Mise en place.
It is French for putting in place.
That’s what we have been doing so far. In the late 19th century, after a long career in the French army as a gifted chef, Georges-Auguste Escoffier* returned home and began revolutionizing the traditional cooking methods in France. He took ideas from the disciplined regimen witnessed during his time in the military to bring order into the chaos that was present inside the kitchen of a restaurant.
Mise en place (pronounced me-zohn plahs) is nothing but that. It is to bring order to the act of cooking by collecting and arranging the ingredients and tools needed for cooking before you actually begin cooking.*
This term is now widespread and used as a noun, a verb, and a state of mind. Although the concept sounds simple, the reasons lurking behind it are many and have a profound reward.* By preparing the ingredients for a dish before beginning to cook it, you can ensure that there are no missing ingredients. You can group them together to form logical categories (based on the various steps involved to cook the dish), thus minimizing your cognitive load. You can also clean as you go through the steps, rather than make a giant mess that takes up the whole counter.
We’ve all been there.
This concept is widely followed by restaurants and contains a deeper meaning for chefs, some of whom even call it their religion. Melissa Gray from the Culinary Institute of America says,* “I know people that have it tattooed on them. It really is a way of life… it’s a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment, to kind of rid yourself of distractions.”
The concept is also so simple that it can be extended to other practices. Rather than cluttering your desk with items that have no order, you can categorize the items based on their usage (notepads and pencils on the right, water bottle and snacks on the left, etc.).
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In here, we mise en place-d in Part I (pardon the butchering of the word) so that you can focus solely on preparing the documents needed for each university before finally hitting the dreaded submit button in Part II.
However, that isn’t to say you cannot or should not add or edit universities in your list if you have a good reason to do so. Even chefs change the ingredients at times based on how the dish is turning out.
By now, you should have a clear picture of the universities that you are targeting, along with the major that will shape your life over the next few years. When someone asks you why you are choosing to study abroad, the response should be involuntary and firm. Before building any product, the team behind it first focuses on the why. The why takes precedence over the how, because without the why, you will end up building an iPhone to be used as a paperweight.
Now, before you move on to preparing the ingredients of your application, which is another mise en place as well, answer the following question:
What other areas in your life can you adopt this idea in?