by Debayan Kumar Chandra, Global MBA
I came for this MBA with few clear objectives in mind: -
- Learn from the best-in-class faculty of an international business school.
- Learn from the professional experiences of a hugely diverse class.
- Take a break from the monotony of my extremely hectic job.
- Travel outside my country for the first time and push my limits by putting myself out of my comfort zone.
The objective was simple. To become more self-dependent, explore differences in cultures and personalities, and grow as a person.
And last but not the least, gain life experiences by traveling through the historically rich countries of Europe.The last thing that crossed my mind was the urge or the need to make friends, given my support system back at home and also relying on spontaneity rather than efforts. Honestly, the relationships part was clearly missing in my goals and all that mattered was to establish some connections in the industry for professional benefits.
Halfway through the grind, I took time to self reflect and understand how much of each objective I had achieved. I failed to solve the balance sheet because my expectations from the program had clearly taken a new turn and differed significantly from the clearly stated objectives that I had conditioned my mind to. When I tried to evaluate my learnings and achievements, a significant part of it was the people experience that I had completely chosen to ignore, and not just the acquisition of knowledge through coursework and case studies.
How I changed as a person
I have changed significantly as a person through my experiences - both pleasant and unpleasant. I have become more tolerant as person, more sensitive and much more accepting to differences. But most importantly, I think I have become much more patient as a person. Now when I listen to people, I listen to understand and not to reply. But what really brought about all these changes? I think it was my need to be heard, to be accepted and to fit and integrate in a classroom where all of us come from completely different geographies with societal rules and norms being widely different from one another. There have been circumstances where my behaviors have been deemed inappropriate to others because what was a convention in my country is completely unacceptable in a different cultural context. Sometimes, I have been disappointed and deeply hurt by the behavior of people who were perhaps a little less receptive towards intricacies that are considered unacceptable in my cultural context and also a little less understanding towards my sensitivities and EQ as a person, probably unknowingly.
The result of all of it has been positive and life-changing for me because it has increased my interpersonal and intercultural sensitivity and each day in the classroom I make an extra effort to be a better self than what I was yesterday, a little more kinder and empathetic towards others and try not to judge others by my own parameters because the yardstick is not the same. In the process, I have forged friendships with a few of my classmates which I know will last a lifetime.
So, why does this conversation become relevant today? In all the excitement of visiting a new place, we must not forget that we are visiting another half of the world with completely different cultural nuances, habits and patterns in behavior and different mindsets.