A hand-picked diverse group with the same aspirations, full of exciting, very different backgrounds, and interesting stories coming together in one of the most desirable places to live in – Berlin. This is how we describe ourselves when we look back on the first weeks in September as the new cohort of master in management (MIM) students at ESMT Berlin.
But the story starts way before that. When the first candidates were selected early this year, people started to form all kinds of initiatives to connect through social media and chat groups. We all found each other through our internal network ESMT Connect and got to know new people nearly every day.
It was so much fun chatting in a group which quickly grew from 20 to 120 people. Everyone got the chance to introduce themselves and talk about their background, so by the time we came to campus, we basically already knew each other and started off as friends from day one.
The first exciting initiative was to create Zoom get-togethers where we would all play online games in teams together and we even got to meet an ESMT alumnus who prepared us for our new program by answering all our questions – all this, organized voluntarily by incoming students from our group.
When we all slowly arrived in Berlin, people started to meet in parks for the Berlin Festival of Lights, in restaurants to try each other’s national food and of course – also in all the famous Berlin clubs. Some students got along so well, that they started renting a place together. All this was still before the introduction week in September.
During our introduction week at ESMT – we got to know our school building, the MIM team, and a big part of the faculty. It was an eventful week as we participated in an outdoor day where we went on a scavenger hunt and solved team tasks in groups of six to ten people. Again, each of us met new people and we became even more interconnected, thanks to ESMT’s amazing introduction week plan.
In this week, everyone who could, offered any kind of help with relocation and orientation in Berlin. Students who were already used to “how things work in Berlin” were able to show others around and help them with the paperwork. People went to their appointments together and translated for each other, others helped their newfound friends to find an apartment in Berlin, and the rest helped their peers to get to know Berlin’s cultural scene.
As you can imagine, our first weekend after orientation week was amazingly interesting as we went to explore our new city with our new friends.
Then, the first week of classes started and we got to experience our new fast-paced environment which we will be a part of for the next two years. Of course, it was challenging for everyone but there was this enormous excitement in the air about finally getting to study in the amazing rooms of the former DDR government building and getting to know our new world-class professors.
During the first days of classes, we were able to engage in a lot of group work and found ourselves in many situations where we collaborated with a diverse group, and we faced the challenge of how to integrate so many mindsets in one brainstorming session. All of us learned so much and it is an amazing experience to be included in a group of people with diverse backgrounds culturally, academically, and professionally.
Our social learning curve was steep, and we were able to recognize how many interesting different backgrounds we bring to the table and how much we can learn from each other.
Still, we all are similar somehow in terms of openness to new people, friendliness, support for each other, and an interest in each other. So many deep friendships have already been established and the MIM community feels like one big inclusive family. People are incredibly empathic and open to learning from each other while creating a safe space for everyone to speak up and share their opinions and thoughts.
This is only the beginning for us as the new MIM 2023 cohort – or should I say, family?!