Why You Should Opt for the INSEAD Intensive Language Programme

Varun Sharma

July 3, 2023, marked the beginning of a transformational journey for 30 strangers at the INSEAD campus in Fontainebleau. These were individuals with a purpose and a sense of curiosity; they were there to learn a new language as part of their impending MBA programme. Little did they know that the coming three weeks would offer experiences far exceeding their expectations.

The initial days were all about establishing connections. Guided by others around them and back home, the participants embarked on an introspective journey, uncovering layers of their personalities and sharing personal stories. The intimate environment of the near-empty campus and the string of close-knit dinners and drinks provided the perfect backdrop for this endeavour.

Over these shared meals and conversations, we began to grasp the depth and strength of the cultural fabric that INSEAD stands by.

This understanding extended beyond mere theoretical knowledge. It was experienced in day-to-day interactions, in the varied stories shared, and in the harmonious blend of so many diverse cultures.

My journey was particularly noteworthy in the Spanish class, smaller in size compared to the French ones, which fostered stronger bonds among the six of us. The smaller group size made the learning experience more interactive and intimate.

The joy of learning was not confined to language lessons. Each lunchtime conversation was an exploration of 'black box industries' as Rachel, a Spanish classmate, would call them. We would sit under the French sun, discussing a plethora of topics from the perspectives of an American, Taiwanese, Indian, Japanese, Briton, and Canadian. Every conversation was a revelation, a stirring reminder of the vastness of the world and our knowledge yet to be tapped.

INSEAD Intensive Language Programme
A French summer picnic with the Spanish classmates!

One of the most memorable moments was during a house party, where we delved into discussing how different nationalities greet each other. The striking cultural differences, even in the most common human interaction, were a source of fascination and a testament to the diversity of the INSEAD community. As I reflect on this enriching journey, I've distilled my experience into three pivotal takeaways:

1. Embrace vulnerability and share your story: Establishing deeper connections has offered invaluable learning opportunities. It's both humbling and empowering to share my journey and hear about others'. 

2. Seize the chance to learn from the accomplished: It's been a privilege to meet such incredibly talented individuals in my batch. Every conversation has been a learning journey, and I'm deeply inspired by their accomplishments. I am excited to learn more from them in the upcoming year!

3. Immerse in understanding diverse cultures: INSEAD does an outstanding job of harmonising various cultures in its programmes. This has given me the chance to dive into a rich cultural mosaic. The process of learning about different cultures not only broadens educational horizons but also enriches global perspectives.

One day, amidst the rich conversations, Benjamin, one of my Spanish classmates, put forward an insightful perspective. He shared that “MBA is investing in oneself, I’m betting on myself out-performing the housing and stock market.” And that really stuck with me. This notion reinforced the significance of what we all are doing. This was our time to introspect, connect, and prepare ourselves for the self-development journey that lays ahead and the ILP was a great place to start. 

Fast forward three weeks, we might not be fully equipped to face the world yet, but we are certainly more confident, and our minds have been broadened beyond what we had initially anticipated. We now have a new group of friends before even starting the MBA programme and are brimming with excitement for the year ahead.

INSEAD Intensive Language Programme
With our Spanish teacher, Ms Maribel who made us love all things Spanish!

In retrospect, the ILP at INSEAD wasn't just about language learning. It was a microcosm of the full INSEAD experience - the diversity, the enriching discussions, and the deep friendships. This understanding, the friendships formed, and the confidence gained are reasons aplenty to choose the ILP. For those considering it, I say this - take the plunge; an extraordinary journey awaits you!