Category Archives: Undergrad


The Fowler Coordinator Blog – Endurance: A Dying Art

Hayley Purcell

Looking back at my freshman year, I had absolutely no concept of the word “no”. Whether that be when a new friend included me in their plans, when a teacher suggested an outside-of-class opportunity or when each table at the Student Org Fair requested my membership. I treated my first semester as the one where I would get involved in every facet of campus life possible, which, no doubt, helped me to develop into the senior I am today. What comes with this plethora of opportunities, however, is also great responsibility.

Increasing commitment and involvement on campus is a great way to learn about yourself both personally and professionally. Though classwork and social groups are a great way to master new material, better your work ethic and create strong connections with peers, it is equally as important to become a part of a bigger group that will challenge you and broaden your experience. This goal can be accomplished through getting involved in any capacity. Whether it be with an adventure group, a service organization, a hobby related club or a fraternity, you are able to connect with a different subset of people on campus with whom you may never have interacted otherwise.

My freshman self was signed up for almost ten different organizations and clubs including GW trails, Campaign GW, The Pink Ribbon, and the Baking, French and Tea clubs, while also taking six classes and attempting to maintain a social life. After attending information sessions for each of these groups and perusing the newsletters, I found that spreading myself this thin was not sustainable. Sure I could manage for the rest of the semester, but what would I really be gaining out of the surface level involvement I had already subjected myself to?

I quickly realized it was time to reassess my interests and time limitations in order to select a core group of organizations to call myself a member of. After this first year, the only groups that stood the test of time were my professional fraternity, social sorority and GW Women in Business. Narrowing this broad selection down not only allotted more time to classwork and social activities but also gave me the opportunity to seek deeper involvement within each group. After this thoughtful selection process I promised my organizations, and myself, that I would be a long-lasting member no matter how the next three years transpired.

To truly gain the most out of each experience it is important to think not only of how you can benefit from involvement but also how you can enhance the group as well. If during your junior and senior years you feel as though you already have established a solid group of friends, secured a job or internship and just about completed your degree, it shows a great deal of character to still be present and involved in the original mission of each organization to which you committed. You would be surprised how rewarding getting involved and maintaining that endurance can be throughout your entire college career in addition to the rest of your life.


GW School of Business Recognized by AACSB International for ‘Global Ingenuity, Innovation and Creativity’

Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2016) — The George Washington University School of Business (GWSB) was recognized today by AACSB International (AACSB) for “global ingenuity, innovation and creativity,” as part of AACSB’s inaugural Innovations That Inspire initiative. GWSB earned the recognition from the global accrediting body and membership association for business schools for its Capital Markets Program, which the school developed in collaboration with the Milken Institute and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to train mid-level professionals working in the finance sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

“This is a great honor for the George Washington School of Business,” Dean Linda A. Livingstone said. “The Capital Markets Program exemplifies GWSB’s broad commitment to contribute as a local, national and global citizen, as well as its aim to serve as a leader at the intersection of the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Faculty, staff and alumni who helped create the program—as well as our partners at the Milken Institute and the IFC—should all be proud of their contributions to this important initiative.”

The GWSB Capital Markets Program is designed to help encourage the development of strong financial institutions and effective capital markets, which are absolutely vital for long-term economic growth in the world’s poorest countries. The program is scheduled to launch in fall 2016.

“It is my pleasure to recognize the George Washington University School of Business for its role in spearheading ingenuity within the business education landscape,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of AACSB International. “As AACSB celebrates 100 years of improving quality management education worldwide, it is important for those within and outside of the industry to be reminded of the vision, leadership, and innovative thinking business schools bring to the table.”

Celebrated as part of AACSB’s Centennial Anniversary and upcoming Visioning Initiative, Innovations That Inspire shines a spotlight on a variety of ways that AACSB member schools, around the globe, are working to innovate and diversify the business education environment. From their approaches to research and learning, to their engagements with stakeholders and oversight of their management and operations, business schools are redefining the way that academic institutions of all kinds create, teach, connect and lead. 

