Moving across the globe with a family for my MBA

If you have ever been to New Zealand and sat on the beach on a sunny afternoon, the scene is so beautiful and peaceful that it could lull you to sleep—that is if your three-year-old son, Clark, did not giggle with delight while destroying the sandcastle you had just built with powdery, soft sand. Originally from China, I spent almost 7 years in Auckland, New Zealand where I studied, worked, got married, and had my first son. I am pretty proud to call myself a Chinese-Kiwi. Now a father of 2 (my second son Eddie was just born two weeks ago) and a (rising) second-year MBA student at Booth, I live with my wife Taro and sons in Hyde Park. Currently at my summer internship, I am working as a product manager at VMware in the Bay Area. Newborn Eddie is our little California baby.

Watch my student story  

Thinking back to New Zealand for a moment, the cool breeze sweeping my hair and the tame, clear water, inviting kids to swim or kayak.  We can stay a bit longer as it is only a five-minute drive from my house, where my wife is cooking delicious Chinese dishes tonight… New Zealand is a magical place and its outdoorsy, relaxed culture gives you the feeling of retirement no matter how old you are.  Although I knew I was going to miss my friends and the beautiful weather, I had a pretty easy decision when Booth admitted me.

A bit more background on my life… while still living in China I finished my law degree in a very special university with a major in Forensic Science, specializing in computer related crime investigation. If you watched the famous TV show CSI before, I was one of them by training. And yes, we were also trained in hand-to-hand combat, interrogation (no pressure, no pressure, my interviewees :), and firearms.

Upon graduation, I made a tough decision that I would not take a job offer in the public sector as most of my classmates had, but instead I started a different adventure. That’s when I moved to study computer science in New Zealand and then worked for a research branch of software solutions company SAP. Following that, I was a project manager at IBM New Zealand, helping enterprise customers design and implement mobile and middleware solutions. When I realized I wanted to get my MBA, I decided to come to the US and to Chicago Booth.

Ray SonsSo far, it is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. The only thing I was not 100% sure about was how hard it would be to bring the whole family across the Pacific Ocean and make it work as a student again.

Enlightened by the Boothies who wrote here on The Booth Experience before and who helped me so much, I really want to help others in the same way now. I want to share everything I have gone through with the hope that some of my experience will help you to enjoy one of the best two-year periods of your life, especially from the perspectives of an international student, a student with a family, and a techy who also has an entrepreneurial spark deep inside.

The only tip I would like to offer in my first post is one that really helped me during my first year and applies to all of the perspectives I listed above—prioritize ruthlessly!

Two things that are not a scarcity at Booth: awesome people and opportunities.  While the former refreshes my definition of “extraordinary” every single day, the volume of the latter is simply overwhelming. It is so tempting to follow my amazing classmates’ lead and try everything! But at the end of the day, I am the one who has to decide how to divide the 24 hours.

It is totally fine to not know what you would like to do, but having a better understanding of the tradeoffs you are willing to make will cure the most common contagious disease here at Booth—FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  Luckily, these awesome people around you are great at supporting others. As long as you keep the communication channel open, everyone is willing to sacrifice and work around each other’s agendas and commitments. I am extremely grateful for that and will definitely do the same for others. I think this is part of the powerful “pay it forward” spirit at Booth.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

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