One of the hallmarks of the Smurfit MBA is the international study trip that every fulltime student takes part in each March. In the programme brochure, the trip is described as an opportunity to “visit a dynamic market and enhance your global perspective.” While these would both be true statements, after my recent experience in China, it’s my suggestion that Smurfit add a few more adjectives to the description such as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘monumental’ to illustrate the overall opportunity the trip provides. Indeed, after a quick informal poll from my classmates, I’d say the most common word they used to describe the experience was: ‘epic’.
The trip was filled with highlights on both a professional and personal level. From the space age city of Shanghai (felt like visiting the future) to the booming cultural and political capital of Beijing, we were treated with a line-up of interesting meetings, presentations, tours and networking events with local and international businesspeople.
Although I could go on and on about some of these experiences, there was one event in particular that I’d like to share about: The Irish Ball. In honor of St. Paddy himself, every year the Irish expat community in China throws a huge black tie event in Beijing. This year, the event was attended by 750 people and it was easily one of the coolest parties I’ve ever been to. Champagne reception, 5 course meal highlighting Irish cuisine, Guinness/open bar, with musicians and dancers flown in from Ireland – the place was electric. At one point it occurred to me while I was standing in a crowd of people (fresh off a really embarrassing attempt at Irish dancing!) watching the Irish rugby team dismantle the English in the cup of nations tournament – I’m from the US, studying in Ireland for the year, and right now I’m having the best Paddy’s day of my life in Beijing surrounded by loads of new friends from all over the world.
I tip my hat to the Smurfit MBA.
– Patrick Hillis
Here are a few pictures from the trip…