Written on 20 Apr 2021.
It continues to be a difficult year for students all around the world. They are certainly facing times that can only be described as turbulent. Whether completing final studies at secondary school or facing University life, students are having to live with COVID-19 constraints. It is perhaps, however, the wise words of businessman Peter Drucker which encapsulate the most important thing for students to retain during these times: “the greatest danger is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” In other words, adaptability is key.
Right from the beginning of the academic year, EDHEC Business School has been being as agile and as reactive as possible; looking to minimize the isolation which lockdown has imposed on many students. In September 2020, EDHEC was extremely happy to welcome the new academic year on campus; offering students a hybrid of classes online and face to face. However, unfortunately, as sanitary conditions worsened, students found themselves in lockdown once more with classes 100% online. It was therefore with great pleasure in February that students were welcomed back on campus again. For those with travel constraints, returning to campus was just not possible but for the majority, re-joining the campus has brought much-needed change. It is certainly great to see the campus filled with smiling faces and especially heartwarming to feel their fierce willpower to adapt and achieve.
We asked five of our students from the MiM in Business Management and in Financial Economics to recount their very different COVID-study experiences so far, this academic year.
Tell us a little about your year
I started this academic year in Nice in an apartment and really enjoyed the hybrid system that EDHEC Financial Economics Track put into place right from the start. It really made a difference at the beginning of the year as it gave us the chance to meet and spend time with friends. Getting to know people around us was brief but it was good to know faces before facing lockdown again. I spent lockdown back at home with my parents in Versailles, situated near Paris but now I have returned to Nice.
What have you found hard over the past few months?
I guess the worst thing about this year for me has been missing out on “real student life” – the social experience. That being so, I have made friends from doing group projects with my class and talking on our WhatsApp group which is pretty amazing given the fact we had had only just over a month to get to know each other. I am really glad we were given the chance to go back on campus. I returned in mid-March and it was great to see some of the faces I had only met online! From speaking to friends who are studying at other schools I think that FE Track have really succeeded in providing for our needs.
What are your positive takeaways you have from this academic year so far?
Besides the teaching, the Career Centre service has been great. We continue to receive excellent support from them throughout this year. Other than that, on a more personal note, since I have had a lot more spare time on my hands it has given me the time to learn new things – All in all I’ve not suffered too much this year!
What is your buzzword for this year and why?
“Autonomy, autonomy, autonomy.” This year has been a challenging year so far, so it has been essential to find a way to keep motivated but certainly, in lockdown, that’s more difficult. Self-motivation is extremely important. I believe this last year has emphasized the importance of being autonomous.
Tell us about your year
Overall, college in 2020 was different. I've had fun days, but I don't feel as though I'm living the full college experience. I've gotten used to learning online, as I've been doing it since September. Thankfully, in the second semester, the hybrid model of teaching took effect and it was the best thing that happened in 2021! We rotate in-person learning two or three days a week with online learning. Sometimes we have half a day in traditional classroom learning and the second half online. My favorite classes are Marketing, Cost Accounting, MIS and Corporate Finance. Some sports facilities also opened which helped in building more social interactions and leisure during these tough times. Thanks to efforts and support by EDHEC and professors, the online classes have continued smoothly and transition through these hard times have been alleviated to a great extent.
Were there positive takeaways of this academic year?
Although I’m missing out on actually meeting new people, I was able to be a part of the KetchUp Team, where I was able to make a lot of virtual connections. The main objective of the project is to enable people to connect virtually and grow their network at EDHEC. We've initiated the project about 6 months ago together with the International Students Office (ISO) and the schools' administration, main supporters/advisors currently being Sébastien Dieuaide and Michelle Sisto. The core of the project is a platform on Sharepoint and teams, a place where students can meet each other, sign-up for networking events, set up their own ones, form groups of interest, exchange thoughts and participate in discussions about different topics. Thanks to Géraldine Simon, from the Alumni association and EDHEC Inspiring Women association, we were able to organise some wonderful and successful events by partnering with them. ISO was very helpful from the start. They have been helping us with formalities, arranging social events, Supporting us in various aspects of college. They even arranged chocolate distribution sessions for students. ISO was always there for students whenever we had any queries/doubts.
