It's Not All Chateaus and Skiing...

Sam Boughton

It's March already! Us 19D's are now exactly three months into our INSEAD year! It feels like the time has flown by, and yet we have already experienced so much it feels impossible that everything has been condensed into one quarter.

It has been hectic for sure. We are like those friends who say they are always busy...except we actually are. P1 and P2 are known to have a particularly rigorous academic schedule, so we can't say we weren't warned. Even so, the timetable feels packed.

I am confident that I cannot do the experience justice in this post alone - but just for you, I'll try...

By day, we have classes (often all day), readings, tests, individual and group assignments.

The pace of teaching is fast and the disciplines are varied - as we switch from a class about Disney's strategic positioning to the financial accounting of a tech startup.

We have now navigated P1 finals and jump straight into the new P2 classes. Recruiting started as soon as we arrived on campus, with investment banking presentations starting effectively from week one. Between then and now, the campus has hosted presentations from banks, tech firms, retail and luxury brands and many more. Right now, we are in the midst of consulting internship recruiting for D's and full-time recruiting for the J Class, increasing activity levels even higher! In amongst this, the breadth of opportunity is incredible; corporate finance workshops, 'Cracking the Case' sessions (if you don't know about this already, you soon will), entrepreneurship competitions and start-up fairs in Paris to name a few. All the while, we are getting to know a new group of incredibly talented, motivated and friendly classmates.

The vibrant social scene helps with this. Weekend trips to European cities, wine-making regions and the Alps sometimes seem to be the norm rather than the exception as students make the most of their 'spare' time (note: I am based in Fontainebleau, but my classmates in Singapore are enjoying their travelling just as much!). And when we are here, the chateau parties and (now the sun is shining) BBQ's aren't a bad way to unwind. But be under no illusion. People here work hard. Even when it seems they don't, they do (figure that one out). Assignments get completed from holiday locations, alarms are set ludicrously early to ensure pre-readings are done and long nights are worked through until dawn to ensure work is a) completed and b) of the appropriate standard.

The time here is crazy, chaotic but incredibly rich and fulfilling. Everyone has different reasons for coming to INSEAD. I had many, but here are two: I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and grow from this challenge, and embrace the diversity of experience offered by the INSEAD MBA. It isn't all chateaus and skiing, but so far it's exactly where I want to be.