“My world hasn’t changed at all this year”…
… said no-one ever about 2020.
As we hurtle towards the end of Michaelmas term (already?!) and we are less than six weeks away from closing the door on 2020, it seems like a great opportunity to address the question; “Has your world changed this year?”
I think we can all unanimously agree that everyone’s’ worlds have changed to some extent. The pandemic of 2020 has required us all to redesign our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a mere twelve months ago, when Black Friday and Christmas fever were just settling in, ready for the build-up to the annual, family celebrations.
Who could have predicted what was to come: “Covid”, a word that most people had never even heard before, being crowned as the most popular word of 2020; phrases such as “Janet, you’re on mute” and “damn, I’ve forgot my mask” becoming commonplace in our everyday lexicon and a documentary about the rivalry between an eccentric zoo owner and a big cat fanatic (whatever did happen to her husband…?) gripping the world.
Who also could have predicted the devastation that this virus would bring with it: over one million deaths worldwide; the closure of businesses both big and small and hundreds of thousands of job losses.
I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say that I think everyone’s worlds have been changed this year.
Deciding to pursue an MBA in the midst of a global pandemic could, understandably, be seen as a risky strategy – a major financial investment coupled with, not only, an uncertain job market on graduation but an unknown world. I’ve read many articles on Forbes.com and the Financial Times agreeing that pursuing an MBA now is risky and “absolutely not worth it” but I disagree.
When I received my offer from SBS, I had visions of long days in the Business School; formal college dinners and rowing on the Thames at the weekends. Instead, we are in the midst of our second lockdown with two hours a day in the Business School, “bring your own cutlery” to college dinners and solo runs around University Parks. Is it the MBA experience I was hoping for? Absolutely not. Is it an MBA experience worth doing? Absolutely.
Our class sizes are much smaller than previously, meaning the time we get to spend in the Business School with our Professors is interactive, engaging and interesting. D4, my section, is a really close group; we bring so much energy and enthusiasm to the class that three hours of Statistics on a Thursday afternoon could even be described as enjoyable! The faculty have done a great job of updating the syllabus to reflect the “new world” we find ourselves in; our first project was a 3,000 word report on how British Airways could “build back better” from the Covid-19 crisis. You don’t get much more relevant than that.
Yes, we are all mourning the lack of social interaction, parties, formal college dinners and informal trips to the pub but then so is the rest of the world. I think, like everyone, we can only hope and pray that by the spring we are able to experience these quintessential Oxford traditions. For now, we can only make the most of the Zoom “happy hours”, chocolate tasting and pub quizzes that are being organised for us.
And as for the lack of team sport, well that’s really killing me – those few weeks of training with the Cross-Country team and college rowing were so much fun. They have been replaced with solo runs and Zoom workouts, which albeit are less social but I am thankful for.
I think it’s safe to say that my world has definitely changed an awful lot this year. As I reflect on this whirlwind first term, I’m so grateful to be in Oxford and I’m taking every opportunity to make the most of this experience. I’ve met so many incredible people and made some truly wonderful friends. When the world does open up again, I know no matter which country I find myself in, I will be able to call on any of them and that is one of the best things about my Oxford MBA.
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