Singapore’s world-class infrastructure and healthcare system, coupled with the innovativeness and adaptability of ESSEC’s campus in Asia, have allowed a quality learning experience to continue through these uncertain times.
With COVID-19 infection rates increasing exponentially internationally, the world was met with flight cancellations, school closures, curfews, and lockdowns.
For first-year ESSEC Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) students like Marouane El Azzouzi and Elodie Gouellain, both of whom were about to live abroad for the first time, a considerable concern was if the pandemic situation in their home countries would prevent them from entering Singapore.
THE ESSEC APPEAL HOLDS STRONG
As Marouane comes from Morocco and Elodie from France, they had the option of either participating in classes online or leveraging ESSEC's intercampus mobility to start at the Morocco or France campuses. Yet, neither felt these were good options.
Coming to Singapore would be 18-year-old Elodie’s first time in Asia, and she was eager to immerse herself in the culture. Likewise, Marouane, also 18, wanted to be on campus to experience the "incredibly diverse student body.”
The most decisive factor, Marouane says, “was the fact that Singapore is one of the most important Asian city hubs and a melting pot of all cultures. The Lion City is also known for the high profile companies that are established here.”
Their parents, however, had other concerns.
Elodie’s parents, Katarzyna and Olivier Gouellain, for example, shared their thoughts. Although they knew Singapore was safe, they were still “worried about the Stay-home Notice, staying in quarantine alone for two weeks, the organization of classes, and the general situation.”
CLEAR COMMUNICATION REASSURES PARENTS
What helped was the support the ESSEC faculty provided in the face of uncertainty. The school also held a series of webinars ahead of the academic year to share the latest developments and the steps to take.
Marouane’s parents attended an online talk to understand the visa requirements and entry applications. This also gave them insights about the GBBA program and structure, assuaging their concerns and reinforcing their belief that Marouane’s decision was a good one.
Overall, it was clear that the staff “understood we were stressed and scared, and helped us a lot,” Marouane says, explaining that the ESSEC faculty provided immense support for his student pass application by sending regular email updates, providing clear information about the steps to take and documents required, and answering all his questions.
Laughing, he admits that in the end, all his worries about not getting into Singapore were for naught.
THE COMMUNITY RALLIES TO ADAPT
Elodie, too, has found it easy to adapt precisely because of the unparalleled level of staff support. For example, students are now divided into Group A and Group B, with classes arranged based on their timezones. Lectures are also recorded, so on the occasion that one’s internet connection is faulty, there is no worry about falling behind – just watch it later.
Although she worried about how she would settle into a new life away from her family, Elodie has been reassured by how “everyone is very friendly and outgoing.” Just as she had hoped, “meeting people from diverse nationalities and learning about their cultures is very enriching,” she says.
Seniors from the second or third year are also ever-available and willing to help freshmen adapt, Marouane shares. As he is interested in pursuing a double-degree program and exchange in China, he especially appreciated how one senior took the time to share her advice on the steps to take to achieve his goals. For him, this support, coupled with being an internationally diverse community, has been “awe-inspiring.”
It is precisely an experience like this that he and Elodie sought when they first chose ESSEC and ventured across the globe. A transformative experience.