Looking Back on an Amazing Year

A year ago today I couldn’t have pictured my life the way it is now. All cheesiness aside, I mean it. If you had told me I would have seen the dazzling colors of the fall in Virginia from a mountaintop, cruised through Hong Kong Harbour at sunset, or biked through the tulip fields of Holland on a Spring afternoon, all in single year, I would never have believed you. More than that, I got to do all of those things with my very best friends by my side. That describes just three days of the ten-month journey that M.S. in Global Commerce (MSGC) has been.

Enjoying all the Blue Ridges have to offer: watching the sun rise from Humpback Rock, a favorite for UVA students.

The year has been an opportunity to learn from some of the best professors at some of the world’s most renowned business schools. However, so many of the lessons I’ve taken away from this master’s program extend so far beyond the classroom, and I believe they may not even be fully realized for many years to come throughout our time ahead in the global business world. Cross-cultural soft skills and global management may be taught in the classroom, but they are also applied outside, each day. Learning the most detailed intricacies of other cultures and what it means to be different, yet finding a way to be compatible. Bundling this all together to produce exceptional work and professional results.

Floating down the Li River during a weekend getaway to Guilin, China.

The other day, I heard a quote by musician Daryl Davis on NPR that resonated with me in the way this master’s program works to improve not only your business acumen, but also in the way you relate to others from cultures different than your own .“When you are actively learning about someone else, you are passively learning about yourself.” To me, this was one of the most important aspects of the year. To learn my strengths, my areas for improvement, and the way in which I relate to others, all through simply striving to learn about them – where they come from, where they are going, and why.

And frankly, I am thrilled to see where we are all going. The bond we have built will last a lifetime, and it is wonderful to think about how the network of people with such different backgrounds, yet similar passions, will grow. I am so eager to see this group of people with such a variety of talents and resounding drive take on the workplace, and the world.

Chesa traveled to Hong Kong, Macau, and Thailand during the Chinese New Year holiday at Lingnan. She’s pictured here with friends Sierra and Grace at the harbor in Hong Kong.

A final thought comes once again from a passing notion I heard on a podcast (aside: I recommend all travelers to join the podcasting world if you haven’t already) regarding perhaps the most important lesson I learned this year about living in the moment and appreciating the abundance of opportunities this program has to offer. In sum:

As humans, we have a psychological need to adapt. We need to habituate ourselves to our surroundings, to other people, and to events. We do this primitively for survival, but also simply for stability maintenance and a sense of comfort. If something wonderful happens, we feel in the moment as though we will be happy forever (and vice versa). We enter a new country, full of tremendous changes and unfamiliarity, and we feel as though it could never become normal to us. However, as we all know, the feelings fade and before you know it, you feel at home in your new country. For better or for worse, and we find ourselves back in our routine. In this cycle, our habituation and adaptation abilities can quickly make us forget to be grateful. They make us forget to look up and realize how special the moment is and how special the people we are with are. Too many times this year, I found myself so focused on my daily routine that I wouldn’t take the time to take hold of that moment and appreciate each for what it was. Now, I have a head full of special memories from the year I will look back on with a smile, but I can’t help but wonder about the moments that might have passed me by.

Chesa’s thesis team (Eva, Grace, and Dia), after successfully defending their thesis!

Thus, I must request that all future students in the MSGC program take the opportunity for all it is worth and be in that moment as much as possible as the world’s opportunities continue to unfold before you. Best of luck to all of my Class of 2017 graduates in the future, and best wishes for a great year to our successors.

Chesa with friends Kyle, Sierra, Stoan, Grace, and Drake after the final graduation ceremony at ESADE in June.

Chesa Trevino graduated from the University of Georgia with a BBA in Marketing and Fashion Merchandising. She plans to work in marketing following graduation.

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