For a detailed overview of the featured innovations, please visit www.AACSB.edu/Innovations-That-Inspire. In the coming months, AACSB will continue to showcase more schools and innovations that demonstrate an impressive range of creativity and commitment to quality. Additionally, access to the full portfolio of submissions will be available to member schools via AACSB’s benchmarking database, DataDirect.

A comprehensive look at AACSB’s upcoming Visioning initiative is also available online at www.AACSB.edu/Vision, and findings from the Visioning Initiative will be presented at ICAM 2016 in Boston, Mass., April 3-5, 2016.

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About the George Washington University School of Business

GW’s School of Business is an international leader in education and research, which prides itself on training future leaders to be global problem solvers and socially responsible managers. The school leverages its prime location—in the heart of Washington—by attracting visiting scholars and leaders in the business community to work, teach and engage with students on campus.  The depth and variety of its academic and professional programs, including five specialized master’s programs, provide rich opportunities for academic engagement and career development for students in the school’s core Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Business Administration and doctoral programs.

Visit: business.gwu.edu

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About AACSB International

Founded in 1916, AACSB is an association of more than 1,450 educational institutions, businesses, and other organizations in 90 countries and territories. AACSB’s mission is to advance quality management education worldwide through accreditation, thought leadership, and value-added services. As the premier accreditation body for institutions offering undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degrees in business and accounting, AACSB offers a wide array of services to the management education industry. AACSB’s global headquarters is located in Tampa, Florida, USA; its Asia Pacific headquarters is located in Singapore; and its Europe, Middle East, and Africa headquarters is located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


The Fowler Coordinator Blog: After The Internship

 

By: Chris Cavalea

Last year, I finally landed the internship I had always wanted. I was working for Fannie Mae in the Business Development sector, mostly responsible for handling customer concerns and building fruitful relationships at smaller-sized lender shops. I felt like I had really made it; I was working for a well-known finance organization in my desired field, and I was gaining practical experience that would benefit me for years to come. I was learning something new every day, expanding my network, cooperating with fellow interns, and enjoying myself in the process. After 10 short weeks, I packed up my things and anxiously awaited a call from Human Resources inviting me back next summer.

As a Fowler Coordinator, I’ve had a chance to sit down with a handful of students and hear about their career paths and stories. Sadly, many of them ended like my story above: at the culmination of their internship. For some, they simply were not selected for full-time positions. For others, there were few opportunities available for them to begin with (as is the case with many partially-developed internship programs). On both sides of the coin, students felt like they took a bad deal, leaving them with little assurance of a job once they graduated.

To prevent this outcome in your own career search, it is critical that you cultivate two-sided relationships with your manager and speak openly about what you want. Often times, the only way to secure yourself a full-time position is to express your desire for one to your manager. Sometimes, it is also important to use your network to discover opportunities across the company, rather than in just your department. In my case, I had to use both of these strategies in order to secure myself a full-time position at Fannie Mae.

I chose to broach the subject of full-time employment with my manager later on in my internship, a couple of weeks before its conclusion. I believed that after working for two months, I had done enough to “prove myself worthy” in the eyes of my supervisor and my coworkers. However, the conversation was not as fruitful as I expected. I was unaware of this at the time, but there were no full-time positions available for college graduates in my department. That meant that five interns, myself included, could not be given full-time positions even if we deserved them.

I didn’t believe that this was fair to the interns in my department, but I was still thankful that I approached my manager early enough to do something about it. Immediately after this conversation, I reached out to my network to see what other opportunities were available, and discovered that the Finance department was still looking for interns to apply to their 2-year rotational program. After getting in contact with the associate in charge of the program, I was able to set up a time to interview, and learn a great deal about the program in the process. I then went back to my manager and asked if he could write me a letter of recommendation, to which he enthusiastically agreed. Three weeks later I accepted an offer to return to Fannie Mae this summer.

