Babson College (USA)

Karina Zdalinskaya

Fall 2009 Semester

 

Culture shock

 

I didn’t have any culture shock because American culture is not so specific and is very open. Everybody around is ready and willing to help you. If you have any questions – just ask somebody on campus – students, professors or office stuff and they will be happy to help.  If you arrive to the Introduction Week you will receive the book “Americans at work” which will help you to understand why American culture is different. I highly recommend you to read it – I knew from it a lot of interesting and exciting facts.

During my stay at America the most shocking are the facts that:

- Everybody is very positive and smiling (it seems to be not natural for Russians but you will get used to) and unknown people in the streets (not in big cities but at campus or in the neighborhoods) say to you “Hello, how are you”;

- It is not so easy to be there without the car. You will need to know somebody with the car in order to ride to the shop (If you just walk, it is not far – around 20 minutes one-way, people passing by their car can stop and ask you if you are ok and if you need some help. They also probably will give you a ride);

- Some little culture differences as, for example, they drink soda with a lot of ice (half of the glass) so just don’t forget to ask without ice if you like. Also the portions of food at the restaurants are just enormous, so you can order only one dish – be sure, it will be sufficient.

Anyway I think that understanding such cultural differences is a great fun. So, enjoy! You will have a lot of funny stories for your friends!

Indeed, I had culture shock when I came back to Russia – it was much harder to “adapt back”.

 

Banking

At Babson at the beginning of the semester you will meet representatives from “Citizens” bank – so you can ask them all the information and open you bank account filling in the documents. It is very convenient – in 1-2 weeks you will receive your card by post and you can use it on campus (there are 3 ATM-machines on campus and also you can pay with your card at Internet which is very useful while ordering some staff from Amazon, as cheap books for example). You can also give them your travel checks and they will put this money on your account without commission. I recommend you to open bank account because in America you are not free without card – everybody uses it everywhere and it is very convenient!

 

Invitation / Visas

 

Right after your nomination you will receive official letter from Babson with all useful links to their website (there is all the information, so you can look it through before your nomination if you want) and with all structured information what you should do. There is a list of documents you should prepare and fill in. If you have any additional questions, Heather Fishman (the contact person from International Office) would help you – she is very nice and answers all your e-mails immediately with detailed instructions.

You will need to pay SEVIS fee (by Internet, just follow their instructions) which is rather expensive (as I remember something about 150-200 dollars with the delivery, you will see the exact sum on the web-site) and also you should fill in the medical document at the hospital (for this you will need to pass medical commission and to do a lot of medical tests). There is a special hospital that can fill in the Babson document – at Moskovsky prospect, right near metro station “Technologichesky Institut”. They can fill it in in English – there is a special person who does this for those who go abroad. But you will need to bring there your certificate about vaccinations, health certificates from dispensaries and from all doctors (ask them for their list when you visit them for the first time). It will cost you some money because some vaccinations and health certificates from dispensaries are not free. You will need also a lot of patience. If you need some additional information, more in detail, don’t hesitate to write me an e-mail.

 

International Services

There is an International Office which will help you with all your steps while application process and for the first time when you will have some questions. Heather Fishman will be your contact person – she is very nice, open and helpful (like all Americans and everybody at Babson). You can visit her in her office when you have some questions, better by appointment by Internet (they have special system in their web-site) but also you can arrive without this. The one thing that I recommend you is to ask her to print out the list of exchange students with their e-mails – so you can get in touch because you will be close to each other as you arrived only for 1 semester, but not for 2 years like other Babson Students. You will find among them really wonderful friends.

There are some lectures organized for new international students about American laws, documents and so on – you can visit them. You will know about all events by the e-mail – don’t forget to check it daily. Also there will be a lot of networking events (Americans are crazy about networking).

There is a buddy program – so you will receive your buddy who will help you with everything. My buddy was a Russian girl and we even had some common friends at Saint-Petersburg! She had a car and we went to do shopping together, she invited me to some parties and we became good friends. My Russian colleague from GSOM had an Indian buddy who also was very nice and helpful.

