An Inside Look at Walsh College’s Study Abroad London Experience
By: Caroline St. Clair
This past August I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural session of Walsh’s MGT 595 Study Abroad class in London. The class was originally supposed to run in 2020, then in 2021, but with the COVID pandemic it was postponed until August 2022 which meant that the class was filled with both current students and alumni.
Drs. John Moore, Mike Rinkus, Maria Gistinger, and Board Trustee Brian Pilarski facilitated an incredible academic and cultural experience for all who attended. Our group hit the ground running as soon our planes landed at Heathrow. We met our tour guide Stuart who loaded us all onto our tour bus and took us to Covent Gardens for lunch and shopping before we headed to our home base at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury.
Sunday, the group took a bus and walking tour of London with Stuart who pointed out the major sights, including Buckingham Palace. It was a great way to get our bearings in London and learn some of the history. The evening was spent at The Comedy Store, a famous improv club where we had some laughs.
Monday was the start of the academic week and the Walsh students and alumni showed up ready to engage each topic. For Sustainability Dr. Rinkus was able to arrange meetings for our group with Barclays and NatWest through BAFT (Bankers Association for Finance and Trade). Brian Pilarski arranged sessions on Risk Management at Willis Tower Watson and a tour of Lloyd’s of London, we had a session and tour at the London Metals Exchange, and a session on fixed income at PIMCO. Our final session, arranged by Dr. Moore, was a Brexit panel of 3 esteemed speakers including the official historian of the Bank of England and author, Forrest Capie.
Our cultural sessions each day were equally valuable to our time in London. As a group we experienced high tea at the Shard – finger sandwiches, scones, tea cakes, and all. Some might not have chosen this experience but it is a common part of the British culture and was a valuable learning opportunity.
We spent an evening at the Phoenix theater to see the musical “Come from Away.” We also toured the Tower of London – some of us getting caught in a downpour as we ran for the Tube. I think everyone’s favorite night was our dinner on the Bateaux London cruise on the Thames where we danced and took in the sights of London from the river.
There was plenty of time in London to explore the city outside of the planned activities. The hotel was conveniently located near a Tube station and walking distance to many sights, including the British Museum and the National Gallery of London. Everyone in the group stayed busy, filling nearly every moment of the day and night. We all quickly realized that it is impossible to see everything in London in one trip!
On Saturday we left London and headed to Oxford for the morning where we explored the famed University and its colleges and then it was on to Windsor Castle where we were able to tour the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel. We then checked into Oakley Court Manor for our farewell dinner and final night together.
It was an honor to be a part of this first study abroad class in London and have the opportunity to experience the rich history and culture of London while visiting and learning from business leaders. Our classroom was the city of London, and we were welcomed into WTW, Lloyd’s of London, PIMCO, the LME. We met with the speakers from NatWest, Barclays, and the Brexit Panel because of the powerful connections created by Walsh. Those connections were extended by Walsh to the alumni and students which gave us an in-depth view of the world of business to which we can aspire. Beyond the business networking, we created lifelong connections and a network of future business leaders.