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Hungry Hungry Hippos

Posted by Rebecca on 14 April 2009

Business school is really a series of very difficult choices.  It starts when you must decide which school(s) to apply to, and carries on as you accept an offer of admission, select clubs to join, choose your electives, decide whether to go on exchange and ultimately pick a career path.  Some decisions are easy, while others will truly test your character.  One of the most difficult decisions you will make is determining what to do for Spring Break. 


Yes, the life of a MBA student is tough.  I spent many sleepless nights agonizing over the choices. (Actually, that’s a lie.  I may have forfeited a nap here or there, but that’s about it.)  It boiled down to three options:

1. Thailand Sailing Trip*: 30 students, 3 boats, 7 days on the open water. 
2. Japan Trip*: 30 students take on all you can eat sushi and sake in Tokyo and Kyoto.
3. Africa Trip: 30 students + lions + hippos + cheap beer = amazing adventure. 

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Ultimately I chose the Africa trip because I have always wanted to visit the continent and figured it is unlikely that work will one day take me there.  The trip was organised by two fellow MBA students, Vata and Gil, who did a phenomenal job both in planning the itinerary and herding 32 unruly students across five countries in 13 days.  Our itinerary was action packed: Sun City, South Africa; Gabarone, Botswana; Kasane, Botswana; briefly to Namibia; across the river to Zambia and Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls; and finally to Cape Town, South Africa. 

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What was the best part of the trip?  Two weeks later and I’m still thinking about it.  Africa was truly a trip of a life time, but it was also full of extremes:

  • Visiting the DeBeers diamond operation in Botswana
  • Spending time playing with kids at an orphanage in Gabarone
  • Going on safari and seeing so many elephants and hippos that we stopped taking pictures of them**
  • Seeing Victoria Falls at the highest water levels in the past 25 years
  • Buying a 100 Trillion Zimbabwean note for £1
  • Eating some of the best seafood I have ever tasted in Cape Town
  • Standing at the Cape of Good Hope, the furthest point south on the continent

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But after reviewing the 600 pictures I took, the most memorable shots are the ones of us bonding as a group: piling into very small and potentially unsafe minibuses. Us looking very sceptical about crossing into Zambia on a speed boat amid piles of luggage.  Or when we challenged a group of Booth MBA students also visiting Botswana to a beer boat race (we won, obviously).  Making pirate hats while on a sunset boat cruise near Victoria Falls.  32 students and partners shared this adventure together, and that’s what made it such a great trip.  It would have been a totally different experience and not nearly rewarding had I done the exact same itinerary by myself.

*I hope that fellow bloggers on the Japan and Thailand trips post an account of their Spring Break – from what I’ve heard, they had excellent yet completely different adventures. 

**A word of caution: baboons are dangerous.  They will beat you up and steal your lunch if you’re not careful.  Take it from us.

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