Many people have asked me about the exchange experience, and often I have found myself at a loss for words. How can one summarize, in a few words, the life changing experience of almost 5 months? Below is my attempt, anyway.
I never had the chance to do an exchange during my undergraduate studies, and one of the goals for my MBA was to complete a semester abroad. This was easier said than done, as there were many challenges to overcome. I had to plan my courses more carefully to make sure that the Schulich courses did not overlap with those I was planning to take abroad. I had to double my efforts during September recruiting to increase my chances of securing a position for when I return from exchange. I had to re-arrange my 601 schedule to make sure I completed it before I left in the winter and spent many beautiful summer weekends at the Schulich breakout rooms.
However, when I boarded my flight to Paris in December, I had a feeling that every sacrifice would be worth it, and luckily, I was right. By being open to every new experience (whether it was meeting new people, travelling to new places, or learning new languages), I was able to expand my way of thinking, learn to deal with different people in difficult situations, and most importantly carve out much needed time to reflect on who I wanted to be and where I wanted to end up at the end of the road.
A lot of us decide to do an MBA to “find ourselves”, but staying within the confines of the familiar, we often fail short of this goal. But by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone, and creating opportunities to get a glimpse into our lives from an external point of view, we can get closer to that challenge. I can’t say that it was just the exchange semester that was instrumental in changing my thinking, but it was definitely the catalyst that gave me the necessary push to get closer. It’s much more likely that you will find someone with a life changing exchange experience, rather than one that regretted going through with it. So, if you are still debating, know that you will most likely not regret this decision, and in best-case scenario actually come out a better/different person at the end of it. So what are you waiting for?
– Iris Svechnikar
ESSEC – Paris, France
Apply for exchange by 4pm, November 9, 2015