The journey takes about 15 hours by plane from Tokyo to Madison. But it took me more than five months to truly “arrive” at Madison.
After receiving an admission letter from the RMI MBA in March, my initial idea was to move to the United States in June and prepare for a new life in Madison with plenty of time before classes began.
At the end of March, however, the pandemic of COVID-19 led to a state of emergency in Japan. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for the suspension of travel to the United States. Additionally, the US Embassy in Japan suspended the visa interview, so it was completely unclear when I could go to the United States.
During that time, I felt supported by many people. UW-Madison’s international MBA students kept in touch and shared the status of visa applications in each country. The MBA Admissions Office provided us with timely information and responded quickly to any of our questions. As a result, I could prepare the necessary documents for the visa interview and book an emergency interview in early August.
Immediately after I thought I could finally go to Madison, however, the embassy contacted me on the eve of the visa interview indicating that the interview was suddenly canceled. I changed my plane ticket in a hurry without any information about an alternative interview date. Fortunately, I was able to get an interview a week later and obtain a visa. Unfortunately, the timing resulted in me arriving in Madison only five days before the start of the fall semester.
I met Joan and other RMI members online before I arrived in Madison, so when the fall semester began, the RMI members were able to blend in smoothly, knowing one another already. Joan also introduced me to an online summer course, so during July, I took a class on captive insurance while still in Japan. It allowed me to get used to the American class format and deepen my knowledge of the insurance industry. The Wisconsin School of Business’s online classes are so well organized that even if I were to take the fall semester from Japan, quality classes would have been guaranteed.
For two weeks after I arrived in the United States, I quarantined myself just in case, but thanks to the sophisticated online classes and Madison’s living environment, I did not have any particular difficulties. Many returning students and classmates helped me with securing food, and I realized the strength of the Wisconsin MBA bond.
Now that the quarantine is over and I have truly “arrived” at Madison, I cannot wait for the various experiences that will open to me in the next two years.