The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”  – St Augustine

We join a B School for different reasons such as handsome package, rising the corporate ladder, upgrading business skills etc. and the list is endless. Then there are some aspirants who have an additional reason which is to get a global exposure and then they start looking for B Schools that has tie ups with foreign universities and a lucrative exchange program. I was one such applicant who aspired to get such an experience of a lifetime along with general management studies. I pay my gratitude to SOIL for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.

Fast forwarding a little bit. 8 months passed by with all those assignments, group activities, guest lectures, chasing 11:59 pm deadlines and not to forget the small celebrations at what we students refer as ‘1531C’. It was time to experience my dream turned to reality with SOIL’s exchange program to MIP Politecnico di Milano, Italy. When I stepped out of Milan’s Malpensa Aeroporto, I was filled with mixed emotions of anxiety, excitement, elation, curiosity etc. The train station adjacent to MIP is Milano Nord Bovisa. A 12 euro train ticket or a 10 euro Malpensa Express bus ticket from airport directly to Bovisa. Day 1 was indeed hectic due to language issues in a non-English speaking country. The Google translator app came to the rescue with few words I learnt that helped me communicate such as ‘ciao’ for hi/bye,’Tutto Bene-Come Stai?’  for ‘I am good-how are you?’,’Quanto?’ which meant ‘how much does it cost?’, ‘Vegetariano’ for vegetarian etc. They postfix letter ‘O’ to signify male gender. Initially, it was like reprogramming your mind, to unlearn what was learnt before and learning what lied in front of you as the way of doing things, the way of living and almost everything was different from what we learn while growing up in India. This is my personal opinions for my first ever visit outside India and could be different for different people.

Coming to Academics, the style of teaching was different from that in India. Professional lawyers were appointed apart from usual staff to teach us few one day courses such as contract management, legal issues, sourcing, business negotiations etc. in global multicultural context. There used to be group activities after every new concept that was taught with a rule that we should not form groups with students we have already worked before. This helped us know more people and network with almost every student within a class. Each week was dedicated to only one elective subject with presentations and quiz at the end.

In addition to that, the amount of learning we got from the riddles/puzzles we were given to solve before every coffee break during the lectures was invaluable. Another unique style of teaching was the real life problems which we were required to resolve using the concepts learned during the class. So, after every set of concepts related to a specific topic, there would be a real time corporate problem. This way we learnt not just theoretical aspect of a subject but also its practical applications. By the end of each elective, there was a sense of achievement that was felt among the students. In line with the 5 pillars of SOIL, mindfulness and compassion were most prominent values I experienced while studying with students coming from different nationalities and diverse cultural backgrounds.

The people of Milan were very patient and friendly in terms of helping the tourists. English is a language not known to many outside the university campus. I made a lot of friends while studying at MIP. I met students coming from countries such as USA, Taiwan, China, Finland, Argentina, Iran, Columbia, Moscow and Azerbaijan. It was a diverse Multicultural environment provided by MIP, Italy. In addition to that, I cannot forget the memorable time I spent with the Indian group there with people from Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala. We often used to go to Penny Market (a discount store) to shop, used to cook food together and have a sumptuous Indian dinner. I thank them for helping me get adjusted there and not for any moment did they let me feel that I was an exchange student. It was a home away from home when you meet people like that in an alien world. I wish them lots of success and prosperity.

Talking about Shopping in Milan, the heart of Italy, is truly a fashion capital. With such a rich variety of designs and functionality within each product, you end up spending a lot, if you do not plan in advance for what to buy and what not. Talking about travelling, Milan has four modes of transportation: Bus, Rail, Metro and Tram. One day pass costs about 4.5 euro.  Italy has a very efficient and well developed system for commuting. In addition to that, the architecture that one can explore in museums, art galleries, churches, ports etc. is remarkable. It can’t be simply expressed in words; you’ve got to experience it to understand the underlying beauty. Interestingly, I was never a selfie person but this beautiful city made me one. Some of the places worth visiting within Milan are Church Duomo, Milano Castle, Parco Simpione, Garibaldi, Varese, Lake Como and Maggorie. Also there are one day trips to southern Switzerland involving rail journey via Bernina express or Alitalia Venezia express with a beautiful view of the snow covered Alps along the way which is very rejuvenating and bound to give you long lasting memories.

Eventually, all good things come to an end. It was a memorable journey and I would recommend all the students of upcoming session to apply for this exchange program of SOIL, Gurgaon to experience reprogramming your mind especially for those who never visited any European country before.

– Aditya Bhushan (BLP 2015)

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