I graduated back in India in 2011, so it was effectively a six-year break for me from academia. I was anxious, not about joining a b-school, but more about how I would stay awake during class, and sincerely prayed to the higher being not to give me morning classes. At the end of my first month here at AIM, all I will say is that I have not dozed off in a class, yet.
I joined the school a week late. One of the perks of joining late was that I no longer had to introduce myself to anyone. Everyone pretty much knew me as “that guy who joined a week late.” Instead of the usual barrage of introduction questions of “Who are you?” Where are you from?” etc., I faced the question “Why were you late?” It has been over a month since I have been here, I still sometimes get asked about why I was late, but only after a couple of drinks.
Getting back to academics after such a long break took a toll on me. Readings, assignments, and tasks started looking progressively unsurmountable. Still, I could walk up to anyone to ask for help with understanding concepts, discuss case insights or even ask for change for buying coffee. Everyone is so approachable, be it my LT mates, class mates, seniors from the upper batch (sorry guys, can’t do a shout out here) or even the faculty. With so much warmth floating around amongst people, the only place I end up feeling cold is in SGV Caseroom (hehe).
During the first month, the one thing that my batchmates and I dreaded was the Cubs Night. The built up to it was scary, and I prayed fervently to not become “that guy who joined a week late and threw up on Cubs night.” Kudos to the seniors for arranging the event! We did have a few casualties, but I surprised myself with not making it to that list.
Before I got here, I remember being asked whether or not I was a vegetarian during my selection interview. Honestly, that caught me off-guard. I wondered why was it even relevant, until I started eating at the cafeteria regularly. It is a meat haven, with the variety of meat and ways of preparation one could choose from. Pork Adobo, sisig, and beef tapa are my frequent indulgences.
Personally, I make best use of my free time by catching up on some sleep. It has limited my food exploration here, but I have been to the restaurant Manam and absolutely love it. TGW is another place I frequent; their chicken teriyaki is quite good.
Most of my time is spent in the campus, and I am sure all of us have found our different spots – for drinking, phone calls (slow clap for everyone pulling off long-distance relationships), and even studying. I find solace in the smoking zone, and will be found there if not in my room. Although I do complain about the steep climb, but in my opinion, it is one of the best places to chill, to network (yes, it really is) and for even consultations with Prof. Cruz and Prof. Ortigas.
I’d be lying if I said that there was no struggle coping up with academics, considering all the readings assignments and tests. As ironic as it might sound, the environment in the classroom helps make it easier. The camaraderie the students share with their peers and professors result in many light moments during classes.
In terms of dealing with the crazy schedule and the overall pressure, I have been fortunate as I always reach out to the guys from the upper batch. These guys know how to pacify and are approachable at any time of the day. If you aren’t doing it already, I strongly recommend chilling with the seniors. As a mantra for my fellow comrades, I suggest Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” and hopefully we make it through the remaining 15 months without burning ourselves out.
Words by Animesh Roy (MBA 2018)