After months of anticipation, planning and attending CDC webinars, the batch of ’18D finally embarked on a journey that promises to mark a significant milestone in each of our lives. The weather hasn’t been particularly kind (We envy you guys in Singapore!) but that did not deter us one bit and we did bring in the New Year in sheer style (Thanks to the guys down in Fluery for throwing one epic party!). If these initial festivities are any indication, we are definitely in for one epic journey!

One of the most cherished moments that we all will hold dear will be our first visit to the campus to collect our ID cards and welcome packs. Personally, I felt truly inspired to walk around the central reception of the main building that proudly displays the institution’s history and milestones along with its distinguished alumni contributions.  The quintessential INSEAD Wall photos are now all done and are currently trending on our social media profiles! #inseadmoments

Beyond the festivities, there are a few changes all of us have undergone that define the underlying fabric of INSEAD and the community it proudly represents.

Firstly, the introductory sessions we all attended not only made us aware of the sheer caliber and diversity of this batch but also brought forward an honest palate of the fears and anxieties we bring with us. We stood and voiced our fears, aspirations and motivations. We discussed issues that we hold close to our hearts with over 300 people who we barely knew ten days ago. As I sat through these introductory sessions where all of us opened up to each other, I finally felt at home!

As the Business School for the World, it is imperative to understand and harmonize a student community as diverse as the one here at INSEAD. The faculty at INSEAD also understands the pressures we all face as professionals in the corporate world. I am glad that INSEAD has embedded the “Personal Leadership Development Program” (PLDP) and the “Psychological Services” into the core of the program. For most of us, the introductory PLDP sessions helped us break the barriers within our study groups, embrace the diversity and develop deeper bonds. It’s comforting to know that as we aim for the sky and occasionally fall, we have a support system- the dedicated Psychological Services team- to fall back to.

Secondly, this batch proudly marks 50 years of women at INSEAD. 33% of this batch is represented by women that have epitomized personal and professional successes in their lives and are here to make an even greater impact. It was only fitting to have Alice Avis provide the keynote speech and announce the batch in session for 2018. INSEAD has always taken pride in being a proponent of diversity and I am only certain that our batch mates- both men and women- will work towards greater gender equity in our professional and personal lives.

Lastly, between all the parties, the classes, the long walks to supermarkets and coffee breaks, we have had some of the most thought provoking conversations with each other. I have discussed social development in Africa with an American batch mate, shared a beer with a new friend from across the border, exchanged personal aspirations with a Japanese friend, argued over Middle East’s historical narratives with a Lebanese classmate, exchanged music notes with a fellow Indian and indulged in light hearted banter over United States’ current leadership (hard to ignore even when you try!).

As our associative memory catches up and recognizes more names over the coming weeks, we all would be engaging in the most dynamic discussions both within and outside the classroom. I look forward to witnessing this spectacular diversity at its splendid best in the coming weeks and months!

To the best year of our lives!