By Abdul Basith, ’14
Cobble-stoned streets, brightly painted buildings with wrought iron balconies, restaurants with tables spilling onto the streets. This is a typical sight in Madrid where I have been relishing local food, visiting must-see places and admiring the architecture for the last three weeks. Getting by without Spanish can be hard but living with a Spanish family, in a bid to go from just ‘Hola’ and ‘Gracias’ to be able to form meaningful sentences, has been an enriching experience in many ways so far.
While Madrid has a lot to offer with its vibrant nightlife, chic restaurants serving a variety of tapas and bocadillos, and impressive stadiums hosting soccer games, you would be hard-pressed not to travel to Spain’s beautiful southern coast. So as our three-day weekend approached, three fellow T-birds and I impulsively set out on a road trip to Granada. Soaking in the beauty of AlHambra, a thirteenth century palace and the Sierra Nevada mountains blanketed in snow is not an everyday experience and was worth the six-hour drive, braving heavy rains in a swaying compact car.
It hasn’t been all fun though. Coming in from a long winter break, my classmates and I shifted right into study mode. In less than 10 days we had turned in three assignments, worked on a group project and had already taken a final exam. While the shorter course format hasn’t been easy on us, it is certainly forcing us to manage our time better. How else are we to explore Europe in the limited number of weekends we have here? As part of our global experience, we also visited the headquarters of Correos, a publicly held logistics firm. Processing six million parcels every day, the company serves businesses and people across the length and breadth of the country. The visit was a good opportunity for us to understand business in a European context. More visits to companies in the banking and manufacturing sectors are scheduled for the next few weeks.
As I write this before heading to Malaga, some of my classmates are in Lisbon, Rome, Paris, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. What better way to learn management skills than to travel – managing time, money, people and conflicts! We know well that the best learning comes from conversations we have with strangers in a foreign land and that the best business ideas come from doing what challenges us and shows us a new side of ourselves.
I will soon find out what eating octopus for dinner can teach me about myself.
P.S: Special thanks to Manik Tayal, the module abroad representative, and Patricia Breceda, the program director who was with us for 2 weeks, for organizing company visits, a well-planned class trip to two historic cities and a Thunderbird Alumni First Tuesday event.