Getting to know my Classmates in an Off-Campus Setting
Panama Canal
Anjali Verghis '15
Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 9:15am

Travel can be a great way to learn about business, but it is also a fun way of getting to know your classmates away from the Columbia campus!

I visited Panama during Spring Break with four CBS friends, and the experience was amazing. I was expecting to be impressed by the country, but surprisingly, the trip touched on both my pre-business school and CBS experiences as well.

Prior to business school, I was an investment analyst covering the healthcare and transportation sectors. As a part of my job, I analyzed potential investments in U.S. ports and my team and I worked to determine the effect of the Panama Canal’s expansion on shipping patterns. Visiting the Panama Canal after three years of researching it really put things into perspective. It’s difficult to appreciate the operation’s magnitude until you’re standing next to the locks and watching an enormous container ship pass through the canal system!

I also had the opportunity to experience Columbia’s ethos of “applying theory to practice” while in Panama. We spent three days in the mountain town of Boquete where we visited a coffee plantation. Our guide spent time explaining the economics of the coffee business, and my friends and I found ourselves glancing at each other as concepts from our classes were described: operations – how do you identify the plant’s bottleneck; strategy – how much coffee should a grower contract for vs. plant themselves; and marketing - how do growers convey the Panama coffee story in a crowded marketplace? What we learned in class really shaped how we looked at the coffee business.


Our zip-lining event in Boquete and a Panama Coffee plantation in Boquete, Panama

Spring break was great, but it isn’t the only opportunity for travel. I look forward to visiting cities in the US and around the world to have the chance to globalize my experience. I am planning to visit Detroit to get a firsthand look at the city’s recovery and I am also visiting Moscow this summer to meet Russian policymakers!

Some of the other trips I have already taken were purely for fun. My trip to Mount Snow, Vermont was with about 50 of my fellow G’15 cluster-mates. Most of us skied for two days, coming home to three hot tubs, an indoor pool (!), and (in some cases) homework. The trip was completely student-run, and my classmates did a great job in organizing lodging, discounted lift tickets, a group dinner, and a Winter Olympics (sequel to Puerto Rico’s Beach Olympics) complete with a team cooking challenge. 

I had a great time in both Panama and Vermont and I’m looking forward to continuing to get to know my classmates in more off-campus settings!


Ski trip to Vermont



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