GlobalMBA Cohort 19: Coronavirus update

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WARSAW— The grocery stores are madhouses, as are the Rossmans (think CVS or Wal-

greens). The soap/hand sanitizers aisle and toilet paper aisles at the latter are near empty. Classes at the University of Warsaw (UW) are canceled until April 14 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.  The World Health Organization today declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.

A Polish colleague in the cohort first found out classes were canceled through the news and notified the rest of us late on March 10. Classes were canceled as of March 11.

The University of North Florida (UNF) has suspended all summer study abroad programs. 

As of today, March 11, Cohort 19 was specifically told via email by UW and UNF program directors to stay in Poland, for now. The plan is to continue classes here remotely.

As of today, there are 27 reported coronavirus cases in Poland. According to Restriction III in UNF’s Coronavirus March 10 update, if there are more than 100 cases in the country in which students are currently abroad on university travel, students are required to return to the U.S. and recommended to self quarantine for 14 days. See a global map here.

The GlobalMBA program, which the eight U.S. students have collectively invested more than $160,000 in tuition alone, is a double master degree program with one semester in each of four countries: fall in Germany, spring in Poland (our current residence), summer in China and fall in the U.S., with students from each country participating together. 

Due to U.S. immigration office safety precautions and regulations, the fear is the non-US students will not be allowed into the U.S. after going to China to complete the semester. 

 

This leaves Cohort 19 with a whirl of questions*:

  • If we do continue our semester in Poland, which recently started, remotely, what does reimbursement for our tuition look like? It is common knowledge that in-class instruction is generally more expensive than remote courses, and in-class instruction is what we paid for.
  • Many cohort members invested in the program specifically to be able to live and study in China, as this is such an incredible opportunity especially when considering a career in international business. How are the program directors working to adapt the program to still accommodate this expectation? Have they considered delaying the China semester to Spring 2021 or Summer 2021 with next years’ cohort?
  • If our semester in China is also remote, how much will the cost of tuition decrease?
  • What happens to our program if none of the non-American students are allowed into the U.S. due to immigration office restrictions from fear of the coronavirus?
  • For some cohort members, graduating on time in Dec. 2020 is the priority. For others, the intercultural experience of a semester in China is the most important factor. Will the cohort’s concerns be weighed into the  options and decision-making for the future of the program?
  • And, perhaps the most important one, how will the Chinese government be held accountable on the global stage for its part in the spread of the coronavirus with its secrecy and suppression of the danger, to help ensure a global situation such as this will not happen again?

*Note: not all Cohort members share every question or applicability of affectedness

Welcome to Warsaw, now eat some pierogis

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The semester in Cologne ended with finals and more group projects than I’ve worked on throughout my entire prior university career.

So long, Cologne!

I found an awesome apartment on Ottodom.pl and flew via RyanAir straight into the Modlin Airport just about an hour from Warsaw’s city center.

Agnieszka, a Warsaw native and fellow friend in Cohort 19, showed me around the Old Town and took me straight to Zapiecek, a traditional Polish restaurant where I enjoyed a plate full of pierogis.

Classes at the University of Warsaw have begun and the vibe is totally different than it was in Cologne. It is a welcome and refreshing change. Na Zdrowie!

Haus der Geschichte (House of History) Bonn

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“Our History, Germany since 1945″

I didn’t know how much it rains this time of year here before I left Florida. It has rained most days in October so far, and the last week of September. So, our trip to Bonn was wet and cold. We had intended to go to the castle (maybe next time!), but ended up making the quick decision to go to the Haus der Geschichte, the German History museum nearby purely to be dry and warm.

I have lost count of the number of museums I have explored in Germany, but this one was still fascinating. I will not recount Germany’s history here, but here are some images from the journey through time.

Beethoven’s Birthplace in Bonn

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My GlobalMBA peers and I took a train to nearby Bonn, where we walked through the house Ludwig van Beethoven was born in. Photos were not allowed inside, where instruments and very old sheet music were among the pieces.

I learned the Beethoven kept a routine schedule, which including waking up, eating breakfast and then focusing his attention on his compositions. Other activities included walks, correspondence, receiving guests, going to coffeehouses, sketching new ideas in his pocket sketchbook, and going to inns in the evenings, occasionally attending a concert.

GlobalMBA Cohort 19

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Our small groups of international dual-degree graduate students that had been trickling into Cologne from different parts of the world became Cohort 19 on Monday, September 30, when we were all together for the first time. Students from the United States, Germany, Poland, China, France and Italy filled the seats in Ubierring 48, room 211.

We started the day with orientation and a campus tour which included the other building, Claudiusstraße, and had lunch in the Mensa (student cafeteria). We thought we were going on a City Tour after lunch, per the schedule, but it turned out to be a hurried scavenger hunt.

We returned to Claudiusstraße, and champagne was poured. There was even a barrel of Kölsch specifically for us. (Talk about cultural differences! Drinking has never been encouraged in an academic setting in the U.S. in my experience.) At this point, everyone was exhausted, but managed to keep drinking, eating and socializing through the full 10-hour day.

Tuesday and Wednesday were Intercultural Training days. This presented us the opportunity to get to know each other a little better with games and activities before classes begin next week. We talked of differences in the university settings in each country, among other surface cultural differences. While some of us looked forward to delving a bit deeper, we are going to keep looking forward to it, because it was not the space for dialogue beyond the bullet points. The place for those conversations will likely be in our actual Intercultural Communication classes.

October 3rd is Germany’s National Day of Unity, so everyone had Thursday day off, and the shops were all closed (like on Sundays here). Friday we had off, too! Monday we have our introduction class with Professor Sander, and on Tuesday the semester officially begins. 

“There is no peace in weakness.”

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“There is no peace in weakness.”

opened at Richas Digest on Friday, September 27.

Art by Nikolas Müller

Curated by Aneta Rostkowska

This exhibit generated conversations about the traits of males in society, and asked questions about how these traits are perceived as “masculine,” but are they inherently?

A much-needed conversation starter in a world still grappling with allowing boys the emotional right to cry, I had to step out of the exhibit and step back in again because there was so much going on in the pieces.

Worth the visit.