On Campus

A semester in Frankfurt

Tanmoy Chakraborty | Updated on January 26, 2014 Published on January 26, 2014

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‘I’ve just landed at Frankfurt International Airport’, I told myself, my heart pounding at the excitement of being a thousand miles away from my motherland. Coming out of the airport, I was warmly received by a representative from the International Office of the European Business School, and a BWM van was waiting to pick us up. Over the next few days, every person I met and everything I saw were all part of new learning for me.

The first week

Guten Morgen, we heard, as a young lady opened the classroom door and walked in. I wondered what she had just said! She was Ms Nina, our language teacher. “Speaking Deutsch is very important if you want a job in Germany,” she said, briskly starting off the class in German. She was addressing a group rich in diversity, with exchange students from Mexico to Milan, and from Sydney to Sonepat.

I was excited but also tense. Everything familiar to me was hiding deep within, and everything I saw and heard was unfamiliar. I felt stilted, like I was forced to act differently.

But slowly, learning Deutsch became fun. In a couple of days, I could speak a few German words and was able to buy the right stuff from the supermarket without asking the store supervisor for an English translation!

Exchange Experience

Apart from academic pursuits, I felt the exchange programme in Europe was a valuable learning experience in other ways too. Travelling is a great way to learn and, during the semester, bolstered with ample scholarship funds, we got to see many important tourist destinations. The language, food, government regulations, overnight journeys by bus, spending nights at stations to save on hotel expenses and getting a corner where wi-fi worked — all of these were new and interesting experiences.

At school, group work also taught me how diversity can help a team can perform well. Students of five different continents coming to a consensus on academic matters was fun as well as an educative process.

Second, unlike in India, where we are stressed to complete our assignments each semester, my MBA exchange course experience at the European Business School was fairly relaxed, though it did cover an equal number of credits. The practical way of teaching and getting industry experts to talk on the realities of the business world helped us learn of the intricacies of international business dealings.

While it is true that the Indian students did perform well compared to their foreign counterparts, I believe that in India we lack adequate industry exposure. The B-schools need to involve more executives from the industry, especially during case discussions. The exchange programme in Germany also taught me how planning and discipline can help to elevate a nation’s performance. The foresight that is intrinsic to the German way of management, along with the stress on quality of workmanship, were really wonderful and something to admire greatly.

thoughts

The semester’s stay in Frankfurt also motivated me to know more about my own country. The curiosity of my European friends to know about Indian traditions and customs, including marriage rituals, the country’s varied cuisines, the river Ganga, the holy places and the reason behind the language diversity made me aware of how ignorant I was about my own country. At the same time it made my love for India and my resolve to study all these aspects, even stronger.

The time management of the Germans, the artistry in Rome, the passion in Paris, the sweetness of Switzerland, the anguish of the Romanian people, the warmth of the Croatian people and the myriad different lifestyles all go to make one’s stay rich in varied experience.

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Published on January 26, 2014
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