The Business School
Maja Lunsjo, Business School undergraduate, explains the benefits of a year abroad
“I knew that I wanted to spend a year of my degree overseas before I even set foot in the University of Exeter.
This opportunity was one of the main reasons that I chose Exeter in the first place.
In the global environment that we live in today, I think it is essential to have an awareness of other people’s cultures and customs. Having spent half of my childhood in liberal Scandinavia and the other half in the Islamic United Arab Emirates, I already had a taste of trying out new cultures and customs, and I loved it.
I chose Hong Kong because I had never truly experienced Asia, and because China is an up and coming business power. I thought the benefits I would attain through learning about the Asian culture and how they do business, as well as picking up some Mandarin, would benefit me both socially and in my career. So far, my choice has really paid off, and I would recommend it to anyone!
Spending a year at Hong Kong University (HKU) was very different to being at Exeter but it was great in so many ways. Firstly, I got to study a combination of business and languages. I did international business and Mandarin, and also added cultural studies to increase my awareness of Asia.
I’d studied French for nine years during my academic career, but after just one year in Hong Kong I now speak better Chinese than French! Taking that plunge and really putting yourself out there will help you develop your language skills and make you a stronger person.
Being away for a year also put me in touch with other like-minded students with a passion for travels, and as a result I now have lots of opportunities to travel globally to visit them. During my year I went to Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan, among other countries, and the experience has really opened my eyes to a whole new part of the world. I also visited countries I never even knew existed, like the gambling hub Macau!
Ultimately, my year abroad has done a lot for my career, as I find many employers are interested in my experience. The cultural knowledge I have obtained will be very useful when working in an international environment. The language skills are a big advantage, but it is also the little cultural things like knowing how to shake hands differently with people from different nationalities. I am also ready to jump at the opportunity of working abroad and going on international assignments without any hesitation.
If I could offer any advice to someone thinking of doing a year abroad, it would be ‘don’t hesitate to try new things!’ On my year abroad I ate a chicken foot, had a barbeque at a local family’s home and went on a safari in the middle of the night. It was these unusual experiences that made it such an amazing year. Be ready to go outside of your comfort zone, and it will definitely be worth it.”
Maja is studying for a BA in Management with Leadership with International Study
Date: 13 May 2013