The takeaway here is that I did everything right. I applied for and got the internship I needed. I performed well during the internship, winning over both my manager and my coworkers. Yet, this was not enough to secure myself a full-time offer. I had to be assertive enough to tell my manager what I wanted, and I had to be resourceful enough to look for new opportunities when there appeared to be none available. You might find yourself in a similar position in the semesters or years to come, and my hope is that you will not be discouraged in the face of adversity or bad luck. Remember that, even if your internship ends, your career and your story will not.

For more about the Fowler Coordinators click here.


The Fowler Coordinator Blog: From Coffee Runs to Executive Meetings-How to Make the Most of your Internship

By: Zack Bachmann

Zack is a Junior pursuing a BBA with concentrations in Business Economics & Public Policy and International Business. He is currently a Junior Marketing Analyst at Gryphon Technologies, and is pursuing a career in management consulting. This summer, Zack will be interning at PwC in the firm’s Public Sector Practice.

 

After the stress of applications, interviews, follow-ups, and waiting to hear back, you were just offered that amazing internship. Amidst the excitement of accepting the offer, you now start thinking about what you want to take away from the internship. Yes, it’s great to be able to put another line on your resume, but you want to make sure that it’s meaningful and substantive. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your internship:

  • Ask Questions

Yes, technically you’re working and should be focused on completing the tasks your manager has assigned you, but more importantly, an internship is about learning and gaining new skills. One of the best ways to do that is to ask questions. For me, these questions varied from being as simple as “what does this acronym mean?” to more complex questions such as “where do we fit into our client’s operation and how are we helping them achieve their goal?” You want to do this within reason and without pestering your co-workers, but asking questions is beneficial in two main ways. For one, it can allow you to expand your knowledge of the company you’re working for, the industry, etc. Additionally, it also shows your co-workers and/or manager that you are engaged in the position. One of the best pieces of advice I received about this came from my current boss, who said, “this is a two way relationship. You’re here to help us, but we also want to help you. Ask questions, and lets us know what we can do to help you grow.”

 

  • Offer your help as much as possible

You’ve finished the task at hand, and now have nothing to do. It’s Friday, and you’re counting down the minutes until the weekend. It’s easy to sit around and do nothing, but it’s not a good look. Instead, get up, and offer your help! Ask your co-workers if you can help alleviate their workload. Ask your manager if there are any projects coming up that they could use help with. Offering to help could separate you from the pack, and could lead to more opportunity, a cool project, a great recommendation, and/or a host of other benefits. It pays to go the extra mile.

 

  • Converse with your co-workers and manager

Your co-workers and manager are people too. Get to know them! Through conversations with my co-workers, I learned a wealth of information, everything from tips for classes, to what the best restaurants are near the office. My manager shed light on his career, gave insights into the industry, and became a great mentor for me. Small talk can lead to great things, big and small. Take some time every day you’re in the office to say hello and converse with your co-workers and manager- there’s great benefit in doing so!

 

  • Get to know people from outside your department

This one was big for me in turning my internship from good to great. As an intern in my company’s business growth (development) department, our main goal was to grow the business by finding new work opportunities for the company to pursue, and write high quality proposals to win new work. While I gained a grasp of proposal writing and the business development tactics, I didn’t fully understand the services we provided and the customers we were serving. So, I took it upon myself to venture across the office to the operations side of things, where engineers calculated stress loads and program managers looked to optimized processes. I introduced myself to a few people from other departments, and as we built up our relationships and conversed more, I gained a much better understanding of the services we provide and the clientele we serve. In addition to being able to paint the big picture of where my role fit into the company as a whole, I forged great relationships with other people who made my intern experience great.

 

  • Know where your internship fits into your overall career path (and make it known!)

