming into a brand new journey like an MBA program, I knew it was more important now than ever to find a way to bring everyone together.
With COVID19 restrictions changing every day, we knew it would be difficult to create a pre-MBA trip that would be student-budget friendly and inclusive for those who weren’t able to travel far or outside of the U.K. After some brainstorming and democratic voting, we landed on Scotland as the destination of choice, and I looped in two of my now-best-friends and MBA colleagues, Taimur Tanoli and Guadalupe Oliver, to help plan the pre-MBA trip of a lifetime.
As eager as people were to finally meet the incoming cohort, and the people they would be surrounded by every day for the next year, we quickly garnered a ton of interest and had over 70 sign-ups. We knew the logistics would be complex and it was mildly daunting to think about getting 70 strangers across Scotland in a fun, safe, and efficient way.
After weekly meetings for two months, excessive amounts of spreadsheets, a lot of foreign call fees, and group-rate negotiations, we had the best 7 day road trip from Oxford to Scotland and back you’ve ever seen. I won’t harp too much on the synchronicity of mine and my co-planner’s skills and interests, but it very much helped that we coincidentally happened to be a very organized and in tune group and immediately were able to work well together, divide tasks efficiently, and think through all aspects of the trip including buffering for variation. Instead, I will focus on the success of the trip through the lens of the group, and the amazing bonding moments and experiences we had along the way.
It all began with a 7AM departure from Saïd Business School and a 6(ish) hour coach bus drive to Glasgow, with idyllic countryside scenery and many rest stops to soak it all in. Making it to Glasgow, we were all ready to explore the city and for our kickoff dinner. Nothing like a 6 hour coach ride and some premium Scotch Whisky to break the ice! Throughout the next few days, we drove through the majestic Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands all the way to Inverness and subsequently Edinburgh. We stopped at incredible sites like Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Fort William / Ben Nevis, Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter nerds!) and the Eilean Donan Castle. After countless hours on our coach bus, many dinners, scenic hikes, city exploration, and pub pints galore, we had all made memories and what was clear would be friends for life.
I am endlessly thankful for this trip, the people that helped make it happen, and everyone that made it unforgettable along the way. Not only did I confidently walk into our first day of orientation, knowing I had 70 new friends already, but I walked in knowing that, if that trip were any indication, this was going to be the best year of my life.
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