At IE University, many students seek a balance between their academic life, their campus life, and their extra-curricular activities, joining various year-round clubs for experiences outside the classroom.
Many also choose an academic journey, studying first in Segovia and later Madrid. Ghali Laraqui is an excellent example—after three years in Segovia, he’s about to take his next step and is coming to the capital. He told us about his experiences outside the classroom, and student life in Segovia, before coming here to Madrid.
My name is Ghali Laraqui. I’m a third-year Bachelor in Business Administration and International Relations student at the Segovia Campus. I am Moroccan, and lived there almost my entire life before leaving my family for two years to finish high school in Hong Kong.
Three years have passed since I joined IE University, and I still have two more to go, but what I retain most is that I’ve walked some miles. I had a difficult time in my first year. But I made some adjustments to my own life and since then I’ve increasingly enjoyed it. I’ve made good friends, joined some clubs, learned and read a lot around school and, yeah… I guess the key is to be happy with how you spend your time and who you see yourself becoming.
Life in Segovia was really different for me. I’ve lived all my life in a big metropolis on the coast, be it Casablanca, Morocco—which is nothing like the movie—or Hong Kong, so the busy dynamics of such cities were always energizing. The ambience here was so calm that to some extent it felt like time was moving more slowly than elsewhere. But I adapted, one of the marvels of our species, and started enjoying this little town for what it had to offer. You’re close to your friends and your university, there’s a strong familiarity when partying which does not exist in Madrid, which is more fragmented as far as I’ve seen, and now there’s great sporting infrastructure. In Segovia, more than Madrid, you really live the “student town” experience, and it’s a good step before moving to the bigger and denser Madrid.
In Segovia I joined several clubs. The first I joined was philosophy, which was supervised by Tim Syme, a great political theory professor, during my first year. I also was part of the debate/MUN club for two years, where I had the opportunity to go to GiMUN in Geneva, which was amazing, and the Harvard MUN in Madrid (not so amazing) as a delegate. For three years, I played for and co-captained the volleyball team. I was also an actor, then vice-producer and ultimately, this year, chief coordinator of the Theatre Club. I also joined the 180 Degrees Consulting Club for two semesters as a consultant, becoming a consultant leader last semester. And finally, I’ve written some articles for The Stork during the first semester of my third year.
The Theatre Club was by far the one I was most involved with. I’ve produced three plays; one as an actor and writer, one as vice-producer and one as chief writer and director. I was planning on producing two plays that I wrote for this year. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation meant only one could be performed and the one scheduled for April 1 (no joke!) had to be cancelled for health reasons, as we all know. The third-year was the best so far; the group was just extremely homogeneous and members were extremely friendly with and supportive of each other.
We have accomplished a lot with not much spare time, and could have done more, honestly. I’m very happy to have been part of such a band—I did learn a lot from them all and I hope they did from me too. The second production was the most difficult. There were some disagreements, I suppose from people’s creativity and passion for a club they’d joined by choice. So the Theatre Club was a big learning experience from a leadership perspective. I also organized two entrepreneurship events with 180 Degrees Consulting for the International Day of People With Disabilities, a topic I could write about on its own, and I’m grateful to IE University for the help they provided me and my team.
To future students, I have something short to say—your time is scarce, regrets come fast but stay for a long time, so find what you like, and do it.
My main takeaways from these three years…
- Our choices define who we are.
- Finding meaning in what you do is essential, otherwise it’s just wasting time.
- Surround yourself well.
And don’t kill yourself for grades; a life is not remembered on a desktop. Make sure you understand your tasks, though—that’s what really matters.