The other day, someone asked me where I was living before. I paused before I could answer. It hit me that I have lived in 4 different cities over the past years. I have 4 active phone lines and I alternate sim cards based on my travels. But, it’s not just me. Anyone who is exchanging campuses would have lived in a minimum of three cities by now. I then thought about the cycle I go through every time I move: the original aversion, followed by fondness, love and then that separation anxiety that comes with having to leave again. I also realized that, that cycle got shorter and faster at INSEAD, and that I learned to adapt to it better.
Living in Singapore is quite interesting. It’s one of those cities that grows on you over time. It’s that kind of city that you don’t really like at the beginning, because it rains every evening, where everything is expensive, and where your body develops all kinds of allergic reactions and every bit of it screams get me out of here. Then, one day you’ll wake up and you have your favorite brunch place that serves divine truffle fries. You’ll have the little salad shop near school to go to when the cafeteria is going through tough times. You’ll have your favorite spot for the Wednesday’s ladies’ night, and that regular place to go out to on that Saturday night when you’re unusually not travelling around Asia. You’ll find that café with an awesome band, or that Mexican restaurant you want to go to every weekend until the owner can’t fit all your classmates. You recover from the allergies, and you work your outings around the rain. You develop a taste for spices and a mastery for chopsticks. You know all the low cost airlines, and you start booking your trips like a pro. You practice negotiating in China town, and you get this one great deal at the Bugis Market. Then, just when it all starts to feel right, just when it gets a bit comfortable, just when it’s no longer about discovery, it’s time to pack and leave.
The beauty of going through this cycle at INSEAD is that you’re not doing it on your own. You are with more than 300 students who have made the same choices, who picked that fast program for the thrill and excitement that comes with change, and who make things feel homelier much faster. It’s incredible how time flies here. In 5 days, I’ll be moving again. Recruiters are already on campus; careerlink is filling up with postings, even that survey on the grad trip destination made it to my inbox. The next adventure is coming up. It’s time to pack and leave again, and with every packing session comes that inventory of things to take and leave.
This time, I’m taking with me loads of amazing memories of trips around Asia, crazy Wednesday nights and lazy days by the pool. I’m taking with me amazing friendships with people I never knew I’d become good friends with over only two months. It also breaks my heart to say I’m leaving amazing friendships here, well at least until P5. It’s a bit sad that time flew by that fast, but I’ll leave that till P5 as well. For now, it’s time for the next adventure. Bring it on INSEAD!