Ready for Takeoff…. Almost

Chih Hung Chan

In a little over a week, I’m going to take a plane ride that will change my life.

It’s a return trip of course, but the return flight doesn’t happen till six months later. Even though I’ve yet to see the INSEAD Fontainebleau campus with my own eyes, I somehow feel like it’s the end of Period 1 already, what with the relationships I've already forged.

Living and working in Singapore does have its advantages – with the Asian Campus on our doorstep, it’s extremely common to see and host people who are stopping by to check out their new home. Not forgetting the 30 of us who live and work here – it’s an approximately 50-50 split between Singapore citizens and expatriates, but already we’ve forged very strong bonds between us. We gather for drinks and meals at least once a month, even more so when visitors swing by. With the dual campus exchange structure, it’s sometimes demoralizing to learn that I won’t get to see some visitors until graduation day – but at least they won’t be strangers when the time comes. Either way, every outing ends with good conversation and new insights. In just a few months since my acceptance I’ve managed to review my short term career goals, discover opportunities in tech and consulting, learn about digital transformation efforts in the Chinese retail space, pick up stock investing tips, and even compile a list of the best restaurants in Milan, all through casual conversation with my future classmates!

It sometimes astonishes me how INSEAD seems to recruit from a “template” – everyone comes to the table with a high degree of cultural sensitivity and a global outlook, and often times similar character traits and interests. Often there is little ice to be broken before we are soon swapping tales like old friends. And then there is the beauty of the “cold call” – stuck alone in Sydney on a business trip, I cold-messaged a contact whom I’d been chatting with over Slack (oddly enough, Guns N Roses was our topic of choice). What I didn’t expect was the warm reception I received, and how similar our personalities were. We’re now firm friends, we’ve hung out multiple times in Australia and Singapore on subsequent business trips, and we’ve even made plans to align our campus exchange arrangements so we can see each other in both Europe and Singapore! All this before school has even started.

If pre-term is anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what the next 10 months will bring.
But first, I must condense, distil and pack my life into two suitcases. I have a plane to catch!