Swastik Mukherjee, USD MBA student, is studying at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain as part of a semester exchange program. In his own words, he describes his personal experiences adjusting to this new city and opening himself to exploring all that Spain has to offer:
“Getting the opportunity to do a study abroad program during an MBA is something that one cannot miss. Getting that opportunity in a top ten-business school in one of the most vibrant cities in the world is definitely the icing on the cake and a definite no-brainer. As a content for my first blog post, I wanted to talk about Madrid the city. Or about the gastronomic experience. Or about the language barriers. In fact, I wrote three different versions of this blog post earlier and discarded all of them. Somehow, I was not able to hit the nail on the head. What is it about this experience that has been the standout feature? The answer hit me last night. It is the people.
Now before coming to Madrid, I was scared. Very scared because I was told by numerous people that Madrid is not a very tourist friendly city. That only 22% of the population speak English. That my absolute lack of Spanish knowledge would get me into problems. Even forums on tripadvisor said that Madridistas are rude. Well, 2 months in and I have the ammunition to vehemently refute those claims. Madrid has been a revelation and how!
I will not really touch upon the service industry as much as talking about my classmates. One never really understands the importance of finding common ground until you meet students from different walks of life. I would agree that I warmed up to my fellow IE students quicker because of the lack of language barrier, but I have had the chance to study with people from Peru, Chile, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, United Kingdom and Japan. It truly made sense why USD had collaborated with IE in the first place. IE shares similar traits with USD in terms of being internationally focused, and it has truly given me great networks and a great education. The acceptance that I have felt at IE has been truly amazing given the fact that I am only there for 3 months and they are extremely busy preparing for graduation and their quest to land that dream job.
My group meetings have been extremely fruitful; they have welcomed me warmly. My group members have been very flexible and accommodating with scheduling, so that I am able to experience Madrid and Spain as much as I can. Different people have greeted me during lunches, introduced themselves and had conversations with me. I was slightly overwhelmed by the new city and the language barrier loomed large in my mind, which probably made me go in to a shell for the first few days or so. Nevertheless, the fellows at IE and my fellow exchange students have made this experience of mine a brilliant one.
The camaraderie that I have shared with everyone has lifted my spirits and has made me more adventurous. I have tried more food here in Madrid than I would have dared to anywhere else. More than being adventurous, I think a sense of trust has developed with the city and with my fellow classmates. I think trust is the keyword here for me after two months. You visit a new city, a new environment and you try to do it all on your own. It does not quite work that way. One needs to feel the place and trust the place. Developing this trust can be challenging at first. Though, when you have fellows that open up to you from day one and encourage everything there is to experience about Madrid, you come to realize that the people are actually what make your experience in Madrid. Otherwise, your time here just remains a stamp on your passport.”
Stay tuned for more on Swastik’s semester abroad! To read more exchange program experiences, visit our Semester Abroad blog page.
Information regarding our exchange partners and programs can be found on our website.