Mexico Has Changed My Life Forever

Students usually avoid going on exchange programs in the last semester of the MBA program. The general thought is that studying abroad and getting a job are mutually exclusive and that having the time of their lives abroad would take away all the time and energy from job hunting.

Here’s how my adventure ends and my experience is the proof that it is not the case.

This week I accepted an offer to join my dream company in my dream role!

I will be starting my career at Microsoft in the US at the end of June in a technical sales role!!

This would not have been possible without the connections I made in Mexico. In fact, I met 2 key people that helped me get an invitation for what ended up being my final interviews in the US and eventually get my dream job.

My adventure in Mexico has ended 3 weeks ago now but it has changed my life forever.

During my time there I tried to absorb as much as I could from the country and culture. I tried to leverage every minute of my time there to learn and grow and meet new people.

Mexico has so much to give and I was always ready to take. I wanted to learn about the history, about the culture, about the ways of thinking, about the family values and I also took advantage of the amazing sceneries and beaches.

Going on an exchange program and especially to Mexico at IPADE was by far the best decision that I have ever made.

I fell in love with the country, with the culture, with the food, with the people, with the school and most importantly with the friends I made there.

Mexico will always have a special place in my heart and those friends will forever be my friends!!

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Coming Back

It’s been almost 10 days since my adventure in Mexico has come to an end and I have been back in DC.

My last night in Mexico was also the last night of 2 of my German friends and so we planned a big dinner with all our friends from IPADE.

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Last Night in Mexico

I spent a great night with my friends discussing my amazing experience in their beautiful country and remembering all the great moments we shared.

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My Good Friends and Teammates

It was really hard to part ways at the end of the night, after all these are great people with whom I have shared fantastic moments. These friends I made during my experience in Mexico have changed me and helped me become a better person. These are friends that I will keep for life and I truly hope I was able to impact their lives as much as they have impacted mine.

I was sad to see my amazing experience abroad come to an end, but I was also excited to come back to DC and spend the last month or so with my old classmates before part ways after gradation.

My return to DC after 3.5 months of absence was a lot smoother than I thought it would be. My great friends planned a happy hour gathering where I got the opportunity to catch up with many of them and share stories of my experience abroad.

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Coming Home Happy Hour

I spent the past week seeing my friends here and catching up on everything that went on during my absence and the changes in their lives.

I planned my return to DC just before BGB (Business Gives Back) gala as I know that such a night would be the best opportunity to see all my old classmates.

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Business Gives Back Gala

On an academic level I am basically done with all classes and I am taking this time back in DC to focus on recruiting and networking. Thanks to IPADE’s trimester program structure I was able to finish all my required credits in March in Mexico while my classmates in DC are still attending classes for the last mod (sorry guys!).

During my conversations with all my classmates in DC I sensed a common feeling or thought where the ones that did not go on a study abroad have had a fairly stable 2nd year experience. That truly made me feel that my exchange program was the right move to make and at the right time in order to keep the excitement level high and keep the steep learning curve of an MBA program.

My experience abroad will forever remain as one of the highlights of my life!

Mexico is a great place to do an exchange program, IPADE is a great school, and spring of 2nd year is definably the best time to do that!

 

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All Good Things Come to an End

Here I am on the last day of this great adventure, looking back at the great times I had those past three months.

I spent the last 2 weeks of this great adventure traveling to Cuba and absorbing as much more as I can of Mexico.

Cuba is exactly what you can imagine with old cars, colorful houses, bands playing music in all the different restaurants, people drinking mojitos and smoking cigars.

We spent 3 days in Havana and 2 days in Varadero enjoying the beach.

We also got to be there during Obama’s historic visit which was pretty cool!

And during my last week in Mexico I got to do all the activities that I wanted to do but never got a chance to.

I finally visited the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

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Sitting at the top of a pyramid

I also got to visit Taxco which is one of the first “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magical Villages) in Mexico.It is truly a beautiful town 2h30 min away from Mexico City.

One of the great outdoor activities that I got to do during my time in Mexico was to hike to the top of the volcano Xinantecatl.

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The volcano’s crater

I also enjoyed spending some time with the great friends that I have made here.

My exchange program here is coming to an end but I truly believe that this was the highlight of my MBA experience. Coming to Mexico was one of the best decisions I have ever done and I will always remember the places I have visited but most importantly the people I have met. The people that have changed my life and that will forever be my good friends!

I am thankful for all the great moments I’ve had during this adventure and all the learning and help I received from IPADE.

Mexico is a great place to be, IPADE is a great school and the Mexican people never cease to amaze me with their generosity and kindness.

What a great end of my MBA journey!!

