We often see people struggle with essay questions that certain schools ask where you need to talk about culture shock. INSEAD has a question:
Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain?
London Business School has had one like this and will likely have something similar in this year’s application:
London Business School offers a truly global and diverse experience. Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country or culture. What did you gain and how will your experience contribute to London Business School?
When a school asks this type of question, you need to select an actual experience that you had in traveling to a foreign country, whether for a work project or a study abroad in school or just as a tourist, and explain what happened.
You should be focusing in on a moment in time. The essay should go along the lines of “I went to such-and-such a place in 2010 for this reason and this is what happened to me. When that happened, this is how I reacted. This is how other people reacted. This is what I did then. What I learned from that experience is this.”
What we often see in this type of essay is blah. Blah blah blather blah. People often go all philosophic on us and they very quickly tie themselves up into very fancy word knots. We often get breathy essays about the nature of culture (huh?) or what their country means to them (double huh?).
Bschool essays should NEVER be conceptual; these are not academic theses. You are not going for a PhD program; you’re going for a practical business education. The adcom wants to know what you have experienced elsewhere and what you’ll bring to their community. These two schools in particular definitely prefer candidates who’ve traveled abroad, at least a little. If you’ve never ever left your home country, then it’s a slight negative for you in the app process here (you certainly will need to explain to the adcom why an international MBA is so important to you if you’ve literally not left home before).
For these types of questions, you would want to offer up an actual experience that you had. Identify one time you went somewhere. Give the adcom a specific story of when and where and and what happened there.
Think about how you’d tell someone in your family the story. You’d go into the actualities of it. You wouldn’t wander aimless in some monologue about culture. If you did that, your sister would walk out of the room and leave you talking to empty space. Instead, the focus needs to be on what you thought/felt/saw/did, in the context of being a stranger in a strange land, and what you learned from that experience.
Don’t make your adcom reader walk out on you (mentally) when she’s reading your essay.