Tuesday, September 1, 2009

KWEST 2009 - Hong Kong Ritz and Macau Glitz

We just started our official 3-week orientation on Monday, and it has been as busy as expected; forget about getting much accomplished during the first week at least. I think it will slow down a bit once we start our compressed leadership class on Thursday.

I'm taking a break from the night activities to allow myself to recover from this cold that has been kicking my butt since I returned from Hong Kong. Instead, I am catching up on some personal items, such as this blog entry, and then looking over the case that we are discussing tomorrow.




I went on my KWEST trip to Hong Kong and Macau last Saturday with 17 classmates and 5 2nd-year students that served as our trip leaders. We left Saturday afternoon and arrived in Hong Kong on Monday morning to a very busy schedule for the day. The leaders said this was done on purpose to tire us out so that we could sleep that night, thereby adjusting to the new timezone. Judging by how many people slept soundly the first night, I'd say it worked.

The main highlights of the trip included:
  • Visiting Victoria Peak
  • Getting custom suits from Sam's Tailor
  • Visiting Stanley Market (tourist trap)
  • Taking a 5-hour trip on an "authentic" junk barge
  • Sightseeing in Macau (the sites we visited were all within walking distance of each other)
  • Having tea in a little tea shop
  • Eating at fantastic Chinese and Portuguese restaurants
  • Meeting and engaging with my classmates
Although I didn't list any nighttime outings above, we did go out to a few clubs in Hong Kong and Macau. The clubs were a lot of fun, especially for those of us dancing, but they were also extremely expensive. Beers (Carlsberg) started at around $10 if you were lucky, so it was easy to spend a lot of money very quickly. In Macau, I eventually (call me naive) learned that prostitution is pervasive throughout all clubs and hotels, including the Venetian, which is where we stayed.

The KWEST trip was fantastic, and I have to give full credit to the leaders for putting it together, but it didn't completely live up to my (much hyped) expectations. In part, I shared DG's experience, in that I wasn't able to engage very well with everyone on the trip. I am hopeful that the group will maintain a strong connection now that we are back in Evanston, but I can't say with certainty that it will.

The KWEST trip and the first couple of days of CIM helped me realize that although everyone is extremely friendly, and we all share a common link through Kellogg, it doesn't mean I'll be close friends with all of my classmates. The activities that we go through in KWEST and CIM definitely help you form connections with a large number of classmates, but they do not guarantee strong bonds. I think those will be formed over the next two years, and much like in the past, I probably won't have any control over who I naturally gravitate to and vice versa.

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