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International Week and Last Week of School

I am sad to be reaching almost the end of my experience here in this beautiful country.

The past 2 weeks have included the international week at IPADE and my final week of school.

International week is one of the biggest events at IPADE during which it hosts students from many schools from around the world including China, Vietnam, Japan, USA.

IPADE’s schedule for the week included activities such as conferences with successful professionals in Mexico, company visits, team work sessions and meals. The schedule was pretty intense with the activities starting at 8am and ending at 7PM. Other than being a great way to discover more of the Mexican culture and business environment, this week provides a great opportunity for networking with very interesting people from all over the world.

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My friends Anna (Norway) and Matthias (Germany) and I had dinner with our new Chinese friends

All participants were divided into very diverse teams that generally include 5 Mexican IPADE students from both the Monterrey and the Mexico City campuses, 1 long term exchange student (such as myself) and 2 short term exchange students (participating in the international week only). A great learning outcome was to work in such a short period of time with a new team with so many different backgrounds and deliver a presentation on the 5th day.

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My Team for International Week! Team 27!

I got the opportunity to share the international week experience with some friends from GWU that spent the week in Mexico City. I am sure they had a fantastic time here!

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The Full GWU Crew

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Dinner with the GWU some of the crew before the start of the week

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GWU Crew Mexican Style!

The G&EE office along with the GWU office of Alumni Relations, arranged a gathering with the GWU alumni living in Mexico City. Mexican people are generally very warm and friendly people and combined with being alums of the same school led to a great night of fun and networking.

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GWU Alums in Mexico City

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International Week Certification

The following week was my last week at IPADE.

I spent as much time as I could with my team and my friends before we each go our separate ways.

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The Best Team and My First Piñata!

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Team Trip to Acapulco

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Team Final Dinner and the Waiter Photobombed it

I am really sad to see that my experience at IPADE and in Mexico is coming to an end soon. Saying goodbye to the amazing people I have met during my time here is one of the hardest things to do. But I am positive that the friendships I have built here with these amazing people are lifelong friendships and our roads will cross again!

In the coming two weeks I will be traveling to Cuba and then spending my last week discovering the rest of this city and trying to absorb as much more as I can.

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Weeks 6 & 7 – Passed the Midpoint

The past 2 weeks have been a blend of condensed schoolwork and a vacation.

As previously mentioned in multiple posts, the course that I was looking forward to the most during this exchange program at IPADE was the sales force management workshop.

The workshop was an introduction to both sales force and channel management and the topics were covered via case method. Although the class was condensed into 4 days which consisted of 3 classes a day followed by an exam on the 5th day, the class was by far my favorite in this exchange program. The professor was very charismatic and was able to entertain the entire class while delivering a very large amount of knowledge. Each class covered a case and a technical note which summed up to 3 cases and 3 technical notes to be read after every full day of classes. The material was really interesting and everyone was excited to read the cases and technical notes and to discuss them during the team working sessions before class. I highly recommend this class to anyone interested in taking an elective class at IPADE in the future.

One of the advantages of taking elective classes at IPADE and of the exchange program here is that the course load changes on a weekly basis depending on the classes. In my case, that meant that I had no classes all of last week and so I planned a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula for 9 days. I left Mexico City on Friday after the sales force management final exam and spent the weekend in Playa Del Carmen and the following week in Akumal where I visited Tulum, Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and Cozumel.

On this trip I had the great opportunity to discover more of this beautiful country and its culture.

I visited the beautiful and well preserved Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza, where the tour guides gave me a better view of the culture and civilization.

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Chichen Itza’s El Castillo, one of the New Sever Wonders of the World

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Mayan Ruins of Tulum

I walked around in beautiful Valladolid which is one of the “Magical Villages” in Mexico (“El Programa Pueblos Mágicos”). This city, dating back from the colonial era, is full of culture, history, and natural beauty.

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Walking around in Valladolid

I went snorkeling with sea turtles in Akumal.

The Yucatan Peninsula is full of fresh water springs also known as Cenotes. Cenotes are a very big attraction for divers as some of them are accessed through under water caves and some lead directly into the ocean through underground natural passages. My friends and I chose to go snorkeling in an outdoor cenote close to Tulum.

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Casa Cenote

I also went snorkeling in Cozumel to see the second largest coral reef in the world that is part of the Cozumel National Park. The water was so clear I was able to take great underwater pictures in this beautiful place!

