Despite every Kellogg student I ever met telling me about the grueling schedule of the first week of CIM, I still found myself pretty unprepared for exactly how tough it would be. I am completely and utterly exhausted (and fighting a mild case of CIM SARS). But since we’re off today, I wanted to write down my thoughts on my first 2 weeks of being a Kellogg student while the memories are still fresh in my head. So…
One word: wow. I was one of the lucky few who managed to register for the KWEST Mystery Trip. On the bus to the airport, our trip leaders gave a short history of the Mystery Trip at Kellogg before revealing that our mysterious destination was Malaysia. But that was all they revealed, our itinerary was kept a mystery, with the leaders just telling us what we should wear when we met each morning. Some highlights I remember:
- The first night we got to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur about 11pm, and were told to meet in the leaders’ room in 30 minutes with our duty-free booze and whatever mixers we could find. Once there, they introduced us to something called ‘the envelope game’, where each person pulls a question out of an envelope and has to answer it. It was a great ice breaker, and the stories that were told definitely got the group completely comfortable with each other and set a great tone for the rest of the trip.
- After 2 fun days (and even more fun nights) in KL, our trip leaders surprised us again by announcing we were on our way to the airport and would be flying to an island just off the Malaysian coast called Langkawi. After a very short flight and bus ride, we found ourselves pulling into a beautiful seaside resort where we’d be spending the last 3 days of our trip.
- Our first full day in Langkawi provided what was for me the highlight of the trip: a day on a sailboat sailing around the many tiny islands off the Malaysian coast. After sailing for a bit, the crew lowered a cargo net into the water along the boat and let us jump into the water and swim a bit. Well, not really swim, more like hold onto the cargo net in the face of some of the strongest currents I’ve ever felt. Even without the boat moving, the current was strong enough to pull you the full length of the boat (probably about 40 feet) in a matter of seconds. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun having my entire group relaxing on a cargo net in the ocean. After lunch, the boat dropped us off on a deserted island beach (which definitely produced more than a couple Lost jokes) for a little while, then took us home in time for dinner.
- Our last day in Langkawi involved a hike through a rainforest, KWEST Olympics, and finally the big reveal where I finally learned about the backgrounds of my fellow Mystery Trippers. While there were some people I had figured out already, there were a few that were complete surprises. I really liked that we got to know each other without the normal “where are you from, what do you do” conversations. I definitely think it helped us know each other at a much more personal level.
Overall, KWEST was absolutely amazing. I would highly recommend any person who comes to Kellogg to do a KWEST trip. It was great walking into the first day of CIM with 19 people in my class that I was already very close with. I could very easily see my fellow Mystery Trippers being some of my closest friends here. Even with the crazy schedule of CIM, we’ve managed to find time every day to hang out, even if only for a few minutes.
After 2 days off to recover partially from KWEST, our full class got together for the first time for CIM – Kellogg’s orientation/pre-term. We were all organized into sections of about 70 people (I am a proud member of the Bullfrogs), with whom we would spent most of our time during CIM, as well as our core business strategy class in the fall quarter.
The first few days of CIM definitely had a summer camp feel to them. There were a succession of speakers from the Dean’s office and various administrative departments welcoming us to Kellogg, there was time with our sections where we got our official section t-shirt (which then became required attire for the entire week) and started to meet our new section mates, there were all sorts of competitions between sections, and of course there were many, many late nights out drinking and socializing with classmates. Towards the end of the week, our pre-term class started, but that didn’t dial back any of the other activities. It just meant that on top of all the summer camp stuff, we now had homework to deal with too. It definitely was a good preview of the kind of time management – and endurance – that will be required in the next 2 years. The capstone of CIM was CIM Olympics, which was held yesterday. This was a full day of section competition in such events as dizzy bat races, golf ball tossing, and tug of war. While there were certainly elements of this week that I didn’t like or that I thought could be done away with, overall I think it was pretty effective. In the course of 6 days, I went from sitting in my section room with 70 strangers to, at a minimum, knowing each person’s name and, in many cases, being friends with them. Now we have 2 days off to recover from the madness. People joke around about CIM SARS because of the number of people who end up sick by the end of the week. It’s easy to see why people get sick, between the lack of sleep, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the fact that you’re in close proximity to so many people for so many hours. I actually consider myself lucky I only have a cold. Two of my sectionmates are out with strep throat, and one of my KWEST group also had to go to the doctor for an illness. The good news is that the pace slows down slightly from here. While there’s another 2 weeks of CIM, the schedule becomes a lot more manageable, with organized activities only scheduled from 10am – 5pm, rather than from 8am to midnight.