This is another biggie, and perhaps the most important piece of advice I can provide about interning. A common interview question you’ll most likely be asked is “tell me your career goals” or “where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?” Obviously, life is unpredictable and anything can happen, but its good to have a general idea of where you want to be. A part of that is knowing where your current position fits into your overall career path. You may not know the answer to this question when you start, but as you evolve in your role and gain an understanding of what you’re doing, it’s good to start thinking about your next step. This is a major key to success. For example, I’ve known for a while that I want to go into management consulting, but when I started at Gryphon Technologies, I didn’t know how my new position would fit into the path of helping me achieve my ultimate goal. Once I gained an understanding of what I was doing and where my position fit, I started diving deeper into areas where I knew I could gain experience that would help me springboard into a new position. This is where the second part of this advice comes in- make your career goals known! Tell your co-workers, tell your manager. It’s beneficial because they may potentially gear your work towards helping you achieve your goal. You’ll have a better chance of this happening if you have a good relationship with your co-workers and boss, which is why its important to get to know them and talk with them! Networking and relationships are huge in any business discipline, so make sure you’re always building strong, meaningful relationships.

 

These are just some general guidelines for turning your job description from “coffee runner” to having a more significant role in your company, and there might be some situations where you may need to take a different approach. No matter how you get it done, there is great value in getting seriously involved in your internship- you never know where it can lead! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about taking your internship from good to great by emailing me at zbachmann@gwu.edu.


The Fowler Coordinator Blog: Gaining Clarity by Taking a Business Approach to Your Career

By:Justin Weinstein

Justin is a current GWSB senior concentrating in Marketing and minoring in American Studies. Justin spent this past summer at 84.51° – a customer science company – where he was able to bring together his passions for retail, strategy, analytics, and marketing. In June, Justin will be returning to 84.51° in Client Consulting.

Have you ever taken a look at yourself in the same way you analyze a company? The new year provides the perfect opportunity to take a step back from company research, interviews, case studies, resumes, and cover letters to reflect on your underlying motivations and competencies. I was first introduced to what I now call a “Personal Marketing Plan” by a mentor of mine who had a profound impact on my personal and professional development. At first, I wasn’t clear on the importance of spending so much time on a document that likely only several others and I would ever see. It’s the process, though, that is enlightening. The impact of putting on paper your objectives, motivations, and core competencies can give you just the clarity you need to take 2016 by storm and land your dream internship or job.

You might be asking what this Personal Marketing Plan actually looks like. The answer is simple – it’s a document that encapsulates your career ambitions in the same way a company aligns objectives with core competencies to yield a competitive advantage. The structure of the document can be whatever you see fit, but should include the following:

Objectives: Where do you want to go next? What would you like to contribute? How do you want to position yourself in the marketplace of candidates within your field?

            Objective 1:

Objective 2:

Objective 3:

Preferred Industries and Functional Areas: Where do you thrive? What role sits at the center of your desired industry and functional expertise?

            Desired Industries:

            Desired Functional Areas:

Competencies that Support Industry Aspirations: How would you brand the things you are particularly good at? What examples provide evidence that you can add value because you have this competency?

            Competency 1:

                        Example to Support Competency:

            Competency 2:

                        Example to Support Competency:

Target Organizations: What sectors or industries appeal to you? Which companies within those industries appeal to you most? (Know why each of these companies is a part of this document.)

Industry/Sector 1: (List of Companies Below Industry)

The above elements all build a cohesive story about who you are, what you are looking for, what you bring, and where you want to be. If you want to move to “x” city (say Denver, CO), your Personal Marketing Plan can guide you to ask the right questions about what is available in that city and what you bring. Perhaps location is not a factor, but working in a start up environment is critically important to you. Make sure that no matter your lens, you use the Personal Marketing Plan as a way to frame your career ambitions for yourself. When you fully understand where you want to be, which industries and functional areas align with your objectives, the competencies that support your industry aspirations, and the companies that are positioned with your desired space, you will have a heightened grasp of your future career. You’ll be able to answer questions and assess companies based on a solid foundation of understanding.

