Memories From My First Period at INSEAD

Yang Zeng

I am now sitting on the plane from Munich back to Singapore after my extended long weekend between period one and two. Thanks to the invitation of Microsoft Munich to an assessment center, I could pay a short visit back to Germany after two months' stay in Singapore.

The time has passed by amazingly fast since I started my MBA journey at INSEAD because the MBA programme at INSEAD is so intense and enjoyable. Actually, If I can only choose two words to symbolise my experience in the past eight weeks, I would say intense & fun.

I believe everyone in my class feels the same intensity as I do from the very beginning. Given the MBA programme at INSEAD lasts only one year, faculty tailors the curriculum to maximize the use of our time. I still remember the day before the programme officially kicked off, when I walked leisurely around campus and enjoyed its quietness. The day after, however, all of a sudden, things changed to a completely different speed.

To be honest, I couldn't believe that I could have done so many things within two months if I would have not been in INSEAD. We had at the very beginning two orientation weeks, where many info sessions are organised to help us adapt ourselves to the programme. Plenty of activities took place in those two weeks as well, highlighted by the welcome-weekend, which is planned by previous in-take students to help us get to know each other by collaborating actively in projects and games.

With all respect to this long-lasting INSEAD tradition, I would not reveal the contents of those funny activities. But believe me, there were a lot of surprises and laughs. We also got the chance to build a cycling trek for a school of disabled children. I was impressed by how everyone from my class was engaged and motivated to build under the ruthless sun in a day over 35 degrees to join forces to build something for GOOD, even though not one of us has had real construction experience.  It was also the first time I worked with my study group as well. We built a "Pissa" tower on the trek for children to play with. Despite all the sweat and exhaustion, I truly enjoyed the day of hard work for a good purpose.

INSEAD is an amazing place, where I am surrounded by so many talented and motivated people from distinguished backgrounds. In our class, there are over 90 nationalities and everyone is a minority in the diverse family.

Like in my study group, we have Canadian-Indian girl with a finance background, German consultant, Belgian-Indian girl with NGO experience and a Brazilian-French consultant.

Despite the huge differences among us, I can truly feel that we have shared common values: Openness and respect to others. I do appreciate especially the studying experience with my group mates. We have communicated openly from day one and set a clear goal for our "Pissa" group to maximise the learning experience. We are not an extroverted group but we are developing trust among each other quite fast and found an efficient way to deliver even under enormous pressure sometimes. In the past two months, three of my group mates had their INSEAD birthday. I love the moments singing the birthday song for them and sharing the delicious cakes in the group.

I got the chance to know lots of interesting classmates and people outside of the classroom at the same time. I shared much time with my INSEAD Chinese community. After many years of living in Germany, I really valued the opportunities to expand my network among Chinese talents. We travelled once during a weekend in February to Penang in Malaysia. It was nice to travel around with lovely people and share each other's experiences along the journey, who have a similar perspective of the world and have funny past experiences too.

Together, we are building a strong bond in the Chinese community as well as creating opportunities for other INSEAD students to know Chinese and Asian cultures better. I organised several hot pot dinners for people who would like to take a spicy adventure. For instance, we went for a hot pot on the Chinese New Year Eve with a group of more than 50 people. It was amazing to me that so many people are curious about hot pot and love it after trying. Hot pot dinners are always one of the most enjoyable moments for me, as the INSEAD name implies - I never stop eating and drinking, despite a lot of projects and exams ahead.

One of my visions is to bridge Asian and European cultures, and encourage people from different continents to connect with each other more easily and know each other better. I will engage and spend more time in hosting events for this purpose in the following periods since I am elected as president of INSEAD Aisa-Europe club. This is a great opportunity for me to realise some ideas towards my vision.

After two months at INSEAD studying, partying, networking, volunteering, job searching and and and... I feel that I am empowered with a lot of positive energy and I have gained the confidence to achieve even more in the future. I believe it will be an amazing year for me and I am going to enjoy each moment during the programme by just being authentic to myself and by trying new and interesting things.