Thursday, September 17, 2009

Life as a MBA student in Belgium

My life has changed. I have changed. And I am very happy!!

Amidst all the excitement and millions of things to do to adjust to the new life, my blog was neglected. It is the easiest thing to neglect and so it is neglected first of all. When I started getting comments and messages from some blogger friends about my whereabouts, I decided that it indeed has been a really long time and I should better blog about my new life.

I don't know where to start. I have been in Belgium for a month now and many things have happened since then. Mom and Dad came with me to Belgium to drop me here and then to go on a short Europe trip. I am immensely glad and thankful to them for coming with me because with all my luggage (almost 60 Kgs), I would have broken a few bones and all my suitcases before reaching my destination. Leuven is a small town, at a distance of 30 mins train ride from Brussels. I love the town. It is only 3 Kms in radius! You can see the entire town in half a day. And because it is a student town, you can see students and university buildings everywhere. It is almost like one huge campus.

That is the Town Hall in Leuven. A beautiful building at the heart of the town.

The weather here is gray most of the time and it rains almost every second or third day. The two awesome things about Belgium are its beer and waffles. They have hundreds of varieties of Beer in Belgium. I knew about Leuven's beer connection before coming here and that people here love drinking beer but I had no idea that someone like me who hates it would become an ardent beer fan. Waffles have a similar story. I have never had a sweet tooth but the sight and smell of a freshly baked waffle can make anyone drool. In Brussels I tried a just-baked waffle topped with strawberries and chocolate sauce. I have no words to describe how good it was.

That was my first beer in Belgium!

Now about the MBA life - My classes started on 1st September, so I have been into the program for 17 days now. The first week was all about lunches, dinners, drinks with classmates and alumni, getting to know the school, and even a party at the Dean's house (and what a party!). It was fun at the beginning and before we knew it, the grind started. In just 2 weeks, we have completed 3 subjects!! From the very first day of classes, I have been immersed in team assignments, tutorials, reading for the next day's classes, networking and trying to stay in touch with friends and family back in India. I did not realise when waking up at 5 AM and sleeping at midnight started sounding normal. I did not realise when going to the school on weekends to work with your team for group work became usual. I did not realise when the book shelf in my studio was piled high with thick binders and heavy books. I did not realise when reading 300 pages everyday started seeming achievable. I did not realise when I actually finished an impressive amount of reading. If I collectively count the number of pages for all subjects I have read so far, then that is probably more than I read in an entire year before starting my MBA.

But you know what.... it is fun! I like it! Every moment of sitting in class, every moment of group work, every moment of reading micro and macro economics, financial accounting, statistics and managing across cultures.... I love it. Even when I crib, even when I tell my boyfriend in India that all this work will make me die early (he is a MBA so he thankfully understands), even when I don't get time to cook, even when I am too tired to update my blog, I am loving every moment here and I can see that I am changing as a person. My thought process, my stamina, my ability to cope with pressure, my social networking, everything has already changed drastically. And that is when I am only 1 month into my MBA!

To top it all I joined French classes here which will start on the coming Monday. I have no idea where in the world will I find time for studying French but I have still joined.
Oh and by the way, before my classes started, I managed to visit Amsterdam and Den Haag in Netherlands. Beautiful places would be a gross understatement for them. The canals of Amsterdam give it the romantic feel of a quintessential European city and Den Haag has these beautiful buildings and a mix of the old and new in Europe.

I have made some new friends. We are 90 students divided into 2 sections of 45 each in this year's batch. Among these 90 students we have 42 nationalities, so our class is one of the most diverse in the world. Conversation topics during lunches with my classmates include; Geisha in Japan, our upcoming trip to China, the integration of Europe after the second world war, Barrack Obama's political campaign, Mexican food, Life in Nigeria, the Australian boyfriend of my batchmate from Peru, French versus Dutch language courses, and other equally diverse and interesting topics.

I am sure that my year at Vlerick is going to be a life changing experience for me. No matter where I land after the MBA, no matter what job I get (or don't get!) the learning that I am getting here is immense. My only regret is that I am not able to blog regularly. Some of my classmates have blogs and they post every few days, although I don't understand where they find the time and energy to do it, but taking inspiration from then I will try to blog more often. I suppose that I am just not that great at managing my time.

I will post some pictures of Brussels, Amsterdam, Den Haag and Leuven in my next post!! :)


Spica said...

Awesome stuff!!! Good to know you're enjoying yourself so much!! How are the chocolates? :-)

Keep having fun and try to post when you get time..

Meghana Naidu said...

OMG! you're in the city i love the most in the world, well you're 30 kms from it and its third on the list but BRUSSELS!! i almost cant stop getting all excited. the roads, the wonderful french with an accent, the flea markets, the roadside cafe's, the furniture boutique's, car museums...
its all so beautiful.

OH btw did you know there was a beer museum(among many others) in Brussels?how cool is THAT right! at Le Grand Place, which btw you should go to..

please take lots of pictures!
oooooh so much envy!

Nikita said...

Thankee!! The chocolates are awesome, I haven't tried many yet but even if you ask them to pour some chocolate sauce over your waffle, you are sampling one of the best chocolates in the world. Belgians are just too good at making chocolates :)

Nikita said...

Heyy.. you love Brussels too? Aww.. same pinch ;)
Well I did go to Le Grand Place and that too on the Beer Festival of all days, but I did not visit the Beer Museum :(
I will post pictures in my next post :)

viswajith.k.n said...

hey...the sames the case with me...weekdays i am sick of staring at the comp at work most of the time that am tired of blogging...weekends have gone by travelling and hence a lull in blaagingu...btw thr a couple of friends of mine in Belgium who r working thr...if u need any contacts i can give it to you!

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, lady! What a hectic routine, and yet you find it in your capacity to love it!

I'm full of admiration!!!

AND ENVY! The place sounds wonderrrrful!
Glad you're having such a ball! Update once a month at least... Keep up that fantastic attitude though :)

darthcoder said...

Wah lao, nice blog :O.
Do update it regularly :).

Nikita said...

Hey thanks for offering to share your contacts... would talk to you over chat some day.

Thanks Unsung! ANother regret that I did not mention in the post is that I can't find enough time to read your posts regularly. I read about the swimming pool incident though ;)

Nikita said...

Wow, you reached my blog! Welcome!

Anonymous said...

Haha, you read the right things at least, I see :P

viswajith.k.n said...

@Nikita: no probs shall be online 24*2 over weekends...:P

OJ said...

Hey it is real nice to hear your detailed insight to the like in Vlerick. I have applied for admissions there for 2011 and hoping I will get admitted. I would love if you could guide me on a few things.
Thanks a lot and loadz of wishes