What Should You Keep In Mind Before Going On A B-School Student Exchange?
Prepare yourself for a gala time! That’s it for today folks. Seriously, that’s what you have to ready yourself for.
Student exchange is like the cherry on the cake (If b-school life were that cake, Hah! I wish)
Student exchange is like being a Gujarati who cannot even have alcohol in his home state and going to California and having legalized marijuana.
Student exchange is like being an obedient family wala Marwari boy till 18 and then taking a Thailand trip!
Student exchange is like… Well, there is nothing like student exchange in an IIM. It beats the shit out of all other experiences and gives your memories bank an overdose. I highly recommend the exchange for reasons I will talk about in some other article as you are already a convert if you took the pains to read this one. However, before we move to the checklist, I would like to caution you that it does eat into approximately 4L-5L of your hard earned savings. Is it worth it? Read on and make a decision yourself.
- Ranking of b-school you are going to. 4 years later that 1L you saved by choosing a lower ranked school over a higher ranked isn’t gonna make much difference but the school you go to will. So don’t make misguided decisions because of exogenous factors like scholarship in one school over other. Ultimately it is the experience you are going for and you should try to maximise it.
- Choose the Country wisely. Language is one of the major barriers almost all exchange students inevitably face. 3 months before you are going to make a resolution that I am going to get hands on with French/German/Spanish/Italian, but trust me it’s like fooling yourself on the first of April. It ain’t gonna happen, bruh! You will while away the fourth trimester just as you had the first three and in no time you will be boarding that flight from IGI airport none wiser in any phoren language. Therefore, take the precaution early and select countries where the language barrier is minimal and people are more open to conversing in English. Unless you are a Mandarin expert, you aren’t gonna get a local guide who is from your home country in every damn corner of the world.
- Take interesting courses. True that most people (including myself) say that b-school exchange programs are basically a euro trip before going back to the savage corporate world. However, I would strongly suggest you choose new and interesting subjects. Do not choose those run of the mill subjects that you have been Globing/Gasing through out your b-school life. It ain’t going to be any different there. You would be surprised to know that academically Indian Business Schools have an excellent educational curriculum. You would feel let down when you see their standards. Therefore, take weird subjects and enjoy the ride. Give yourself a challenge and step out of your comfort zone. I mean you have travelled farther than you had ever before in life, Itna risk toh banta hai yaar!
- Sort out these pesky visa issues well in time or you will be running around the embassy or making calls to the exchange school trying to get an earlier via appointment. Get behind your exchange school to complete the documentation and give you early access. Start the process early, somewhere around May end or early June and get done with before July ends.
- There are approximately 10%-20% discounts on accommodation from Airbnb, flight tickets from select agents, Euro rail passes etc. Ask your STEP rep to get in touch with other IIM reps and gather as much information as you can. Will help you save at least 20K-30K.
- Vegetarian? Drop the idea mate. All the above has zilch relevance to you because you are going starve. So if you want to go on this trip, you better get in touch with other IIM students going to the same b-school and form a gang of vegetarians. Stay nearby and share cooking duties. You might be able to make it back alive!
All said and done, STEP is a great opportunity. If you are profusely bleeding from your sweat glands after reading my article then relax. Every year scores of students of all hues and shapes and sizes and genders and dietary preferences make it there and I swear to the non-existent god, they make it back alive. You will too. Probably.
Thus we come back to where we started. Prepare yourself for a gala time! That’s it for today folks!