Nearly this same day, same month, last year, I started my preparations for my first attempt at GMAT. I lived alone in a city miles away from family, which just added on to the overall pressure. On top of all of that, doing an MBA this year was extremely crucial: girls my age from India are supposed to be married by now, and I just could not back off from that fact.
After slogging through office work for 9 hours a day, it was difficult to get in the habit of preparing for GMAT. I had just 2 months to attempt my exam. I finally gave my exam in October, just a week after my IELTS test, and had a decent score. The application process and submissions began soon.
It was the 17th Feb. I kept on checking my phone all day, unsure whether I would receive the acceptance offer from the university I was looking forward to. Felt like a bit of a waiting game. At around 1 PM IST an impossible prayer was answered, and an improbable dream had just come true. I jumped off my seat and danced a bit – I had received my first offer. So excited that I still don’t remember what the admission manager conveyed in that call after congratulating me!
Later – given the upsetting situations due to strict lockdown in India – existing plans for celebrations, meetups, and farewell were rescinded. Amid the countrywide lockdown and travel bans, I could not meet my family before heading to Dublin. It had been more than a year since I met them last. COVID-19 had indeed rained over my parade! All this while visiting my parents was the only thing I was longing for. Although I held onto a ‘this too shall pass’ state of mind, it took me quite some time to come in terms with this unpleasantness.
I spent the next few months vacillating over job resignation in such unprecedented times, applying for the visa, and finally packing my bags for my first ever international trip! There is always some thrill and terror about your first trip overseas, no matter how much you have traveled in your native country. After 22 hours of tiresome journey from India, 4 hours of wait at the airport, and multiple round trips of carrying my jumbo-sized luggage bags – with no helping hand amidst the pandemic- I somehow managed to land at the Smurfit Campus on 1st of September, panting and fighting for breath! I was eventually allotted a room at the residence on-campus. Now, with an intensive MBA foundation week kicking off the very next week and hardly a few days in hand to settle and accommodate, I had a hard time adjusting outside my comfort zones and maintaining a balance of emotions. New location, cultures, situations, cuisines, lifestyle and the most strenuous of all – coming back to that study-mode after a long gap!
I finally decided to venture out with my brand-new flatmates and friends, to explore the beautiful campus of Smurfit, after completing our quarantine period. Getting to know each other to buy groceries, cooking together, picnicking in the Smurfit garden – all helped me pass this awkward phase smoothly. We had short trips to the breath-taking hills in Killiney, the vibrant Dublin City Center, and the picturesque BlackRock Sea viewpoint. The freedom felt so good!!
With the current lockdown restrictions, studying virtually inside four walls is challenging. Coping up with the virtual ways of learning, grasping novel concepts, comprehending abundant case studies, balancing the sheets, assignments, attending virtual team meetings, recording presentations, Zoom-ing all day, networking, and what not – feeling a little overwhelmed and intimidated is also very natural. I am sure we all have had that feeling at some point in this journey so far. The pandemic has taken its toll on us. With no end in sight, the only thing to do is to adapt, continue to work and stay positive. Despite all this, life goes on and that also applies to my learning journey at the FTMBA program at UCD.
‘Periods of adversity yield new habits of mind.’ COVID-19 has forced us to slow down and spend more time in personal reflection and coupled with a transformative MBA experience, it is highly possible to emerge stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
—Advitiya Gupta, FTMBA class of 2021