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Adventure! SP Jain Jaguars

Things You Learn on a Student Exchange in France - An Interview with Kalyani Iyer


With an aim to graduate as a truly global citizen, Kalyani Iyer (BBA’17) is currently undertaking a student exchange program and completing her 4th semester of BBA with IÉSEG School of Management, France. How is this program helping Kalyani? We caught up with her to find out!

Kalyani Iyer - Student Exchange Program


Q. What made you want to study at this location?

Kalyani: IÉSEG School of Management has two campuses in France (Lille and Paris), and I chose the Lille campus. Lille is a small, student-friendly city in the North of France, sharing its border with Belgium. Because of its geographically small size, it becomes very convenient to commute around Lille. It is also student-friendly in terms of expenses and has a very well-connected public transport system. Though the city is small, there is no lack of experiencing the true French culture. Because of the location of Lille, one can see a great influence of French and Belgian architecture as well as the culture here.  As it is on the border of France, it is very close to Brussels, Belgium (1 hour 30 minutes and just €5) and London.

Q. How is this exchange benefitting you?

Kalyani: At IÉSEG School of Management, all the exchange students are part of the Grande École Program, which makes the students eligible to choose courses from Bachelor’s (Year 1, 2 or 3) and even the Master’s level courses. Though I am a Year 2 student at SP Jain, most of my courses at IÉSEG are Year 3 and Master’s level. I am very keen to build a career in Supply Chain and Logistics. Because of this flexibility at IÉSEG, I am currently doing 2 courses in Supply Chain Management (Master’s level) which is something totally different from what I do at SP Jain.

Having lived in 3 countries in the last 2 years and having travelled to over 5 countries after coming to France, my horizons have broadened in terms of career choices and understanding different cultures. When I set foot in SP Jain, I told myself that when I graduate, I want to be a global citizen. And this exchange with IÉSEG is just taking me one step closer to it. When I was in Dubai during my 3rd semester, Prof. Nitin Patwa asked me to find the one thing that is done differently at IÉSEG School of Management and if it should be implemented at SP Jain – now I have an answer for him.  Overall, the learning experience here has been great, though I miss Dubai, my friends, and SP Jain a little too much at times. I think this exchange made me realise what my true aim and goal in life is. It got me a step closer to what I want to be 10 years down the line.

Q. Did you learn any new language during the exchange? What is your favourite phrase in this language?

Kalyani: It was on my bucket list to learn French (the language of love as they call it) and I am finally doing it. I don’t have any favourite phrase in French yet (because I don’t really know much), but I can list some very useful phrases you can use when you come here (one thing I realised is that knowing even a little of the local language can make a huge difference in any country you visit)

  • Bonjour! – I am sure everyone knows this. It basically means hello and good morning.
  • Salut! – Hello (informal)
  • J’ai voudrai …. S’il vous plait - I would like to have… thank you.
  • Comment (pronounced as commo) ça va? – Hello, how are you?
  • Bonne journee - Have a good day
  • Bonsoir - Good evening
  • J'aimerais un verre de vin Bordeaux 2000 s'il vous plait - I would like a glass of Bordeaux 2000 wine please. (If you are in France, why not order some wine?)

Kalyani Iyer 2 - Student Exchange Program


Q. What is the strangest thing you ate during this exchange?

Kalyani: Honestly, I didn’t try a lot of local food. But I did try a lot of regional desserts and wines. Macaroons, waffles, pain au chocolat, crème brûlée, crêpes, and more. Recently, IÉSEG took us to a vineyard and we tried some of the best wines that France had to offer. In these 3 months, I developed a taste for wine as well. And the best part of France is the 1,000,000 types of bread! So many types of bread to eat here, you can just never get bored.

Q. Describe your favourite day at this exchange.

Kalyani: Every day here is a different experience. One thing I thought I would never do was run 2 km in 20 minutes (I am not that athletic), carrefour in a new city late at night, get lost, buy dinner supplies for 6 people in 8 minutes (since there were only 8 minutes for the shop to close and absolutely no restaurants nearby), run back to the hostel, cook a 3-course meal for 6 people and make my Korean friends dance to Garba tunes (One of the traditional dance forms from India), while I dance to some Korean songs all night. It was one of the most memorable weekends that I had in France till date.

Q. Is there anything unique about studying at IÉSEG currently that you wouldn’t be able to experience another time?

Kalyani: The weather in Lille is a little cold for someone who has lived in tropical places all her life. But I think the time that one studies abroad does not matter, it just depends on how one perceives it. I am currently living in a small city in France, but all the Indians at IÉSEG made a group and managed to get colours for celebrating Holi in France. I also feel that this semester is a little better to come on an exchange, since the courses that you complete at SP Jain in the 3rd semester and the ones offered by IÉSEG in the 4th semester complement each other. Also, I would have regretted not having learnt Operations Management from Prof. Moradian.

Kalyani Iyer 3 - Student Exchange Program

Q. What housing options were you able to choose from during this time?

Kalyani: I am currently living in a student residence and sharing a 2-bedroom apartment with a Chinese student from another business school. I find this option much better than renting my own apartment (for an apartment, there is a huge procedure of paying for the utilities, rent, and WiFi separately and it is mandatory to have a French bank account). In my case, everything is included in my rent and since it is a university residence, there is a study lounge, a small library and vending machines in the buildings for all my late-night cravings.

Q. What advice would you give another student who wants to study at this location?

Kalyani: I would like to say that the students must have an open mind when they opt for an exchange. Since the exchange usually happens in the 3rd and 4th semesters, most of the students would have made friends in SP Jain. So, when they come for an exchange, they don’t just miss their family but also their SP Jain family. It is very difficult in the beginning, but if you give it a chance, it will get better. The main aim of this exchange is for you to exchange your culture, thoughts and ideas. IÉSEG has a lot of opportunities for helping students from different cultures meet and interact with each other.

One other thing that is very crucial is that you should get out of your comfort zone. There is a whole world outside of what you know and have seen - do not be a frog in the well. The professors at IÉSEG are great (Though some of them have a thick French accent when they speak English. But you will get used to it in 2-3 classes). IÉSEG has a lot of different courses to offer - languages like Chinese, Russian, French, and German, courses like Drama, Global History, Supply Chain and Logistics, and more. Overall, I think IÉSEG School of Management, Lille is a great choice for anyone who wants to go for an exchange. Also, if you have a wanderlust in you just like me, IÉSEG Lille is the place for you (you will understand this when you get here). Go Jaguars!

About Kalyani Iyer:

Kalyani Iyer is a Bachelor of Business Administration student at SP Jain. To know more about the tri-city undergraduate program and apply, click here: https://www.spjain.org/bba



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