This blog was written by a Cross Continent MBA student prior to the program’s merger with the Global Executive MBA program. 

The Cross Continent MBA is a unique program. Residencies. Visas. Traveling to some countries for the first time.

Don’t get it wrong—it’s not going on vacation and having some classes here and there. It’s going to a global city, with the aim of experiencing the region in both a cultural and economic context, and having academics infused along the way. That may sound confusing, but that’s what it is.

It’s a new learning experience in your journey of growth and leadership development. The program challenges you academically and otherwise. Your view of the world will change as you visit different countries. Your classmates may share a perspective that you have not experienced. All in all, starting the program will open you up to a new learning environment on many different levels.

Our corporate visit to 3M, Maximize the MBA Experience
Taking a tour of 3M

I think the most awesome experience is the first day of the second residency. During the first residency in Durham, you are trying to ‘find yourself’ and your ‘place’ in the program and are generally trying to figure out how it all will work. By the second residency (ours was in China), a rhythm is establish between you, your teammates and the class as a whole. So when you meet again in person at the start of the second residency, the energy generated by 100 students catching up with one another is out of this world.

I encourage you to take this same journey that I have. And when you do, here is my advice on how to maximize the MBA experience based on a thing or two I have lived through as a Cross Continent MBA student:

1. Abide by the Instructions and Suggestions You’re Given

Fuqua’s program managers and other support staff have been doing this for a while. If you are in doubt of anything or need help, please speak up. They’re there to support you. If they advise you against doing something, please take their word for it. They’ve seen it all.

Being in a different time zone and country is not the best place to experiment, and I have a story that speaks to that. We were strongly advised not to bring our families to residencies, as they can create distractions from focusing on the program. I did not plan to, but some things got in the way and long story short, I had to bring my family along to the first residency. Then my son got ill. You don’t want to imagine what I went through in those few days. A foreign country is not the best place for a child to be sick. QED. I wish I had listened to the staff, so be smart learn from me. There is a residency where partners are welcome, so just plan for that one.

2. Prepare For The Residencies

me sitting in class, maximize the MBA experience
Me during a break in class

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Yes, prepare for everything. Prepare for the weather. Sleep on the flight if you can. Pack your necessities. Don’t forget to do the requisite readings before each residency.

That last part is very important. If you don’t complete the readings you will be tossed to and fro by what can be called ’new information without basis overload.’ It’s worse than being lost at sea. Once classes start, it will take a lot of effort to catch up if you did not prepare. Additionally, residencies are a time to meet with your teammates and newfound friends to work on those bonds. Trying to catch up on academics is counterproductive to that endeavor.

3. Take Care of Your Visas

Different countries require different things. Gather all the information you need to apply for the visa to enter country where the next residency is held. Don’t leave anything to chance. Apply on time. Two people from the same country applying to the same embassy may have two different outcomes. So don’t take anything for granted, and give yourself extra time to handle any surprises from the embassies.

4. Embrace the Teamwork

Building bicycles for charity as part of a team building experience, maximize the MBA experience
Building bicycles for charity as part of a team building experience

Fuqua lives, breathes and eats teamwork. It is deliberately infused into the program so you will not work alone. There will be people (faculty, teammates, classmates, etc.) to assist you. From academics, to knowledge of the local area in which you’re studying, to anything else—teamwork is systematic at Fuqua.

5. Find that Work Life Balance

As you progress through the program, you will get good at this because both work and live must go on. Getting support from people in your workplace is a must. You may not be able to succeed at this program without the tacit and implicit support of your colleagues at work. Believe it or not, you are as busy as a full time student, and you’ll need to say “no” to some things.

6. Take Advantage of Fuqua’s Professors

Rankings and awards aside, they are a unique lot. All my professors impressed me by how they find ways to make you fall in love, literally, with the area in which they specialize. They have the patience and wherewithal to answer the most basic question about their field and also the sublime ones. They live what they teach. As I said before, just come along, and you will see it

7. Enjoy It

classmates and I prepare for a bike tour, maximize the MBA experience
A bike tour of Santiago was one of our cultural immersion activities

What is my favorite residency so far? That’s the hardest question to answer. I’ve loved different residencies for different things.

I fell in love with the American South by coming to Durham, where accounting was drilled into me. In Shanghai, having discussions with my classmates by the Pudong River was magical, coupled with a newfound love for economics. Chile was surreal, the pureness of the air got to me. I walked the streets of Santiago at every given chance, bonded with classmates, and got to know their better halves (this was the aforementioned residency where partners were invited). In India, we were welcomed into the celebration for a wedding at the Dehli hotel where we were lodging. Having strategy and marketing lessons taught in class and hearing from founders of several companies was awesome and inspiring.

So you get my drift. The Cross Continent MBA is a truly unique experience that spices up your life. It’s a program that will prepare you to be an impactful leader, and Fuqua will deliberately transform you. Trust me on that.