Climbing Another Himalaya
It’s been three days since I moved to Fontainebleau. As someone who grew up in a tropical country all my life, winter is something new to me. Even though here in Fontainebleau the temperature hasn't reached below zero (today the weather forecast said it will be five degrees), it still feels very cold to my normally-used-to-26 degree-weather skin. There is no snow, but the cold still something I need to adapt to.
I remember the first time I saw snow. It was October 2014, and I was in Tengboche monastery, on a trek to Everest Base Camp in the Himalayas, Nepal. My friend and my guide, Norbu, stayed inside the monastery to give respect to the priests while I went outside to watch the beautiful snow falling. It was wonderful but deadly cold, as I later learned when I continued the long and gruelling journey to Everest Base Camp. There were times when I felt that my legs were chained to a ball of steel as I walked while the cold wind pierced my bones, but usually those were also the times when the scenery was spectacular.
Remembering it now, the experience I had during the admissions process to INSEAD was similar. It was a tedious journey: the sleepless nights to study GMAT, the self-introspection to write the multiple essays, the preparation for the interviews. Just like trekking in the Himalayas, the INSEAD admission journey requires you to stay motivated. The mental state is as important as the physical condition. If on the trek, I kept myself motivated by eating comfort food from home, for the INSEAD admissions journey I watched many INSEAD Youtube videos (made me somehow quite knowledgeable regarding INSEAD trivia!). Focus is also important during the admissions journey.
Sometimes, you need to lose something to gain something. For example: sitting out a family holiday in Bali to study for the incoming GMAT test, in my case. Support from others is also important, as it is normal to lose self-confidence during these long journeys (need to say thanks again to my wife for this). Don’t complain when it’s hard; it is one of the best business school in the world, so the admissions journey is supposed to be tough!
The trek to Everest Base Camp took me two weeks. The admission process to INSEAD took me nine months. My next journey, which starts in January 2018, will take one year. I believe just as many INSEAD alumni said, it will be the best year of my life!