Semester Series: Kirk Smith – Traveling as a Way of Life
“To travel is to live” – Hans Christina Andersen
I’ve had great fortune in business school so far. When I first started at GBS, I had two regions that I wanted to travel to: Southeast Asia and South America. Thankfully, during my first year, the school sponsored a trip to Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In addition to these locations, I traveled to Hong Kong and Kuala Lampur on my own with a small group of classmates. In other words, I checked off Southeast Asia…for now. As MSMs (Mid-Semester Modules) are being prepared for next year, I hope that I will have the opportunity to travel to Brazil or another location in South America!
A location that I hadn’t traveled to yet, but was always curious about, was the Caribbean. At the end of the spring semester, one of my classmates offered up an idea. His Uncle owns an eco-resort in Jamaica that we could stay at before we returned to school in August. At the time, I was all for this idea. Even though I had no idea what an eco-resort was (I was thinking bamboo huts with minimal impact to the environment), I loved the idea of traveling with my peers to a new location. Over the summer, planning kicked into high gear and after we all completed our internships, we departed for the land of reggae, jerk sauce, and Cool Runnings.
Despite the trip running up against the end of our summer, and a busy schedule upon our return to school, it was absolutely worth the plunge. We were in a remote portion of the island called Port Antonio and just FYI the pictures can never do it justice! We experienced unbelievable views, stunning beaches, and relaxed in the hammocks. My first time being on the islands provided me with a glimpse at a different lifestyle than my own.
Despite our brief stay, I came away with three important lessons:
- Travel, travel, travel– Logistics and planning can be a pain, but I have yet to find a time when the pain wasn’t worth it. The relationships I’ve developed with my classmates on these trips far transcends those that you make just through interactions in the classroom. In a community as small as ours, these are the relationships that could help you find your next job someday.
- Push outside of your comfort zone– I won’t lie; there were multiple times on the trip where I didn’t feel comfortable. Whether it was the large number of panhandlers around, or the relative lack of development in the area we were staying in, one could easily be in a constant state of alarm. Traveling with a classmate familiar with the area helped alleviate those fears and allowed me to embrace a culture that relished living every day.
- Smaller is sometimes better– MSMs are a fantastic experience and I highly recommend every student participate in at least one. Yet there is something equally fun about traveling in a small group to different locations. The flexibility that a smaller group can provide in many situations is worth exploring during your time at school.
While I don’t know whether or not I will go back to Jamaica soon, I do know that I want to travel as much as possible during my last year and take advantage of this unique time in our lives to expose ourselves to international languages and culture.