I am only one month away from the end of this amazing adventure in this beautiful country. It has been a great ride so far and I hope to take advantage of every day I still have here with my classmates and new friends. This coming week will be my last week of classes followed by an International Week and then final exams. During International Week, IPADE hosts students from many schools abroad to discuss the process of doing business in Mexico and includes company visits and conferences. I am excited to have some classmates from GWSB join me in Mexico City during International Week for their short term study abroad. I am also excited for all the opportunities available during my last month here.

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Weeks 4 & 5: In the classroom and beyond

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I had to start my blog post by highlighting my newly discovered skill!

Here I am reaching the 5th week and the midpoint in this exchange program in this beautiful country. These past two weeks have included a lot of new experiences, a great trip and cool classes.

An exchange program at IPADE is a great blend of everything one would want to get out of such an experience. The program hasn’t been as demanding as I expected and I changed my schedule somewhat which has given me some extra room to travel and do activities in the city.

The elective courses offered cover a variety of interesting topics. I really enjoyed two sessions on design thinking that I took this week as part of the business policy class. I believe it is a great skill to have and the two sessions provided a great introduction to guide us in our personal research to develop that skill.

As I might have shared in previous blog posts, the school assigns each student to a specific study group. In my case, my study group turned into a close group of friends that I enjoy spending time with beyond the classroom. Each team is also assigned a mentor to support the team members when needed. We met with out mentor this month over a breakfast on campus where I got to try a very tasty Mexican dish called Tamale!

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Breakfast with the team mentor

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Night out with the team

One of my favorite cultural activities so far was my visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum. I believe watching the movie in-country and in Spanish (with English subtitles of course!) allowed me to enjoy and truly appreciate the tour of her house museum. It gave me a true insight into one of the most important personalities in Mexican history. She can also be be found on the $500 MXN pesos bill.

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Marc Rivera at the Frida Kahlo Museum

This past weekend, I had the chance to travel to Puerto Escondido with a group of my classmates. We spent an amazing weekend in this beautiful surfer beach town. We took surfing lessons in the morning, spent afternoons playing beach volleyball, and enjoyed watching the gorgeous sunset while sipping on margaritas. We enjoyed three great days of sun, sea, sports, and friendship.

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Exchange students go surfing

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Afternoon volleyball sessions

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Beautiful sunset in Puerto Escondido

I am looking forward to the next 2 weeks that include a week of condensed Sales Force Management class followed by a week of vacation that I will be spending on the beach in Tulum and Playa del Carmen!!

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Week 2 & 3 – The Welcoming Mexican Society

IPADE’s MBA program is what you can call a very intimate program in which students spend most of the two years together attending all classes and events together. Joining this “closed society” as an exchange student felt a bit intimidating at first as I was not sure how I would be able to make new friends, understand the culture, discover the country, and plan fun activities. I had a feeling that our group of international students would become a close group of friends, but we would still be treated as outsiders in regards to the others.

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Some of the Exchange Students

I was so shocked by what ended up happening that I decided to focus this blog post purely on my fantastic experience in this welcoming society. What I thought would be the biggest challenge of my exchange experience ended up being the easiest and most enjoyable part.

The local students welcomed us among them and included us in all activities they were planning. They included us in lunches, parties, and every other opportunity in order for us to get to know them and them to get to know us.

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Small Gathering After Classes on Friday

My study group took it even it further and brainstormed the different trips and best parts of the country to visit. They also included a full list of activities for each place.

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My February Trip Planned by My Teammates

Knowing that we were here to discover more about the Mexican culture and get a real feel of the city, some of our classmates joined us as we went to watch the famous Mexican wrestling “Lucha Libre”. I had to buy a mask that had the colors of the Mexican flag 😛

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Lucha Libre Experience

This past weekend I joined a study group of one of my classmates to spend the day at the amusement park, Six Flags Mexico. Although, I previously only had a couple of brief conversations with some of the local team members, they welcomed me as if I was an old friend and I spent an amazing day with them. During our discussions that day, I could feel how genuinely nice they are and I got to understand more about the culture they grew up in, but most importantly I got the opportunity to understand them on a more personnel level.

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Great Day With New Friends at Six Flags Mexico

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Who says MBAs can’t have fun

Although, we only had one brief conversation during the first week of school, a local classmate invited us to his home 2 hours away from Mexico City where we had the pleasure to meet his family and taste some amazing Mexican food cooked by his mother. On the bus ride there I met a Mexican guy whose passion is political foreign affairs, specifically the Middle East. The fact that he has never traveled to that part of the world but knew the details of every country covering the history as well as the political, religious and economic systems was just mind blowing. That day I also got to meet some of our host’s friends that are not IPADE students and I could see the same characteristics.

Mexican people, especially IPADE students, are genuinely friendly and helpful and I feel comfortable and welcomed among them and I couldn’t be happier.

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