As business school students, we are taught to analyze companies and situations through many lenses – legal, strategic, financial, social, organizational, etc. When you apply that same thinking to your career the results can be eye opening and highly beneficial. We have all thought of what our objectives are or what companies appeal to us, but putting on paper the numerous pieces that are the foundation of our career searches is invaluable. Before creating my Personal Marketing Plan, I knew I had competencies, but couldn’t fully articulate them. Having them on paper, in conjunction with my objectives and desired industries, gave me confidence throughout my internship and job searches. Ask yourself, “What is your competitive advantage?” Spend the time to take a business approach to your career. Doing so might kick start your internship/job search or will give you greater clarity about your career now and into the future.

Your Personal Marketing Plan should change with you, as opposed to confine your search. The document should be alive, fluid and evolving. My objectives a year ago and completely different from what they are today. In line with my objectives changing over time, I have refined my preferred industries and have adapted my competencies to reflect new experiences and learning more about myself. Use the above structure as inspiration for what your Personal Marketing Plan can look like. It can be as creative or quantitative as you see fit. Enjoy the process, as looking within can often be just as eye opening as peering out into a new landscape. Feel free to reach out to me at jweinstein@gwmail.gwu.edu if you have any questions or want to talk through your Personal Marketing Plan. Happy New Year! Cheers to a great 2016.

For more about the Fowler Coordinators click here.


The Fowler Coordinator Blog: Work, Life and Money – The Balance

By Nicco Lupo

So things worked out as you had hoped – three offers, at three great companies. After all the hours prepping, traveling, and networking you would hope the tough moves were a thing of the past, but unfortunately there is one last hurdle – where do you choose? For arguments sake, we will assume that the decision is not cut and dry, each company has different aspects that are appealing. In essence, you are trying to assign values to different variables that make up the decision-making process, as much as it would be great for it to be cut and dry like an excel model, it is subjective and the means of evaluation is merely a guiding template to focus your thinking and ultimately give backing to whatever decision it is you choose to make. Choosing your summer internship will help shape how you start your career, therefore having a system of coming up with that decision is very important.

Amongst the criteria that drove my own decision-making for my summer internship were: the actual work and responsibility I would be tasked with, the companies’ reputation, compensation, and overall fit between myself and the team I was joining. For me, the actual work and responsibility was a huge driver of where I chose to work, and was something I ranked as being #2 most important on my list. I wanted to be doing tangible work that actually added value to my company, in essence act like a full time analyst. Company reputation was also important, but came in at #3, I wanted to be at a large reputable firm that had an established training program, but the name on the door would not be a determinant unless my first two criteria brought me to a crossroads. Compensation was one of the last points of consideration coming in at #4, I did not want to have pay, at this stage be a deterrent, but the reality is that NYC is expensive and I figured out a number that I needed to make to live and be comfortable in my stay in NYC, and as long as that was met, I was content with compensation.

The most important piece for me was fit and subsequently took the #1 spot; I needed to feel as though I not only had the opportunity to learn a tremendous amount in my 10 weeks, but that I would enjoy doing it in the environment that I was in. At the end of the day if you can’t stand the people to your right and left after a 16 hour day, it is going to make getting back to the office the next that much more difficult. Having colleagues you enjoy working with, and mentors to help guide you through the process was the #1 point on my list. At the end of the day your decision has to be what “feels” right to you, but these points can help bring whatever that position is out into the open. Hopefully these points can make the choice a bit easier and after all is said and done, celebrate like there is no tomorrow, because you earned it.

For more about the Fowler Coordinators click here.


