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Making Life-Long Friends On The St Gallen MBA

As well as late nights, skipped meals and no time to do laundry...

Tammy Tay, an HSG-MBA reveals the ups and downs of day-to-day life on one of the world's top MBA programes. This story was originally published on the St Gallen Student Blog last month - we just discovered it and thought we'd share with BusinessBecause readers!

As a HSG-MBA student, you…

Have a million things to do (no further elaboration needed).

Keep odd hours: You have classes Monday to Friday from 9.30am till 5.00pm (3 days a week, the day starts at 8am for German classes). Some days you have group assignments; some days you have company presentations; some days you just want to linger over a glass of wine. And almost every week, it’s a colleague’s birthday. In between all these, you fit in the x-thousand-word essays, presentations, essential readings, financial times, examinations and so on. You will stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning to finish an assignment. In the morning, you will wake up and look at the clock and be shocked, for some reason. You’ll say “What’s wrong with me?”

Take notes: And you will be excited that your great note-taking skills and quirky handwriting finally pays off.

Have some real good times: Coffee on a Saturday morning is a cherished moment, especially when it is a moment shared with some wonderful colleagues. You will hang out at each other’s apartment and watch silly movies and forbid the talk of schoolwork. You will go to bars and you will all be drunk (some will even sing!) and you’ll feel good.

Can feel overwhelmed by very small tasks: Your days will be so unstructured that when you have something to do outside of reading and writing, it will feel like the biggest event ever. On a day when you do not have class, you will decide to finally go to the post office to send some postcards. You will plan your entire day around this errand. When something else comes up—a last minute company presentation—you will panic silently. But everything falls into place eventually.

Do not eat regularly: You will be penniless and you will have no time to cook proper meals. Your dad will call and ask what you ate that day. Your mom will say: “Please get something with protein, and buy some calcium supplements too.”

Network: You will meet company representatives at many company presentations, events organized by the Swiss Association of MBA, Credit Suisse Private Banking/Zurich Financial Services consulting workshops etc. You will meet fellow MBA students from top business schools across Europe and end up having such a great time when you least expect it.

Feel smart: Not smarter than anyone else, mind you, but smart in general. You will stare at your computer screen when writing your papers, and feel a headache building as you see the tight knots in the theories you’re trying to unwind. You will realize that you actually understand some of this stuff and feel ever so slightly proud that you do.

Feel dumb: Not dumber than anyone else, mind you, but dumb in general. You will constantly wonder if there’s something you’re just not getting when doing your reading.

Do not do laundry often: You will never have enough coins. The washing machine is normally located in the basement and you’ll lug your hamper down the stairs, and realize you forgot the detergent. You’ll walk back upstairs and then back downstairs and realize you forgot the coins.

Will make some life-long friends: Some of us are kind and gentle. Some of us are passionate and strong-willed. And some of us exude quiet strength. You will find those few individuals you wish you’d met even earlier. Sometimes you find yourself telling them things you have never told anyone else. And when the going gets tough, you lock eyes with them in class, and suddenly everything is all right.

Feel like everything is just the beginning: You will talk on the phone with your friends scattered across the world. They all have real jobs, or are in serious relationships, or are off on some grand adventure. Everyone will sound happy and you will remember the history you’ve had with these people and realize how you never knew that one day, you’d be sitting on this bench wearing this coat in this city talking to them. You will realize that you have absolutely no idea what will happen next. But you will not be worried.


Tuesday 31st January 2012, 10.50 (UTC)


i really enjoy this blog - thank you tammy - provides realistic impression of the MBA!

Wednesday 1st February 2012, 10.26 (UTC)

Tammy Tay

Hi Fabio, thank you for your comment! I wrote this more than 2 months ago, and I assure you everything still holds true. ;)

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