I am not one of the most positive people you will come across, in fact, people who know me know that it’s easy for me to lose my motivation and get disappointed. The real truth behind this – I am hopeful and I am semi-positive. I don’t exude positivity, because at times either it is taken as over confidence or at times, I am a little bit superstitious. (Sometimes you want things to work out, so you don’t want anything to jinx it, not even yourself.)
Today, I’m going to talk about going back to school: with 14 years of experience, a family and a blog that means the world to me.
As part of my Swiss Life series, I wonder why but I never got to write about one of the most important things going on in my life – my master’s degree. I am consumed with an extremely hectic schedule in this part of the world – I can even safely say this, “I have never had my life this full.”
I have always wanted to a master’s degree – probably from the time when I started pursuing Engineering. I always wanted to be a “Manager” – even when I had no idea what it meant. So I tried. This is the thing about me, I never leave it to a “want”, I always try – sometimes a lit bit half-heartedly.
For all the times I didn’t make it – either the timing wasn’t right or my heart wasn’t in the right place. I didn’t make it – not once but many times. I started doing well in my regular job, climbing each step of the ladder – but I never let it go. When I heard about the news of us moving to Switzerland, without a doubt I did what was right – I didn’t apply for jobs but this time around I applied to B-schools.
I was admitted to all 3 schools I applied to, one of them was actually ETH. Based on a collective decision around convenience, and of course cash, I went with FHNW.
A little about FHNW – The University of Applied sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW is a leading Swiss University and it has 9 schools with numerous bachelor, masters and continuing education programs.
Studying in Switzerland:
I started going to the school since this September – so I’m around 3 months old here. What really happened after this started? – the autumn season kicked in, some emotional outbursts, realization, physical hardships later, I bid adieu my gym membership.
The way of life in Switzerland is academic. People give a lot more importance to education than experience.
I have varied opinions about this, however, there is no discounting the fact that education is serious business. In class, no one takes an attendance: if you find value in their lectures, you sit. If not, you are most welcome to skip them. The professors teach with the same sincerity irrespective the number of students in the class. The lessons are mostly interactive in nature with a lot of group work and case studies.
While the aptitude is nothing extraordinary the attitude is.
Our school is quite global: 50% students are Swiss, the other 50% come from all parts of the world, and we have a lot of Indians in the mix. Despite wanting to break stereotypes and not be mistaken for Rajesh Koothrapali from The Big Bang Theory, all Indians seem to want stick together.
Our campus is absolutely lovely, it has a very futuristic look and not a single corner ever loses the style that the architect had in mind for it. Personally, a little bit of color never hurt anyone – but that’s just me. The best things for me are the cozy 4 people working stations on each of the floors. That’s called being cool (architecturally speaking).
So the university is not in the city I live in (Basel) but in a city (Olten) which is around 30 minutes away by train. Even though am a full-time student, I attend classes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings. The most painful part being the Saturday class, in the wee hours when the city is asleep Ms. Siddhanti is on her commute to school. It is getting colder by the day, what was autumn is now winter, what was bright is now gray and where there was twilight is now pitch dark.
Running for trams and trains is normalcy during the peak hours so is the high fashion and the burning passion at the Bahnhof SBB. I absolutely love the picturesque train ride with a good playlist on my ears. Walking/running in the rain and snow has taken a toll on my health. The greatest realization that I have had during these train rides is, how much I love being alone. Like someone smart had said, “being alone and lonely are not the same things.”
Student Life in Switzerland:
The day I stepped into college, I went in with a lot of positivity and enthusiasm (unlike me). But the bubble burst on the same day, as it did not take me long to realise that this was no rocket science. (Just because it looked like NASA doesn’t mean it is NASA.) This might be the only downside of doing your 2nd degree after spending many years in the real world. At times, you find arguments, discussions and topics a bit too juvenile and un realistic. I am more practical than academic which is not the most favourable quality to have while you’re studying.
Our class has around 50 students, some study full time and some are doing the part time masters. While the vision of the university is global, the mindset of the majority isn’t. My batch mates are courteous, polite, respectful and unaggressive, but do I see some
My batch mates are courteous, polite, respectful and unaggressive, but do I see some long-term friendships? Errr…No! Leaving aside one or maybe probably two – I don’t see this go further on. However, in India – even in an extremely competitive and aggressive organization such as Unilever I was able to foster strong friendships and cultivate some great relationships. (I am still new here, this might change – I would love it if it does.)
How did everybody else react to it?
Everyone who loves me is super proud of me. Everyone who doesn’t turned into a new shade of green.
Both of these facts make me joyous.
My mom who I think has pushed me the most through these years (not in the most pleasant manners), will finally earn her Master’s degree. I am just a medium, her want was far bigger than mine.
The Change To Being A “Student”)
I am getting back to student life after many years, 14 to be precise – it was not going to be a cake walk. During lectures, I need a lot of caffeine to keep me awake and it’s an effort to concentrate. We have very well thought of breaks at reasonable intervals of time, but sometimes nothing cuts it for me. I get busy with emails, creatives, and social media distractions in between the classes. It’s definitely difficult to condition yourself to academia and if I do manage to clear my first semester then I will make the tall claim – that I did it!
Does this really change anything for me?
Yes, a lot. Even if I did it after becoming a senior manager, the sense of accomplishment to be standing on that podium and accepting the degree is a good butterfly feeling. Career progression left aside, this masters’ converts my “want” to a reality. It takes guts and a long term vision to take this plunge. It’s a HUGE tick on my bucket list and my hope is to inspire that someone out there who is probably thinking that “NOW” might be too late.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have done this or are doing this, I’d love to hear from you.
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