The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and we have firmly settled into our schedules. The programme is running at full pace now, with most assignments due within the next few weeks. It’s a good moment to reflect on the “typical week” in the life of an MBA. This is week ten of the Oxford MBA.
Classes usually start at 8.30 am, and last until 12 pm, with a 30-minute break. Classes continue at 1:30 pm, and run until 4:45 pm, with another 30-minute break. The long breaks are great for socializing and reflection. In the evenings, there are a variety of options: Further optional classes, recruiting events, talks and debates, or social dinners. Further, extracurricular activities take place before, during or after the day at business school. The extracurriculars cover a wide array of topics, from sports to societies to business networks. Most of my peers are taking part in up to two extracurricular activities to round off their education or pursue their passion whilst here in Oxford.
Personally, I volunteer in the peer support programme, row in the novice team of my college, and am the representative of my section in the MBA programme. Combined with classes and assignments, these activities lead to fairly full schedule. My average weekday has 5 hours of classes, 3 hours of self study, 1 hour for careers, 2 hours each for extracurricular and social activities, as well as 7 hours of sleep.
Today was a particularly exhilarating day. Whilst not every day comes as exciting as this one, days like this happen on a regular basis. It was a day packed to the brim with great events. Here we go:
I woke up early after 6 hours of sleep to cover the essential reading for today’s classes. From 8.30 am to 12 pm, my section had Economics with Nir Vulkan, Associate Professor for Business Economics at Saïd Business School. Over lunch, I attended a guest lecture held by Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership and Learning at INSEAD Business School in Paris. In her inspiring and insightful talk, Prof Ibarra spoke about her own teaching experience, how it influenced her development and her research, and advised us to “Act like a leader. Think like a leader” (in that specific order). From 1.30 to 4.30 pm, my section had Analytics with James Taylor, Professor for Decision Science at Saïd Business School. Prof Taylor’s invigorating teaching style – knowledgeable, stimulating, and most of all, fun! – has quickly garnered him rock star status among our MBA cohort (Application tip: if you are thinking of attending a taster lectures, make sure it’s one of his!).
After school, my fiancé Sabrina and I went on to attend a talk by Lord Martin Rees. Lord Rees was once described by The Independent as “one of those rare examples of someone with a brilliant mind who can talk to lesser mortals without making them feel as if they suffer from a mental deficiency”. He is an acclaimed British cosmologist and astrophysicist, Astronomer Royal, and Professor of the University of Cambridge. Hosted by the Oxford Martin School, the talk was held in one of Oxford’s most beautiful indoor spaces – the Sheldonian Theatre. Lord Rees talked about the notion “Will technology’s dark side eclipse humanity’s bright future?”. The talk was every bit as exhilarating as its title would suggest, and infused by the dry British humor and brevity that I have so come to love (To give you a flavor: he noted that there was a question mark at the end of the title, “which usually indicates that the answer is ‘No’”. However, in this case he would rather estimate the answer as ‘Probably not’).
After this busy day, there was another highlight scheduled: a debate at the Oxford Union, by its own acclaim the world’s foremost debating society. The debate was titled “This House Believes Britain and the EU are Better Together”. The speakers included the former President of the European commission, the former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as well as the leaders of two major political parties. Alas, the queue for this event was too long to make it worth our while. We opted to watch online, when BBC televises a recording of the debate later tonight.
Throughout this exhilarating day, we were wearing our nicest black-tie outfits to celebrate “Black-tie Monday”, a recent invention (and instant success) by one of my peers. Only in Oxford can you wear a tuxedo or evening gown to school on a Monday morning, without anyone so much as blinking with an eye.
I hope I have been able to convey some of the excitement that is the Oxford MBA – stay tuned for more to come soon.
Have a great week!
All the best, Andy
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