 

Orientation program (Introduction Week)

At Babson there is an Introduction Week which is organized for foreign students but I really think that it is not useful at all. First of all, because it was for MBA-students who arrived at America for 2 years Program. Secondly, because it was for additional price (which was not paid by GSOM) and that is why we received the schedule of Introduction Week with a lot of blanks instead of useful seminars (as presentation skills etc). We were invited only for networking sessions with coffee (but all people we knew there were on the first year of their MBA program while we, as exchange students, were on the second year) and some lectures about the campus facilities, IT department, police and health care. All this information can be found on the internet site of Babson. We had also one lecture about case study procedures but the practice was the same as at GSOM. The only useful thing was a book about Americans (“Americans at work”) which is describing the cultural differences. So you can easily skip Introduction Program if you wish. Better to use this time to travel to New York or Boston (because later you will have not so much free time).

 

Campus facilities

It is better to live on campus because there is everything. Campus is far from Boston (around 30 kilometers) but it is very comfortable – you can find there all you need, even the local pub (it is very useful because around campus there is “dry area” – you can’t drink alcohol and spirits). There are several buildings (for graduates and undergraduates) but you will have courses mostly in two of them. Dormitories are also on campus. You have wi-fi access everywhere – even outdoors. There is fantastic library full of different resources. At the library the ground floor is very noisy but if you go on the first or second floor – there it is quiet. You can reserve study rooms using the Babson web-site. You will have access to computers at the library and in the main building where you will study. But almost all students have their own laptops (Babson do not provide laptops to exchange students, only to MBA-students for additional fee) – it is much more convenient. Imagine that you can use wi-fi in your bed at the dormitory (which becomes the best place to study) or watch films while running on ellipse at the gym.

 

Courses

At Babson you will have a great choice of courses – you will receive by e-mail all instructions for the registration. You can find their description on the Babson web-site. I could register on everything I wanted but when I arrived at Babson I changed my choice and could change the courses (you will have some time to think and to do this). There are some courses which become full very fast but if you are really interested in it – just write an e-mail to the professor, sometimes they are agree to take you, so you print their e-mail with their permission and go to the registrar office.

You should be enrolled to 12-16,5 credits (to transfer American credits to European just multiply it by 2). Normally each class is 3 credits, but there are some of 4,5 and 1,5 (these 1,5 credits courses are kind of intensives, they are held during some weekends). I took 16,5 credits which is the maximum for foreign student but it was too much of workload so I advise you to take less in order to have some free time to go to Boston on weekends or to visit parties.

Babson College is number 1 in Entrepreneurship that is why I advise you to take classes for Entrepreneurs – for example, I took Entrepreneurship (a bit boring but really helpful to open your eyes and to feel yourself as entrepreneur) and Marketing for Entrepreneurs (Bob Caspe is really great professor, you will enjoy his course and his book if you like Marketing). Also I took Brand Management (I just love this course and this fantastic professor – Jon Kerbs), Negotiations (wonderful course by Melissa Manwaring, very useful for life, not only for business), Global Marketing Strategy (so-so but not too bad) and Business Development through Professional Selling (very useful intensive course – it takes you out of the zone of comfort but gives you a lot of useful tools how to sell).

When you will think about which courses to take – just ask other students, sometimes they describe it differently from course description that you can find on the Internet-site, so they can help you with the choice.

 

Teaching

Teaching style is a bit different from GSOM – first of all you should speak up a lot. Americans believe than at MBA program you can learn a lot from each other’s experience that is why your opinion is so important.

Courses at Babson are heavier than at GSOM – you will have a lot to read (books and article and cases from course-packs) and your big part of the grade depends on your participation – it means that you should speak up during classes. Also you will have group projects, presentations and a lot of case discussions. In the syllabus you will find all materials you need – there are some core books and course-packs (which are very expensive) that you buy in the book store. I advise you to buy books at Amazon.com – it is much cheaper (especially if you buy used books) and they will be delivered on campus.

What is very different from GSOM, all professors are very open, that means that there is not so much distance between professors and students – they are always ready to help, even to meet with you for a coffee at campus café and to advise you with your business or to help you with your resume.

 

Language courses

 

At Babson there are no language courses available.

 

Housing facilities

There are two dormitories on campus (Woodside and Woodland) – it is 5-7 minutes walking from the building where graduate students have classes. But there are some differences between them.

Woodside

You should live in this dormitory if you prefer socialization because there is a common kitchen on the floor. It is rather spacious with all needed equipment and tableware (don’t forget to book you space on the shelves and in the refrigerator) and there are sliding doors to the yard – so there is a wonderful view on the forest. All students gather together in the kitchen and this is a wonderful experience of cultural exchange. Very often there are parties (almost each weekend which starts on Thursday) and everybody is invited. If you don’t want to go there, anyway you will listen to their music J So rooms are not so quiet.