Eiffel in Love With Paris

F15 Week 9.2Paris in one word: authentic. Parisians are unapologetically themselves. You will see people at cafes and on the metro at any time during the day. It’s not that they don’t work hard; it’s just a different culture. A three-hour lunch is acceptable only if you worked efficiently before–or plan to after–indulging a delicious multi-course meal. I think that generally people in Paris take the time to savor every moment whereas we, especially at GW, let our moments just flash by. Parisians don’t let time constrain their lives. I’ve seen the authenticity of Parisian living through our five French students in the program. They are incredibly intelligent, studying a full course load and having fluency in three-plus languages. I can confidently say they are more cultured and knowledgeable about international relations, exemplified in our European Economic Integration elective. Gaining a new perspective and learning about different cultures is an essential part of studying abroad.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect before coming to Paris and now we are 2/3 of the way done with the program! We started our last GW course, Financial Management and are in the midst of planning final trips. We recently finished Human Resources Management, which is essentially learning how to maximize people’s’ strengths in an organization so to figure out our strengths, reflection was part of the homework. One of the assignments was to write an ideal job description for you five years post-graduation. Thinking about where we would be in about seven years was really nerve-racking. It really made all of us map out not only our professional but life goals. That’s another thing about time, half the time we spend planning what we are going to do with the other half. Keeping with the theme of reflection, we traveled to Normandy and Mont St. Michel as a program during this course. Standing on Omaha Beach and visiting the American Cemetery, I thought about how lucky we are to be in a place where so much history happened.F15 Week 9.1

In terms of traveling, a bunch of us have been lucky enough to travel to several cities on weekends and breaks. Our most recent excursion was to Madrid and Barcelona. Walking into the Sagrada Familia absolutely took my breath away. Gaudi worked on this incredible cathedral for a long time, about forty-two years of his life and it is definitely evident in the immense detail. A quick aside on traveling: Traveling is so important for a multitude of reasons. Throwing yourself into a foreign country and navigating unfamiliar streets really emphasizes one’s independence and if you’re traveling in a group, you put a lot of trust in your friends’ navigation skills.

If I had to pick one thing that I learned on this trip so far, it is you need to step outside your comfort zone, often. This includes planning trips to desired cities, starting conversations with strangers and embracing everything that study abroad has to offer. (Which is a lot!) It doesn’t matter if you are on a GW program or a direct exchange student, study abroad is 100% your own experience. It is on me to make sure that I am taking advantage of F15 Week 9.3all this city has to offer and ensuring that my time in this city is well-spent. To finish I listed (some of) the things I am grateful for while on this journey:

  • The hospitality of fellow abroad Colonials who give you a tour around their city
  • The chance to meet a group of highly motivated and unique students in GWSB
  • Adventuring to new places around Paris, not only to the always stunning Eiffel Tower but also underrated places like the quiet railroad walkway of the Promenade Plantée
  • Learning how to cook some awesome dishes in our fabulous apartment (shout out to my pseudo chef roommate!)
  • The chance to look beyond my backyard and gain new perspectives.
  • Time. The most valuable thing you can have and what study abroad gives you exorbitantly more of. The time to wander, reflect and enjoy the present.

So to sum up it is true…. Eiffel In Love with Paris.

Christina Giordano is a Junior in GWSB pursuing a BBA in International Business and Marketing.    She is currently abroad on GWSB’s Paris Signature Abroad program.  To read more about it, click here.   


A Global Perspective

F15 Week 12.4When you go abroad, it is assumed and expected that you fall out of touch with the daily trends and interactions that you experience. For example, the familiar smiling faces on your walk to Gelbucks or the student who heavily sighs at comments about race in the back of the class can seem so trivial and routine. As I bring my semester to a close, I reflect on how out of touch and removed I’ve become to the things that have and continue to attribute to my student experience. But for one thing in particular, I have yet to lose touch: my blackness. Being in Australia has amalgamated my identities as a student, activist, black man, and so much more. Here’s why:

Prior to my departure, I received a plethora of advice, jokes, and concerns about how I would fit into a society that for several decades, oppressed an F15 Week 12.3indigenous group, known as the Aboriginals. Basically, people thought that I may be confused for an Aboriginal person. As I’ve learned in great detail in my “Australian History” class, the similarities of U.S. and Australian history is quite parallel. There was a surge of European forces that claimed land and expanded its growth at the expense of another population. With that being said, it is safe to assume that similarities lie within the minorities and their historical oppression.

