A million years ago, when the first hunter gatherers formed, the single largest threat facing them was being cast out from the tribe. A lone human was no match for the dangers lurking outside the safety of their group. Naturally, the humans who craved acceptance and feared rejection survived through the ages and became the modern-day humans. To this day, one of the greatest fears in our human experience, is the fear of rejection.
How times have changed! Just a month ago, the biggest challenge for me was exams. I was on the INSEAD campus for most of the weekend, wearing slippers and frantically studying in a discussion room on-campus. Look at us now! The INSEAD Fontainebleau campus has been closed since 16 March 2020, and we have started our classes using Zoom. It is non-debatable that this is a crisis that no one had expected before. Thus, we need to understand that everyone is trying their best with whatever resources they have.
Arriving in Fontainebleau in January 2020 was a hassle for many of us who were eager to start the MBA journey at INSEAD. Paris had been on strike for almost a month as unions were protesting President Macron’s proposed pension reforms. The city was nearly paralysed, and few trains were running to Fontainebleau.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This article isn’t a cliché about how to look for opportunities in times of crisis. Neither is it about the sadness and problems at this critical moment in our history. It is a message of love and caring. It portrays tiny and simple examples of how you can embrace people around you, even if you just met them a couple of months ago.
When I walked off the plane five months ago in Singapore and headed straight for our launch day at INSEAD, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had been living in South Africa working as a Product Manager for Tencent.
A week after graduation, I still don’t feel like leaving campus. I’m literally writing this post in a breakout room reminiscing the past few days. Friends, academics, recruitment, trips, parties and so on. Looking back, one of the best decisions I made was about where to start my MBA journey.
A Bellifontain is an inhabitant of Fontainebleau, the small French town where INSEAD is located, and part of the MBA experience is about adjusting to life here – not exactly French life, but Bellifontain life, which is a very particular subset of the French culture. As the seasons change, let’s say you are an authentic Bellifontain when: You complain that there is nothing to do in Fontainebleau, but your schedule is always full.
I couldn’t have asked for a better P4/5 break!
Reminiscences from a bicycle trip through the forest of Fontainebleau
I’m no stranger to live music nights. When I lived in Hong Kong (where I grew up and also worked before INSEAD), I used to volunteer for Sofar Sounds Hong Kong, a global movement based on secret gigs built to promote live music in intimate settings.