I almost missed out on the most unique and rewarding experience of my MBA career so far. Notre Dame provides second-year and one-year students the opportunity to study abroad in Santiago, Chile during Mod 2. Most people decided to go over the summer, but not me. After initially choosing to stay in South Bend, I had a last minute change of heart and booked a flight to Santiago.
Just a few weeks later, this lifelong Midwesterner found herself nestled among the Andes during the South American summer, along with 22 classmates, six spouses, and two kids! I haven’t regretted my spontaneous decision to study abroad for a single minute.
The coursework in Santiago is a definite change from Notre Dame campus. We’re taking three internationally focused business classes (marketing, economics, and finance), in addition to Spanish. Our professors are not academics, but real-life practitioners and experts in their field. Each class focuses on educating us about not just Chile but all of Latin America, and how this region fits into the global business landscape.
For me, this has been an eye-opening experience. My perspective on the economy, financial markets, and business in general is decidedly Amero-centric. I had a limited understanding of how much foreign countries impact US business. Studying with Chilean experts exposed me to just how global and interconnected the world is today. Latin American countries are critical trade partners to the United States, so the state of their economies greatly affects US-based businesses. Learning more about this region is extremely beneficial and will undoubtedly provide a more well-rounded perspective on various issues when I navigate my future career.
Beyond the classroom, studying abroad in Santiago allows us the chance to travel and experience life throughout Latin America. In addition to exploring Santiago, so far my classmates have gone wine tasting in Mendoza, hiked Machu Picchu, summited Volano Villarrica, relaxed on the beach in Valparaiso – and that’s just the beginning. Trips to Buenos Aires, Easter Island, and Patagonia are planned for our last month here. Exploring the region and soaking up as much culture as we can is just as important to our time here as in-classroom learning.
Even over 5,000 miles from South Bend, the Notre Dame family follows you everywhere. A few classmates and I went to a “gringo” bar to get our football fix and watch the Fighting Irish take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. We met a large group of ND undergrads studying abroad, as well as half a dozen alums who live in Santiago. We all spend the night together swapping stories, giving advice, and (unfortunately) commiserating on the Irish’s loss. Such random meetings with other Domers in Santiago reinforce the strength of ND’s network. Wherever you go, the Notre Dame family will be there.
There are some challenges with studying abroad. Keeping up with the job search can be tough, and we all miss our family and friends back home. But the benefits of this once in a lifetime experience far outweigh the negatives. I’m thankful every day that I took advantage of this amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to see what adventures the next month holds for my classmates and me here in Santiago.