Each year, the Corporate Residency MBA program welcomes exchange students enrolled in masters programs in business, management, and economics. These students from around the world come to study alongside our MBA students. This is a valuable experience not only for the exchange students visiting Halifax, but also for the Canadian students who have the opportunity to form friendships with and work alongside talented young professionals from different parts of the world.
This year 14 students joined us from a variety of European countries including France, Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Norway. Some students chose to come for the whole school year, while others are only with us for the fall semester. Regardless of the length of their stay, the exchange students contribute significantly to the MBA program and have a positive impact on the people they interact with.
My own experience with this year’s group of exchange students has been wonderful. I appreciate the opportunity to learn about the similarities and differences between our cultures. As I have never traveled outside of North America I had many questions for the exchange students about their home countries, cultures, and languages. I was fortunate enough to sit down and share coffee with three exchange students and discuss their experiences thus far.
Ole-Kristian Berge is a second year Master of Economics Student at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, Norway. Although many of his university friends from back home chose to go on an exchange to California together, Ole chose to come to Dalhousie by himself. Ole made this decision because he wanted to form friendships with Canadian students and have a better opportunity to practice speaking English on a regular basis. He also believes that Canadians tend to be “more genuine.” He said that Dalhousie gave off “quite a personal impression” when he was researching potential exchange universities.
Ole is very happy that he chose to come to Dalhousie and describes locals as being friendlier than he expected. Professors are very personable here and are willing to go out of their way to meet with students outside of class. Classes in entrepreneurship are not very common in Norwegian universities and Ole has greatly enjoyed being able to take classes in this field during his exchange. Overall he has found that the style of education here is more practical and less theoretical than what he is used to at home.
Agathe Guerin is in her final year of the Master of Business Management program at Grenoble Graduate School of Business in Grenoble, France. Agathe is an experienced traveler and has studied and lived in London, Paris, aix-en-Provence, Grenoble, and now Halifax. She describes Halifax as having a “small village feel in a bigger town” and is happy to be in Canada where she can speak English and explore a new country. Not only has Agathe toured Halifax, she has also gone on trips to Cape Breton and Quebec with some of her fellow exchange students this fall. She also has plans to discover New York City after her final exams finish in December! In talking with Agathe, it was very evident that she is an adventurer at heart and loves to explore new cities and meet new people.
Similar to Ole, Agathe is grateful for the unique opportunity to take classes in entrepreneurship while on exchange. This is a topic of interest to her as she wants to start her own company one day. Classes here focus on providing practical tools to apply in the business world and are less structured and theoretical than classes at her home university. While we were chatting, Agathe told me how different she finds the large distances between cities in Canada, as well as the differences in food. As she described the variety of cheeses and charcuterie available in France I could feel my mouth watering. There are some things that just are not the same in Canada.
Caroline Leandri is in her final year of the Master of Business Management program at Grenoble Graduate School of Business in Grenoble, France. Like Ole and Agathe, Caroline chose to come to Canada to practice her English and experience a new culture. She has enjoyed socializing with Canadian students and making new friends with both Canadian students and other exchange students. Taking excursions to other places in Canada has been a fun experience for Caroline during her exchange. These trips were memorable experiences and allowed her to see more of North America than just Halifax.
The workload and course structure is very different here because we have regular homework assignments and class projects, while in France final exams are usually worth 100% of your course grade and occur at the end of the semester. This is a big change for most exchange students, but Caroline said that she appreciates the opportunity to learn from her classmates and professors in an interactive environment. Caroline enjoys being able to contribute in class and finds the in-class discussion component of many of our MBA classes to be a unique and refreshing experience. She is returning to Grenoble in January to continue her studies in France and work part-time for Ernst & Young.
In speaking with my exchange student friends I was able to learn a lot about the benefits of visiting a new country. I am excited to travel myself and discover new places after I graduate, and hopefully visit some of my new friends.