Dec 1, 2016

The founding principle of all the activities of Zdenek and Michaela Bakala is, truly, the courage, which must, according to their belief, always go hand in hand with responsibility.
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Etienne Michaud - report


Aug 2014 – Dec 2014



Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University


Economics, Business and International Affairs



The major importance of Washington D.C. in global affairs made this experience truly exceptional. Studying where “things happen” clearly makes a difference in learning opportunities, for at least three reasons. Firstly, professors are extremely well connected and active professionally in the city. As students, we benefit from it through regular guest lectures from top economists and other professionals. Secondly, being present at the heart of the city grants access to many conferences and events taking place, notably, at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Capitol, the Atlantic Council or on campus. Thirdly, the Elliott School attracts a very multicultural and professionally active student body, a very rewarding aspect for social life in general and class discussions in particular. All-in-all, I was incredibly happy with my experience in a top academic institution in the United States and I am very thankful for the generous support of the Fondation Zdenek and Michaela Bakala. 


The paperwork necessary to embark in such an experience is the other side of the coin, although it is clearly worth the energy. Perhaps the process can be separated into two stages. The first one is to get access to the opportunity of studying abroad, which requires work and patience. Once this is achieved, more hands-on tasks need to be timely executed: obtaining a visa, finding a place to live (often without visiting the place and neighborhood beforehand), registering for courses and many smaller – but time-consuming – requirements including selecting the 23 kilograms of your most worthy belongings that will join you on the trip... On my side, I am grateful that I faced no major issues and could arrive in the United States ready to benefit from the experience. 


The first few days abroad are the most challenging but also the most enriching. After passing the critical border control and answering some deeply personal questions, a taxi brought me through Washington D.C. and I started realizing that the adventure was starting. We passed the Washington Monument; I looked desperately for the White House but could not see it. The jetlag kicked in. Kept awake by the adrenaline, my roommate and I had spare ribs in Georgetown: I was back in the USA.

The first week was shared between meeting new people from many countries during the Welcoming Week (which involves business cards there!), visiting the landmarks of the city and going through the usual administrative hassle: getting a student ID, a phone contract, a Capital Bikeshare key (the shared bike system of D.C.), a US driving license (this failed) and so forth. When classes started ten days later, I was pretty much settled. 


I found an apartment in the “U Street Corridor” via the online service Airbnb that we rented with another exchange student. That way, the payment was secure and we could read the positive comments from previous guests. 


I recommend George Washington University for the quality and choice of courses and for all the events happening in D.C. that we can attend. Furthermore, the services offered by the university include research support, career counseling, company and organization visits, online subscription to leading journals, access to the libraries of all universities in Washington D.C. including the Library of Congress and to sport amenities (gym, squash, and so forth). Those resources allow for a busy but balanced university life. 


During my stay I took the opportunity to visit another FZMB alumnus at Yale University. We first met in New York City for an alumni event of the Graduate Institute, Geneva (IHEID) and were lucky enough to watch the most famous Swiss win in five sets at the US Open. We took a train to New Haven, Connecticut and visited the beautiful Yale campus.


Raise High!


Etienne Michaud - photos


© Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala