19 June 2019
“Not all those who wander are lost.” That is how the enigmatic sign to the entrance of Robertson’s Close reads (it is also a line from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem All that is gold does not glitter). Whenever I come across this sign—usually after a night out at Cowgate—it always strikes a chord with me. Did we not all wander from home in order to come live in Edinburgh? Coming here with a purpose and a goal in mind? As such, we’ve strayed through the city. Not lost, but hopeful and excited about discovering new corners and having new adventures.
The adoption of such a discovery mindset is encouraged in the Business School and most assignments will challenge you to do so. Indeed, my assignments entailed a lot of debate and brainstorming sessions with my fellow students in order to make sense of abstract academic ideas. And sometimes a conversation with someone with a different perspective and background would simply inspire a topic or interesting angle for my work.
You are, however, also challenged to learn how your academic knowledge can be applied in practice. Part of the MSc International Business and Emerging Markets programmes involved doing two consultancy projects. For these consultancy projects, we were required to go on the road in order to meet our clients. We performed one consultancy project for a company in an emerging market (Colombia) aiming to enter a developed market, and conversely a consultancy project for a UK company aiming to enter an emerging market.
In doing so, some would find themselves sent off to the far north of Scotland to learn more about how Scottish trout and salmon are farmed; just like others went off to tour a factory in order to study the production process of shortbread. A lucky few even got to travel to Medellin, Colombia, to present their findings to their clients in person. Who knew we would find ourselves becoming experts in niche products of which the existence might otherwise have been unknown to us?
Such discoveries are wonderful surprises. However, during a year in which your future is unclear, it is difficult not to feel lost sometimes. Where will you live next year? Who will move there with you? What will you be doing? And eventually, this one weighs heavily on everyone’s mind: ‘What will my dissertation topic be?’ Without the usual support from home, you’re thrown back onto yourself and granted the freedom to truly delve into your interests, and explore how you want to answer the aforementioned questions. Very challenging, yet also very rewarding.
As we figure out our next step, we will be turning many corners in the months to come, making up our minds about which goals and dreams we want to pursue. Fortunately, whenever you lose your way along this journey, Edinburgh’s streets sit there as a reminder that this is a time in which our dreams are (still) unrestricted and our mind is encouraged to roam the hidden depths of our brains. Soon enough these streets will be reminiscent of those times in which you wandered through the dark alleyways and you’ll realise you were heading in the exact direction you needed.
Elaine Kreiken, MSc International Business and Emerging Markets