Vipasha Agrawal (Class of 2019) is originally from Gwalior, India. Prior to beginning her degree at Darden, Vipasha worked in financial services with Capital One. Vipasha recently participated in Darden’s Worldwide Course to Israel, focused on innovation and technology. She shared some key takeaways and learnings from the course, in her own words:

Doing the Darden Worldwide Course in Israel was the best international experience I have had in my life. The country and the culture is a fusion of ancient and modern times. On one hand, Jerusalem is a city built on the remains of many civilizations that have left a unique mosaic of cultures and religions existing side by side. On the other hand, there’s the modern entrepreneurial Israel, which is also built upon the history of Judaism and the return of Jews to their motherland. Israeli cuisine and food is an experience in and of itself, since it is influenced by communities of Jews and Arabs from different parts of the world. I didn’t get tired of eating hummus with almost every meal for 10 days since every restaurant has a different version of how they make it and serve it!

Being surrounded by a very unfriendly neighborhood has taught the Israelis unique survival skills and the country has developed as a direct result of people working through these adversities. When one enters Tel Aviv, the vibe of a startup ecosystem and entrepreneurship culture is hard to miss. From the electric scooters on the road to the hundreds of mini tech firms set up in the city, everything echoed the young and energetic entrepreneurial drive of Israel.   I was surprised to see the enthusiasm and work ethics of the employees and the unique culture of every company that we visited. The common theme was a respect for religion, national pride and a very astute understanding of their own strength and weaknesses.

As I finish up my time at Darden, I’m grateful to have learned the values of cultural differences, entrepreneurship and hard work that set Israel apart from the rest of the world. Looking ahead, I plan to use these lessons especially when I deal with people from different cultures when I start working as a full time consultant.