19 Aug 2022
Sasin exchange students from the MBA class of 2019 and 2020 took time out from their busy schedules to talk about their experiences studying in the United States. The students included Suphagorn “Ohho” Warintrakom, who studied at Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University, Sirithorn “Care” Wangpattanakul, Ton Jiropas, Natthakritta “Candy” Techvitul at Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, and Naina Singh at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Naina was impressed that in her classes, guest speakers share their real-life experiences, adding knowledge and specific contexts to situations they read about in books. “…what you learn in the [business] cases is not always what happened because that, of course, has been watered down and written in a way that is educational, but when you actually hear from the mouth of someone who was able to give no filter, no “bs” type of experience, it allows people to see through the bs and see that these are real people, they’re not just cases, but real decisions with real ramifications,” said Naina. Besides guest speakers, when it comes to actual courses, Suphagorn shared that he liked the Self-Mastery course at the Drucker School, which was different from the normal management classes he studied. “We’re always talking about how to manage things, how to manage businesses, how to manage people, but nobody ever tells you how to manage yourself,” he said. Suphagorn added that the self-mastery course taught students how to integrate Google Calendar into other applications and talked about the science behind taking a cold shower. “They talked about what happens to your dopamine level if you take a cold shower. There’s also research on what I can do to increase my productivity and focus,” he added. There were also business courses that Sasin’s exchange students found impressive. Naina talked about her experience in an accounting class when one of her classmates, an experienced business executive, was able to guess which company’s financial statement it was just by looking at the company’s statement. “It was an accounting class where you have a company’s balance, but the name of the company is hidden,” she said, “I was intimidated as I don’t have a finance background.” Ton said that he took a similar class that teaches students how to detect the analysis earnings of a company and decipher whether the company is engaged in corporate fraud. Besides the course content, Natthakritta liked that she was able to access databases like Statista, a German business consumer database. The students found that there are also internship and job opportunities in the United States that are worth looking into. Natthakritta took an internship at Duke University where one of her jobs was to organize an alumni reunion to share their life experiences. She said that some of her classmates had internship opportunities that she never dreamed of getting but they still hesitated to grab the opportunity. “I have some people who got an opportunity at Amazon complaining, I have an internship at Amazon, what am I going to do- and I was like, hey it’s Amazon, do you really have to think about that?” “[When we are in our home country] we are in a bubble of our own and we don’t have to go through struggles like walking in the rain or the snow…going through the struggles of dealing with people who are not as helpful or so culturally independent that they think you should figure things out on your own- I think that’s an important part of growing up as an adult.” – Naina Singh, Exchange Student, MBA-FT 2019 Another significant point when studying in the United States is that participation is mandatory in class so students are graded based on how much they contribute to class discussions. “We are not allowed to have electronics in class, only pen and paper are allowed, and we have a lot of class discussions,” said Naina. Suphagorn echoes Naina as he had to read business cases before going to classes. “If you come to class without having read the material, you can’t participate, they will just ignore you, you can’t participate at all,” he said. Suphagorn attested that his classmates were mostly older than him, usually in their 40s and 50s, as well as having worked in the business sectors longer than them so class discussions were always insightful. He was also impressed that some of his classmates are starting their businesses. “In one of my classes, my buddies are developing a game where you take the concept of AR (Augmented Reality) like in Pokémon Go where you walk around doing things, but then you get paid in cryptos. It’s pretty cool,” he said. There are a few pitfalls students may have to be aware of when studying in the United States. One of them is that sometimes there is a lack of administrative services. When Naina wanted to get to know other exchange students, she had to find it out on her own and arrange a meeting with the other exchange student by herself. Another difficulty is the expensive bus and taxi fares, which can go as high as $25 (THB 890). The number one piece of advice for exchange students going to the United States is to get a car. “I recommend everyone to get a car when you come here. You can go everywhere from Orange County, San Diego, to Mexico, to Vegas. If you get a chance, you should come to California, it’s awesome,” said Suphagorn. Sirithorn, who studied at Duke University, said that it took her 45 minutes to walk to school and back. “Uber here costs 7 dollars and if it rains it’s like 25 dollars. In Thailand it’s 30 baht (1 dollar),” she said. Depending on where you live, some places have more accessible transportation. Ton was able to walk everywhere within 1 to 5 minutes. He was able to take the school bus to Chapel Hill and seats were always available. “My roommate also has a car so he drives me around,” he said. Overall, Sasin’s students had a great experience studying in the United States and would recommend the exchange program. Sirithorn believes that the exchange student experience has made her more responsible and gave her the experience of living on her own. “I felt like it was a struggle for me in the beginning, but in the end, I felt like I grew from it. It’s like being a freshman again, but you learn that life is not always easy,” she said, “I am always broke, I have 200 dollars in my account, and I have to borrow money from friends. You have to hustle.” “I would definitely recommend the exchange program, I would even go as far as to say that without the exchange program your MBA at Sasin would be incomplete because there would be so many things you would miss out on, and it is worth it just to open your eyes to see what is going on the other side of the world,” said Naina.