So I just left the INSEAD graduation a few minutes ago. There is further celebrating to be done tonight at our last party, followed by the long journey home to NYC tomorrow morning from Orly Airport. What a journey it has been over the last year... I truly am a changed man, different in several key ways from when I left last June for Tel Aviv. I am now a well-travelled young person, who can converse in basic Mandarin, has friends on every continent, with a new home in nearly every major city across the globe, and a great job beginning in September in NYC, then Hertziliya.
And yet, its hard to walk away... I guess I suffer from some form of anxiety whenever I have accomplished something and am in transition before the next big thing. What should I do now? Where can I go? What should I read? Who should I meet? What have I done that I should think about more deeply?
The graduation ceremony, for what its worth, was quite lovely. I have been quick to criticize INSEAD for the shortcomings I perceived in the program, wherever they might have been. Part of that comes from my absolute adoration for Cornell, my undergrad institution. Part of it comes from the importance I place on good customer service, particularly on my largest personal investment to date ($50k Euros has that effect on people). However, the ceremony reminded me of the great parts of INSEAD, and particularly, the potential the institution possesses. One alum, who chairs the board of directors, spoke quite graciously about his time at INSEAD back in 1967, and gave a few words of advice - pick a job that makes you happy and helps you go down the road you want to be on, not the job that gives you the best financial reward.
Ultimately, he felt that there were three stages/elements to life that must be focused on and nourished:
1) Learn - Ensure you have gained practical knowledge that can be used to succeed in your line of work.
2) Do - Work as hard/smart as you can, letting nothing stand in your way.
3) Return - Give back to the community in some shape or form
Fairly simple, but strong argument. I was quite impressed.
The rest of the ceremony was quite nice, including a speech by a colleague, Anil, which was quite entertaining. Then, they handed out the diplomas, and took individual photos with each recipient and the 2 deans (INSEAD Dean Frank Brown, and INSEAD MBA Dean Antonio Fatas). This process took quite a while for the 400+ students who graduated in Fonty. The tent where the event was held was also quite packed and led to hot temperatures, which did not help things...
Following the ceremony, there were drinks and light refreshments as we all said hello to family and friends of our colleagues - nice, until it started to rain, and our dinner plans began to 'call'.
So now, I sit on my couch in Moret Sur Loing, France, an hour south of Paris, awaiting the return of my roommate and his wife, whom I'll be eating dinner with. Its a bit of an interesting scene: I'm sitting on a white couch in front of a fireplace in an old-school french house, easily 100 years old... I'm feeling a bit uneasy about a few things in my life, namely:
1) Where will I live in NYC? Should I go back to living at home for a few months? Can I stomach it? What will it be like to be back in my old stomping grounds? What has changed (has anything stayed the same)?
2) How should I prioritize my Hebrew and Chinese learning? What else can I do to stay away from absolute boredem? I think I want to take a Chinese calligraphy course? Maybe get back into painting as well...
3) What will it be like to go to Israel? How much do I need to organize in the next few weeks? How can I best transition?
4) My personal life is at a weird point right now. I've got to move on from my Singapore girlfriend (2 months already, pretty much), but its always hard. We had a long discussion the other day, following several weeks of no communication, then too much communication, in which she shared a fairly disturbing view on our relationship - what I viewed as serious and potentially meaningful was not that way at all. In fact, she was not willing to open herself to that possibility, due to several reasons that frankly, I have little to do with. Needless to say, tt was hard to take, but made sense as she explained it. There's nothing worse than being told that you've been 'used' - it actually taints all the memories that I hold and cherish from our time together. Regardless of how reasonable the reasoning, its a hard pill to swallow. However, it does provide excellent closure ;-) So what now? (I left that one deliberately wide open...)
Time to go... Off to dinner, party and the flight home... Drop me a line, if you've got any thoughts...
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