MBA International Experience in Spain: Swastik Mukherjee

Swastik Mukherjee (USD MBA student) studied for one semester at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain as part of an international exchange program…these are his reflections as his time abroad came to an end:

20151114_163713 “I am still in a sense of shock. My feeble attempt at collecting my thoughts at the Barajas airport in Madrid is leaving me with a sense of void. It is a strange feeling to have, really. I just spent four months in this country and when am leaving, I am realizing that I barely scratched the surface. That I probably explored an iota of what was on offer. My own sense of adventure came up short against the grandiosity of this majestic country of Spain. I had finally met my match and the country’s victory loomed large over me. It was a challenge that Spain had thrown at me 20151127_024240when I first arrived because it’s sense of history had taken me inand I had told myself to explore as much as I could. Looking back, I realize that to know this culture inside out is a mammoth task, one that I was too small to accomplish. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a time to reflect on failure. It was a time to celebrate the opportunity of a lifetime—to study in Spain.

For an international student like me, one could say that studying abroad may not be have been as beneficial as compared to someone who is a native of the United States. I have been 20151114_163614fortunate to have studied in three different countries and have experienced different cultures throughout my life. But as Henry Miller famously quoted, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Gaining international experience is a never-ending sojourn, one that only adds another level to your existing knowledge. It takes you out of your element and places you in a place where you are less comfortable. Out of this lack of comfort arises the need to be flexible and adaptable, enabling you to learn in a new and more practical way. Experiencing other cultures around the world broadens your knowledge base and teaches you to think and live differently. It is extremely important, today, to have a solid understanding of different cultures, and getting an international MBA experience at a world-renowned university such as IE is definitely a glorious prospect to emphasize the international nature of my MBA as well as personal experiences.

20151010_212538Mere plaudits will not even come close to Spain’s intoxicating effect on global tourists. Wine and tapas in full and cheap flow, the inherent friendliness of the Spanish natives, the romanticism of Madrid with its fresco dining options, worldclass museums, vast open spaces, makes Spain an amazing experience, waiting to be experienced. The chances to visit mountains one day and a beautiful beach the next, the ability to walk around and admire the architecture, both in the day as well as the night, gives Spain an identity aped by none. Spain is one of my favorite countries and my experience in Madrid has made me fall more in love with this country.

Studying at IE, a top global business school, renowned for its quality in teaching and learning, taught me so much. My classes were full of interesting fellow students and the professors all came from tremendous backgrounds.


IE has always had an extremely strong base in finance and investments which was my area of interest. With its innovative vision and focus on academic rigor, IE is committed to educating professionals and experts who will make a difference in society. I am confident that with the education at both IE as well as USD, I will come out of the MBA program with a far more rounded approach to corporate life as well have inculcated skill sets that would make me an asset in any organization.

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.


Ahlers Fellow Kayla Meijer: The Challenge & Reward of the CUIBE Case Competition

“The Northeastern CUIBE International Case Competition was by far the best thing I have ever done in my undergraduate career. It was extremely challenging, intimidating, and overwhelming, but that was all outweighed by the fun, excitement, and reward for our hard work during the trip.

When I was a freshman at USD, I was a member of the International Business Club. Upon hearing about CUIBE, I knew right away it was something I wanted to do, mostly because it was in my hometown of Boston, MA. I applied knowing full well that I wouldn’t be selected because I had not taken the necessary upper division courses and was far too inexperienced. However, I was hoping that whomever was reading my application would see that CUIBE was definitely something I was passionate about and truly wanted to do. When sophomore year came around, I applied again, and then again my junior year, knowing I wouldn’t be chosen but still hoping that my persistence was being noted and would eventually pay off.

I pushed myself to take the classes I needed to become eligible for CUIBE, to gain more knowledge in my upper division classes, and to become involved with the Ahlers Center. By the time the CUIBE application came around this year, I was finally ready. I worked hard on my application for the fourth and final time, and submitted it with a touch of anxiety, knowing that it was a very competitive opportunity. Although I felt much more confident about my submission at the time, I still had some nervousness that I might not be selected for the one undergrad opportunity I had been wanting for my entire time at USD.

On September 25 – arguably one of the most exciting days of my life – I received an email from the Ahlers Center and saw the first word: “Congratulations.” I was finally going to go to the CUIBE competition and complete one of my long time goals. Needless to say, I did a “happy dance” and probably embarrassed myself publicly. Laura Glennie, Michael Burrafato, and Enrique Contreras were the others selected to be in the competition and were my new teammates for this exciting ride.

I knew I was in for a tough few months, filled with practice and uncertainty, but when November 4th rolled around I was ecstatic. We got into Boston that Wednesday night on the 4th, and we were able to grab dinner and do a little exploration of the city before we went to bed. The next day, we had almost the entire day to explore the city, which was incredible and allowed us to relax before things really got interesting. We were given the case that night at a banquet with the rest of the teams and spent a few hours mapping out a game plan for Friday, which was our day of incredibly hard work.

We had until Friday (less than 24 hours) to decide what we wanted to suggest as consultants, create a thorough PowerPoint and strategy, and practice the presentation. We worked hard all day, stopping only for a short lunch at the delicious Union Oyster House in the North End of the city. We were able to finish and have time to sleep (some groups did not even get this luxury!). The next day, none of us could decide if it was anxiety or excitement we were feeling before our presentations. It quickly turned out to be pure excitement; after a lot of practice, we felt very confident about what we had to share with the highly esteemed judges. We presented to two different sets of judges, once in the morning and then again in the afternoon with lunch served in between.

On Saturday evening, the awards ceremony and networking reception was held in the hotel where everyone involved in the competition was staying. We got to know our competitors, the judges, and the team advisors, finding out where they were from and how they felt about the trip. We were then asked to take our seats for the awards ceremony.

They started with the 3rd place teams, which turned out to have come to a tie. One of the 3rd place teams happened to be another Southern California team from San Diego State University. Knowing that we didn’t get 3rd meant we did really well or we didn’t place at all – I thought my heart was going to pound out of my ears. In fact, my heart was pounding so loudly that I barely did hear the next name announced: 2nd place was the University of San Diego!

There aren’t words to describe the type of excitement and happiness we all were feeling in that moment. I felt like I was floating as we walked to the front of the room to receive our plaque and our “Winner” snapback hats (kind of a unique prize, but we liked them regardless!) and to get our picture taken. It was the perfect ending to make all of our hard work and stress pay off, and to show off the incredible talent that comes from the International Business program at USD. For me, it had an extra special touch because I had not only achieved my goal of going to CUIBE, but thanks to the caliber of my team and the education we are all receiving at USD, I was also a part of winning 2nd place at the competition of my dreams.”

Read more about our Ahlers Center Fellows on the Fellowship blog page!  For information about applying for this Fellowship program, contact Danielle Levanetz.