France black and white but India so much color, taste, spices, spirituality, Bollywood so much fun! Exclaimed Guillaume, a soft spoken student from Neoma business school, France. His elegant looking friend, Julien from the same b-school sitting beside him added with extreme zeal, I was in Delhi and then travelled to Agra. So short distance but so different culture. India is really exciting as I expected. Full of life, Marco from MISB Bocconi, Italy is anxiously looking forward to one of the courses to be taught by one of the best professors of IIML, Dr. Himanshu Rai. Anna and her friends, Malory and Gautier from EM Strasbourg believe that India is one of the fastest growing economies in the World. They are specializing is Entrepreneurship. Thus, they believe that their one year exchange program will help them immensely giving exposure to various entrepreneurial aspects of India. This avidity to learn about enchanting Indian culture, to explore Indian education system, to closely feel one of the fastest growing economies in the World, students from various top Universities from places like France, Italy, Belgium and Denmark enthusiastically participate in this student exchange program. It is a known fact that, “IIM Lucknow” and “Diversity” has a deep-seated relationship. Student exchange program which witnesses perpetual increase every year adds to this diversity enormously. IIML boasts it's alluring campus and ranking as the major factors which attract students exchange participants. For Julien, IIML was the most obvious choice due to the ranking and the strategic position of Lucknow in the Map of India.
One very popular phrase familiar to entire b-school community ranging from present students, ex-students to MBA aspirants is, “MBA is not merely classroom learning”. It is indeed not merely about a classroom learning. Generally, when we indulge in some kind of conversation about MBA and its learnings it gets a 360 degree revolution around plethora of activities such as, learning from peers, seniors, hectic life, competition and so on. One very important aspect missed out is student exchange program. The word “exchange” might be a simple word with simple dictionary meaning. But the most interesting part here is, it doesn’t really stay so simple anymore. Along with exchange of students, exchange of culture, exchange of education, exchange of experiences et al facilitate enormous learning experience to both incoming students and the hosts.
Greatest learning? Definitely adaptability. You know it is not only about the teachings in the classroom. For me even going to Big Bazaar is a big big challenge! Nasra from Telecom Business School, France exclaimed with almost popping out eyes. Wait wait 1 more thing I want to add, Faculty is really good here. No Indian accent. Outside I had difficulty understanding Indian accent. For most of them spicy Indian food is a nightmare which always manages to continuously stimulate their tear glands. To add to this pain, Indian hostels lack to cater same comfort as French or Italian hostels. Anna is a travel freak who loves travelling alone. But forced to travel in a group due to “unsafe” tag of India. Nevertheless, everyone has almost no complains. They are completely amazed by the heart-warming hospitality, mind blowing recreation facilities of IIML, colorful culture, wonderful faculty and the beautiful campus. Some went gaga over splendor of Taj mahal and craziness of Mumbai. They even found very amused to know about the fierce competition amongst the students unlike back at home. They felt competition was good but was not very happy about the weekend classes. 22 year old Daniele from Ca’ Foscari University, Venice is really happy about this competitive environment. He believes that he will be nurtured more in this environment and thus, make him more serious. One of the best things happened to Marco here is the hostel life. Out there in Italy they have to stay in rented house and he had missed this experience terribly. Some of them even found some things very peculiar here. Anna feels that people avoid eye to eye contact during conversation due to which there is a huge communication problem. While Gilles from Belgium was initially hesitant to walk past two men walking holding hands. Which means homosexuality in their country.
Discomfort and difficulty in various forms embraced almost every one of them when they first landed in India. Julien was annoyed by heat, crowd, and people not talking in English. While Nasra had difficulty adjusting with spicy and oily food. Malory was fed up of people wanting to pose with her. But slowly and steadily they are not only adapted but also are having one of the best experiences of their life. Malory’s new found love is panipuri now. She has even bought a beautiful Indian Saree and was gifted a pair of stunning Indian earring by an Indian friend to complement the Saree to wear during upcoming Diwali. Everybody is so eager to learn Hindi before they leave this Country.
Learning is about give and take. Exchange students on the process of learning in our country honor us too with tremendous learning experience. We learn about their culture, get virtual experience about their education system, their Country and so on. In short, student exchange program has been one of the most enriching experiences to the entire student community of IIML.
(This article is written by Indu Wary, class of 2015 student at IIM Lucknow.)