Alina Marm








Jan 2017 - Sep 2018

By Alina Marm

The healing power of the “other life”

When you come back to Oxford after such an inspirational first week you wonder if this will be the week when reality hits and the magic of week 1 starts fading away. But as I sit in the bus to London Heathrow airport at the end of week 2 I am still full of magic. And I know it will take me a few days again to adjust from my “other life” of the Oxford EMBA to my “normal life” back home.

The second week was dominated by decision analysis and leadership skills. While the latter is a topic easily accessible for me, my challenge of the week was analytics. Everybody comes to Oxford with their personal goals. One of mine was not to surrender to number related subjects. Math in school was painful for me in all the senses. Not only did I have bad grades, almost each lesson I felt belittled and dumb – not being able to manage the simple things everybody other in my class have seemed to grasp to easily. Just thinking about this time literally makes me sick again – this feeling of ineptitude that permeates through each cell of your body ultimately losing all belief in myself. That said, one of my missions for the EMBA was to leave this “trauma” behind and approach all number related subjects with my usual curiosity and the conviction that at least the basics should be something I am able to wrap my head around. Cutting to the chase: I have started healing my trauma during five days of quantitative decision analysis (on little sleep and a lot of coffee and coke) – the healing process is all thanks to my therapists: the most amazing statistics professor (James Taylor) and an amazing study group. Now the only thing I need for full recovery is a pass.

As in week 1 the curriculum sometimes takes a back seat in my memory when I think about all the special moments created by my mates in the cohort. The mixture of political discussions during dinner, talks about regression analysis in a pub or laughs triggered by purely unsophisticated jokes is perfect. This group of people somehow manages to create a safe-space: if you fall there will be somebody to catch you.

Module 2 was also about starting to realize the sheer amount of work and dedication that this program asks of you – and that you are willing to give because you have the drive for making the most of this experience, for yourself and your cohort mates. I know the limits of my own resilience. The challenge now is to figure out if my personnel resilience is on par with the resilience of relationships, family time and friendships at home. This program will ask a lot from you – but it will also ask a lot from your loved ones. I do try to describe the uniqueness and specialness of the experiences in my “other life”, but I am not sure whether this actually helps my support system at home to understand the priority I am giving the EMBA (naturally deprioritizing other aspects of my “normal life”). So back home, processing the second week I wonder if there is a way not letting anybody down on this journey: neither yourself, nor your cohort or the loved ones at home. To be frank, I am not sure, which scares me at times. However, I have the conviction that facing the fears on this journey will always be a growing and learning experience which is worth its while.

Back to top of article

Share this post:

follow us in feedly