The perfect (Smur)fit!

On August 27th, 31 students from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia came together for the first time. Excited to embark on this crazy adventure called the Smurfit MBA – wondering what our classmates would be like, who we would be working with in study groups and who our new friends would be.

Less than seven weeks later, it was time for us to be exposed to a whole new set of MBA students from schools across the world. Who would we meet? What would our classmates be like? Who would our new friends be? Some members of our Smurfit class set off to locations such as Vancouver, New Haven and Madrid, and some stayed in Dublin to warmly welcome students from other MBA programs to our home in Dublin. As a Canadian who spent the last decade living in Western Europe, I chose to attend the module offered at Fudan University of Management in Shanghai, China.

Enthusiastic about the opportunity to experience a new culture, eat dumplings and meet more inspiring MBA students, I bade goodbye to Dublin for the week and set off for Shanghai alone.


Navigating a big city in China proved to be harder than I had anticipated, which was the general consensus among the other GNAM students in Shanghai – and became a great source of entertainment for my friends back home and in Dublin. I honed my skills in pointing and gesturing, as I learned more about the evolving Chinese business culture and took in the sights, history and dumplings.

While there were no local Fudan students in the course with us, I met students of all ages and backgrounds from top business schools such as ESMT, IE, EGADE, UBC Sauder, Yale and IIM. I learned about these people, I learned about the MBA degrees that they were pursuing, and I learned that MBAs are not all created equal even across the top programmes in the world. Not every school has a Leadership Development Programme that includes a personal coach, career counseling and events in full swing within the first two months and a Programme Manager who genuinely cares about the students she is minding. (Hi Aga! We appreciate you!)

I heard about programmes that had hundreds of students each year, and I had a newfound appreciation for the close-knit nature of the Smurfit programme. We arrived at Smurfit strangers, and only seven short weeks later, I found myself missing the cheerful Irish accent, my Indian, Kenyan, South African and Japanese MBA family in Proby House, my brilliant and funny study group and all 30 faces that I had come to know so well in such a short time.


Now another seven weeks have elapsed since that alternate universe MBA experience in Shanghai and I can say that I’ve come to appreciate the UCD Smurfit community and Dublin even more with time.

In Switzerland, we say “daheim si isch ke Ort…sondern äs Gfüeu” (home is not a place, rather a feeling). I am thankful for the “Céad Míle Fáilte” (hundred thousand welcomes) I have received daheim at Smurfit and look forward to continuing this adventure.


Carmela Reyes, FTMBA 2018/19