During the summer of 2017, I officially became an international student. It was my long lost dream to move abroad and pursue a course. Hence, when I opted for a PG Diploma in luxury brand management last year, I didn’t think twice before opting for the exchange program that allowed me to go and study in Monaco for 3 months. And now that I am back, I urge everyone to have an international exposure. An exchange isn’t few months or a year in a lifetime. It’s a life in those few months or a year you spent abroad. Those 3 months have been the most beautiful of my lifetime. I saw the best, learned from the best and made some lovely friends from around the world! This blog talks about my exchange experience.
As soon as I landed, the thought was ‘Freedom’, the freedom to explore myself, a new country and meet new strangers. And it’s not a surprise that I took photos of everything like literally everything. I wanted to send it to my family, friends and basically make as many memories as possible to look back upon. The mixed feelings to meet my host family, get acquainted with the neighborhood, the travel routine from Nice to Monaco and the daunting task of buying grocery with French labels, all this took good 2 weeks to sink in and get well versed with. And then came the day to visit my university and start with my classes. I was excited and nervous at the same time! Since I was joining in the last semester, I was afraid to be left out by other classmates and was only hoping to find friends that would help me around, but I was lucky to have found some really amazing people who made me comfortable and now are great friends. My short stint also introduced me to some amazing professors and I could only feel sad that I had just 3 months to study under them. I also went through the phase, where I had my classmates, host family and friends asking random questions about my country, Do you have running water? Do you ride an elephant? Do you eat beef? Why is your skin so fair? And the constant struggle of my classmates and professor trying hard to pronounce my name correctly! As for me, I had a struggle remembering everyone’s name too. Often, my moment of pride was when a professor mentioned something about my country and I couldn’t help but flash a big smile.
As a part of my course, I got to visit some uber luxury places like the Monaco Yacht club where I took a tour of a beautiful yacht worth USD 90 million (Yes, I had the same reaction). Since I was studying hospitality, we visited a 5-star luxury hotel on the French Riviera, called Château de la Chèvre d’Or. The hotel also had a 2 Michelin star restaurant and I got a knack of what it exactly meant to have a 1, 2 or 3 Michelin star for your restaurant.
Leadership comes naturally to me and I have always found myself in a leadership role. But in Monaco, I enhanced my team working spirit working with a different culture of people. So, I had to understand why a Russian or a Japanese react in a way in order to work with them coherently. Hence, I moved from my usual leader role and enhanced my team work skills to a great extent. Oh! And the joy of having a library equipped with books imparting global knowledge and access to Harvard case studies was a plus! No doubt that it was my favorite place in the university. Well, the second most favorite place was the cafe! Staying away from home can a take a toll on your food habits. While I am glad that I lost some much-needed kilos, I cannot deny that I missed my home food a lot. Hence, in the break, I always went with a hope to find a decent hot meal. The most difficult phase was the last month, where the excitement to go back home and the homesickness had sunk in! And the usual shopping for family and friends had begun 😉
My travel taught me that you’re stronger than you think. It taught that it’s the only thing you buy that makes you rich. I have returned back rich in knowledge, rich in memories, rich in confidence and rich in exposure. And that is something no one will ever be able to take it away from me. Most of the times people are kind and will help you. To those of you, I was lucky enough to come across during my time as an international student in France, I say thank you so much. Can’t wait to share my experience in Paris and Milan in my next blog post with you all 🙂
The picture below captures the beauty of Monaco ❤