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.
Even though this week is Launch Week for my MBA cohort, I’ve had the privilege of living the INSEAD MBA life for over a month now. Thanks to the Intensive Language Programme (ILP), I’ve been living in Fontainebleau (or Fonty as we call it), meeting classmates from around the world, and making incredible memories since early July.
I never thought I would be saying that taking INSEAD's intensive French class pre-MBA was a truly amazing experience. In particular, I appreciated being able to bond with other MBA classmates, and sharing interesting facts about our lives while learning a foreign language.
The final exam has just ended. People are streaming into the school bar, congratulating each other. Some even start hugging their friends and bidding teary farewells. A typical bunch of graduating MBA students, you say? Not quite. That was the scene played out last month when we finished Period 2, only four months into our ten-month MBA.
I was impressed by the entrepreneurial focus, which also reflects itself in the career paths of the school’s alumni.
I'm Alex, an American MBA student here at INSEAD's Singapore campus. It's been a wild ride since starting at INSEAD, especially considering that only three months ago I was working at my nonprofit job. Since I'm learning this whole profit thing from scratch, I thought it would be helpful to look at the big picture of what I've learned in each period. Here are some takeaways from P1 (along with a few clippings from my notes): The measurable power of diversity.
There are eleven official languages of South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Popular comedian Trevor Noah recites funny stories in his book “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” on navigating this multilingualism, when he was growing up in apartheid-era South Africa.
I believe a lot of people wonder about this. In fact, I owe a 19D a thorough review of the intensive language programme.
Coming from jobs that got us to INSEAD - M&A investment banking for me -, I wanted to spend time travelling, meeting family and friends, or just relaxing before all the excitement started. But the exit language is a strict graduation requirement! Options were to study French (my choice of exit language) in London while I worked either at Alliance Française or on my own, take classes at INSEAD in P1-P3 or attend the intensive language programme prior to the start of P1 in either campus.
From the moment you get that call from INSEAD, you are already an INSEADer. When I had the excellent problem of choosing my B-school, I went for the school that I felt, had the ‘right kind of vibe’. And INSEAD did not disappoint. First, the Round 1 admits got that Facebook group going, then came the WhatsApp group, then telegram and slack channels. Waking up to 169 messages every morning, I soon began to feel like the most social butterfly ever, only to realise that I was incapable of keeping up with it all but I still wanted to be part of it all, because well… FOMO.