About a year ago, I wandered here to read blog posts, trying to find some clues for my “Why Duke” application essay. Inspired, I ended up writing my essay in a blog format, and now, I cannot believe that I’m an official blogger! My journey between applying to the program, to where I am today has been both challenging and fun -– here are some highlights:

Coming to America

At the end of June, I arrived in Durham at midnight, with other classmates, after 24-hours of travel from Shanghai. It was the first time I came to the U.S. … No mattress. No food. No car. No local phone numbers. No furniture. But thanks to the supportive local Chinese community, all the challenges were easily overcome during the first few days. Then, many ladies from China, including me, gradually learned to drive with peer coaching, and obtained a North Carolina Driver’s License –- a milestone in the formal transition to our new lives!

Brushing up on my English

Shortly after settling into my new home, I walked into Fuqua to begin my MBA with the Language Institute. The program started in July, and was required for international students without solid study or work experience in English-speaking countries. During the 2-week institute, besides pronunciation courses, we read many business cases, delivered presentations almost everyday, and simulated interactive B-school classes. What’s more, I built friendships with around 100 international classmates, thanks to the teamwork exercises (and parties)!

Making some noise at Orientation!

Building Team Bonds

By the time Orientation began in August, the energy level was so high that it seemed like it would never go down. While Orientation included a lot of information, there were also fun bonding activities. In teams of 6, we rushed across the campus in a scavenger hunt. More than 400 students cheered for each other in a tug-of-war competition. Several shuttle buses ran between our homes and Chapel Hill for the ‘80s Party. At the end of the three days of Orientation, when our first-year learning teams were announced, I felt like my life at Fuqua would be great.

I was correct. I have nice teammates, and we really trust, care about and support each other. We have 2 – 4 team meetings every week for case assignments, and on top of that, we schedule other gatherings for team building. My team originally bonded through various leadership activities during the Global Institute (a 3-week program in August), including an outdoor Team Challenge Day at the nearby Triangle Training Center, where we did various physical challenges as a team, including walking on a high wire and “climbing the wall,” which is a Fuqua tradition. It was not easy for me to walk on the high wire, but I never doubted that I could make it, with help from my classmates. A few days later, we fixed the roof of a house during a community service day with Habitat for Humanity of Durham. The camaraderie within my team and with my other classmates continued to grow during Campout, when I survived 36 hours in uncomfortable conditions, with little sleep and little food.

Looking Forward to More Traveling

All of the great experiences that I’ve mentioned, and the collaboration involved is what I hoped to get from Fuqua, and the teamwork was a main reason behind why I chose Fuqua. Additionally, I wanted to attend a global business school to fuel my global career development in the future. At Fuqua, international opportunities abound. For example, I already signed up to go to South Africa for a Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum. I hope to do an exchange program in Europe, and to go to Latin America for a GATE trip in spring 2014. So, I have a lot more traveling to come, and new international and cultural experiences to look forward to!

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