My GSB experience unofficially started with an amazing nine-day trip to Tanzania, in the great company of 14 future classmates, and a few more guests and significant others. The clockwork organization was taken care of by the magnificent Benjamin from Dar es Salaam, who will be a star and a great friend on campus, and his lovely sister Bernice. The adventure was given the name Maisha Mazuri, “life is beautiful” in Swahili, and no name could have been more appropriate.
The trip consisted of three parts:
- climbing Kilimanjaro in 6 days. Unfortunately I was unable to join this challenge due to an annoying injury at my foot earler this year. Almost all of my classmates managed to complete this enormous undertaking, and I was really proud of them. They were all exhausted and sunburnt when I arrived in Arusha, but deeply happy for what they had achieved!
- a 4-day safari across Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and the “endless plains” of Serengeti. I have no appropriate words to describe the sense of the sublime in being surrounded by the savanna in every direction until the horizon. Not the mention the deep excitement while watching in close proximity a pride of lion, elephants, hippos, cheetas, etc. I had gone for a Safari before in Kruger Park in South Africa, but Serengeti was truly on another level.
- 4 days of relax in Zanzibar. We went for a tour of the island spices, snorkeled on a sand bank, played with 100-year turtles, and had the unexpected experience of attending Zanzibar International Film Festival. Great fun!
Some random considerations:
- my future classmate are extremely NICE people. Yes, very smart, driven and ambitious too, but first and foremost caring, open, funny, curious and down-to-earth…which are the most important attributes in a person, in my mind.
- bonding with my classmates went through a spectrum of circumstances and conversations. From the most serious and geeky topics (the status of the music industry, obviously!, career progression at Google, life/work balance as an entrepreneur, pursuing your passion vs pursuing success, up to “what was there before the Big Bang”… haha!) to the most light and ridiculous (playing “truth or dare” at 3 am on a bus back to our Zanzibar hotel, when I felt I had gone back to high school, or singing in Swahili in our safari jeep). I hadn’t laughed so much in years!
- the atmosphere was extremely international, with people from 6 continents and 14 different countries, and 17 different languages spoken. I had deeply missed this element during my time at Universal Music, where almost everyone was British or American. This mix of cultures added flavour to every conversation, since so many different point of views were represented.
- I had a lot of time for self-reflection, especially during the long drives on the safari. I deeply thought about my direction of travel in this important passage in my growth, and took some important decision about my personal life, which will also (positively!) impact my Stanford experience. I will be happy to share on these pages in a few months, when everything is real. The great thing is that I discussed these personal matters with my new GSB friends. They were complete strangers until a few days earlier, yet I felt so close to them and comfortable in asking for their advice.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience and an incredibly promising glimpse of what is about to come. I am very excited, especially as I now see fully the light at the end of the admin tunnel (full summary when I am 100% done!), and the start of the MBA is a month away. Stanford, here we come!