Since I’ve been in Australia, I’ve experienced a few things. First, no one confuses or treats me as if I am Aboriginal. Here, I’ve almost always been addressed and approached as an American. In comparison to the states, the Australian sense of national identity is much higher and truly emphasizes their sense of collective culture. For the first time in my life, I was American first, then black or gay. This spoke volumes to me about labels we so commonly use. Secondly, I’ve noticed that any microaggressions that I experience stem from ignorance rather than intention. Based on my experiences, having such a diverse population of people in one’s community can lead to a sense of definitive knowledge about other cultures. This is not necessarily the key to actually learning about and integrating diversity. Learning to not engage and observe this ethnocentric behavior has been my greatest lesson learned thus far. Lastly, perspective is key. I’ve had conversations with students from countries that I may never have the opportunity to visit. To speak with someone from the other F15 Week 12.2side of the world about a shared topic ignites enthusiasm and curiosity! I can comfortably say the chance to have these conversations have allowed me to become even more culturally competent than before.

As I bring this experience to a close, I can’t help but wonder how my far too common experiences will appear with a new and global lense. Time will tell!

Cheers,
Carlo

Carlo Wood is a Junior in GWSB pursuing a BBA in Sport, Event & Hospitality Management, with a minor in Communication.  He is currently abroad at Bond University in Australia through the Arcadia program.  To read more about it, click here.


Mind The Gap? Expectations and Life in London

F15 Week 11.2
When I decided to study abroad at LSE, I made my decision primary because it was a yearlong program and it was the world-renowned London School of Economics. In all honesty, my decision had little to do with LSE’s location London. I assumed I would like London, but I was more focused on the opportunity to really assimilate myself in a different university and participate in such a prestigious program. Two months in and I am very happy with my choice. Not only do I almost have the ropes down at LSE and am enjoying the benefits of being at one of the best schools for economics in the world, but I also have (very cliché-ly) fallen in love with London.  

London is similar to DC in that you feel like you are in the center of everything. The fact that my dorm is right off of Trafalgar Square, the geographic center of London, does help with that. It is surreal to walk across the Jubilee Bridge with views of Big Ben, Parliament and the Eye to get to the train station. I’ve especially taken advantage of this location in the West End to see way too many musicals, the opera and a few plays. In my opinion, Wicked was outstanding, the Bend It Like Beckman musical was better than expected and Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Hamlet was the best performance I have ever seen.

I’ve also explored other parts of London and the UK. Shoreditch, which is best described as London’s Brooklyn, is my favorite neighborhood; it’s filled with vintage shops, graffiti, amazing curry and a life saving 24-hour bagel place. The parks are spectacular, especially Regent’s Park where I spend any non-rainy day (there have actually been quite a few!). I also loved visiting Bath, Stonehenge and taking a break from the city to visit a friend at a university in the countryside.F15 Week 11.4

One of my goals for study abroad was to integrate myself within LSE, rather than depend on American friends and traveling every weekend. This has proved harder than I thought. LSE places American study abroad students in halls together and organizes exclusive events for them in the first few weeks. However, after joining the lacrosse team (a sport I’ve never played) and Women In Business (a student org I am member of at GW) I’ve started to get to know non-Americans and feel a bit more like an LSE student. Both sports and student orgs (called societies here) are very social at LSE, so getting involved is a great way to meet people and I highly recommend it. Interestingly, the most cultural shock I’ve experienced was going to a cocktail hour with a professional society (and with my academic department). Socials aside, WiB also has a great network and I’ve attended very helpful professional events.

F15 Week 11.3LSE has lived up to my academic expectations as well. The first few weeks were less organized than GW, but the professors and sheer volume of readings fit LSE’s reputation. Last week, in my Government and Institutions of Europe lecture, my professor casually mentioned that he helped design the new government in Tunisia. Additionally, thanks to the endless amounts of readings, I’m pretty confident with my understanding of international trade and could hold my own in a debate about TTIP, which I had barely heard of a few months ago.    

