What is education? Is it academics? Is it long lectures and assignments, followed by exams to validate your knowledge? Or is it something more? And what is the eventual purpose of ‘education’?
I have spent a lot of time pondering on this, and I believe the purpose of education is to stimulate the student mind towards learning, innovation and creativity. While the previously held belief was that this comes from books and academia, the latest studies suggest it comes from literally everywhere, and primary among those being people, places, and new experiences.
As a student in the Post Graduate Program in Business at MISB Bocconi – India, I got the unique opportunity to test this out during the mandatory four month semester at Universita Bocconi, Milan. It is a brilliant platform to see such a different and diverse side to education, people, and places! During these four months, Universita Bocconi plays host to over 3000 exchange students from across the world, whom you share classes with. I found this to be an incredibly enriching experience, as you get to see how different cultures from across the world approach the same situation! Some cultures (like my German classmate Damir) are super focused and hard working from day one; no nonsense, and functional. The efficiency they bring to the table is astounding. On the other hand, there are other cultures with a more relaxed attitude, who would wait until the end to start working, and still manage to pull it off. (I think we Indians fall somewhere toward the latter). And of course, the interaction doesn’t stop at classwork. I made quite a few international friends, most of whom I am still in touch with even today. I got invited to Naples (thank you Roberta and Mattia) for the weekend and spent another in Germany. I saw that most people are extremely friendly, even though everyone’s definition of friendly varies. And all this just showed me the diversity in approaches while maintaining the unity in results. I think interactions like these just expand your horizon to quite an extent.
Then, of course, are the professors. For the first time in my life, I got to study under professors from such diverse backgrounds, and how those affect their teaching style! Professor Burack Oc, a full-time researcher, took a course on Leadership and Power and taught the entire course using discussions, research and going into the depths of the methodologies used. This was a stark contrast to our Human Resource Management Professor Arnaldo Camuffo, who had spent most of his life in academia, and used a lecture-discussion-guest session approach. The professors were extremely approachable, even after lectures, and were always encouraging of questions, which I feel stimulates learning to a great deal. While both methods were poles apart, they did the job they intended to, that is, wake the mind up to possibilities, questions, and discussions. Mission Education accomplished I’d say!
My four months in Milan though would be incomplete without mentioning my weekend travels. Being centrally located, Milan is a great spot to travel anywhere in Italy, and pretty much most of the Europe. In my scope to see new people and cultures, I stayed away from tourist spots and instead went to lesser known places. I rode down to Kitzbuhel, a small town in beautiful Austria and stayed at a small family owned hotel. Besides this, I went to Portofino, a small fishing village 2hrs from Milan and went Scuba Diving and I also spent two days in Naples with a couple of locals who showed me around. Every place has its unique culture, and the only constant being their friendliness towards tourists.
Oh and the food! It is nothing like Indian spicy food, and it will take you a couple of weeks to start picking up the tastes, but once you do, you start appreciating the subtlety of it all. Yes, the pizzas are better than anything you’ve had (I can’t have pizzas in India anymore. Fact), the gelato servings can be an entire meal, nd the variety of food is an experience in itself.
All this comes together to show you just how big and diverse our world is. It helps you understand the humankind, and its markets, on a truly global scale. Today, I am of the opinion this trip has been a turning point in my life as a student. Four months later, I came back to India a wiser and better-connected individual. An Educated Man.
This article is written by PGPB3 student Aadil Naik