IIT FBI Study Trip

This post was first published on the FBI (Financial Business Informatics) blog on May 23, 2012. I’m putting it here as a backup copy. Click here to see the original post.

39 Students, 2 Lecturers, 1 amazing trip. I’m talking about the Study Trip to London and Paris during the April holidays that I was lucky enough to go for.

Lasting 8 days, the trip was overall very exciting and insightful. Not only did we have tons of fun, we also got to go places I wouldn’t normally have been able or willing to go to, like majestic cathedrals and amazing museums.

First off when we arrived in London was to visit the Oxford University, and take a tour around Oxford. Listening to the guide, we learned that Oxford was actually made up of 38 different colleges, each specialising in different academic areas. Throughout the tour, we were able to get a feel for the colleges and imagine what life would be like, studying in Oxford University.

As an extension of what we learnt in our course, we also visited financial institutions like Charted Institute for Securities & Investments (CISI), the London Metal Exchange (LME), and Reuters. This was the main reason for the trip and I enjoyed the visit immensely. All three places were educational, fascinating and worth the visit.

Our visit to CISI entailed a presentation and discussion about ethics which was very thought provoking. Imagine you are the boss of a company bidding for a tender and you only have one competitor. Your team tells you that they found a file containing your competitor’s bid proposal and that they intend to use it to modify their presentation. What do you do? We were presented with four choices and we all had to take a vote on what we should or would do in that situation. All four answers were more or less reasonable choices one would have made, with very slight differentiation in terms of moral value. Once we had made our choice on these little hand held devices, a graph was projected on screen and it showed that each answer had some supporters. The point of the exercise was to show that we had all disagreed on what to do and that was why CISI has an Ethics department. The Ethics department comes up with the ethics code of the company and helps to solve moral dilemmas. That was something new to me and I started to see that not everything in the world was black and white, that there were many grey areas with no right answers.

The LME was less interactive as we were only allowed to observe the pit from a room above. For the half an hour we stayed, we could observe the traders in action and have a glimpse of what life of a pit trader is about. There was a lot of shouting and crazy hand signals flying around and after a while, we realized just how much information could be conveyed. Just the twitch of a finger or direction and position of your hands could affect your message. It was just captivating and we stared open-mouthed at the speed and dexterity that each trader executed their trades.

The Reuters visit was much less hectic and a little more light-hearted. Of the three, Reuters was the most insightful and helpful for our future careers. We were given a tour of the building in Paris as well as some brochures to guide us on our choices for our career path.

I bet you are probably wondering where the “tons of fun” part comes in, right? Well, another part of the involved visits to museums and other tourist must-sees, like the Bank of England Museum, the Eiffel Tower and, the Louvre.

The Bank of England Museum was the most related to our course and I enjoyed it immensely. We were given a short presentation about the British Pound and then left to wander around the museum for a while. It was highly educational and we had fun answering questions and playing games. Well, at least I did.

After we arrived in Paris, we eventually got to visit the Eiffel Tower. We had a long wait, but eventually we managed to climb it. Almost all of us walked up 700 steps to the top! The view was breath-taking and it got colder and windier as we ascended. We weren’t given a lot of time to wander (only about half an hour) but I wished we had more time to linger and just admire the view. At least now I can say that I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower.

Although not directly in line with our course, I think the point of going to the Louvre was to get us to learn to appreciate art and culture, to understand why some pieces of art were so expensive. Also, it was probably to give us an all rounded experience, not just learn about finance and systems. Needless to say, not all of us are art lovers and everyone knows what bored, restless teens get up to – mischief. We were told that even if you had the whole day, you couldn’t possibly complete the whole museum properly. Naturally, we challenged that and on we went on our extremely rushed journey to cover every square inch of the place. My friends and I entertained ourselves by taking funny pictures and captioning them as well.

Finally, the majority of fun we had was at – where else? – Disneyland! I knew this was a study trip, but I couldn’t deny that Disneyland was a major reason why I wanted to go for this trip. It had been long time since I had last sat on a roller coaster and now that I was older, I was able to truly enjoy the rush of adrenaline that comes with each loop, plummet and turn.

This was indeed one of the best school trips I have ever been on. There were so many worthwhile places to visit, things to do and learn, and great friends to enjoy the trip with. I would definitely jump at the chance to go again.

-Jace

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