Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. This year, over 900 new students from across the globe are taking their first steps into their IE University journey. One can only imagine the rush of feelings they are experiencing as freshmen embarking on this new phase of their lives in both Madrid and Segovia. Incoming university students often encounter anticipation coupled with worry as they begin their classes and joviality accompanying misery when leaving places they call home. IE’s first-year class is no different. 

Between figuring out how to navigate their Blackboard, pack their lives into two suitcases and obtaining visas, it would be safe to say that IE’s fresh bunch have a lot on their plate! I can attest to this as an incoming freshman. One great hope shared among incoming classes is to feel immersed and welcomed into the community they will call home for the next few years. I caught up with a few of my fellow students across both campuses who shared some insight into their backgrounds, aspirations and fears as they prepare to begin their studies at IE University. 

To begin with, Lara Geerman, hailing from Hamburg, Germany, will pursue the BBSS degree in Segovia. Next, Ray Wanjau from Nairobi, Kenya, and Juan Andrés van Hissenhoven from Bogota, Colombia, both of whom will be BBA students in Madrid. Aarna Ahuja, from Bareilly, India, will also be in the BBA programme, but in Segovia. Finally, Marjana Peña from Manila, Philippines, who will be studying BBA+ BIR in Madrid.      

Lara Geerman (BBSS)

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Ray Wanjau (BBA)

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Juan Andrés van Hissenhoven (BBA)

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Aarna Ahuja (BBA)

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Marjana Peña (BBA+BIR)

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What is one thing you’re really passionate about?

Lara: I am passionate about Volleyball and Musical Theatre

Ray: I really love chess! 

Juan: I enjoy playing football (soccer) 

Aarna: Dancing, I am mostly trained in Indian classical. 

Marjana: Sports and music really interest me. 

What inspired you to join IE University

Lara: I want to become a Behavioral Scientist and IE was one of only very, very few universities offering exactly what I was looking for. With BBSS, I feel like I’ve found the perfect program for me. What’s more, I‘ve always loved meeting people from all over the world and love the international approach of IE, which will surely be of great advantage in the future, both professionally and for my self-development.

Ray: It’s hard to say that one thing drew me to IE. It was a mix of the beautiful campuses seen through TikToks, different clubs that piqued my interest and an exciting course structure. Every current student and alum has nearly nothing but praise for the community at IE. That’s really rare as we all have different experiences but, still, the fact that individualism is embraced and appreciated throughout the IE community I’ve interacted with is vast. All in all, IE’s holistic outlook on student life makes me, as a fresher, feel invited and wanted in the school.

Aarna: Not only does IE have a world-renowned BBA course, but it has a more holistic approach to look at a student. I was inspired to join IE as they considered my academic and extracurricular profile which made the process feel exciting.

Marjana: My goal has always been to attend a great university with an excellent program and as I came across IE online, I had my heart set and knew that this was the university for me. 

What is the one thing you’re really excited for as you join IE University?

Lara: I’m excited to get to know people who are interested in the same stuff as me. Also, I’m really looking forward to all the social events. 

Ray: I am eager to join the IE Innovation Labs and take part in mind-blowing projects! I’m also excited to explore some of the pathways the startup incubator offers toward innovation in the FinTech industry. 

Juan: I am eager to experience the sense of community at IE. 

Aarna: I am very excited for my BBA course, but more specially, to learn more about consulting. 

Marjana: I am delighted for the entire experience and countless lessons to be learned. 

What is one thing you’re afraid of as you join IE University?

Lara: Honestly, as I transition to a new life in university, I would say I am afraid of not connecting with people and being alone a lot.

Ray: Fun fact about me, I have a baby face and I would say that this makes me afraid of the fact that everyone may look way older than me.

Juan: I am quite fearful of living alone. 

Aarna: I am afraid of what to expect as I’ve never been to Spain and don’t speak Spanish so it might be tough to blend in. 

Marjana: The whole aspect of having to wake up early is a bit daunting! 

Have you introduced yourself on the IE Class of 26/27 Instagram page yet? 

Lara: Yes!

Ray: Yes I have! 

Juan: Yes! 

Aarna: Yes! 

Marjana: To be honest, I am quite scared of doing so. 

They hope that they will be comfortable in the IE community and make memories of a lifetime alongside their fellow classmates. After speaking to my fellow students, I can say we find common ground in the way we are preparing for the next phase of our lives. As stressed as we are while sorting visas, luggage, and trying to catch up with the hundreds of messages on our campus group chats, we are exhilarated by the thought of immersing ourselves in different activities, cultures and even classes beyond our respective high school curricula.

I hope that as incoming students reading this, you know a little bit more about someone who may be your future classmate or even someone you will come to call a friend. For those still looking for ways to begin immersing themselves in the community: introduce yourself on the class Instagram page tagged below – you never know who may reach out to you. Also, make sure to join your respective campus group chats as those are a big help even before classes – maybe organise a meet-up for a drink or go to a freshers week event together! 

To the class of 2026/2027, I hope we enjoy the next 4-5 years of our lives together in Madrid and Segovia and make the most meaningful friendships and memories along the way.

Below are some helpful links to get you on your way: 

I thank those who took the time to share their experiences!


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