by Laura Melina Loeven, posted on Financial Times MBA blog
I cannot count how many times I have read the word “moor noissucsid” over the past few weeks. It sounds like a mystic secret language from The Lord of the Ringsdoesn’t it? But it is just plain English for discussion room. Sadly, I spend so much time inside the study rooms that I often find myself reading the label on the glass door backwards when I happen to stare at the one door that separates me from the outside world.
I had two days to go until the Christmas break and to my despair the list of assignments to finish was much longer than my shopping list.
Most days the two best friends of any MBA student, laptop and extra large coffee mug, share the peaceful quiet of the discussion room with me. From time to time, the door opens and the head of one of my fellow students appears. We are all in this together, and the many sharing sessions or quick bouncing back and forth of ideas between doors were worth the long hours spent in a dimly lit study hall.
Joining an MBA programme and relocating to Singapore has changed my life. Back home in Germany, I grouchily complained about the penetrating cold outside and lamented the ruthless heating of indoor facilities. Now, I start sweating as soon as I step outside but shock-freeze when I enter a building. The temperatures across campus are adjusted to facilitate optimal brain activity. It turns out that my body and brain have very different requirements in terms of climate, and while my head is working at high speed, the rest of me goes into shock mode.
Not only have my MBA studies affected the way I dress (I wear long pants and a scarf at 30C outdoor temperature), but I also changed my sleeping patterns, eating habits and exercise schedule.
The challenges of juggling classwork, assignments, workshops, career talks, a symposium here and a lecture there will quickly transform even the most efficient of all multitaskers into a restless jitterbug. Singapore is a great place for the ambitious, the disciplined and the determined. The vibe of the city will teach you to always keep an eye on the goal and to keep an eye on the competition while walking towards that goal. In a city where everything works, public transport runs smoothly, no escalator ever breaks, and even the pizza delivery company keeps its “30 minute” promise when ordering to a remote university campus, you cannot but drop your jar and decide to work harder yourself. The pizza man just shrugs his shoulders, utterly unimpressed.
German by birth, I strive for efficiency, value speed and reliability, and I definitely appreciate punctuality. Now I share a city with textbook workaholics, and I wonder if I ever even properly understood the definition of punctuality. For the first time, it is possible that I am last to show up for an appointment. My homework might receive a “nice, but more thorough analysis required”. And I am still baffled that I have not ever waited for a delayed train.
What bewildered me at first, makes total sense to me these days. Singapore is impatient. An austere yet friendly nation that is poised for further growth. Uniting tradition and modernity, Singapore demands an increasing share of the world’s attention.
In the middle of this place that looks like Disneyland but works like the “good elves”: my business school. A school that might cool down the body, but successfully heats up a student’s mind. A school that will go above and beyond to prepare its graduates to wander on the path of growth, personally and professionally. Even if that means they live in the moor noissucsid.
Having reached the halfway mark of my MBA journey, I have already discovered that it will not be enough to just be prepared to reach my goals. Here in Singapore, goals are stretched and limits pushed.
published on: Financial Times – FT.com