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, 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 can either participate in classes online or leverage 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 established here.”

Their parents, however, had other concerns.

For example, Elodie’s parents, Katarzyna and Olivier Gouellain, 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 into the GBBA program and structure, assuaging their concerns and reinforcing their belief that Marouane’s decision was reasonable.

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 staff support. For example, students are now divided into Groups A and B, with classes arranged based on their time zones. Lectures are also recorded, so if 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 amiable and outgoing.” Just as she had hoped, “meeting people from diverse nationalities and learning about their cultures is very enriching,” she says.

Marouane shares that seniors from the second or third year are also ever-available and willing to help freshmen adapt. 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.