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How a Chinese student travelled to INSEAD during a pandemic

INSEAD
Her transition to France despite the pandemic, went smoothly. Yutong was even able to enjoy the last few days of summer with fellow classmates. Source: Mu Yutong

Great quality and the chance to explore the world (once the pandemic is over) — these are some of the reasons Mu Yutong enrolled in INSEAD Business School. She is currently in pursuit of a Master in Management (MIM) at the Fontainebleau campus, after a seamless move from China last summer.

Yutong had her visa, plane ticket and accommodation all arranged by the university at the peak of the pandemic. All went smoothly and she was able to enjoy the last bit of the long holiday off-campus with her classmates. Soon after, a national lockdown which shifted classes online. At first, she contemplated heading home, but later decided to stay for the sake of her health.  

INSEAD reopened last December to the pleasant surprise of its students. Global campus service directors also volunteered to deliver food since there was no canteen, proving the institution’s motto “At INSEAD, we make things happen” true.

INSEAD

INSEAD’s classes went online during France’s lockdown last year. Source: Mu Yutong

As Mu prepares to continue her studies at INSEAD’s Singapore output, we caught up with her to learn more about the perks and challenges of studying and living abroad in France. Check it out below:

Do you think it would have made a difference if you had studied at a local institution? 

I had the opportunity to explore different places, make friends with classmates from all over the world and meet some intellectual professors. I think INSEAD provides me with this great platform to grow that I would not get back home. 

What has been your most memorable class at INSEAD?

Definitely the last financial accounting class taught by Professor Shiwon Song. She came out with a red wig and a cosplay costume to bid us adieu which I thought was really cool. 

Do you have any fond memories with teachers at your uni that stood out for you?

During the lockdown, when we had to take our courses online, my microeconomic professor helped me out a lot. He organised weekly Q&A sessions and took the time to talk with us casually to help ease the mental pressure — he’s a cool person full of fun stories.

INSEAD

Yutong says INSEAD has been extremely supportive, especially to international students, during the pandemic. Source: Mu Yutong

What are the practical learning elements in your MIM programme? Do you get to apply the theories learnt to the real world?

Definitely! After the regular term, we have a practical period — usually two weeks — to learn more on the topics covered in the course to try and apply to real-life cases. My favourite is the P2 practical when we learned mergers and acquisitions structurally. I can apply this in my interviews and later on in my jobs. 

What are your academic goals in this course?  

I just try my best to absorb the knowledge and explore which aspects I am more interested in so that I can find which industries/positions I chase after graduation. I learnt a lot from the process and operation management course. The content is so inspiring, I’ve never actually thought of business in such ways.

Do you plan to progress into further study after your MIM?

I plan to work directly (because I’ve already taken my gap year) and only later try getting my MBA in the US. I want to spend some time there to gain more life experience.

What were your most memorable, non-academic experiences in France?

Before I left Paris, I went to the Louvre with my boyfriend and had a picnic on the lawn. We enjoyed the sunshine together and I felt very relaxed. I’ve decided that after the pandemic dies down, we’d come back to Paris again.

What do you like most about France?

Picturesque nature, relaxed lifestyle and how Paris is a melting pot of people, culture and art.

INSEAD

Yutong cherishes the opportunity to explore different places, make friends with classmates from all over the world and learn from inspiring professors. Source: Mu Yutong

Tell me about your hometown. Where would you take me to visit there?

I was born and raised in Beijing. The first place I would take you to would be the Forbidden City where you feel the immense history everywhere and have a basic understanding of Beijing as the capital. Another spot would be Wudaoying Hutong, a local street full of good cafes and a great mix of the traditional and modern factors that make the city what it is.

What’s the local food in France compared to food back home like?

French food is very different from Chinese, but they are both good. My favourite has been the desserts (especially the Chou Chou Puff) and my least favourite would be the beef tartare — not really my thing.

What’s one thing you miss from home and how do you substitute it?

My dog. I Facetime my parents once a week to check up on him. My mother also often sends me cute photos of him. 

What advice do you have for international students looking to study at INSEAD?

Be well prepared. “You paid to get pain here,” my beloved strategy professor once said. The schedule is intense so you have to collect your courage and focus on extending your limits. One thing is for sure though, the learning curve is very steep.