As I sit here staring straight at the Eiffel tower, I find my mind drifting to thoughts of the past two wonderful weeks. A lot of research, a strong application and a clear determination to join Imperial’s exchange programme several months ago, resulted in me being selected for HEC Paris’ Luxury Management Summer School, and I must say I couldn’t have been happier.

The past two weeks, although intense, have been amongst the most fun, fruitful and fantastic days I have ever had. Here are my top six reasons for why, if you are considering the MBA, the exchange program is a must.

1. A different perspective to learning, expansion of knowledge/skillset, and a great CV

Every school is different and so are the ways of teaching. Having the chance to learn at two different schools not only broadens your perspectives, but also helps you learn new skills and adapt quickly to different trainings and situations – like what you will see once fresh out of the MBA. Moreover, being selected by two top-ranked schools will help further enhance your CV.

2. Get inspired

The exchange programme entailed such influential and knowledgeable lecturers and guest speakers that we, as students, could not help but be inspired. Learning from real-life cases and meeting people in the trade truly helps you learn more about the sector of interest and identify if and whether a career in that sector is what you truly desire.

3. Take in an entirely new culture and language

From enjoying authentic French food on the streets of Paris to celebrating Fête de la Musique with locals, the programme is a perfect opportunity for you to learn about an entirely new culture and to experience it first-hand. Moreover, there is no better way to learn a language than to dive right in. For basic survival you must learn the language and, trust me, this allows you to go beyond the pure academic experience and really discover how different yet similar each of us as human beings are.

4. Make lifelong friends and some networking along the way

The reason why I am emphasising the lifelong friendships and not focusing on the networking aspect is simply that the MBA in general helps you build a very strong professional network. But what the exchange program does, is whilst adding to the network, it forces you to stay with your classmates for two weeks. You eat, drink, and learn together every second of the day and by the end of the exchange you feel like you haven’t just found friends but family.

5. Personal development and a chance to reboot

Let’s get real. The MBA is challenging, and you almost have no time to do anything. The exchange programme gives you an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and gives you some time away from the daily routine to reflect on what you want to do. My day at HEC began with a 30-minute session in the gym followed by a long, brisk walk by the beautiful lake. Not only did I feel energised and ready for the rest of the day, I also found this time so beneficial for my own personal reflection and self-growth.

6. Have fun and explore

From movie nights to wine tasting and a visit to the beautiful Versailles Palace, we had it all! And, there is no better way than that to relax and unwind after a long intense day at school by catching up with friends and planning for the next wonderful day ahead!

If you can join an exchange programme, please do so because you will learn many new things, make lots of friends and live life a little more. When choosing a Summer School, first ask yourself why this school and why this course. List out your possible options, choose what you think fits you best, and please prepare all the applications and necessary documentation well in advance to ensure selection.

Best wishes and good luck!