Last summer I started my master’s in business analytics journey at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Looking back, I gained a lot, not only from the program but from the entire experience of studying in a business school in a different country. Here are a few of the things I learned.

1. To be independent and live life on my terms

In the past months, I have made several important life decisions—moving to the U.S. from India, deciding how to best utilize the 10 months in the program, learning new and challenging skills and how to handle my expenses, and launching my career. Sure, I have made some mistakes along the way, but at the end of the day, I know I am responsible for every decision, good or bad, and I have no regrets.

2. To face my fears

The community at Fuqua helped me push myself beyond my comfort zone. Fear of rejection? They will make you do a 4-week challenge to desensitize yourself to the feeling. Fear of heights? They will make you walk on a tightrope with only your team holding the ropes. And Professor Ryan Burk’s SQL assignments early in the course prepare you to handle all challenges coming your way!

High five in the air with my teammate Liyang Wu

3. To be a bold contributor

If I’m thrown into a room full of different opinions where everyone has different ways of doing things, backgrounds, and experiences, I’ve learned to put forward my opinion in this room. No disagreement is wrong in itself— there are just various ways to look at something.

4. To embrace new experiences

This includes trying out boba tea for the first time or participating in adventurous team-building activities. I loved learning about different cultures through Lunar New Year, Halloween, or Friendsgiving dinners and showing others my culture through the Diwali Party or Independence day celebrations!

10 students posing for a photo
Halloween night with my classmates

5. To understand the importance of working in a team

Together my learning teams could make possible seemingly impossible tasks, be it building a model to predict a movie’s revenue in just a few days or solving complex cases.

6. To be proud of my roots and everything that comes with them

There is so much diversity around me in the Fuqua community that it helped me realize that I do not need to blend in when I can stand out!

Last summer when I decided to leave my hometown for the first time and travel halfway across the world to study a new and emerging field, I wasn’t ready for half of the things above. But I guess that’s the thing—you will never be truly ready. I am happy that I took the plunge.

Ritu and a classmates jumping with hands held in front of Duke Chapel