They say that first impressions last for a long time. In my case, I hope that it’s true because the first impressions I have had of INSEAD in the Orientation Week have been nothing short of amazing. Overeager to start my INSEAD journey, I landed in Paris two weeks before Orientation Week to settle in and orient myself within the surroundings. Although I had taken the 3-week intensive French language course a month before arriving in France, I soon found out that being in the country and attempting to speak French on the streets was a whole different ball game. With the little broken French I remembered, I somehow scraped through grocery shopping, got a decent deal for my SIM card and even made friends with the local kebab guy! Compared to the super cosmopolitan Singapore where I had lived prior to this, the small town charm of Fontainebleau was a refreshing change.

Soon after, more and more people started to arrive and the socializing got underway. With still a few days to go before Orientation started, we found ourselves in bars and house parties every other night and in the process, really got to know each other personally. I have a slight advantage in that I live in the house which is quite the social epicenter of all gatherings – Club 16. Strategically located next to some of the more well-known pubs in Fontainebleau and also a walking distance away from campus, Club 16 is where a lot of people found themselves at the end of the night, whether it may be for an impromptu Butter Chicken supper (thanks to our in-house chef Sharmeen) or to just continue the conversations on the couch. By the time Orientation week started, it felt like I had known some of my batch mates for years!

The Orientation itself was all that we could have asked for and more. Plus, if the Orientation week schedule is anything to go by, there is going to be no time to breathe next year! We had sessions for everything, everyday (yes, even on weekends!) – careers, academics, survival tips, personal development and of course the highlight of the whole week was the SPLASH project where we helped build a playground at one of the local child care centers for underprivileged kids. Most importantly, we got to meet our groups with whom we are going to be spending a lot of time in the next two periods. Needless to say, in typical INSEAD fashion, diversity was delivered on a silver plate here as well. My group members for instance represent 5 nationalities and come from totally different walks of life. The beauty though is that despite all these differences, we gelled instantaneously! Some say it’s the INSEAD DNA which binds, others say it’s the comfort in shared suffering.

The last few days have been a great set up for us to start our amazing year-long journey. I am fairly confident in saying that I have now spoken to 90% of my class and I look forward to building deeper friendships with all of my batchmates in the months to come. In other news, classes start from tomorrow and I hope that I am able to do justice to the front row seat that has been ‘randomly’ assigned to me for the next four months.

Nerd Mode = ON!