Between Philly and Tel Aviv – ‘Exchanging’ notes on student’s life

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“Are you going to the Red & Blue ball like that???” She asked me with her eyes wide open, trying to figure out if I was kidding or not.

I was dressed in blue rubbed jeans and a light blue T-shirt, like I used to wear for parties back home in Israel.

“Well I thought it’s just another theme party, no one tells me anything around here, I’m still tumbling in the dark…”

 

I came to Wharton business school after missing the first week. I missed the exchange program orientation session, didn’t know anyone in school except my roommate, which I met only 24 hours before. I was clueless, maybe for the first time in my life.

Walking around the campus full of students reminded me of my first days in undergrad school back in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But instead of being stuck in one dull structure, I am now surrounded by beautiful well-crafted red buildings, plazas, and green grass and trees. Don’t get me wrong, I love the campus back home, I had an amazing time there and I missed spending my lunch hours with friends on the huge lawns we had outside. But here in the US, it’s got to be in a different scale as the Americans know the best.

 

I went into my first class of Corporate Development. Someone already gave me tips that this course is intense and the professor is not messing around, but I wasn’t ready for what happened there. By the time my Israeli teacher would just finish his last sip of coffee while entering class, this Wharton professor made 10 cold calls, engaged the entire class for the case we had to read before and had the board filled with tables, assumptions and comparisons. The class was mind blowing, I just loved how she articulated and explained the message and points she wanted to pass on.

 

Our MBA program in Israel is different. We usually don’t quit our jobs to have two years of vacation. When I started my program in Tel Aviv University, I was working in a full-time position, running the financial department of a small startup company. School was not my top priority; the professors got it and they used the student’s career and army experiences to have better examples and live demonstration of what they wanted us to learn and achieve. That said, I wanted to get more out of my MBA than a frontal lecture, I could do the same thing by taking those internet courses. So, I decided to join an exchange program.

 

After two days of studies, I didn’t know what to think. So many articles and cases to read, assignments packing up on the canvas website, people talking about recruitment, clubs, meetings, parties. I was overwhelmed by the amount of information flowing towards me and passing quickly as I was trying to catch something to understand where to start.

 

“Yoav, it’s a fancy ball, people take it seriously at MBA schools, they wear suits and crazy stuff” my roommate said while holding my hand and taking me to the closet room to pick up some nice clothes.

“Yes, I got it, I have one suit (which I never wore in my life) and it’s black, I’m working in a startup, I’m wearing flip-flops to work so does my boss, nice clothes are for important meetings or conferences”

 

By the middle of the second week, I figured it a little bit more. I was prepared for classes (at least I think I am), I knew about all the clubs’ calendars, lunch meetings, career management opportunities and expos.  And I got to know new amazing people who helped me along the way, took the time to explain to me how things work around here and turned out to be also good friends.

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I’m still peeling layers over layers of what this school can offer me: Leaderships Ventures of all kinds, Entrepreneurship center, fine dinners with successful Alumni and many more for which I haven’t found time to keep exploring. Having access to these tools and resources can really make the difference between a standard career and an exciting and meaningful one. While having some of those resources in a much smaller scale in our home university, most of us don’t have the time to take advantage of them and use them.

 

“Is that the line to get into the party? People have lost their mind?” I was looking at a 600 well-dressed young and beautiful students waiting quietly.

“No, it’s the line for taking a picture with the Wharton icon background, we’re second years, we don’t need that, let just skip the line and get some drinks inside, I want to party!!” again my roommate saved me.

 

Although I have been very overwhelmed by the many obstacles in the beginning at Wharton, I look back now, and after one month, I know that this has been already an amazing experience for me. ‘Wasting’ my time at the inspiring fine art library writing this article, I must tell you that I’m grateful to have this opportunity to study here and so should you.

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