17 countries, 38 cities and 4 different time zones, travelling across the lengths and breadths of Europe has given me hands on experience in planning and travelling solo. Now I know more about this continent and its rich culture. My name is Lipsa Sahu and I am currently in my second year of MBA, Human Resource Management, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. I have successfully completed one term with IESEG university, Lille France.
Let me first talk about the studies, the curriculum, the pedagogy and the professors at this university.The subjects offered were very good and met the current industry demands. Unlike in India they don't follow long study hours (8 hrs per day), rather the classes were just for 4.5 hrs per day. The focus was more on application f what you learn and more about self study. The projects that were given made you brainstorm a lot.The professors were from different countries across Europe and had years of industry experience. They were very helpful and approachable.I met many students who had come from various countries across the globe. Now we are best of buddies too. My class had students from diverse cultural background, rich & unique in their own ways.The exposure that you get during these days of your program cannot be compared with anything.
So those were the academic related information for the people who want to know about it. Now coming to the non academic part or the extra curricular side that I learnt the most from.
The more I travel the more I challenge myself. I was always adventurous and the risk taker kind. I do things which are different unlike the convention. I always defied herd mentality and questioned the convention.Signing up for the exchange program was not a well chalked out plan, it happened just at the spur of the moment and I was the last entry in the list. Like any other student I had my own set of priorities and student exchange program was far away from those priorities.My college's International Relations Committee told me that as I was a late entry they were not sure of my acceptance in the foreign university. But I was pretty sure to get selected because of my good grades.
When I was about to leave India for France neither was I sure of what countries I wanted to visit nor I had any idea how to go about it. People then asked me how many countries I planned to visit and I used to prompt slowly, maybe 8 or 9 and they would say- I was being very optimistic. At that time I didn't give much of a thought to it because I was not very sure about this trip. But today when I look back at my 67 days of stay, I think , yes I have made myself and many people proud. (17 countries,not bad).Yes, of course like any other journey I had my own share of sunny and rainy days. I wouldn't say it was easy but it was worth taking a shot and I am always about taking my chances.
This trip taught me many things which I read in theory such as :Group dynamics , Adaptability ,People management ,Stress management etc.
Slept in the airports, boarded trains at the last minute, had to spent an entire night outside the train station (which I wouldn't recommend anyone to, always book your night stays in advance and don't take chances with it.). This made me realize how adaptive and flexible I had become.I was my own "TripAdvisor" and "Makemytrip". I arranged my own hostels and booked my flights, trains, buses and ferries. Few apps in my phone, my multi-currency card, my DSLR camera and my confidence took me to places.
Travelling solo in Europe was a challenge for me. Of course like any other girl I had my own inhibitions and fear of the unknown but I guess that's the risk you take to get to visit all those heavenly places.The most memorable days during my stay in Europe were
1. Skagen, Denmark
Touching the roof of Denmark and seeing Gregen - the point where 3 seas met...that was the closest I could get to nature.
2. Oslo, Norway
When you don't expect but you experience snowfall for the very first time and dance like you are in your childhood. Just wow!!!
3. Werfen, Ice- caves, Austria
Climbing 1400 steps to see the art of nature through ice was something out of the world. That trip challenged my endurance levels for sure.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
Again this was never ever planned but my hunger for adventure took me here. Home to 30 active volcanoes and many geysers and of course the spectacular northern lights - Aurora Borealis as referred to in textbooks. Remember "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" :). Yes, I lived that life in Iceland.
5. Munich, Germany
The craziness of the world famous October Fest. You can see the madness and feel the vibes around you. There's a lot of adrenaline rush and gush in a small stadium.
6. Flight from Oslo to Iceland
When you get to see the Norwegian snow covered mountains and glaciers with frozen lakes all around. It's a treat for the eyes. I had moments of a lifetime. Some things cannot be expressed by words and this was one of them.
Travelling liberates me. I feel more independent and confident. It cleanses my soul.
My advice to my juniors and others would be to take risks, of course calculated ones and never ever let your curiosity die. Be hungry for more. Explore the unexplored, and live life to your fullest. There are few people without whom this journey wouldn't had been possible, and I take this opportunity to thank all of them.