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.
With the end of the valuation exam, we approached the end of P1. I am now taking a break in Prague, thoughtfully, calmly, and hopefully. Overall, P1 life was fast and intensive, and I have three specific reflections: Firstly, academic intelligence. Although INSEAD is known as a school where students like to have fun, they demonstrate high levels of academic intelligence thanks to the standards and requirements of the courses.
After a two-month summer break, I was so happy to restart the MBA and reunite with my INSEAD family once again. For the fourth period of the programme (which we call P4), I went on a campus exchange to Fontainebleau. It was nice to be in Europe, and to experience some true French ways of living - especially in the cozy small town of Fonty.