The Global Experiential Module (GEM) was a big draw in applying to Goizueta as I was unable to study abroad during my undergrad. Several of my friends had transformational experiences, and I was hoping to replicate that in some form. But with the extending pandemic, I was unsure if we’d be able to experience this GEM opportunity that is central to the Goizueta experience. I recall asking about GEMs constantly. Associate Dean, Full-Time MBA Programs and Goizueta Global Strategy and Initiatives Brian Mitchell and the program office probably got tired of providing the same answers (usually it was the stereotypical consultant answer: “it depends”). As time got closer, the dream of going on a GEM, at least in May, seemed to be increasingly less likely.
A glimmer of hope came when the Two-Year MBA class was able to travel to Dubai in January. The pictures on social media were stunning. I hoped to hear more about their experiences and about how Goizueta tied educational concepts in with leisurely travel.
We can always go to these places without programming from the school, but ultimately access to prominent resources and educational opportunities made me most excited.
I remember the day our GEM was announced, sometime in February. Our class had to choose between two similarly themed trips: studying sustainability in Iceland or in Norway. Given that I’d visited Iceland previously, I wanted to try something new. It helped that Norwegian business was more interesting, with socialism creating a unique set of questions as to how business functioned there. The sustainability element was also exciting, as Norway is a global leader in that space. Ultimately, I was excited to go anywhere!
Prior to the trip, we had intentionally designed sessions created by Associate Professor in the Practice of Organization & Management Renée Dye to get us up to speed on all things Norwegian: culture, politics, sustainability, etc. It was great to have experts help us understand the landscape we were walking into, especially considering the majority of us had little to no experience with Norway or even Scandinavia. I found great alignment in the topic broached and the speakers invited to prep us for the trip.
That all continued upon arrival. We had awesome content prepared for us regarding sustainability from several vantage points. We had meetings with McKinsey Norway, TeleNoord, Statkraf, and NHH Norwegian School of Economics. The academic and professional speakers all provided excellent content, giving us great context into the inner workings of Norge society. The tours and activities planned helped expose us to the day-to-day lives and expressions of Norwegian history and culture. We were able to go on a six-hour train ride through the Norwegian countryside, which allowed us to see some unreal change in terrain.
All of that was awesome, and yet, I think I got the most out of the mundane interactions with locals.
It was special for me to contextualize all that I’d heard about the Norwegian people. I loved taking the concepts learned in the sessions and asking the locals how it manifested in their context, or asking them their viewpoints on how they were seen globally. It ultimately was the most meaningful to have these people take the time to have deep conversations about the parallels between American and Norge culture.
While we were in Oslo, we were able to witness Constitution Day. This holiday served as a celebration of Norway’s independence from Denmark and Sweden. Calling it a Norwegian “Independence Day” would be doing it a disservice. I’ve never seen such a display of unity amongst people. Despite their critiques for their nation and its decisions around creating a Norwegian identity, these people all were rallying together to celebrate the independence of their nation.
Lastly, this trip wouldn’t have been the same without my fellow students and Professor Dye. I already alluded to how intentional the design was about the experience, but I couldn’t imagine traveling to Norway any other way. I got so much out of the preparation and the local businesses that spent time educating us about how they functioned. I also learned so much from and about my classmates: who they were and how they thought. It was cool to experience this trip with them and I’ll forever be linked to them in this way.