Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Opening Ceremony and Welcome Cocktail


Well, this is a night to remember. First there was a 30 minutes welcome speaches from the dean, Prof Antonio Fatas, and some other speakers. I liked the speech of the head of alumni , Mr. Daniel Labrecque, who said "When I sat in your places, 25 years ago, there was a guest speaker as well, but I can't remember his name or what he had to say". Basically, he said that it is going to be an intense and interesting year.

After the speeches, there was a cocktail party. We all dressed up in suits (except for some wise guys who decided to come in Bermuda shorts and moccasins). There was champagne and Kir Royale (apparently Kasis with Champagne) - but not enough. Well, after 2 glasses my head spun anyhow.

The intention of the evening was to meet the other students, so they packed the 300 students in a room with no air condition, so after 20 minutes everybody ran outside to the balcony where there was not enough room for everybody.

I am not used to talking to people that I don't know, so I followed the lead of the other students (mostly the Amercian ones - do they teach mingling in school over there?). Basically, you see someone standing alone, or a group of people that has an open space between them, go ahead, shake hands, say your name and where you are from and ask the other gentlemen or women their name and country. Then you can circle through these questions:

  • What did you do before you arrived to INSEAD?
  • What are your plans after the school?
  • When did you arrive to France?
  • Where do you live around here?
  • What is your section?

I shook a lot of hands (almost like a politician), and put on a smile all night. If I was lucky then the person I was talking to was interesting and we had some common ground, so I could actually enjoy myself in the conversation.

I was impressed with the diversity of the students. I knew it will be like this when I applied, but seeing it with my own eyes was amazing. Almost everybody in the room was born in one place, but lives in another. A lot are managers and consultants, some of them 26 years old with already a rich international backgorund.

This was hard work, and I was exhausted in the end. So we went to the restaurant, where we met a very nice guy from France, who shared his religous and professional point of view. It was the best time of the night.

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