That is the question.
(The question that has to be answered by the February 23rd deadline).
The question, that is, whether to go on an exchange program or not.
Study abroad…yet again. Exchange, denoting change: a change of country, of home, address, of friends, cuisine, clocks, beds, schedules, exchanging everything that has become comfortable for everything that is wholly foreign- unfamiliar- unknown…one more time.
To most, this great disturbance of life as we know it is nothing but an inconvenience- a hassle that anyone in their right mind would try to avoid. Maybe it's something I should be avoiding, especially given that I only moved here six months ago.
Be that as it may, this time- just like every other time- I have jumped at the opportunity to turn my life upside down.
Study abroad? Porque no? A chance to further the breadth of my knowledge- of my understanding of the world? That's what I’m talking about. This is my territory…this is what I know. Throw me into any country, on any continent- without anything familiar in sight- and I’ll become a local.
Put me in tax law class and I’ll forever be a foreigner.
There are, however, a few obstacles. There is, as always, the burden of choice. Where to go? When to go? And how the hell I’m going to get in. Seems the exchange thing is pretty competitive.
When to go? That's pretty clear. I’m looking at first term next fall. Yet there is always the chance that I'm going to pull a “Florence 2001” and simply not go back to my home school. Although- DC is much less alluring than Barcelona.
Where to go? That's where the big question mark is. Under normal circumstances- the criterion would be based on where I have never been before- or the furthest destination possible. This time however, there are other factors to take into account. Such as; courses offered, faculty, spaces available for exchange students, language spoken, language taught, curriculum focus, ranking (FT primarily), and so on and so forth. And then, of course, the be all end all of most major decisions while not earning an expendable income: The Mom. Here’s how that has gone so far:
Me: Hi, I think I’m going to go on exchange. What do you think?
Mom: Morgan, aren’t you already ‘studying abroad’?
Me: Well, yes. But it’s different. It's a good opportunity. Learn a new culture, a new language, a new experience.
Mom: Again Morgan, didn't you just get to Spain? Aren’t you still learning the Spanish culture, the Spanish language, isn’t everyday a new experience?
Me: Well, yeah, but I am ready for something new.
Mom: At this rate, in a few years, you’re going to be applying to a PhD on Mars.
Me: Anything’s possible
Mom: Morgan, what is it exactly that you want? Why is it never enough?
She does have a point. After all, she has never not had a point. And that, the “being enough” thing, has plagued me for as long as I can remember. It’s not enough. It’s never enough. I want more. To that end, I finished my application last night. We can choose up to ten schools to apply to. I applied to ten- just to be safe.
Here’s my list, in order of preference from one to ten. Please don’t try to find a rhyme or reason to the order- because I don’t have one:
1 China Europe International Business School – CEIBS (Shanghai)
2 HEC MBA PROGRAM (Paris- well, the outskirts of Paris unfortunately)
3 Chinese University of Hong Kong
4 Fudan University (Shanghai)
5 NUS Business School (Singapore)
6 Australian Grad. School of Management, Univ.New South Wales
7 SDA Bocconi (Milano)
8 Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York Univ. (NEW YORK BABY!)
9 Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (Santiago, I believe)
10 University of Melbourne (G’day mate)
So the decision of whether “to go or not to go” is no longer in my hands. “Where” to go is more like it. And “how” to afford it is yet another. But when there’s a will there’s a way…this I know, if I’ve learned anything.
“The undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than to fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all: and thus the native hue of resolution.”
There’s some food for thought.
It may be a bit dramatic of me to introduce the contemplations of Shakespeare, being that studying abroad isn’t quite as absolute as death- but “to exchange or not to exchange,” isn’t lacking in its own form of dramatics. And thus, this undiscovered country in which I hope to live- despite the “unknown”- calls me. “That I know not of” beckons. And conscience? Forget my conscience. Cowardice I know not of.
Sorry, mom. Again.