Category Archives: Life in the USA

HBS commencement – a jump into a new life… and into the river Charles

The footbridge in Cambridge over the river Charles - higher than one thinks...

The footbridge in Cambridge over the river Charles – higher than one thinks…

Graduating at the Harvard Business School is all about putting on a toga, listening to speeches and jumping into a new part of life… as well as jumping into the river Charles. It is a tradition for students graduating at one of the Harvard schools to jump into this river in  Cambridge. Only when I was standing on top of the footbridge in the middle of the night did I realize how high this bridge is, and how scary it is to take this big jump. But I did it. And there is probably not a more symbolic jump to take than this one. Continue reading


Business School MBA rankings – the weather variant

This is in Fahrenheit people!

This is in Fahrenheit people!

Anyone considering to apply to an MBA program is familiar with the MBA Rankings. Rankings come in different types and focus on different aspects, but at the end of the day, the schools are mostly being audited and ranked on things like out-of-school salaries, GMAT scores and % salary increases. Most of these things seem heavily correlated with what to expect about life AFTER school, but very little with life DURING school. After all, with the typical US MBA program being a 2-year endeavor, one could wonder if quality of life during these 2 years should be an aspect to consider for students when applying to schools. This quality of life can include things like local cost of living, crime rates, number of non-stop airline connections and cultural life of the city. But as I made my way back to Boston last week after a long and well-deserved winter break abroad, I was hit so hard by the cold that I decided to make my own MBA ranking based on a quality of life parameter that really matters to me: the climate! Continue reading

Living in America – Obamacare and the government shutdown

Sorry we are closed statue of libertyAs an international student at HBS, I was exited when I found out that my 2 year MBA in the US would coincide with the presidential elections at the end of 2012. The election of the US president must be one of the most covered political events in the world. And on top of that, I was looking forward to being part of the whole craziness leading up to election day: the debates between the candidates, the aggressive adds on TV and the tons of random discussions between people on the street and on campus. I experienced all of it… and loved it.

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The art of doing business – Only in the US?

20130220-003733.jpgI have been amazed with the American art of doing buiness again in the last couple of days. Even blizzard Nemo, who covered the whole Boston area with 2 feet of snow overnight, created immediate opportunities for making money. The day after the storm, when most streets were still covered in snow, I noticed a ‘Dig me out! 50$’ (with a phone number to call if you wanted the job) sign on top of a pile a snow, most likely covering a car of sorts. As I was taking a picture of it, a guy came up to me asking jokingly: “You’re not going to send that picture to the IRS, are you?” After I assured him that I wasn’t going to cost him any money, I asked him if volunteers had shown up for the job. “I just got hired to get it done,” he replied. I smiled. “Good luck!” I said, before continuing on my walk. The forces of nature had led to creative job creation within hours. Only in the US? Continue reading

Harvard vs Yale: sports or pranks?

My Harvard SWAG

I didn’t really know what to expect as I was heading to my first (American) football game ever. Harvard was about to play Yale at the Harvard Stadium and I was amazed by the hype that had been created around this game between two average college football teams – at least, that is what I was told. Customized SWAG for the game was for sale everywhere, and I have to admit that I wasn’t able to resist this strong marketing campaign – see the SWAG I bought in the picture. Continue reading

HBS vs Sandy: disrupting the HBS machine?

I have been impressed in my first two months at Harvard Business School about how well the school is structured and organized. However, there seems to be one thing that can stop the HBS machine: a hurricane called Sandy. All students and staff of HBS received an email of the office of the dean on Sunday 10/28 at 7.50PM stating that “following a University-wide conference call with representation of each of the [Harvard] Schools, and given concerns about personal safety and the hazards people are likely to encounter on the roads, it has been determined that Harvard University will follow [Massachusetts Governor Patrick’s] request [to close local schools and universities].” In summary, HBS will be closed. In their defense, Sandy also stopped all transportation systems on the East Coast of the US and will probably cause billions $ of damage. Continue reading

The decision making process – a HBS or a US teaching?

HBS is the school renowned for training tomorrow’s leaders by helping them to make better decisions. HBS has been using the case base approach to do so for decades. As I just started my MBA at HBS, it is too early for me to comment on the efficiency of this approach. However, as an international student who has been in the US for about two weeks now, I have noticed that the US soil is itself is a place where you are forced to continuously practice your own decision making process. Continue reading