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Reema Mehra

Degree:

EMBA

Location:

Dubai

Industry:

Management Consulting

Year:

Jan 2019 - Sept 2020

By Reema Mehra

“Break Time!”

Wednesday night, the new Friday night for us at Oxford.  It is, after all, a free evening kindly given to us by Oxford that typically ends somewhere close to 4am on the dance floor – whether one likes it or not.

Who said anything about regressing, right?

Well, in some ways, that is exactly what the Oxford EMBA experience is like, if I’m honest. After all, you have a bunch of mid-30 year olds (I’ll ignore the 1-2 20-year olds mainly because they are outliers and because, well, I’m jealous) who get together after a stressful day of class and literally “wine” down over a glass…err bottle for some.  And so the story goes…

Let’s just say, I’ve learned to pack an extra pair of sneakers because those long dancing nights simply cannot be done in heels, period. Plus, Oxford, unlike Dubai, is a city of walking. Even if it’s 4am and you’re trying to find your Airbnb.

Speaking of 4am –for the brave souls lucky enough to experience twilight at Oxford—we are still expected to show up to class at 9am sharp. And that’s precisely where the party ends.

One of my classmates got it right when he said: “It’s like forced studying by day, party by night, and jail by morning.”  It really is – even for nerds like me who actually LIKE studying. But truly, there must be some semblance of work-life balance, as I have learned over the years.

And that’s exactly what the Oxford experience is for me – work and play.  After all, if you don’t get to know your classmates, how will you ever bond over idiosyncratic myths (mixing milk and fish is a no-no) shared between Jewish and Hindu populations?; or a shared love for running by the lake, for which you are guaranteed to find at least ONE person ready and willing in a class of 69 (yes, 69);  or debate the existential nature – and general consensus on –The Black Swan; or a round-the-table discussion over pizza about what life really is all about…the list goes on.

My point is that, it is these very moments that make life –unexpected, full of emotion, and typically peppered with humor (or lots of it!) that make the Oxford Bonding Experience even better.  One that I wouldn’t trade for any other.  When I had the option of doing my MBA locally in Dubai, I simply couldn’t fathom not moving out of my habitat and soaking up the experiences of another environment; isn’t that the point? So far, we have been tested on that account on many levels, be it spending a week in Delhi all under one roof (dangerous); or figuring out the best way (local student bank account!) to circumvent regulatory hurdles in home country such that transfer of educational funds do not incur all that extra $; or simply ordering a wine at a local Oxford pub, where “real talk” really happens.  Here, too, the list goes on.

Whatever the case, rest assured, we bring life to class; or class to life?  As we approach Module 5 of the EMBA experience, we’re well past the ice breaking stage (long ago broken by photo leaks over the notorious Whatsapp group chat that can be described in one, okay two, words: tough love) and slowly carving out our individual–and collective—niche, in between lectures and sessions; what Oxford calls “break” and what we perhaps call, “life.”

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