Student Exchange Program – IIM Udaipur Student’s Perspective
When I was selected to undertake the student exchange program with EDHEC University in France, I said to myself “Mischief thou art afoot, take what course thou wilt.” Student exchange programs in general, and the ones that IIM students undertake in particular, are notorious for being labelled as Euro Trips! Upon selection, I harboured similar ambitions. However, the experiences I had spoke a different story altogether.
A famous personality once aptly said, “It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” Sitting in the air-conditioned cosy rooms of IIM Udaipur I could have had an easy run in the fifth term at the expense of wondering for a lifetime what it would have been like to undertake the once in a lifetime opportunity to undertake the student exchange trip. I chose not to do that, take the plunge and heed the advice that saying professes. Today as I near the end of the MBA program at IIM Udaipur, I am thankful to the Institute for providing me with the opportunity with which I created countless memories, learned a thing or two about academic processes practiced in Europe, experienced the European culture first hand, built a few relationships with people who do not even speak the same language I speak and above all, grew my understanding of the world that exists outside India.
Of course the above does not imply that I did not take a pie out of the Euro trip part of the exchange program! I travelled about 16 countries which include tiny nations like Monaco to island nations like Iceland! From the beautiful lanes of Amsterdam to the Renaissance artworks of Florence, from the pristine beaches in Spain to the largest discotheque of Europe in Prague, from the fashion streets of Paris to the UNESCO nature heritage park in Croatia, from the thermal baths in Budapest to the magical northern lights in Iceland! Yes, the exchange students see it all. We travel for about half the duration we stay in Europe because the academic workload is low compared to the rigorous academic calendar at IIMs of the country. This gives us the legroom to manage the travel well while still maintaining a 100% attendance record in our host institutions.
Academically, the courses aren’t challenging enough as the concepts covered in classes at IIM Udaipur are pretty extensive by any standard and cover most of the ground in terms of concepts. What one gets to learn is a different perspective on things. The European students have a very different perspective on things which in India we give a passing look and move on. They spend hours pondering over topics that look like a thirty-minute job to us both in our undergraduate days and during MBA. Work dynamics in study groups is also a different ball game altogether. Unlike India, the end result is of little consequence to the European student populace. Its how the team gets there is what’s of prime importance. Study group meetings are sacred and attending them is a necessity if you want your name on the report! If you have submitted your share of the work without attending team meanings, be sure to expect downright pathetic grades because of the peer evaluation component in the overall marking scheme. All this helps you get a deeper understanding of the psyche of Europeans.
All in all, student exchange is a wonderful opportunity to broaden your horizon and develop a deeper understanding of the world outside what you have been exposed to in India. It would help you deal better with people you encounter in jobs and leave you for life with stories of adventures and tales of travel and hitchhiking. To all the future batches that undertake this program I have nothing but one advice to give, Plan well and make sure you make the most of this opportunity.