2008-04-07

Bring It On!

Yesterday I was the guest writer for IMD's MBA Diary. My entry was as follows (Accompanying pictures are in my FaceBook album.):

Exams are done! I know there have already been two diary entries on this subject but it is impactful enough that I believe a third is warranted. The exams, even those in the subjects that I would consider my strong suits, were not easy. Each required several hours of intense performance preceded by days of preparation. It was interesting to see how a group of overachievers approached the week. Some were driven by trying to score highly in all subjects. Some just wanted to pass. Some prioritized certain subjects and exerted minimum effort in others. By the end, though, I think we all felt we understood the material pretty well. Whether or not the faculty agree is a different story!

Regardless of the grades they will receive, I am particularly impressed with the non-native English speakers in our class. Many of our exam questions were worded such that they seemed ambiguous or confusing even to me, an American with very good command of the language (No snickering, British readers!); I can’t imagine how much of an additional challenge that must have posed for students who speak English as a second, third, or fourth language.

I am also impressed by my older classmates. Because of IMD’s high average student work experience many of our students are 10 years or more removed from academia. IMD’s intense approach to classes would be challenging even for someone still in academic “mode.” However, for someone who hasn’t pulled an all-nighter or crammed for an exam in this century, I’m sure the difficulty is amplified. These students bring other strengths to bear in exam preparation: organization of review sessions, identification of outside-IMD resources, and a wealth of experience in mobilizing to solve hard problems on short notice.

If there is one place where IMD students collaborate better than in the Dungeons, it is on the dance floor. As Mathieu and Cat have already mentioned, Friday night we blew off a lot of steam at a club in Flon. I remain wholly underwhelmed by Lausanne’s club offerings; Friday night’s locale was allegedly one of the best in the area, but even it had generic d├ęcor, uninteresting staff, and music that was popular five years ago. Despite this, going out in Lausanne is incredibly fun. Regardless of the setting, there are 100+ friends (classmates, partners, and sometimes even staff) with you and the spirit of camaraderie strong. It is a very therapeutic way to escape the IMD bubble and, with the help of a little “social lubricant” (alcoholic beverages for those who are unfamiliar with the term), sometimes the romantic tensions between classmates slip out into the open!

The rest of the weekend featured wonderful weather, fun, and “relaxed productivity.” Our IMD beach volleyball team had its first practice for the MBA Tournament that is only one month away. Given our performance, we still have a long way to go to be competitive, but I am very confident in our ability to bridge that gap. After all, since arriving at IMD, I have seen teams of French, Brazilian, Chilean, Czech, American, Canadian, Spanish, Indian, and Italian members surmount much greater obstacles!

And speaking of international teams, as of tomorrow my study group will change from US-Czech-France-Italy-Belarus-Portugal-China to US-Uzbekistan-China-Germany-Russia-Nigeria-Spain. I will miss my old group dearly—we shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears together during Mod I—but at the same time I am very excited to work with my new group. Good luck to all in Mod II!

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