Here I am, sitting at Geneva Airport waiting for my flight to Netherlands with teary eyes and a heavy suitcase. My journey at IHEID was a roller coaster ride with truckloads of ups and downs, similar to all of you. Haven’t we all had sleepless nights right before a deadline, stress out before a stats exam(Non eco/maths people know what I mean) or struggle with French in the initial days at Coop, hated a professor who gave you a 4 for a research paper you put your heart and soul into, got irritated because a Capstone meeting got re-scheduled again, your supervisor forgot to read your draft report or your BFF ditched you for the Latino party because she has to come all the way from Ferny Voltaire? In the end, it’s rat race. Everyone wants to get that fancy internship at the UN or the ICRC. You might be getting 5.75 on your essays and acing every workshop, but still land up being jobless after graduation.
But you know what? These twists and turns will help us share who you are tomorrow. I can vouch for that. I am definitely not the same Tarana I was in August 2016 when I moved from India. Geneva helped me burst the bubble I was living in. I learnt that making mistakes or failing is normal – in fact, falling down helps to step up and rise to become a stronger person. Feeling lonely in a new foreign city or depressed is normal too. (Yes, mental health is real). As someone coming from a middle-class Muslim family in Delhi, these two years feel surreal. I also feel blessed that I got this opportunity that a lot of people don’t get back home.
I thank IHEID for moulding me into stronger person who’s never afraid of taking any challenge; who’s turned into a free, independent soul. My mother calls this empowerment and turning into a stronger person. I wasn’t nervous about moving to Geneva, because I knew a couple of people and I had a sense of the city but now, moving to The Hague has been difficult both emotionally and mentally. It’s been a new ballgame for me to become a consultant now.
Back in 2010, when I discovered my passion for International Relations, I aspired to living in Geneva and studying at The Graduate Institute. I decided to chase my dream. But still, I use to think – why would The Graduate Institute take me? I am not even the brightest girl in my class in Delhi University and I fumble with French too (I still fumble :P).
I had the pleasure of spending two years with a bunch of inspiring, intelligent fun-loving bunch of people who have constantly motivated me helped me to push myself every day and challenge every notion I had in mind. I can proudly say I built a small Geneva family who was my support system in tough times and shared my moments of joy. That’s why I believe Geneva will always be close to my heart.
As a second year who’s graduating, I can only give one piece of advice you need to know – that these two years might not be easy, but in the end you will realise when you look back at your experience how beautiful it is. I am still clueless if I attend the graduation ceremony or not and which time zone I’ll be in during the next few months, but you know what? That’s completely normal, and part and parcel of life to be confused. Being lost helps you often discover yourself. (At least that was my case.)
Happy graduation everyone!
My good wishes are always with you. See you on the other side!