What is really great at Woodside is that it is a former hotel – that is why rooms are new, nice and rather spacious (of course with bathroom in each room).

Laundry facilities are free.

Woodland

If you prefer more quiet rooms, you should stay at Woodland. This dormitory is also very comfortable for families. The difference is that in every room there is a kitchen, so there is not so much communication between neighbors. This dormitory is not so new but is also nice. The laundry facilities are paid separately.

 

The price for Woodside and Woodland is the same – 1250 $ for month. You will receive all the information about reservation by e-mail from Heather Fishman. It is better to reserve you accommodation in advance. You probably will be in contact with Lisa who is responsible for dormitories. She is very nice (like everybody at Babson) and she will help you with any questions. For example, if you want to stay at the dormitory for a couple of days after the semester finishes (like I did to visit Boston), just ask her permission.

Food

There are a lot of cafeterias on campus – so to eat is not a problem. Prices are expensive (lunch starts from 7-8$ without a drink). The quality of the food is good – you can choose different sandwiches, wraps, salads, donuts, Italian, Mexican food and even sushi. I recommend you to buy a meal plan. If you live on campus it is the best decision (of course, you can cook by yourself at the dormitory, but sometimes if you are lazy…). You can buy meal plan for 25, 50 or more meals. In this case each lunch/dinner will cost you around 8$ or even less – and for this you can each everything – there is a buffet with soups, salads, pizza, meat, fish, exotic meals, desserts, coffee, fruits, ice-cream – absolutely everything. The choice is really fantastic and you can eat healthy.

If you cook at the dormitory there is a problem to go to the grocery-store. It is better to ask somebody to give you a ride, usually you have so much nice people around you so that they will offer it to you. But if you want you can go there walking (it is around 20 minutes) but is it a bit hard because usually you buy a lot…

There are some restaurants not very far from campus – better to go there by car. We went to eat sushi or to drink coffee. It is nice if you are tired to eat on campus and you want something new.

 

Costs/expenses

You can find cheap tickets at the site www.anywayanyday.com – I bought there tickets to and from Boston for 700$ one way.

Biggest expenses will be accommodation (1250$/month), health insurance (a bit less than 1000$) and mobile services (around 45-50$/month). You will need to buy textbooks and course packs. In order to save money it is better to buy textbooks at www.amazon.com – if you buy used it will cost you 4-5 or more times less expensive than at the bookstore. Better to do it first to buy cheapest J But anyway you will save a lot. As for course-packs – they are very expensive – 120-150$ (for one course). What I advise you is to wait until the first class and find some students who are ready to share (better exchange or foreign students) – so you buy one course-pack for 2-5 or more people and share the cost, and then you make copies at the library (it is free), but don’t forget that nobody should know about your fraud. Don’t tell it to anybody!

Also prices for food are high – on campus lunch starts from 7-8$ without a drink – good decision is to buy a meal-plan. New England area is really expensive. I spent a lot for food (each time I left in the grocery-store 40-50$).

The transportation is also expensive – a taxi from campus to the metro station is around 12-15 $, the ticket to metro which goes to Boston 2-2,5$.

What is really great at America – is shopping! There is some shopping center (40-45 minutes from campus by car) – there you can buy all famous brands, new collections for really cheap prices, especially if there are some sales. For example, I bought DKNY dress for only 40$, Levi’s jeans for 20$ and 30$ and a lot of Tommy Hilfiger sweaters for 40-50$ each!

Babson recommends you to take around 12 and a half thousands of dollars for one semester – for everything. Actually, this is the right sum if you plan to live at the dormitory (which is very convenient and expensive). I took more than that sum because I planned to travel a bit across the country and go to Mexico for Thanksgiving week and to do shopping (which is really great – now I don’t go shopping at all because I bought everything!)

 

Student health services

After arriving at Babson you will need to buy health insurance (a bit less than 1000$). You will also visit lecture about medical services.

On campus there is a health service department. I used it only ones – when I received a message on my e-mail about the opportunity to make a flu shot (it was free).

 

Social events

 

I recommend you to visit the fair of communities/groups at the beginning of the semester. There is a lot of interesting groups – during the fair you can visit their stands and ask questions. Best option is to join all groups you are interested in – you just leave them your e-mail and you will receive all information about their events, lectures, parties, excursions and so on.

