It’s official. A month has passed in what seems like a second. How am I doing? Well, definitely bruised and battered—my sleep debt has quadrupled, my blood pressure went up thanks to mid-terms, my liver is starting to protest, and I’ve succumbed to the P1 bug (thanks Singapore haze for my constant coughing section!)—but oh man, I am so happy I’m here.
The adjustment to being back to school has been interesting. I bought a ruler two days ago for Prices & Markets, a microeconomics core course, and felt like I was 12 again! As a psychology major with an economics minor and a CFA, I have the dubious distinction of being one of the few people who have studied every single P1 core course before. Yet I feel like I’m learning something new every day because we’re looking at everything from a high-level, practical, application mindset and not a theory mindset. For the first time in my life, I like microeconomics because we are using it as a tool to understand strategic decisions like setting prices for different customer segments rather than mindlessly drawing supply and demand curves. Similarly, in Organizational Behavior (OB), we are using social psychology findings to understand how we work (or fail to work) in teams, how we lead and how we influence or negotiate (salaries, for instance!).
The professors are amazing, and what I find fascinating is the way the curriculum must have been designed behind the scenes to make sure we are all on the same page for every course. For example, the professor for Uncertainty, Data & Judgment (UDJ) talks about “shorting” the market the day after we learned what short selling is in Financial Markets & Valuation (FMV). The FA and FMV professors alternately criticize the finance and the accounting viewpoints, which makes my section snicker. Similarly, the OB and UDJ professors interchangeably talk about the application of behavioral psychology. It’s a delicate dance of coordination, and I very much appreciate it!
Oh the volumes I can write about the people!! Let’s start with my fellow 16Js—I love them. They are hilarious and so interesting on the down-low that my jaw drops at finding out random facts about my classmates at a dinner or a lunch conversation. I’ve been forced to admit that I probably know 10% of what makes them tick, but everyday, that number goes up! I feel like when we first came in, we were all speaking English but different versions of it with our own acronyms and short hand like BAU (business as usual) and “cross-reading” (a way to read faster) and “corner strategy” (some mysterious consulting powerpoint technique). I think a month in, we now understand each other a bit more and have more of a shared language (like being “fooled by randomness”) and our own acronyms (as you can see from the other posts: FOMO, FOMO, always FOMO, which is the Fear Of Missing Out). There were also some of us who felt like big kahunas who knew everything and were here to teach others, not learn—and I think that’s calmed down, too, and we’re a little bit more glued together as we’ve realized there are many different ways of thinking and doing things, which have their own value and may dominate in different situations.
The senior class has also been amazing. They have been nothing but nice and helpful (though the arrivals from Fonty were adorably as lost as we were on campus). While we’re in the library reading cases and finance textbooks, they are in there reading Crack the Case. While we’re trying to figure out how to work together in groups, they’re having hushed conversations about interview callbacks and job offers. The only thing that’s the same is that they are living life in the same tempo we are, or perhaps with even more zeal given the ticking clock. It’s bittersweet to watch them experience P4, knowing that they will be gone soon and then it will be us in their shoes in a very short time.
The only thing I could wish for on the people front is more—more dinners, more lunches, more parties, more conversations. With what feels like half the class traveling every weekend as well as the crazy busy schedule, weeknight parties and events have become a natural way to let off some steam and hang out each with other. And yet it still feels like it’s not enough! Since I’m staying in Singapore until P5, I already feel sad that most of my Singy class will disappear in P3, though we will get to know the Fonty crowd, finally!
INSEAD and time wait for no one—we’ve spent the first three weeks writing and re-writing our CVs and we’ve already had a few career workshops and advisor sessions. With the 15D class in full recruitment mode, we’ve also had an opportunity to go to numerous career presentations every night. So yes, career-related activities are in full swing the moment you get into INSEAD!
Time management and keeping the rest of your life in balance
Ah, the big one! I think my fellow bloggers have all covered the generalities—keep your priorities in mind, remember missing out is inevitable, be open to all aspects of the INSEAD experience, and remember to sleep once in a while!
For me specifically, I think what I can add is that time management is a work in progress and you are never in balance everyday. There are days where I’m on campus until midnight studying for a midterm, and there are days when I chuck all my required readings and come home at 3:30 PM after class to see my son. I don’t always get it right—and get immediate feedback from my toddler!—but that’s the point: Time management is trial and error until you figure out what works for YOU and then it’s trial and error again as things change. My partner and family have been incredibly supportive, which helps a lot.
Another thing I’m grateful for is how supportive INSEAD is to students with partners and/or kids. You will see at least one baby on campus every day, and no one bats an eye. There is a strong support network for partners, and what I appreciate is how welcoming INSEAD is. A little thing like giving partners their own INSEAD badge, which allows them to use the library or pay for drinks at the café, means a lot.