“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free,” I remembered this quote of Michelangelo while strolling through the streets of Florence. I experienced something that is not written in the History books or taught in the Marketing Class. I experienced the culture, the art and the renaissance on each and every wall of the city.
My Exchange Program was like a Magic trick which left me spell bounded. Like every magic trick, let me share my experience in three parts:
The Pledge: My College
Emlyon Business School is amongst the top-ranked schools in Masters in Management and it’s a no brainer, this is one of the most sought-after colleges for Exchange Program. With a beautiful campus and stellar infrastructure that will make you want to go to college every day, Emlyon is simply majestic. It has a strong international presence and I found the faculty friendly and easily approachable.
The pedagogy is case-based teaching similar to that of IIM Ranchi and so, I integrated seamlessly into their system. More focus was given for group activities as compared to Indian B-Schools and the groups were very diverse with a mix of students from different nationalities. As a student with prior Management Consulting experience, I took courses on Economics and Quantitative finance and I found these to be very enriching.
I had a chance to attend various career fairs and entrepreneur workshops which are immensely beneficial to someone aspiring to find a job abroad although a basic level of French is desirable. Also, the BDI student association welcomes every exchange student and organizes various authentic French Wine parties, Food celebration festivals, International day meets and Sports Activities. Overall, the experience of sharing a classroom and hanging out with students from more than 70 different nationalities was a true example of crossing cultural borders!
The Turn: Holiday Semester
For most Indian students, Travelling is the raison d’être of the exchange program in Europe. I had a chance to visit 14 countries and the country list differs from person to person depending on their personal preferences. Before flying to Lyon, we had purchased a Eurail pass which allowed us to travel through most parts of western Europe and Scandinavian countries without any extra charges. Since we chose our courses and knew the dates of each session before the start of semester, we planned our travel accordingly and mostly used Airbnb for our accommodation booking.
We spent around 3-4 days per country on average and found European people to be very welcoming. They were mostly courteous and were very helpful. In my personal experience, I found Scandinavian countries to be very diverse and some of the places were a spectacle to behold. Every country has its own charm and I wish, there was more time to explore these beautiful places.
Even when we were not traveling, our home city, Lyon offered a lot. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe which is built on two lakes and gives a pristine feel with simple, elegant architecture. We used to get groceries from Local Super Markets or Indian shops and used to experiment a lot on food. For someone who has never cooked anything other than Maggi in his entire life, I can now proudly say, I am a better cook! The Chocolate delicacies in Lyon were amazing and we had a wonderful time for the entire duration.
The Prestige: A Lifetime Experience
Watching Messi showing his sublime skills dribbling through a stack of defenders, having sleepless nights waiting for the electric dance of Aurora Borealis in Norway, remembering the romance of Raj and Simran in Switzerland, passing through the echoing World War II streets in Germany, viewing the sunset in Santorini and surrendering to the beauty of Venice, the exchange semester was an experience like never before and possibly, never again. Most of us go to exchange to discover the world, the cultures and traditions. But I discovered myself. My view of the surroundings and the way I perceive things is way different now than what it used to be before the exchange.
As an MBA graduate and a future manager, dealing with multinational teams and a good understanding of foreign cultures is essential to sustain in this fast-paced competitive world. I would recommend every student to apply for the exchange program and rest assured, you will return a better version of yourself after the program.
- Kuldeep Reddy