It’s 5am, Singapore time. I managed to get some shut-eye from 1am to 4am after a series of webinars, and this is supposed to be a relatively free day in school. It has been 9pm – 5.30am days of of the time this week, and I often just go straight to bed right after classes as I get a little too tired. It has been pretty hard trying to stay awake for Finance and Accounting classes in the wee hours of the morning — it’s not fun trying to think quantitatively at 3am in the morning.
I chose this life though, so I am not complaining. It does strike me that every strategy has trade-offs – something that we learnt in Strategy Class. We simply can’t have it all. By choosing to do an MBA, I commit myself to arranging my activities towards studying, effectively making it much harder to do anything else.
To be honest, it has been pretty exhilarating doing business cases again. We used to churn these things out in 24-hours in competitions back in undergrad. Right now, we do a couple every week across the different modules. It’s fascinating to read about companies’ stories and understand how they choose.
Choosing what not to do. It is definitely hard to just focus on school work though. As my day of my departure draws near, the number of farewell dinners also increases. It has been days of meeting groups of friends, then rushing back home for online lectures, balancing between a Singaporean life running on GMT +8, and an American education running on GMT -5. It is difficult to choose between having a social life and getting enough time in for academics. I have been avoiding the choice, and it has come at the expense of sleep and mental presence.
Friends question if I am sure I want to be flying into a country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases globally. Even my family thinks I am being too much of a hero by deciding to go to Evanston. I have come to realise that in such matters, perhaps we cannot help but be ourselves. I had chosen before I choose. Fate had made me interested in marketing, arranged for teachers in my life who came from Kellogg, and made me fall in love with the study of business. I know in my heart that this MBA is the right thing for me right now, and I have known it for a long time. It is therefore what I will do at the moment.
Strategic Fit. An interesting observation in business school so far though, is how diverse everyone’s reason for being here is. Some are here for the network and are super bummed out by the physical restrictions caused by the pandemic. Some are here for the future career and defer their studies, bidding for a better time when the market gets better. Others use the MBA as a gateway to a life in the US, looking to use their visas for a new job in a foreign land.
Me? I truly want to study. It feels like such an indulgent reason – spending $200K to study – but I truly am interested in the learning and the knowledge. And it has been working out really well so far. Just 4 weeks in and I am already learning so much about Strategy, Finance and Accounting. It is truly exciting to do something for the first time.
Where might all this lead? Only time will tell. Perhaps I might one day see how all the different activities in my life align toward a grand arc.
In the meantime, I am enjoying the ride, sleeplessness and all.
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