IIM A Student Exchange Programme: Euphoric account of Europe trip by the alumnus

Life is a web of experiences. Some are sheer highs while others are forgettable lows. The thing about lows is that they tend to leave strong footprints on your mind. They sometimes change your outlook towards key things in life or make you doubt its simple pleasures. They are so impactful that they can make pessimists out of eternal optimists.

But interspersed between these lows are the highs which make life worth living for. These are those precious moments which you cherish deeply. When you are in one, you can almost sense the stillness of time. You are drunk with sheer joy and content to delve deep in that euphoria. You feel free, you spread your wings and fly high from the clutches of everyday routines. Put simply Life is not defined by them, they define life!

I think that i am lucky that i have had two of those in the last two weeks. The first one was on the trip to Scandinavia. Before coming to Europe i had come across several mentions of Fjords and in particular Norwegian fjords. People had described being there as one of key moments of their student exchange aka Euro-trip. Now i for one could not comprehend their description. Because fjord for me was just a term which reminded me of the geography classes i had almost a decade ago. Something to do with a river and a glacier!
Wiki tells me that a fjord (pronounced as fyord) is ‘a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity’. Now i thought what could be so great about such a place. Rest assured it would be a site of fabulous natural beauty, but then isn’t that true about a lot of places in Europe i.e. Swiss Alps, Rhine Valley vineyards, Austrian countryside among other places. But i was to be surprised and that too in a big way.

So there we were on our first fjord trip. And we went to Hardangerfjord, famous as the ‘Queen of the Norwegian Fjords’. On first appearance they charm you and as you start to observe they grow onto you and you start to feel a profound sense of disconnect from everything.
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You stand on the front deck of a steamboat which is blazing ahead. Wind beating against your chest, water fizz oozing on your face and a strong gale pushing you to the edge. You look around; you find huge green valleys scaling up on both the sides across the huge mass of blue water.
You try to inch ahead to the tip of the boat, but it feels as if you are climbing a mountain in a snowstorm. The effort leaves you wasted but all concerns have already been left on the shore. Worries have evaporated leaving behind a lighter you and suddenly the realization dawns that this is something truly special. You want the moment to persist, to stay on forever and ever!
After a while the panorama changes from green valleys to rocky mountains and the fog builds up. The cold starts to rise and a chill runs down through your spine. You stand shielded from the wind at the back of the boat and admire the way the boat cuts across the water, producing small white whirlpools.

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Gradually the blue sky recedes in a snowy white haze. And while you were so busy admiring the landscape, it has changed subtly to give way to an ethereal environ.

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Instead of the fjords you could only spot a glacial formation and you are the closest you have ever come to being in an Arctic climate.
You search your insides for that wee bit of spirit and move to the edge of the boat. You stand there now and spread your arms. The hood of your sweatshirt slides down to the other side under the furious gusts of wind. You move your right leg forward, press your weight on it, and curve your hands to face towards the sky. Your face gazes into the dusky abysses of the clouds. And there you are in the Shahrukh Khan pose!

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And you sense a perfect calm and feel that coming to Europe on student exchange was the best decision you ever made!

Har Pal Yahan Jee Bhar Jiyo 
Jo Hai Sama
Kal Ho Na Ho…

About the Author: 
Raghav Yadav- “Raghav is a post graduate from IIM Ahmedabad batch of 2011. His professional life revolves around analytics consulting and product marketing. He loves travelling, reading fiction and is an ardent supporter of Real Madrid FC.
This post captures the highlight of his student exchange trip to Maastricht, Netherlands during MBA 2nd year.”

IIM Ahmedadabad

12-02-2015  21:38:41

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