Thursday, July 29, 2010


And so it begins. After months of anticipation, welcome weekends, and networking, we finally start pre-term at Wharton. As a Healthcare Management major, our pre-term begins a few days early. Healthcare pre-term started with a tour of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. We saw the Emergency Department, neonatal intensive care unit, and trauma surgery intensive care unit. We also had a great social at the Manayunk brewery, in a foresty area overlooking the Schukyill River. The healthcare pre-term had a serious entrepreneurship focus, which I really enjoyed. This focus was intentional given the next 4 months will be dominated by presentations from investment banks and consulting firms.

I just finished taking my math waiver exam and am working on submitting credentials to waive other classes; however, I'm not sure they'll be accepted so I'm busy studying for waiver exams. This plus social events is going to add up to a busy August.

Here are my first impressions of Wharton: everyone is very impressive and it's hard to stand out. Second, there are a lot of social activities and a lot of drinking. Given that I'm not a big drinker, I wonder how my experience will be. Lastly, there are a million things to do here, and I need to stay focused on what I want to get out of my Wharton experience.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


The last stop on our tour was Tunisia. Originally we planned to go to Algeria but decided that it wouldn't be safe. Also, unlike Algeria, Tunisia didn't require us to get a visa.

The 2 hour ride from Carthage airport to Sousse was beautiful. With vineyards on both sides of the road, I felt like I was in Italy (just to the north of Tunisia). Being near the coast, the weather was pleasant. Neil and I were looking forward to our stay at Movenpick, a newly built 5 star hotel in Sousse. Unfortunately, to our great dismay, Movenpick proved to be as disappointing as Royal Air Morocco. The hotel clearly opened about 6 months too early. The hotel looked great from afar, but hotel guests quickly saw that many of the details were lacking. Movenpick's staff didn't understand how to be hospitable to guests and some amenities were clearly lacking (like having a water cooler in a gym). Once, during my stay, I was in an elevator and a father carrying a child tried to enter the elevator with me. The elevator's sensor apparently wasn't working and the door slightly crushed the father's shoulders. According to the waitress at a nearby restaurant regarding Movenpick, "They try to be classy but they have no class".

After a day of running by the beach and working out, we decided that it didn't make sense to spend the next 2 days holed up at the classless 'resort'. We eventually negotiated a great deal to see El Jem, Mathmata, the Saharan desert in a private car. There were a few problems with this great deal, however:

1) The driver brought his wife. So even if we didn't want to take part in a certain excursion, if his wife wanted to, the driver would try extra hard to convince us.
2) The car came 1.5 hours late and was nearly out of gas. Neil and I had to push the car to the gas station before we could pick up the driver's wife. Because of this, I negotiated an additional discount.
3) After driving in serious heat for over a day, on the way back to Sousse, the car started experiencing problems with the transmission that caused us to drive at 1/4 to 1/2 the speed that we normally would.

Despite these issues, we had a great time on the trip. First we visited the ruins of a Roman Coliseum in El Jem. Next we travelled further south to Mathmata to see the underground houses where Star Wars was filmed. We were also treated to an authentic lunch. Finally, in the evening, we arrived in the Sahara desert. We took a dramadeus ride (dramdeus are like camels) 2 hours into the desert and camped out in a compound.
The next morning our driver picked us up and took us to the 'Salt Lake' to watch the sunrise. The Salt Lake is a dried out lake filled with salt. After this, we drove to a poorly maintained zoo to get an idea of the animals that were living in desert. We saw dramadeus, ostrich, snakes, owls, coyotes, and even lions. The cages were in such disrepair that I was worried that the lions would escape. These animals also did not look well taken care of. The Chicago, Bronx, or San Diego zoo, this was not. After the zoo we visited a jungle oasis and then embarked on the long journey back to Sousse.

Thus ended our trip, and we flew back to the Unites States after an extra day in Casablanca. Our trip to Morocco & Tunisia was filled with ups and downs, but overall I had a great time. The Fez souq, surfing, and Sahara desert were the highlights of the trip.

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