Posts Tagged ‘France’

P3 is done – we’re 3/5 of the periods through the (cheat-sheet propelled, for some) MBA and half way done with our year together. I snuck away from the Grand Cafe before the tearful good-byes because I’m not very good at those. A lot of people got last minute jobs – a lot are taking unpaid internships, hoping to make a career switch. Some are working 100 hour weeks in London. Suckers. The rest are sailing in Croatia/trekking in Kashmir/partying in Beirut/studying French in Nice, Mandarin in China, German in Munich/getting married in India and Israel.

One of my friends keeps saying that leaving the bubble for the summer will be a reality check – a real-world reminder to most of us who we are, what’s important to us, what we want to get out of the remaining year. I hope that’s true. P3 has been a blast, but I need to find some time to have a good think about what happens afterwards.

Since I’m still in visa limbo, I’ve been hanging out in Fontainebleau awaiting a verdict from the UK Border Agency. This respite from the frantic, intense, unrelenting P3 has been quite welcome, though I imagine it could get boring eventually. In the meantime I’ve been learning how to Artfully Communicate (I’m just as awkward as I suspected, now I have video footage to prove it), making a half-hearted attempt at some bouldering, picnicing by the reflecting pool of the Cheateau, wandering around sleepy French towns where in the 1800s Romantic Realists painted en plein air, seeking to capture the matte late evening light over the tranquil Loing.

At 10:45 it’s still light out – the days last forever, and on most nights I don’t even start to think of getting to bed until around 2. Not so good when you have class the next day. Perfect when you can sleep in until noon.

I’ve been cramming in q-time with my favorite(st) people before we disperse for the summer, and am thankful for the visa delays that are giving me a chance to get to know some of my classmates better. (That’s another shout out, yo.)

But being in Fonty also means that I can’t get the distance I feel I need to sum up the last 6 months in a meaningful manner.

A friend from home came to visit recently. When I say “friend” I mean it in the loosest sense of the word – someone I had classes with in undergrad, and would see about twice a year when visiting my parents who lived in the same town where he worked after graduation. He had been traveling the world for the past few months, and came to France (I suspect) because he’d have a free place to stay. Moocher. There are very few people I would feel comfortable crashing with for a few night, let alone an entire week. Someone more socially skilled and perceptive (or perhaps simply less selfish) would be self-conscious, but he has no compunction about imposing for an entire week. His world travels have produced little else other than a slew of complaints about lack of infrastructure in the developing world (umm, what did you expect?) and shallow generalizations about how the US is different from Europe because you don’t have to add tip and tax.

This guy is a complete downer, which makes me wonder what our friendship was based on some 8 years ago. Was I also like him? Did I look at the most negative aspect of every situation, complain about every trivial inconvenience? Is it just recently that I’ve changed so much?


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On the plus side

If I’ve been overly harsh on INSEAD lately, it is because of my own anxiety about starting the school year in less than a month. I keep having a dream where I am lost somewhere (though it usually turns out to be the Mexico City metro) with 2 huge, unwieldy suitcases and unable to communicate to find my way around. I wake up nearly hysterical, with a pounding headache.

Instead of stressing about the school year or the recruiting season, I’m chosing to focus on the more immediate and tangible stresses. Should I buy a hairdryer or three ring binders here or in Fonty? Should I purchase a cellphone online now or wait until I get there?

So I’m going to stop the ranting, and do some rambling about what’s going well.

1. Despite being intimidated by the idea of living in France, I’m also anticipating the excitement of trips to the hardware store. What I mean is that everyday life in a foreign language feels so extraordinary. When living abroad and learning Spanish, I found that buying elotes on the zócalo or having a short chat with a papeleria owner when buying a pack of pens was the most rewarding part of my day. That challenge of daily life was a huge motivator for choosing INSEAD in the first place.

2. I’m spending NYE in Paris with the boy! I can’t freaking wait!

3. Another pleasant surprise is that I’m finding the Micro pre-reading much more engaging than I expected. Yeah, I’m being a nerd and doing the pre-reading. (You are being a bigger nerd and spending 1500 EUR to attend business foundations. So please…) I’m finding myself better equipped to understand Marketplace reports on NPR than I was two weeks ago. It’s rewarding to be able to make sense of my world from first principles, rather than nodding along with James Surowiecki because he writes so logically.

4. I’m also starting to discover the power of the network. Today, I had a wonderful chat with an alum about his sector, the recruiting process at INSEAD, and pulling off a career change – someone I found through one of these very blogs! He had some insightful comments. I wanted to share a mix of these insights and my own interpretations:

– Don’t get seduced by JP Morgan and McKinsey unless you’re really interested in banking or consulting. Recruiting for those roles can take up the majority of your time, leaving you with no time to consider alternatives.

– Set a goal for networking: talk to X number of people per week. Always follow up.

– Get together with people interested in your sector and share your contacts.

– Have a crystal clear idea of what you can offer a company. Be able to pitch it in 30 seconds.

– Join a club in your area of interest and take the reins; don’t wait for someone to plan the events that interest you.

– Prioritize. You’ll only be able to do a small fraction of what INSEAD offers – you’ll have to choose between parties, studying, recruiting, traveling, clubs, sleep.

Phew. That was way too positive. Hope I didn’t bore you to tears.

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A conversation I just had at the French consulate when trying to get my visa for January.  

-You are too early.  It would be better for me if you came back in late November or early December.  

-Sorry?  What do you mean it would be better for you?  Can you not do it today for some procedural reason?

-It would be better for me.  I cannot do it now.  Please come back.  

-Uhh… but my friend in DC got her visa for January back in like July.

-That is impossible.


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