It is now 1 month since we arrived in Ireland. What a month! Looking back it is quite amazing how much can happen in just 30 days!
On arrival, Dublin was a foreign place with foreign people for my wife and I coming from South Africa. Today, we already have a local pub and diner, and I can quite confidently tell you the names and nationalities of all 40 of my full time MBA classmates, who I now call friends.
How did we move so quickly from feeling like foreigners to feeling at home? I can only attribute it to something quite special about the Irish culture and the Smurfit School in particular.
Our prior knowledge of Irish culture extended as far as the Irish pubs back in Johannesburg, renowned for their jovial character. I previously attributed this to the ale consumed in the pubs, but I now see it more as an outworking of the lively and social way of life lead by most Irish people. We could not have guessed the state of the economy through our interaction with the Irish people. Be it from an offer of the estate agent to store our bags for us, the solicitor who asked us to just drop the 10euro we were short in the post box sometime, or the ‘out of country’ lady writing down her full lineages contact details if we were ever to be in the area. The Irish are a welcoming people.
This ‘not wanting to disappoint’ attitude of the Irish does come with some risk however, as we were warned in the MBA foundation week. If an Irish person advises that it is a 5 minute walk somewhere, it is probably closer to 15 minutes, and if it is mentioned to be a ‘long’ 5 minute walk, it is closer to 30 minutes.
The Smurfit School for its part is particularly good at assisting foreign students to relocate and integrate. They do need to be, as 65% of our MBA class are international students, coming from all continents excluding Antarctica and Australasia. A specific highlight of my short time here has definitely been the foundation week that the business school holds for full time MBA students before the start of lectures. This provided valuable time for our diverse 40 person MBA class to get to know one another in a social setting and quickly turn acquaintances into friendships.
The course work so far has lived up to its reputation of being challenging and stimulating, and the external talks and events have been high class. Of particular interest to me has been the personal development focus of the Smurfit course and I look forward to much self discovery ahead.
Although it is still early days and the assignments are only starting to pile up, I can quite confidently say that I am looking forward to the coming 11 months, if the 1st is anything to go by.
-Neil Krige, FTMBA 2012/13