I hereby resign myself to a tranquilizer pill.
I hereby resign myself to a tranquilizer pill.
Ta da! There it is folks. Vlerick Business School! Home of the driven, strong stomached disciples of finance, operations, marketing, consulting..
It is in Ghent Belgium and yes I will be picking up Dutch as my third language. It’s time.
I’m just going to let the cat out of the bag here and spill all the details.
In March it became clear fate had plans for me. Rebuffed by the european consulting firms I thought I had wanted to work for, I chatted with a recruiter from Accenture who said, “Grad school. That’s what you need.”
So by mid month I had picked out 4 schools as contenders: London Business School, Vlerick Business School, Warwick Business School, Cass Business School. Two of the four are in London, so I booked a trip there to visit them (and avoid getting deported on my european visa) to see what was what.
Originally I thought it would be impossible to attend this Fall, and that it would be a whole year affair passing the GMAT and getting applications in and applying for scholarships…but oh contraire. They told me now. Now Now NOW.
But with a plan to Johannesburg for a month to visit my beloved, how could I swing to study for the GMAT (which, if you dont know, is a beast of an admissions exam for graduate business programs) and to get my applications in by the very last of the final deadlines…May 31?
Well ok obviously I went to South Africa. and I “studied” by the pool. And those quotes are there because how serious can one really be while on vacation.
After kissing Matthew goodbye in Paris, I came home and had 10 days to study hardcore for the exam. I was miserable.
Exam date was May 7th. It’s burned in my brain. I bombed the first half. Like fall out of the sky explode, spectacularly bombed. I ate a cookie at break and regrouped. Score 97th percentile on last half for a total score of 620.
Now, under normal circumstances I would have retaken. A top score is around 700, while avg is 500 or so. And a ‘well balanced’ score is a must (haha). But I was literally out of time. It would take at least 6 weeks to fix my problems another $250 for a retake. So..we forge ahead.
By May 31st I had my applications in, with a matrix of pros and cons of each school. Let’s have a look:
London Business School is arguably the top international business school in the world. Ranked number 3 overall, it has an infallible alumni network and international spread of students. When I visited, I felt right at home. It’s expensive, at 26,000 GBP for the year, and it’s in the heart of London with a beautiful campus at Regent’s Park. Sigh.
Vlerick is the best business school in Belgium. As an autonomous school for both KU and GU, it has several campuses in charismatic Belgian cities such as Ghent and Leuven, as well as Brussels and St Petersburg for the MBAs. Biggest draw? Beautiful location. Great tuition (14,000 euros), Student Life. The tight knit group of 40 will be bonded throughout the year on excursions and in company projects, and of course the prospect of using my french and picking up flemish ! Plus, probably most importantly, a track record of placing graduates in top international companies.
Warwick is in Coventry. A bit outside of London. Great reputation as a prestigious school, program is very well received by potential employers. But the catch? a 70,000 $ cost of attendance. Ouch that exchange rate!
Cass is the Business School of City University in London. It has a big, modern campus in the heart of the financial district in London. When I visited, the administrators were warm, but the student performance was outranked heavily by the above schools, and the career prospects seemed a little unfocused. Cass would be a school I’d have to carve a path within to meet my ends, rather than be guided through it.
Ok so April: Study May: Test and Apply June: Wait July: Decide
I came up with 3 offers and a waitlist. I confirmed to Vlerick Business School (obviously) and then alllllll the funnnnnn began with paying a quarter of the tuition as a deposit and collecting all of the things needed for a belgian visa (you have NO idea. bloodwork. FBI background check. tax returns. bank statements. flight details. previous travel. notarized copies of just about everything they could think of) it takes absolutely forever. forever. I think I managed to collect all the things in 2 weeks, and that was pushing with all my might.
Now? I’ve got the rest of the week to remotely apartment hunt, get the final documents submitted, and set up a belgian bank account.
It will all be worth it though, soon I’ll be back with my tribe.
That’s probably what I should have googled when my head first hit my hands and I decided you know what, I need my Master’s.
But I am doing it! I decided in March to pursue grad school, and now I am a few weeks away from boarding my flight to Brussels, to attend the MGM Program at Vlerick Business School in Ghent.
OK so back back back it up.. This past year has been literally spread over three continents. I tried (and failed) to blog while I was working for Winne in South Africa. 2 posts does not a blog make. Anyway. Let’s do a list:
This past 12 months:
I graduated! BA International Business Administration from the American University of Paris, cum laude.
my entire family flew out for the affair
I left Paris
I went home
I went to Spain
I went to Africa
I fell in love
I finished my contract and went to Vegas
Went to Berlin
Went to Paris
Stayed in Paris
Went to London
Went back to Johannesburg
Brought him up to Europe…
Dropped my chin and brought myself back home for grad school preparations. At least I’ve got my family, and best friends of nearly a decade:
And now, as I start most days with a spin bike and a list in hand, and end them with a glass of wine, let’s talk..about…school.
You have to give yourself enough room to grow into who you are and then not be so attached to it that you won’t let yourself become who you’re going to be.
Things didn’t work out because, well, greater things were in the works. It’s so difficult while we’re blind and hurting and don’t know which way is up. But, if you have faith in anything, have faith in the fact that the universe has a beautiful way of straightening things out far better than we ever could. You may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will look back in a few years and be absolutely perplexed and awed by how every little thing added up and brought you somewhere wonderful– or where you always wanted to be. You will be grateful that things didn’t work out the way you once wanted them to."
As I watched the HR director’s red heels click down the stairs in the office, my eyes were wide…. and though I maintained confidence and composure, on the inside I was trembling like a leaf in autumn.
She motioned me into her office, sat down at the table and smiled. “I have spoken to the president of the company, and we agree that after this intensive selection process, we are all set to invite you to join our team at World Investment News”
I beamed and applauded, eliciting a great smile from Carolina, and I in took a large breath of air.
One week ago I graduated from the American University of Paris with my degree in International Business Administration, surrounded by my friends and family.
One month ago I sent out a dozen cover letters, imploring companies both in France and abroad, to truly consider my qualifications.
And one year ago I never would have guessed that my first real job out of college would come a week after graduation, and be taking place in countless countries around the world.
At World Investment News, I will be an International Consultant and Sales Executive. Starting in the trainee position of course, I will learn from my team of three about the process in the field. World Investment News produces in-depth country reports from exclusive interviews with emerging nation’s top leaders and businessmen. They also provide company profiles and sell advertising within the magazine to the top business leaders, increasing foreign direct investment for the country.
One moves up the ranks from trainee to associate to director within a year, and travels to a new country and new project every 3-5 months.
Though this marks an incredible new beginning, I am already feeling the sharp pain of leaving my home for the past three years….My Paris. The city, my best friends, my boyfriend, my dance team, the parties…everything I knew will change.
I will embrace it…cry a little…smile a lot…and recognize that life is made up of a series of moments….
Moments that change you.
tomorrow I’m going back to his city
tomorrow I’m going back to my city.