by Sanika Muley

26 November 2020. I was anxiously checking my emails every 5 minutes because I was awaiting the admission result of the ESCP Master in Management. At 6.00 pm, I received an email: admitted! In a split second, I could see a whole new world of opportunities, adventures, and interesting challenges come alive before me. Ten months later I would be boarding my flight to Paris.

Before that, there were tons of things that I had to do before moving to Europe. From finding accommodation, figuring out the finances for the course, going through the Visa process, to completing prerequisite courses, those 10 months felt like only a few moments.

Chapter 1 : La vie Parisienne 

What was the first international destination that you visited? Pour Moi, it was Paris!

Unfortunately, I missed the cinematic moment of getting a glimpse of the city from the airplane, thanks to the Parisian rains! Weather: that was my first lesson in the new city. 

I came to Paris a couple of weeks before the course started to give myself the chance to explore the city and immerse myself in the French culture. During these 2 weeks, I interacted with several students from ESCP, both seniors and peers. I was fascinated by the diverse skill sets and achievements that each of them brought with them. From meeting new people, exploring new places to dealing with administrative procedures, I was enjoying every aspect of this new chapter of my life. 

Finally, it was the day I was eagerly waiting for, the first day at the Paris Campus. Vibrant! Many students of diverse backgrounds sharing conversations filled the campus with life. The orientation day gave me a chance to introduce myself and get to know my peers better. This was such an important step since, after all, a few of them would be accompanying me on the master’s journey. 

As the semester began, I realised that there was a stark difference between the education system that I was accustomed to back in India and the one at ESCP. The entire cohort was divided into smaller groups of 30 students each and the classrooms were designed to promote collaboration between students. There was a lot of emphasis on learning through case studies and group projects. And the most interesting part: the project groups had students from different nationalities working together. Learning and working with different thought processes was an experience.  

My second lesson in the new city? Different cultures.

If there is a part that I loved the most about my stint at the Paris campus, then it would be the post-class discussions with the professors and peers. Professors dining with students in the canteen is a rather common sight at the Paris campus!

As the semester progressed, I found some amazing people who I could call my family, and the city my home. However, the time flew by quickly and the semester was almost over. It seemed that it was only a few days ago that I was seeing the sunset at 8 pm and now it was as early as 4.30! I wished time had stopped because there was still so much more yet to be discovered about the city, the language, the people, and the culture. But it was time for me to pack my bags again and begin the second chapter of my ESCP journey in Berlin.

With a heavy heart and teary eyes, I bid a farewell to Paris – a city that I would call home away from home – and boarded the train to Berlin. 

Chapter 2: Falling in love with Berlin 

Sanika in Berlin

When I first came to Berlin, I had a meltdown. Everything here was so different from Paris! I just wanted to run back home yet I didn’t know where that was –Aurangabad? Pune? Paris? I was scared to start all over again in a new country, a new city. Making friends, finding the nearest grocery shops, learning student hacks, dealing with administration, and learning about the city – all of it… again! But then I realised that this was something that I had wished for. Exploring new cities, having new experiences, and growing as a person, the MiM course was all about this and more. 

I decided to hang in there. As the days passed, I caught the rhythm of this city, its people, and the language (a little bit, anyway). I took every opportunity to participate in business games, competitions, and activities and took guided tours of the city with Berlinsider by ESCP.  The Designing Europe seminar in Brussels was an enriching experience for all of us that brought us a step closer to becoming global citizens.

Challenging myself: lesson three.

From the very beginning, I was focused on developing myself holistically. My friends Samyak Dutt Gupta and Naman Yadav inspired me to always test my knowledge, and one of the ways was to participate in the Global Case Competition at Harvard. 

Our team of five (the three of us along with Madeleine Pebrier and Mihir Naik), made it to the top 10 finalists among 150+ teams from all the leading business schools across the world. The three weeks of this competition were quite rigorous, as we had to prepare a thorough hypothesis for the problem statement. The challenge was especially unique as I had to juggle between semester coursework, interviews, projects, and the case. All of this helped me learn so many things beyond the classroom and enhance my time management skills. 

All wasn’t rosy as it seems, there were challenges especially when I was looking for a summer internship. I felt overwhelmed with the process and dejected by several rejections. However, I had immense support from my mentor, Remi Durand Gasselin, with whom I connected through the ESCP Alumni Association. He guided me through the process and motivated me throughout. The career coaches at ESCP also played an important role in helping me find the right direction and tailoring my CV and cover letter. Building a good support system was lesson four. Through these constant efforts and continuous support, I managed to get the internship of my choice. 

If I had to identify the single most important thing that I have learnt so far at ESCP, and will forever be grateful for, it is friends and network. Over the span of 10 months at ESCP, I made friends with so many people who became my pillars of strength. They bring value, different perspectives, and zeal to do better – not to mention bringing immense fun to this master’s experience. 

As I flip my page, yet again, before I start another chapter at ESCP, I can only be grateful for how rewarding the journey so far has been. I am eagerly looking forward to the next two steps in the journey: an internship at Mercedes Pay in Berlin, followed by an exchange semester!

Sanika Muley