If someone gives me a blank piece of paper, and asks, “Hey Ariel, could you give me a quick sketch of your INSEAD life in the last four months?”, I will highlight my five favorite things to compose the sketch.
1 House Life
For those who are used to living in apartments in crowded cities, house life can be an amazing experience.
For the last four months, I have shared a big house with six other INSEADers from four different countries. We have different working experiences, hobbies, and course schedules. But we get along so well that we think of ourselves as an intimate family.
We follow house rules to keep it organized and we respect others and ask before holding events in the house – even though we know that our event requests will never be rejected, and our partners and friends are always welcome. We invite other classmates to come over from time to time; we prepare our exams in the sitting rooms; we share our experience over beers and wines; we cook house meals to celebrate anniversaries.
We have never had an argument within our house. We never have worried about running out of food or daily necessities because other housemates would offer theirs. When my backpack and keys to my room were stolen during trips, my dear housemates shared their room and electronic devices to help me get over troubles.
A big house is like a mini version of INSEAD where you need to make contributions and embrace diversity. Once you are deeply involved, you will find countless joys and touching memories.
2 Team Discussions
Each student was assigned to a study group before the programme started. Within the group, we discussed our assignments, daily life, and reflected on how to improve our work. In addition to the designated study group, we also joined other teams to participate in competitions and organize events.
Brainstorming with my groups was my favorite part of the INSEAD academic experience. We occupied breakout rooms, fully concentrated on common themes, and threw all creative thoughts onto the white board.
It was both challenging and rewarding to work with people diversified in gender, nationality, and industry. On one hand, you might experience struggle to balance efficiency and learning, but on the other hand, you will be impressed by your group’s talents and admirable traits. For me, it was the diversity that helped me to obtain new perspectives, learn about my role in a team, be more sensitive to culture differences, and figure out out-of-box solutions together while minimize misunderstandings.
3 Section Events
Students were divided into different sections (similar to Hogwarts!). Each section had its own well-equipped classroom (amphi), unique culture, and exciting parties.
One of the best ways to hang out with our section mates was to attend section events which provided far more than food, drinks and music. Take our section party event (E3 party) as an example, we invited special guests, dressed up at beautiful chateaus, watched interesting movie clips edited by genius in our section, witnessed section mates winning creative prizes. These events enabled us to get more familiar with each other, and bonded us by precious memories we mutually had.
Behind these wonderful events were great efforts of many adorable organizers. Do appreciate their intelligence and sleepless nights, and remember to contribute your resources and creativity to make the next section events better.
If you are a big fan of TED Talks, you will probably enjoy lectures at INSEAD as well. Every week, quite a few speakers including famous economists, entrepreneurs, alumni and classmates shared their insights covering almost any topic you are keen on. They passionately talked about their experiences in fields such as digital music, deep learning, art markets, doing business in emerging countries, start-ups, etc. These lectures were not necessarily as serious as press releases, but mostly were more like sharing events where everyone grabs a drink and interacts with the speakers casually.
During these lectures, you may hear inspiring and valuable views, discover alumni that have common hobbies, and realize that some low-key classmates are hidden experts.
5 Travelling with Classmates
For those who love travelling, group trips will definitely enrich your INSEAD life. As a typical INSEADer, I joined a couple of big group trips with more than one hundred classmates, and also spent a chill weekend with only a few close friends in some countries nearby. One special benefit of being an INSEADer is that you can always get useful and detailed recommendations from local alumni.
For a “Fonty starter” (those who’s home campus is the Fontainebleau campus) like me, it was exciting to explore diversified countries in Europe. The environment and the culture are so distinguished that sometimes I felt enormous contrasts when move from a country to another. Some places are known for their rich history and artists, some are flourishing with advanced technologies.
Except for sightseeing and time for relaxation, you may also get inspirations by discussing with your classmates on topics such as what leads to the achievements of some typical industries in a specific region, where is the suitable location to start a new business, and what are the elements that help a country revive.
In fact, I can list many more exciting things to explore and enjoy at INSEAD: meditation, hiking and picnic in the forest, storytelling sessions hosted by classmates, etc. Each of us may have our unique sketch of INSEAD life , and it will remain a vivid picture no matter how it looks.