Also I recommend you to visit parties – information about them you will receive by e-mails and also you can see it at the main hall where you will study. I visited several clubs at Boston and a lot of parties on campus – some of them were really exciting as Japanese party with sushi, Indian holiday Divali, Halloween- parties, blue Queens party and so on. Also you can ask your buddy who can take you to some home parties (which are really exciting). It is very easy to expand your social network because everybody is interested in intercultural experience.

Also I recommend you to organize some party with other exchange students – some of them can become your really good friends.

So main rule is to keeps your eyes open and you will have a lot of opportunities to socialize and to party.

Sports / recreation

 

On campus there is the gym – it is free and really fantastic – there is a swimming pool, gym apparatus and aerobics lessons (please see the schedule on Babson web-site). Also you can play tennis (but you need your own racket and balls) and other games – for this there should be special hours.

 

Study tours / field trips

 

There are no special excursions organized from Babson College. Only parties at Boston clubs with the bus from campus and some little excursions (for example, a visit to the farm or pizza-rastaurant) organized by special clubs at Boston. But it is not a problem to go to Boston during weekends.

Also you will have some time during Thanksgiving Week – almost all students leave the campus to travel. You can travel in US or go to Canada or Mexico (you can do the visa at Boston). If you travel outside US don’t forget to visit International Office to receive the signature on your DS-2019 form which will allow you to come back to US. Also check if your US-visa is multi. I went to Mexico for a week and it was a great trip! The visa was done at Boston (one working day). So use the opportunity to travel during Thanksgiving! If you prefer to stay at US – there is an opportunity to join some American family for this holiday (you will receive all this information on your e-mail).

I also recommend you to visit New York City – there is a Chinatown bus which is going from Boston to NYC for only 15-20$! And you can buy some excursions, for example I had a dream to go to Niagara Falls – you can find any excursions in Internet and pay by card. I really enjoyed these opportunities.

Also I visited California: San-Francisco, Las Vegas and Gran Canyon (Nevada). The price of the ticket from NYC to San-Francisco and from Las-Vegas to NYC was around 115$ one way.

What to bring

 

In America there is everything! So you don’t need to bring something special.

I advise you to bring your laptop – it is much more comfortable to use your own computer. And if you have driving license and you want to drive a car in America, bring you Russian driving license because international driving license is not valid there.

 

General impressions

 

I really think that studying at Babson is great experience! First of all because you will study on MBA-program! Secondly, there is very special environment – entrepreneurs who have their own business or family business or plan to open their business. All people are full of interesting ideas and are ready to exchange them. You will know a lot of interesting things; participate at Rocket Pitch to present your business-idea and visit a lot of exciting guest-lectures. You will not only have great time but also acquire a lot of new friends from all over the world. It can be one of the best decisions in your life!

 

If you will have any questions – I would be happy to answer them. Don’t hesitate to write me: kzdalinskaya@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Veronika Sokolova

Fall 2007 
 
СЕМЕСТР В BABSON COLLEGE: STUDY HARD, PARTY HARD! 
 
Недавно у студентов ВШМ появилась уникальная возможность поучиться в одной из самых лучших бизнес школ США и мира — Babson College в Бостоне, США. Мне посчастливилось стать студенткой по обмену в Babson College в 2007 году.
В 2002 году в течение года я жила на юго-западе США по программе обмена, однако Бостон превзошел все мои ожидания.. Бостон считается самым европейским городом США и находится на берегу Атлантического океана. А также это один из исторических, культурных и образовательных центров США. Каждый квартал Бостона — это путешествие по учебнику истории США (Бостонское чаепитие, Гарвард и др.) или американскому кинематографу (именно здесь снимал своих оскароносный фильм «Отступники» Скорезе).  Университеты, театр, балет, библиотеки, рестораны и магазины (девочки меня поймут) в Бостоне — одни из лучших в США.
 
А если на выходных хотелось куда-нибудь уехать, то проблем не возникало. Расстояние от Бостона до Нью-Йорка всего три часа на машине. Я осуществила свою давнюю мечту - сходила на Бродвейский мюзикл, погуляла по Центральному парку, посетила Метрополитен и East Village, где, наверное, жила бы Керри Бредшоу.
 
Кроме того, за 4 месяца я навестила друзей в Далласе, Техас, побывала в столице США Вашингтоне, а также на берегу Тихого океана — в штатах Орегон и Вашингтон.
 
