Two months have never flown by faster. INSEAD is many things to different people, but I doubt many who have gone through this process would disagree that one word truly captures it all: Intense. I thought I knew what that meant. It’s safe to say, I am glad I was wrong.
From exemption exams (for those brave enough to pick up a book before coming here), orientation week (captured in the incredible Splash community project), lectures and assignments (yes, we are getting a degree) to meeting so many new people, the beginning has constantly felt like a race against time. The fear of missing out is definitely alive and well, yet it is in having to make choices that some of the key learnings have come for many of us.
To imagine this experience is being ‘created’ in a small town, just over 60 km’s outside of Paris sometimes feels elusive and mystical. The escape it offers from a big city is refreshing, yet this is carefully meshed into probably one of the most consuming MBA programs globally. You may sometimes wonder if INSEAD intentionally seeks to master the art of proxemics.
Undoubtedly though, the picture comes together when we start letting go of our comfort zones and dive deeper into the experience. To a degree, that can be a ‘forced’ experience as collaboration and group work is practically mandatory in most courses. But academics aside, nothing has been more enjoyable than connecting with new people through social experiences, ranging from the infamous chateau parties (you’ve probably heard about these) to the weekend escapes to other parts of France or Europe.
There have also been learnings about the challenges of truly trying to create a diverse experience in the context of a world that’s becoming more protectionist. As global as INSEAD is and its efforts to embrace diversity, the schools reach cannot control against limitations that sometimes impact minority groups within a country or region in the world. Diversity isn’t for everyone, but thankfully for the school it isn’t negotiable.
The nostalgia is already kicking in as people start bidding for campus exchanges and we realize in some ways change is the only constant here. It is hard to imagine that we’ve come to the end of the beginning of our INSEAD journey. Yet as the ink settles on our final exams and most of us set off to other parts of the world, time reminds us it will all have to be bittersweet in the end.