Definition: couch surfing

When one finds oneself homeless and resorts to sleeping on the sofas of friends. A common predicament for MBA students coming back from exchange, or an unlucky by-product of shady estate agents.

Such was my unfortunate situation between first and second year. But I was saved by the gracious generosity of a classmate (and fellow blogger) who let me impose on his household for four weeks.

You’ve undoubtedly heard that the MBA is “a great place to meet new friends”. And I know that’s just an afterthought next to “the amazing new job I’ll get” or “all the business contacts I’ll have at my disposal” for those of you thinking about it. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but I’ll say here that if you spend your two years right, you’ll surprise yourself by how much your new friendships come to mean to you. Truly, it’s something you have to experience (rather than read about through me) so the good news is that you’ll all have something wonderful waiting around the corner.

A few months after graduating, the richness of my time at London Business School was fittingly topped off by two invitations to India and Croatia.


As though I weren’t already embarrassingly indebted to my friend for giving me a place to sleep, I must now face the hospitality of his family: being personally greeted at the airport at 3am, then swept off to a suite in the same hotel President Obama stayed in just a few days before my arrival (the restaurant in the lobby is reportedly Bill Clinton’s favourite and has been visited by every President since), a tailor made sari for the wedding reception, Bollywood musicians and actors… It all made for an unforgettable three days of lights, colour, and happiness.


Who would have guessed that watching a lamb roast on a spit could be so mesmerizing? Or that you could opt for deer goulash instead of wedding cake? The energy needed to dine, drink and dance from 6pm to 6am was more than I could muster. Most notably, it was here that I became exposed to a clever device I hope to see replicated in many other weddings: designated naptime! Yes, following a mandatory snooze from 6am to 9am for all guests, the excesses of last night’s dinner was followed up by a heavy brunch before we were all allowed home.

Perhaps, dear reader, you are unmoved by the prospect of cultural glitz and glamour in faraway destinations. And fair enough, no one embarks on business school for the purpose of collecting wedding invitations. But when I consider how, on my recent trips, I’ve received not just the affection of a classmate, but the overwhelming hospitality of family and friends dear to him (owing simply to the fact that we shared a classroom) that speaks to the strength of the relationships that are built here. It’s hard to imagine how, had I not made the decision to come to London Business School, I’d have the privilege of being treated like a long lost relative by folks I’ve never met, anywhere in the world.

So when a complete stranger raises his glass to toast you, and is joined by hundreds of other in a hall filled with candlelight, you’ll know the feeling.

Cheers and a happy new year.


2 Responses to “From couch surfing to President Obama’s hotel in India – a tale of MBA friendship”

  1. avatar annabel says:

    Hi Joyce,

    I have read your article and very much moved. I understand exactly what you meant. I have not been really motivated or inspired during the 4 years working in the City. I am not swaying between getting a consulting job or doing a MBA degree. The reason I am thinking of being a consultant is I like to dig into problems and want to use my talents to help others. But without going into this field, how would I know it is the right career for me. And then I thought about doing a MBA which will allow me to try different projects, which includes consulting. Then here is two things I would like to ask you, when you decided to go for a MBA, did you apply other universities as well? If yes, why did you eventually pick LBS? Is it because it is the best? Were you able to do a job during your MBA course? I don’t want to be jobless when I study, I felt having a job when I am a student will keep me sharp and I can use the knowledge I learn to my daily job. Please do give me some advices, anything will be much appreciated.

    Yours sincerely


    • avatar Brendan says:

      I find it really have to be motivated, one thing I find useful is to think about the rewards I will later receive by doing the work, its no real break though but it helps me to stay focused. I applied for a job during my MBA course as i needed the money but It really is personal preference.

      Hope this helps!