Pascal Ritter, MBS Master International Business student, has spent his semester abroad at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Indore, India. Here, he shares his experiences
Why did you select this partner university?
I wanted to get to know a new and entirely different culture and at the same time wanted a challenge and not just to take the easiest path. In addition, Indian Institute of Management has an excellent reputation in India and the importance of the country in international trade is constantly growing. Apart from this, at IIM I had the opportunity to focus on courses on digital value creation.
What was life like at IIM Indore? What were the largest differences to your student life in Germany?
The university campus is situated approximately 20 minutes outside Indore. All students at the IIM live in a student dormitory on campus. The rooms are furnished, students must fetch bed-linen themselves whenever it is required. There are communal bathrooms, but no opportunity to cook for oneself. Hygiene is good compared to conditions outside the campus, but cannot be compared to European standards, and therefore presents a challenge. Several canteens on campus provide breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, evening meals and midnight snacks.
In this way the entire life is conducted on campus. It is completely fenced in and guarded by security personnel 24 hours a day. Every car is inspected for forbidden items (alcohol, cigarettes etc.) and students are not allowed to enter the campus until they have been checked thoroughly.
As I was in the last semester of my postgraduate program, I “only“ had five courses and therefore comparatively fewer lectures than at MBS. Lectures are designed in an interactive manner and attending each lecture is obligatory. This is monitored by students confirming their presence with their fingerprints before and after each lecture. If more than 20 % of the overall lectures are missed, the student automatically fails the course.
In the last weeks I attended the IIM, the first WLAN wireless internet connection was introduced on campus, however it never functioned correctly (I hope that it will work then for the next students). LAN connection was however always possible, except for on a few days.
Where did you live there? And what did you do in your free time?
All students on campus live in dormitories, segregated by gender. There are communal showers on each floor and communal toilets. There were another 20 exchange students along with me (19 French students and 1 Italian).
As the IIM has a student organization for exchange students to introduce us to life on campus and to the culture, we were able to make contact with new groups quickly. Insofar as we had phases without any lectures, we attempted to travel as often as possible and to explore the country. Usually a few Indians joined us and we travelled in a large group.
What special experiences did you make in particular?
At any rate the different trips must be named as highlights, which we undertook for the greatest part with fellow students from IIM. The country has tremendously varied landscapes and in this way each region is unique in its own way. Apart from one tour by motorcycle, we always travelled by public transport. You will never ever forget these experiences, for travelling in India is an adventure in itself.
What I found particularly distressing were the large disparities between rich and poor. As part of everyday life in India many people spend their life on the street and do not have any opportunity to work their way out of poverty. The most impressive thing however is that these people do not feel any envy whatsoever and for this reason criminality never presents a serious threat. 1.2 billion people live together peacefully in this country with large financial differences and large social disparities – this is fascinating.
Do you have any tips for students who plan to spend their semester abroad at IIM Indore? What can they expect?
It is a completely different culture with many situations which are disconcerting to western cultures, but it is a tremendously exciting country with interesting people who are all interested in the European point of view. In addition, IIM has an outstanding reputation in India and good contacts can be made.
Otherwise students should be sure to bring one thing with them above all: patience. Whoever travels to India as an impatient person, will learn to be patient there.
What conclusions do you draw from your semester abroad, and what experiences have you made for the future?
The background conditions for a semester abroad at IIM are not comparable with the other partner universities and you cannot live according to European standards there.
Whoever travels to India without wishing to let oneself in for a completely different culture and lifestyle, will want to return home again within a few weeks. However anyone wishing to get involved will be fascinated by this country. I was able to have some wonderful experiences there and got to know wonderful people with whom I shall also continue to remain in contact in future.
Photos © Pascal Ritter