When I decided to come to Ireland for an MBA, I knew that I was in store for change. What I underestimated was how quickly I would adapt to a new country, university, and peers. The weeks have been busy, but each time I have made an effort to find time to explore something new in and around Dublin on a regular basis. Often-times these adventures include others from the cohort.
My first experience meeting my peers was grabbing coffee with fellow students that, like myself, had arrived early to give enough time to complete quarantine. I have to admit that heading to the coffee shop I was a bit intimidated. After all, I was still nervous that my background in urban planning would be a disadvantage–I felt sure the three students I would meet were more ‘natural’ fits for an MBA. To my surprise within half an hour we were sharing stories about odd work experiences, passions and hobbies, and making plans for the semester. I was relieved to find that everyone else had their own doubts about the process.
Since then I have not only realised that the cohort is made of people with similar goals, but that everyone here has a wide range of unique experiences. In the past month I’ve shared new experiences, wine (even via Zoom), and a fair share of phone calls for advice and discussing future plans.
By far, the most important thing for me has been taking advantage of all that Dublin (and Ireland) has to offer. Whether meeting classmates for a well-spaced walk in the city, a quick run for food in Blackrock, or a solo bike ride to a new spot, the moments between classes are easily filled.
The high point of my first 60 days in Ireland is the day-trip to Glendalough just before the semester started. Growing up in the infamously flat Midwestern US I don’t think I was exposed to a proper hike until I first visited New York State. Embracing the opportunity to push myself outside of my comfort zone I agreed to accompany my roommate to meet some friends for a hike.
I would have been content with the view at the base of the trail that took a short thirty minutes to reach. That was barely even the beginning. I am sure others that had done the walk before were not as impressed with how high we were – or that they could see the car park.
Pushing ahead – with intermittent pauses to attempt to locate ‘the spinc’. I started to draw analogies to the move to Ireland, the MBA, and what lies ahead over the next year and beyond. Even though I was unclear about the full extent of the walk, I trusted the process, and my hiking-partners for the day. The end result was the chance to see what I might achieve if I set out with an open mind, no particular expectations, and some encouragement and guidance along the way. In the end, I got to see the type of views I had only seen in photographs – with a few ruins sprinkled in to illustrate the importance and history of Glendalough.
Just one month into the MBA I am still figuring out what comes next. Over the next 11 months I have no doubt that my limits will be tested, and I’ll see what I can achieve under the right circumstances. I am also certain that my newfound peers will have the same experience, and that we’ll share a lot of moments now and after the MBA. For those who are sure this is the right step but who are worried they are a ‘good fit’, all I would say is to take the chance and keep an open mind and the result may surprise you.
–Alexander McGrath, FTMBA Class of 2021