Open Eyes, Open Mind, Open Life
A stranger to United States, I carried a lot of luggage with me: more than 5 years working experience, expectations of and biases about American culture, my family and a few new friends from my home country, and Chinglish (English with Chinese accent). But as soon as I joined GSM community, I knew immediately that I would have to be empty in order to be full.
My memories of Orientation at the GSM are as fresh as if it happened yesterday. During the international orientation (2 weeks before overall orientation), I met many amazing staff members who I would depend on throughout my time at the GSM: Kathy Gleed, Jordan Dade, Chris Dito, members of the IT helpdesk, and more. They made us feel warmly welcomed. They were even able to answer my specific questions (for example, I asked what color of suits I should purchase for job interviews), and they always were understanding and patient. In the first academic year, all the GSM staff, faculty and students proved to be consistently helpful and wonderful.
UC Davis is a very diverse campus. The GSM emphasizes during international orientation to embrace the diversity of the school. You can see different races here, you can hear different languages here, but our smiles are the same. Join the GSM community with an owner’s mentality, no matter whether you were born in United States or in another country or even from another planet. During orientation, we had tons of group tasks, typical MBA style. It took me some time to accommodate myself to such diverse team work, and everyone felt the same and adjusted himself/herself. My hint is: SPEAK UP! If you are shy, think ahead of time and have your point of view ready. Even when I was feeling shy, someone on my team helped pull me out of my shell and encouraged me to share. See the picture below as evidence of a diverse team experiencing success, as we teamed up to work as consultants to PRIDE Industries, a non-profit organization, in an orientation competition. My team won “Best Presentation” as judged by faculty and leaders at PRIDE.
The orientation ropes course was another memorable snapshot from orientation. I was deeply inspired by my classmates’ courage, team spirit, and trust. Part of the rope course seemed to be “Mission Impossible”, and each mission was only possible by partnering with classmates, working together, and being encouraged by your team. The feeling of accomplishing the impossible mission? I can’t tell how wonderful it will be for you! The ropes course was definitely another lesson for MBA: challenge yourself to walk out of comfort zone.
After the orientation, Net Impact and ASM organized Lake Tahoe retreat. It was like an immersion summer camp. First-year and second-year students lived together, played games, went hiking and swimming, drinking and chatting till past mid-night. One night, we talked until 3 am, sharing different cultures and languages stories. Those remain great memories of the year and of my life.
To summarize all my lessons and experience in orientation, it would be just one word: open. Open your eyes, open your mind, and open new life in the United States.