The invaluable experience of an international elective: A MSc Management trip to Mannheim
The Procurement international elective choice took place at the highly reputable Mannheim Business School, its main campus located within Mannheim Palace, one of the largest baroque castles in Europe. Needless to say, we were excited to see it in person.
When we arrived, my jaw dropped as I marvelled at the building. Wow. Mannheim may not have made it onto Germany’s most beautiful cities rankings but the university looked absolutely majestic.
I didn’t want to begin class immediately so I could soak up the atmosphere from the square, among the students congregated on the fine Monday morning.
We were escorted to the lecture hall where we met Dr. Thorsten Makowski. Thorsten left the impression that he was more than a lecturer, and so it was true; the man loves hiking and he is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro sometime next year.
Before lectures commenced, he talked about the German culture and briefly about its economy, but I particularly enjoyed his talk on the “mittelstand”– commonly referring to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Most of the establishments around the city are small businesses, and the city does not rely on global corporations to drive the economy. I was pleased by this concept as common traits associated to mittelstand establishments include family ownership, emotional attachment, generational continuity and strong regional ties.
Kicking back in the German vineyards
Fast forward about 36 hours to Tuesday afternoon. After two days of lectures and case study discussions, our hosts were kind enough to take us to the Palatinate wine region. We had a wine tasting in a small yet beautiful winery, followed by dinner in a neighbouring region, where we dined on delicious German cuisine.
Though we has our own friendship circles on the course, I particularly enjoyed the dinner, as we got the chance to mingle with everyone outside the classroom – a different experience altogether.
Socialising with one another in such an environment gave us the opportunity to connect on a deeper level, whether it was football, hobbies or interests, I am glad the dinner forged new friendships that evening.
Facing our true selves
One of the activities which took place during our lecture on Wednesday was the simulation of the infamous prisoner’s dilemma. The “dilemma” faced by the prisoners is that whatever the other does, each is better off confessing than remaining silent. But the outcome obtained when both confess is worse for each than the outcome they would have obtained had both remained silent.
It gave me a true opportunity to learn about myself. I imagined it was the same for everyone else, as some of the students were astonished by their results and others!
Good vibes to end the trip
During the closing ceremony, Dr. Makowski and our hosts reflected upon the three days and if I were to simply put it, there were good vibes flowing around the room.
I felt a sense of accomplishment. Studying in that lecture theatre – albeit beautiful – for three straight days may have sounded daunting, but the overall experiences certainly compensated for that. It was a bittersweet goodbye as we went our separate ways.
Departing from the team
A few of us decided to spend a day in Frankfurt where we would board our flight back to London. Why not experience Frankfurt as it was only an hour away by train, right?
It was undoubtedly a memorable trip and I will cherish the moments I had with a great bunch of people with whom I feel I have made lifelong friendships.
How to maximise your international elective?
If you’re considering taking the leap and joining the Cass MSc Management programme, I have a few words for you. You must attend the international electives. Immerse yourself in areas unfamiliar to you, the experiences will last a lifetime. There are a few prerequisites for you to follow though.
(1) Do your research.
Familiarise yourself with the area you will be based in, and trust me, you will learn and accomplish more.
(2) Use this opportunity to make friends with the students and staff on your course.
You’re not alone, there will be people out there who share the same passions, interests and hobbies as you – I spent a lot of time talking about my religion; football.
By the time you read this, the few of us who once knew nothing about each other prior to the trip, would have played football together at least twice after, reminiscing the great times we had in Mannheim.
(3) Keep a positive attitude.
Make the most of the Cass resources available to you. Such experiences can change your perception on life and make you appreciate who you are.
On a final note
Oh, and if you are going to Mannheim, bring some Euros along with you, as most of the local bars – serving truly authentic and ice-cold beer – prefer cash. You really think I would have written a post about Germany WITHOUT mentioning beer?
Amit Tolani, MSc Management (2018)