How to describe the first impact with an International MBA? Here’s Gaelle Gouraige experience, from International MBA Class of 2011. Pictures are referred to 2013 class kickoff days.

I suppose you could say my time at MIP started off with a bang- quite literally. A volcano in Iceland erupted just days before classes were set to begin, leaving half of us stranded at various airports and cities around the world as a thick cloud of ash descended upon Europe. Some of us made it for our two weeks of “Italian Immersion“. Others made it just in time for Day 1.

As we filed into the lecture hall that first day, we introduced ourselves with handshakes and smiles trying to sort out who was who. In the end, the question that broke the ice wasn’t “So what country do you come from?” but rather “How did you get here and how long did it take you?”

Me- it was three days with a 24hr layover in Madrid, a lovely jaunt to Rome and a train up to Milan carrying over 60kilos in luggage. For a friend, it was a two day ride from Olso in a hired taxi. Others were stuck in Frankfurt for days, after a long flight from places like India, waiting on a train to bring them to a new home. Some classmates were still missing.

I’m not saying this is normal- I do not wish that experience on anyone. But it gave us an instant bond. It gave us a bit more grit and determination. And as we got to know one another (thinking are you in my study group?) nervous energy turned to excitement.

And that’s the sort of energy you need for a year at MIP. We just happened to get ours from a big bang- what will yours be?