Where did you study abroad?
From February to May, I studied at the University of New South Wales in the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia.
What made you want to study abroad?
Our world is constantly evolving. To be successful in such exciting times, it’s fundamental for our generation to understand the forces that shape the cultural backgrounds of people around us. Traveling is undoubtedly the best way to gain that understanding. Coming from a multicultural environment, I understood from a very young age how to respect and appreciate other cultures. Studying abroad was therefore not just an option for me; it was mandatory.
What was the biggest surprise about your study abroad experience?
How easy it was to adapt to my new life abroad. Before leaving everything behind to go away, I experienced some stress, like most students do. Where I was going to live, what I was going to eat, whether I was going to make friends or not, whether I was going to be happy or not – these questions were continuously running through my head. This experience taught me that everything eventually falls into place in life and there’s no need to worry about things we can’t control. Just keep in mind that the benefits of studying abroad will outweigh the drawbacks, no matter who you are or where you are going.
What made your study abroad experience a success?
My attitude before, during, and after the whole experience. If you are willing to try new things and push your limits, I don’t see how your study abroad experience could not be a success. Everything happens in your head. Just keep in mind that it will be a priceless experience that will change you and how you perceive the world around you. Just relax and enjoy every minute of it, because time flies fast when you’re having fun!
What did you notice about the cultural divide?
I find Australians very laid-back and relaxed. I would also say that Australian culture clearly grew from its British heritage. For instance, Australians love horseracing and playing rugby. I also found them to be less competitive than North Americans.
What international career skills did you develop?
As a business student, studying overseas was a great idea as it enabled me to extend my business network. I met individuals abroad that could eventually become business partners. Furthermore, I also learned more about the particularities of various economic markets and I have developed many skills that would be useful in an international career. I now feel more confident when I travel and when I deal with foreigners. I am also more aware of my environment and more responsible than ever before. Most importantly, I have learned that there are so many opportunities out there waiting to be taken!
What was your return like?
I have to confess that coming back home was difficult at first. After having experienced so many new things in a short period of time, home can seem a bit boring. Thankfully though, these negative feelings went away quickly and I am now rediscovering my old environment. In fact, I have decided to be as passionate about my hometown as I am about other places of the world. Surely, I would have never truly appreciated home if I had not gone away.
What did you miss the most about home?
As for most study abroad students, I missed my family and my friends. I have however found one good remedy to that: stay busy and develop new friendships!
Do you have anything else to add?
What are your future plans for your career and going abroad?
I plan to work abroad after I finish my studies. I am mostly interested in knowing more about corporate culture in foreign businesses, and I want to continue developing my intercultural communication skills.
Alex clearly has a passion for learning about foreign cultures and is skilled at expressing his observations in writing. Although he is currently planning to begin working directly after graduation, his interest in international business and corporate culture make him an ideal candidate for an international MBA degree. We would recommend that he research his options for pursuing such a degree (including scholarship and grant opportunities), and that he consider completing some or all of his graduate studies abroad. A master’s degree is now a minimum requirement for many internationally-oriented business positions, and pursuing a graduate degree abroad allows proactive candidates to build language skills, take on additional employment, participate in work-related extra-curricular activities and/or network with professionals working in international business-oriented positions in your host country.
- The North American Identity provides a good grounding in helping you understand your own culture, and it also provides you with a bench mark for analyzing other cultures.
- There are two great Resource Lists: Cross-cultural Skills and International Trade Resources that will help you get a feel of the parameters of an international business career.
- Career-boosting Strategies While Studying Abroad tells you how to make the most of your time studying in a foreign country by thinking about the professional possibilities of your experience.