Now, two months in, I can honestly say I am excited there are six more to go. My expectations have been met, but more importantly, I have learned that study abroad is about more than expectations. It’s about living my life: one new British friend, one cheeky professor comment, and one 1500-word essay on trade barriers at a time, in a truly amazing city.

Justine Baird is a Junior in GWSB pursuing a BBA with a concentration in Business, Economics and Public Policy. She is currently studying abroad at the London School of Economics.  To read more about GW’s year-long exchange program at LSE, click here.


Learning Through Cinema and Venturing to Southern Italy

F15 Week 10.2It’s hard to believe that I have less than a month left of my semester abroad. My friends and I have done and seen so much that it seems we’ve had years’ worth of experiences in the blink of an eye.

When I made it official that I was studying abroad as a senior, I was relieved that I had found the classes I needed to stay on track for graduation. However, my courses have exceeded my expectations and have really contributed to my overall experience. In my Italian cinema class, I’ve learned more history than I have in any designated history course. Rather than memorizing dates of wars and eras without relating to them, I’ve learned the true meaning of important historical events. Cinema provides a mirror of reality, and beyond that, the director’s vision of that reality. Through neo-realistic Italian films like Bicycle Thief and Umberto D., I have learned what post World War II life was like for low and middle class Italians. Watching Italian films has sharpened my language skills as well.

It has also been great to have multiple field studies in my classes. For Italian I visited a classic Milanese high school where I got to know three students. It’s interesting to see how their education system differs from that of the U.S. For example, students choose from attending six different types of specialized schools: classic, artistic, linguistic, scientific, musical, and human sciences. I’ve also found that young Italians are fascinated by American culture—I am pretty sure that Italian students watch more American TV shows than I do, just as I watch more Italian films than they do. My other classes have also facilitated unique experiences. With my Italian-focused communications course, I had the opportunity to visit the TV studios at Sky Milano, most known for their Sky Sports broadcasting. With the same course I later attended the live recording of Mattino Cinque, a morning “infotainment” show by Mediaset.F15 Week 10.3

In terms of traveling, I’ve definitely done my fair share. Abroad students typically forgo small, less touristy towns for the big European cities on their “study abroad bucket list.” Luckily I’ve made friends that love adventures as much as I do and we decided to explore the Southern regions of Italy in addition to powerhouse European cities. After having traveled to Athens, Prague, and Budapest, we chose to venture out to Southern Italy. Three friends and I flew into Pescara Airport (by far my least expensive flight), where we started our journey. The best part of our trip was seeing the beautiful Italian sights—from vineyards and forests to beaches and lakes. We traveled through Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia, and Campania.

The trip resonated with everything I’ve learned in my classes. Italy is an incredibly diverse and beautiful country and a great part of this is due to its twenty distinct regions. At Napoli, where I ate at the famous Pizzeria San Michele and had the best margherita pizza of my life, I saw a completely different side of Italy. In Milan, the economic capital of the country, everyone tends to be busy and the spoken dialect has virtually disappeared. In Naples, on the other hand, people are generally more laid back and most speak in Neapolitan dialect (in addition to contemporary Italian).

This same weekend, I had one of the most memorable experiences of my semester abroad when I visited Rome. With the recent Paris attacks and the imminent terrorist threats to St. Peter’s Basilica specifically, I had mixed feelings about my trip. However, despite the imminent dangers and taking as much precaution as we could, we headed to the Vatican. Pope Francis is an incredibly important figure and has played a key role in both religion and international relations. Despite being so influential and prominent, he is also admirably humble. It was moving to see people from all over the world gather at the Vatican and it was a privilege to hear the Pope pray the Angelus.

F15 Week 10.4Finally, as much as I love traveling every weekend, seeing and learning about different cities, I always look forward to coming back home to Milan. With little time left, I will make sure to take advantage of every aperitivo and every other cultural-exchange opportunity the city has to offer.

Christina Carpenter is a Senior in GWSB pursuing a BBA with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Italian Language & Literature.  She is studying abroad on the IES Milan, Italy program. To read more about the program, click here.