My final week at the University of Montevideo has come and gone! It was packed with many assignments and group work, but before any of that could be completed, my class arranged a little get together for all of us to just hang out and eat some really good food! The Uruguayan students held an asado for the class; it is a South American barbecue with various meats such as chorizo, sirloin steak, pork, and even mojella, which is the saliva generators from the throat of a cow. And yes, I did eat it. It was very fatty and not something I particularly enjoyed, but I figured since it was a favorite among my Uruguayan friends that I should try it, and also, when would I ever really try this again?
On Wednesday, we had a group paper due and then on Thursday was the big presentation for it. Each team had a 30-minute time slot; ten for setup, ten for presenting, and the final ten for questions and anything extra. My team presented to three professors we had throughout the course; Daniel Jurburg, Martin Tanco, and Pablo Corgatelli. The room set-up was very similar to a board room when you are presenting a new idea to various stakeholders of the company. It was great real-life experience especially when tough questions were asked and helped me to know when preparing for a presentation to really understand what I am talking about.
The time from Thursday night into Friday night was very bittersweet for me. It was starting to hit me that this experience was coming to an end and I was beginning to realize how much I’d miss everyone on the trip, especially the Uruguayan students. They embraced us all with such open arms and were so inviting especially in a place that we weren’t familiar with. I was starting to realize all the “lasts” of the trip; my last walk to the school, the last time I’m hanging out with the Uruguayans in the cafeteria between classes, and the last time that we’d all be together. Even though I can come back to Uruguay at any time (plans are already in the works to return), it won’t be the same.
Reflecting back on this experience, I gained a new perspective on coordinating global supply chains and also the power of working in teams. Almost all of the tasks assigned to the class from the introduction to the beer game simulation to the case study project, were all team-based and allowed me to work in different cross-functional groups for each task. I was also able to witness first-hand the daily challenges that a smaller, less-developed country has to deal with when working with suppliers and trying to gain more business in their country.
Through lectures and group activities, I learned how important infrastructure really is in a supply chain as this is a weakness in Uruguay. They only have nine routes that run vertical from the bottom to the top of the country, with about three of them in really good condition, and two horizontal roads to connect the other vertical ones. This becomes an issue if a driver is on one road, but can’t switch roads if they went to the wrong location. And if they’re stuck behind a slow vehicle, they can’t go around it and have to deal with it the whole way there possibly having a late delivery. Without the daily interactions with my classmates, I wouldn’t have gained the knowledge and appreciation for the obstacles that global supply chains have on every country and company. Not to mention, I wouldn’t have created those friendships with the others on the trip.
It still hasn’t hit me that my time in Uruguay is over. How did three weeks go by that fast? Time really does fly when you’re having fun! Studying abroad was just a thought to me a couple months ago and not something I thought I’d end up doing. After returning home from Uruguay, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, and I can’t wait for many more adventures abroad!
Chau Uruguay! See you soon!