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P3: Apples and Oranges

“She’s so cold.” ~ The Rolling Stones

Yeah, its cold in Fonty. But what part of Western Europe isn’t? Anybody who comes to France in January should stop complaining about the cold- myself included- and just deal with it (the analogy would be an investment banker complaining about long hours). The campus here is massive, an interweaving series of halls and galleries on various levels, and I’m not even talking about the Executive MBA buildings adjacent to the main one! It took a couple of days to get my bearings right and to figure out my way around campus, but it was familiar all too soon. INSEAD’s original campus may look antiquated versus the modern, sleek Singy one, but Fonty’s walls are rich in history: Mitterrand and Thatcher once graced these premises and made landmark speeches before many of us were born, and the town is quite proud of the pretty Chateau de Fontainebleau.

The chateau parties carry a very different vibe from Singapore’s club-centric events; but in the midst of a rigorous academic cycle, we let out steam just as effectively in the middle of January as we do in Singapore’s humid September- when it comes to socializing, location is no matter for an INSEADer! P3 also brought about the last core courses- Macroeconomics and Politics- and, thankfully, the remaining two final exams (some electives have finals but they are rare). As usual, time flew by and the two months felt like two weeks; I made the most of my first time in mainland Europe with weekend trips to (drum roll): Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, London, and Venice- I doubt I’ll ever get to travel this much again during a two-month stint!

Its not quite fair to compare the two campuses; they’re more like two worlds- you walk to one, you drive to the other, you’re in the middle of a city in one, and you’re in the middle of a forest in the other. But I’ve nonetheless made some wonderful friends during my time in Fonty and that, to me, is the best part about INSEAD. Singy vs. Fonty is not an apples-to-apples comparison but an apples-to-oranges one, and its up to you to figure out which fruit is relatively tastier. Am I a Singy boy at heart? You bet. Would I recommend a period or two in Fonty? In a heartbeat. Anyone who has the means to do so must check out both campuses to get the real INSEAD experience.

Exams have just ended; as the birds begin to chirp and the sunshine pelts the green grass, I can’t help but wonder how beautiful this place will be in the spring. I intend to be back for graduation to taste the European summer and bid adieu to my friends; no one said you can’t have both apples and oranges- the INSEAD salad would be bland without them.

Paris: The Pyramid at the Louvre

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