An International Classroom – Study Tour at SJMSOM
Most of the good things in life often tend to keep a low profile. Study Tour at SJMSOM is one such opportunity. Though not much spoken about in the outside world, it certainly adds a strong value to its Management Program. Every year around 20 odd students get a chance to go and spend 2 weeks with a college located in world’s one of the most beautiful cities, Paris. The study tour, partly sponsored by the college, is organized in collaboration with Telecom Ecole De Management, France during the winter semester break in December.
This year was no different. 17 of us got an opportunity to go for the study tour and the experience, as they say, was one of its kind. It all started on 9th Dec 2013. The group embarked the flight to Paris and so did with them, their hopes and expectations from this much awaited Study Tour. This was after all going to be the very first International Flight of our life for most of us. The feeling of leaving our home-land and entering a completely new country for the very first time was enough to keep everyone excited and awake all through the flight. At last, 13 hours passed, including a few hours of transit at Doha and the flight landed at the destination. Paris, it was.
The city welcomed us with icy winds and a spine chilling weather. The temperature was a tad below zero degree. But still not cold enough to freeze out the high-held spirits of the group. We boarded the pre-arranged bus at airport and after a one hour ride, at about 3 PM, reached the Hotel in Evry, a beautiful town adjacent to Paris. The group relaxed in the hotel for a while and then decided to go out for a walk to witness the very first experience on the streets of France. The inaugural session for the tour at the college was scheduled next morning and we were already feeling lucky to be a part of this wonderful experience.
The next morning we were all ready to visit the college for the very first session. Ms. Bhumika Gupta and Prof. Chris Wert from Telecom Ecol De Management accompanied us from the hotel to college. It was a 15 minute walk and we were all excited to have a closer look at the French Culture, to observe their pedagogy and above all to meet new people from a completely different part of the world. The study tour had promised all this in an extremely balanced manner and till now it had delivered nothing short of our expectations. After almost an hour long introductory session by Ms. Bhumika Gupta we headed for a walk inside the college campus. We visited various departments, met a few students. Interacted with them, discovered their views about Indian Culture. All this was just a fraction of tremendous learning experience that we were going to be a part of in the upcoming days. Even more gratified, we headed for the lunch in college cafeteria.
Post lunch there was a company visit scheduled in Snecma, a French multinational aircraft and rocket engine manufacturer. We went there and got an excellent welcome from the officials of the company. They were also very keen to interact with us and share their experiences with us. It was as good a learning opportunity for them as it was for us after all. We visited their huge manufacturing plant and learned about the operations there. World’s one of the finest aircraft engineers were telling us about the nuances of an excellent manufacturing process. It was a moment of sheer proud and satisfaction. Finally after an eventful and enlightening day we headed back to our hotel in the evening.
In the upcoming days we had several cultural excursions and company visits of such sort. We visited Stat De France. Cite Du Cinema, the headquarters of companies like Orange, BNP Paribas & SFR. We talked to their employees, learned about their operations. Along with this we also had several sessions on M Learning, Entrepreneurship etc. in the college. All this contributed a lot to the direct knowledge that we gained for this study tour. But this direct knowledge was still only a limited slice of what this tour was all about. The bigger part of the learning and fun was experienced on the streets of Paris. Our very first encounter to the French culture did bring us a lot of insights about this new country. The beautiful architecture and places in Paris, left us all delighted, amazed and thrilled to the core.
Every night we used to come back to hotel holding the charisma of a world class tourist place in our mind. The excitement of conquering the unending heights of Eiffel Tower, the mystery behind the painting of Mona Lisa in Musee de Louvre, the fun of exploring a new French Cuisine at every meal, coupled with infinite small conversations that we had with French people did only unearthed and showed us an unforeseen aspect of education. Days were passing by, one after another and we knew they were not going in vain. The time had been so fruitful and enlightening never before in our life. The places which we had always dreamt of and had heard about in books and movies were there in front of us for all two weeks. What else could we have asked for?
And finally the day arrived. Amid all this fun and enjoyment, the program reached its conclusion. The place which we had started liking as much as our home, bid us Good Bye in the most humble way possible. Certificates got distributed by the college authorities to the participants of the Study tour. We in turn thanked and presented the entire team of Telecom Ecol De Management with small mementos. A fun filed roller-coaster ride in another part of the world came to a fantastic end. We left France to head back home, keeping the fond memories of a well spent winter vacation intact in a cherished corner of our heart and with a strong hope to visit this wonderful country once again, probably in some other role.
By Asheesh Pandey,
Master of Management (2013-15)
SJMSOM, IIT Bombay