Starting an MBA amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is a decision that requires some courage. I still remember the feeling of my heart sinking six months ago, when I first learned the reality of how the COVID outbreak had impacted campus life all around the world.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then” – Lewis Caroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland It was 2AM, and I was lying in my bed in Dubai, perfectly content with life but hungry for change. Hungry for more. Contentment is a fickle friend and can lead to complacency.
One year ago, when I embarked on the INSEAD MBA, I thought I already knew everything about diversity. Nationalities, cultures, and genders – I thrive in environments with different kinds of people. Surely INSEAD’s environment would be no different. Confidently, I breezed through the school’s front doors on my first day. Little did I know that it was the start of a journey that would soon reveal my naivety about diversity.
When my husband, Nausherwan, got the acceptance call from INSEAD in March 2019, I felt a plethora of emotions. Ecstatic, because it meant that he would get to fulfill his MBA dream, which also brought a wonderful sense of pride and a buzz of excitement through my veins.
As grateful as I was for this once-in-a-lifetime experience in our lives, I was overwhelmed by feelings of self-doubt and thoughts of worry and uncertainty as I was putting my career on hold to join my husband in Singapore for his MBA. I am now happy to say that I was profoundly wrong to feel this way.
I thought the INSEAD MBA would be only my husband’s adventure.
It might be strange to imagine the MBA as a place for failures when it’s usually associated with success. After all, many of us are hoping that forgoing a year of work experience, paying not only a tuition fee but the opportunity cost of lost wages, will be worth the career growth that results from earning an MBA.
Our cohort is a special one, which makes for an unforgettable and meaningful MBA experience. Although we are in lockdown, we are getting so much support from the school, professors, and students who are continuously committed to alleviating the negative impact on the learning experience at INSEAD.
A handshake. Sitting in a classroom. Going to ‘Freddy’s’ bar. So many things we have taken for granted have now changed.
My only experience in the Middle East had previously been in 2014. I was heading to Europe for a vacation, and had stopped over in Qatar. There, I saw the sun – a flaming ball of red – rising over an endless desert. The locals breezed by in long, flowing robe-like attires that are mostly in hues of white or black. A kaleidoscope of accents greeted me as I entered shops and restaurants, indicating that a huge number of foreigners worked there as well.