I also take part in the Start-Up challenge. It is a competition where the best projects are selected and they go through to the Final at Station F in May 2021 in front of a jury of investors, EDHEC Alumni, and partners. It provides a platform to actuate business ideas into action. Additionally, it is a great opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs, test ideas, and grow more. Initially, our business idea is a system designed to deliver priced, conveniently packed, and customized exotic ingredients on a subscription basis. These are targeted towards international students and residents who find it hard to obtain exotic ingredients and consequently struggle with having a properly balanced diet. Additionally, we would add a feature that suggests trending and popular recipes to the customers, enabling the customers to make their weekly meal plan. The customers will have an option to either choose the required ingredients or to fill out a meal plan using which we will calculate the number of ingredients needed & the daily nutrition intake. Our goal is to transition from this offer to delivering quick and cheap daily regional meals for international students as we generate capital. These projects have kept me going during a difficult year.
If you had a buzz phrase for this year, what would it be?
Reset Normal. What I have learned during this period is: You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.
How have you found this year?
I returned to Nice in February 2021. I finished my bachelor's last year at another Grande École in Italy, so I have now lived study lockdowns successively. I went back home for both the partial and full lockdown. It’s hard to compare these two experiences, however, this year I have found things have been very well organized which does make things easier. I also have made friends such as Hugues through joining the EDHEC Student Finance Club because we have had a lot of group assignments that have helped us get to know one another.
Tell us about your return to campus
I returned to campus in February. It was great to be back. During the lockdown, I was in Paris and so I hadn’t seen anyone for a long time. My first class was “Financial Derivatives”. We were all happy to be back on campus and just hang out and be able to put names to faces. Although it was good online, the social aspect was really tough and so it’s good to be back! I think last year it was easier for students as they had had the chance to make friends first in person.
And the same question – what’s your buzz phrase for this year and why?
“It is what it is!” When I say that, I mean that it’s not ideal but in the end, we and EDHEC have made it and we made the best out of it.
Tell us about your year.
My year at EDHEC was very different than what I anticipated, but the experience has been truly rewarding. I moved to campus a few days before the national lockdown in the fall. I was very nervous to arrive at a time of confinement and when classes were entirely online. The ISO team was very helpful in assisting me with completing necessary tasks, such as creating a French bank account. In addition, they were great at connecting me with other students who lived on campus. Since I lived on campus, I found it easy to familiarize myself with campus and the surrounding area. I didn’t get a chance to utilize on-campus facilities because most have been closed due to Covid.
EDHEC has done a great job in handling the transitions from offline to online. Throughout the fall, my experience with online classes was engaging and the tasks given were excellent in making me comfortable with understanding the course objectives. I’ve had a wonderful time experiencing on campus classes this spring semester! It was nice to experience classes face-to-face with fellow students and professors. Personally, classes are more engaging when in person!
Were there positive takeaways of this academic year?
I am more comfortable with working and collaborating with others online. Before classes began this past fall, I had no experience with platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Thanks to classes and the TI&CD programme, I feel much more familiar with these platforms.
Although the majority of classes were online, the courses remained engaging and insightful.
I feel prepared to be successful in my future career because of the methodology of the programme and the course objectives.
What was the hardest part?
I would say the hardest part was arriving on campus immediately before the national lockdown.
If you had a buzz phrase for this year, what would it be?
Enjoy the process!
Your lockdown experience was totally different. Can you tell us more about it?
I’m from Vicenza in Italy. I started this academic year in Nice in an apartment and really enjoyed the hybrid system that EDHEC FE Track put into place right from the start. I stayed in Nice during lockdown as I wanted to be with friends and remain a little independent. I did manage though to go back at Christmas. I share a flat and my flatmate is also Italian. Lockdown worked well as together we managed to keep our morale up. That was so important as I found that most days are similar when you can’t get out! I know it would perhaps be easier to lose touch and the rhythm of work just by yourself.
If you were asked for one positive outcome of lockdown study, what would it be?
Though it’s been a tough year for us all there have been upsides. This year has been a year filled with challenges. I guess it will help us in our future employment because I’ve learned a lot about the importance to persevere and be able to handle adversity. On a lighter note, I have learned a lot of new things such as from my flatmate how to be a good cook!
And yes, again the same question! If you had a buzz phrase for this year what would it be?
“Smart working without knowing everyone from day one.” When I say this, it is because knowing classmates makes things easier. I’m not that good at keeping up with people from a distance so the lack of contact was hard. However, I have managed now to start up again where I left off. I’ve met Paul once so it will be nice to meet him in person!