Негласный девиз студентов Babson College — STUDY HARD, PARTY HARD. И поверьте, study hard они умеют и любят. Библиотека колледжа с понедельник по четверг  — самое популярное и модное место среди студентов. Во время сессии библиотека работает до 2ух часов ночи. Библиотека в Babson College хотя и является хранилищем книг, все же чаще всего это место, куда приходят со своими ноутбуками, чтобы написать работу, почитать study cases и обсудить задание с группой (большая часть заданий выполняется в малых группах). Каждому студенту выдается ноутбук с необходимыми настройками и программами. Без него в Babson никуда: преподаватели выкладывают задания и материалы на сайт колледжа, предупреждают об изменении расписания, однокурсники договариваются о встречах и т.д. Интернет WI FI работает по всей территории колледжа — моя знакомая умудрялась работать в интернете даже на беговой дорожке в спортзале.
 
Преподаватели в Babson College — отдельная история. Моим преподавателем по международному праву была внучка посла США в России Кеннана, того самого, который написал «телеграмму Кеннана». Моим преподавателем по предпринимательству был Леонард Грин — владелец 16 компаний, основатель Adrenalin Rush (эту компанию он затем продал Pepsi). Класс был построен по принципу известного телешоу «Кандидат», к нам в класс приходили директор по маркетингу Facebook, люди из главного офиса Nike и др. Преподаватели  в Babson College очень близки к студентам они с удовольствием останутся в вами после занятий чтобы объяснить непонятную тему, помогут с поиском работы и даже с финансовыми отчетами вашей первой компании (около половины студентов колледжа начинают свое дело еще во время обучения). А каждый четверг декан приглашает всех желающих попить кофе у него в офисе, обсудить жизнь колледжа или последние новости бейсбола.
 
Учиться в Babson College безумно трудно, но невероятно интересно. Кроме того, большая часть заданий выполняются в группах, а пятичасовое написание маркетинговой стратегии в среду ночью в библиотеке способствует дружбе не меньше, чем совместный поход в клуб в субботу. За 4 месяца я познакомилась с многими очень интересными людьми. Одна треть студентов Babson College— международные студенты из 80 стран мира. Благодаря общению с ними я практиковала мой французский и испанский, отмечала День Независимости Мексики, узнала о том, как развлекаются студенты в Ирландии и почему в Японии не едят суши.
 
Получение американской визы – дело хлопотное, но не такое сложное, как многие считает. Главное – заняться этим заранее, как только вы получили пакет документов из Бебсона, включающий официальное приглашение. Сайт американского консульства даст вам всю необходимую информацию о последующих действиях.
 
Ситуация с общежитием в Бебсоне сложная, особенно после того, как Бебсон занял первое место в рейтинге Newsweek. Обязательно свяжитесь с housing services как можно раньше. Если же в общежитии вам откажут, то придется снимать квартиру неподалеку от колледжа. В данном случае придется купить велосипед или машину (мои европейские знакомые купили старый Форд за 1200 долларов, которые через полгода за столько же и продали). Возможно, вам удастся снять квартиру в Wellesley – городе, находящемся неподалеку от Бебсона, откуда вы сможете ходить пешком. Обратитесь к housing services за помощью.   
 
После того, как вы оплатите жилье, медицинскую страховку (проще всего купить страховку колледжа - около 400 долларов), единую карточку (является одновременно пропуском в общежитие, библиотеку и столовую - бывают трех видов), я советую положить деньги в американский банк. Представители банка Citizen сами приходят в Бебсон в начале учебы – вполне удобный банк, два банкомата на территории колледжа, возможность следить за своим счетом он-лайн. Единственная опасность – не превышайте свой лимит и не «входите в минус» - может вам дорого стоить.  Кроме того, имеет смысл купить сим карту T mobile – за 50 долларов в месяц вам предлагают 1000 минут разговоров на территории США и неограниченное количество смс. За смс и звонки в Россию придется платить отдельно – все платежи можно проводить через Интернет.
 
Бебсон находится в 30 минутах езды от Бостона. Если вы водите машину – возьмите с собой права, можно недорого взять машину на несколько часов на прокат на территории колледжа. В будние дни попросите друзей подкинуть вас до ближайшей остановки метро. На выходных между колледжем и городом до двух ночи циркулирует автобус.
 
Желаю вам удачи, и надеюсь, что семестр в одной из лучших бизнес школ США станет незабываемым событием в вашей жизни!
 
 
 
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