“A ship is always safe on the shore but is not built for it.”, quoted by I don’t know whom but makes lots and lots of sense to me and even more so in the context of the student exchange program of the top b-schools of India. The student exchange program stays cent percent true to the essence and the core character of the IIMs where the participants are trained to take a leap of faith and valiantly move out of their comfort zones while maintaining the same level of composure and decision-making abilities.
I’ve finished one out of the total three months of my student exchange program at SKEMA Business School, France and have already learnt a great deal which I’m sure wouldn’t have happened ever while remaining in the comforts of my abode – IIM Indore. The lessons learnt are albeit innumerable but a select few of them are worthy of mentioning:
- You’re a lone wolf: You become well accustomed at figuring out a lot of stuff yourself, even the ones which seemed impossible to you erstwhile. Unlike, your home campus, you have a great dearth of options and any humanly assistance in Europe. This compels you to embrace both the ends of the spectrum where you deal with ultra-automatic systems on one end and an entire array of manual processes like laundry, cooking, dish-washing et cetera on the other end.
- You get the exposure of your life: From sharing a 6-bed dorm with fellows of 6 different nationalities to learning the nuances of marketing with classmates who’ve worked for as much as 8 years in global firms, the exchange is nothing short of a Pandora’s box in terms of offering exposure. Getting to know the first-hand perspective of professors who’ve or are still working for global luxury brands such as Swarovski, Chanel, Prada et cetera is another highlight of the program.
- You know the true meaning of trust: In stark contrast to India, where anything left unattended is certain to get either vandalised or stolen, places like Iceland teach you the power of trust where it resides in its entirety. Sights like paying for others at ticket counters, accepting payment through card swipe in the service provider’s absence, handing over keys of one’s office to tourists to let them return rented apparatus on their own, etc. brought a copious amount of wonder to us.
- You pay great reverence to time: One may think that IIMs are second to none when it comes to honing its participants’ time management skills but I’ve discovered a close nemesis in the form of student exchange judging by my first-month experience. The marathon of changing 9 trains with an inter-train gap as small as 3 minutes in one single day keeps you on your toes perpetually. Also, the exercise of optimising your tour plan and routes in order to stuff as much as you can in a limited time frame makes you temporally efficient and effective (Yes! The typical b-school jargon :P).
There are a multitude of other subtle learnings that we absorb here on a daily basis of the kind that the non-exchange goers probably never can with their predominantly theoretical program structure at the IIMs. The bottom-line is that instead of spending all the 6 terms of one’s MBA program at an IIM, devoting one term out of it to a foreign university can help you extract higher value from your b-school stint and can refine your real-life management skills to great extents.