Illinois MBA
2005 Study Tour


January 9, 2005

Climbing Train.Han: I'm in Poland! Look at the great weather! Although I arrived last night, I made an effort of reading the case and finishing the first assignment last night, so today is the true "first day" for me. Thanks to the school, we have a 7-day bus pass, so the ride to Old Town is not only exciting but free! I do feel people looking at us with curiosity, though, not only because we speak English, but also because Penny and I look Asian. I almost see no other Asians on the street. And isn't the Old Town absolutely beautiful? I wonder why Professor DeBrock would say Warsaw is dark, grey and not pretty.

Working hard on the train.Cruser: Following another typical European breakfast - an egg of some sort, fresh sausages and cold cut slices, a variety of cheeses, croissants and miniature baguettes, fresh fruit, yogurt, fresh-brewed coffee (what most Americans might call espresso or doctored with steamed milk as a latte), several juice options, a few select bon-bons and water with either lemon or orange wedges afloat offering that certain hint of flavor - we make our way to the train station and for just around $60 we are on our way to Warsaw.

It should be noted that with stops, the train ride from Prague to Warsaw is just around 9 hours. In such a lengthy trip, two things occur: one, we finish our assigned homework, and two, we get to know one another just a bit better. This, I've come to realize following a week of traveling in Europe with multiple parties, is the true heart of this trip - what is an MBA program without the now and future friendships, networks and bonds that you make in the most unique of experiences?

We arrive at the Grand Hotel - accommodations graciously provided by the IMBA - and immediately are met by fellow classmates. It was good to be among strangers who now are intimate friends.

Bencic: The fun started at the train station when the group had to buy tickets for the January 9th train ride to Warsaw. The Croatian (me), being of Eastern European origin, was forced to deal with all the logistical part of the trip. The group decided to ignore the fact that the Croatian did not speak Czech and that they were equally prepared to deal with the situation.

Although Eastern European countries have changed for the better in the last 10 years, small examples of sheer absurdity still occur in regular intervals. The group was 'blessed' to experience one within minutes of arriving. The case in point were the ticket booths at the Prague train station. The Croatian approached the first booth in the attempt to buy the tickets for the trip to Warsaw. Like Josef K, this Croatian was shuffled from one bureaucrat to the next not knowing how to accomplish a simple task of buying a few train tickets. At the first booth, they didn't speak English. At the second booth, they spoke English, but were selling tickets only for the domestic travel. At the third booth, they spoke English, but they didn't accept credit cards. At last, the fourth booth was 'lucky', and the task was finally accomplished.


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