ISM insight: Life as an ISM student

The ISM Student Blog provides insight into life at ISM. Bloggers are current students and recent alumni who are excited about sharing their diverse learning experiences in ISM’s programs. Explore this blog to learn more about life at ISM, and how the program benefits students in the long run. You may also want to follow ISM on Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter.

Studying at ISM has been one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in my life. The MBA program here is truly an international program that connects people from all around the world, helping us learn about other traditions, languages, opinions, and ways of thinking and living.

I started my MBA four months ago, and each of the seminars I’ve taken has been a different and exciting experience. Before each seminar, you never know which new challenges you are going to face, the professor’s teaching style, or which new students you may be interacting with. Every seminar is a challenge that fills me with adrenaline.

It has almost been one year since I got on a plane and moved my entire life here. In other words, I sold all my things, gave up my job—and the ease of American life—to come to Paris and rough it out as a Masters Student. When I first arrived, with a lot up in the air, Paris was tragically the victim of a terrorist attack. Almost a year of juggling my MBA, a trip to NYC, papers, classes & jobs later, Paris was ineffably struck once more.

Since this is my third time around living in Paris, I’ve had the time to thoroughly grow accustom to specific likings, develop good and bad habits—and begun to unwittingly become more familiar with French culture in the process. The way people adapt to their surroundings so quickly is interesting in itself, but when you start to realize the little things tweak your personality or your outlook on more grandiose subjects, it becomes fascinating. Brèf, I think I’m beginning to become Parisian; well, in a sense. At the very least, I’m developing Parisian-like qualities.

I have always been drawn to, as well as interested in discovering, emerging markets. Having the opportunity to do the program on Doing Business in Africa through ISM, I was already excited about the program at the beginning of my studies. I began planning my trip to Cape Town during the summer and was counting days until my departure. In my previous blog, I shared my experience with the program itself. For this post, I will share my experience beyond the seminars.

The highlight of my first year studying at ISM was attending the program on Doing Business in Africa. It took place at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business in Cape Town, South Africa, during the months of October and November. This was my first trip to the African continent ever, and also my first group of seminars outside of Paris with ISM. I had such a great time there.  The trip was so enriching and valuable; from the quality of seminars, exploring the city and surrounding areas, culture and communities, to making lifelong friendships with other attendees of the program. I have decided to devote two blog posts to my trip to Cape Town. In this first one, I will describe the seminars. For my next post, I will share my experiences from trips as well as other activities I did in my free time there.

I've officially made it halfway through the MBA Program with ISM. It couldn't have come at a better time as I make my way back to my US hometown of Akron, Ohio. Ohio in the summertime is a magical place to be, boasting sunny skies, beautiful lakes surrounded by serene forests and an abundance of lively summer festivals. Not only is it truly picturesque, there is also always something fun to do. Not to mention the most important thing: that I get to wind down and relax with my family and friends....

Whenever I travel to Paris for classes, I try to stay a day longer to get to know the city more as Paris is very charming. You will find yourself adoring the amazing architecture of the buildings, beautiful gardens and the impressive views during the day and at night. Although Paris tends to be quite hectic during the day, in the evening, especially on the warmer days, people gather in coffees shops, along the side of the river Seine, or the St. Martin Canal, savoring good food and drinking wine and other beverages.

Last week, ISM held their Welcome Reception, inviting students and other members of the ISM community to gather with ISM staff and guests to unveil their new space. The reception was an event intended to introduce its new facilities with a celebration, giving everyone a chance to get aquatinted with the new location and experience the growth of the institution first hand.

It is clear that pursuing an Executive MBA program while working full-time is without a doubt challenging. It requires self-discipline and some level of lifestyle change to ensure better time management for studying and writing assignments. Even though there have been times when I wished that I had chosen to study full-time and concentrate solely on the MBA program, being able to apply the knowledge I gain during classes immediately to my job is invaluable.

I will be about half way through the MBA program when I leave at the end of June to go back home to the USA for a two-week period in the grandiose Big Apple. I've visited New York City (NYC) in the past - but just for a couple of days at a time. My initial impression of the city was that it is massive compared to Paris. Of course, NYC is extremely fast-paced, but also full of life, culture, and new experiences. Each time I've visited the city, it has been a whirlwind and I never really feel like I was actually there until it was time for me to leave. This time around, since I will be attending classes at the Baruch College as part of the ISM MBA program, I will be able to explore the infamous concrete jungle for two whole weeks and I'm really looking forward to getting to know the city.

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