By: Brittney Moraski ('16), studying at LBS
I am nominally your blogger from London, but I’m writing this in a car driving through Uttar Pradesh to Agra. Fellow blogger Yvena Lesperance (on exchange from ESSEC) and classmate Chantal McKay (on exchange from ESADE) are in the backseat.
I applied to business school with the expectation that I would study abroad, and I chose London Business School for a very simple reason: I have held a slightly-romantic desire to live in London ever since I took my first international trip to the city when I was ten years old. And so in London I now temporarily live, in a flat on Marylebone High Street that I am sharing with two American professionals and subletting from an American LBS student who is on exchange in Paris. I have classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, and so you can find me for at least two days each week in London, checking for traffic in both directions and asking British people to repeat or explain things in the language we are both supposedly speaking.
People always seem to be coming or going or settling in London, and so I’ve had the chance to reconnect with people from different parts of my life: a high school classmate, college friends, a roommate from D.C., my KWEST leaders. In class at LBS, just checking for attendance attests to the school’s internationalism: in addition to a handful of Amandas and Thomases, my classmates include Basak and Anasuya and Shyam. Yet there are some elements of business school that must be nearly universal, particularly among the very best schools. People are smart and friendly. Professors are engaging and prepared. Instead of TG on Friday, we have Sundowners on Thursday.
I finish my classes for the week by eleven o’clock on Tuesdays, a schedule I don’t feel guilty about because I made sure to optimize my time at Kellogg before going on exchange: an active class schedule since winter of last year, a post-graduate job I’ve committed to, and enough extracurricular activity my first year to be able to limit my involvement during my second with little regret.
What I’ve not chosen to do, however, is take it easy. Since becoming a business school student, I often find myself thinking about my actions and choices in the same language that I use in my coursework. With limited time in school, what tradeoffs am I willing to make? I could spend all my time in London, or explore the UK, or travel as widely as I can. What is the opportunity cost of doing this thing, versus another? I have time now, but no income. In six months, I’ll have an income but three weeks of vacation a year. What is my appetite for risk? Should I go to this place alone, or walk down that street at night?
I use business school concepts to structure my decisions, but I always seem to fall back on literature to decide what to do. In A Woman Upstairs, a book I read before starting Kellogg, a middle-age woman looks at a series of photographs of women from all stages of life. Nora, the character, is especially taken when she sees a picture of a woman her age who has clearly lived a fuller life than she has. The image makes Nora despair that too much of her life – and body – has remained undone, unseen.
I’ve thought about that passage a lot as I spend this time – the last months of my twenties – abroad. What does it take to, as Nora says, live in “the fullness of life”? Certainly, great classes, good friends, and a promising career are an excellent start – and all are thanks to Kellogg. But the rest seems improvisational and mostly involves saying yes and taking chances and going places. London offers such opportunities, but so do Barcelona, Madrid, Delhi, Agra, Vienna, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Wales, Edinburgh, and Copenhagen – places in our big yet small planet that I hope to use my time abroad to experience and explore.