I am back from the United States where I spent around 3 months as a exchange student at Case Western Reserve University’s management school in Cleveland, Ohio. Its been 3 weeks since I landed back at XLRI and I just cannot stop thinking of the wonderful time I had in the US. These three months were arguably the best period of my life. It was amazing to roam around almost every weekend to different parts of the country and visit some of my dream destinations. I covered 11 states in 10 weeks and my American neighbors used to tell me that I have visited more parts of US than an average American would in their lifetime! It wouldn’t have been possible without my good friends across the US who used to invite me to spend the weekend at their place and take me around.
There are many takeaways from the trip apart from the sightseeing memories. I made quite a few good friends (Americans, Chinese, Brazilians, Russians and of course Indians) and learnt a lot of good stuff from them. Academically too, it was one of the best periods of my life. (I have never got so many A’s in a single semester all my life!) Learning became enjoyable again after a long time, Professors and class discussions were very insightful and engaging and some of the business concepts will stay in my mind for a long time.
In this post I would like to talk about what I feel is a major difference between America and India. Strong institutions, law enforcement, transparency are quite different between the two countries but what surprised me is how Americans approach learning and working and how its vastly different from how Indians work.
During my stint at the business school, I had a chance to work with different teams and interact with many other students. What surprised me is the emphasis on learning with minimal regard to external consequences. People are intrinsically focused to continually improve their knowledge and skills. The entire education system encourages them to learn for the sake of self development and nothing else. Not for prestige, not for rankings and not to get a good job or admission into a top university. There are no stigmas associated with failure simply because success and failure are not well defined as it is in India. Sundar Pichai during his recent trip to India wonderfully put it : “People in the US especially Silicon Valley wear ‘failure’ as a badge of honor”. Its all about improving yourself and trying out new things.
This was a very liberating experience for me. Coming from a place where there are so many metrics to define acceptable levels of performance in the society, it was refreshing to experience and learn simply for the sake of learning ! I think this allows you to realize your full potential and enjoy the process. Unfortunately, in India there are strong metrics defined by the society that simply categorizes a person into different blocks. This creates a motivation to perform out of fear and not out of desire. It doesn’t allow you to realize your full potential and in the process miss out on real learning or trying out new things.
That’s all I have now. Feels great to be back blogging !