Study Abroad Report 2021: HEC Lausanne / Julie Truong
I participated in a study abroad program in the 2nd year of my MBA program, with a hope to improve my ability to convey my thinking more accurately to others, regardless of their nationality or differing background. Although I previously worked in India for 4 years and I became sufficiently able to convey my ideas to Indian people, I felt keenly aware that my ability to do so with Europeans or Americans may be lacking, and welcomed the opportunity to reinforce this.
To achieve this goal, I much preferred to travel to study in the actual place rather than taking online classes, but I hesitated at first to be honest because I this meant I had to leave my job. But ultimately, I decided to travel with my family because this was such a precious opportunity that may never come again.
My reason for selecting Toulouse Business School was that it is a top triple crown business school in France, its academic curriculum and also that it would be possible for me to take classes in person, on campus. I considered other schools and other countries, but after considering the advice of faculty and administration, I became confident that TBS would be best suited to my purpose.
The program I applied to was Toulouse Business School's Master in Management Year 1, Fall Semester. The program was divided in two parts, with the first half being 9 weeks and the second 5 weeks. In the first half I could choose 6 subjects, and one in the second half. The classes were held throughout half a day with one class taking 3 hours, and with face to face classes also delivered online in a hybrid format.
I took the following classes:
A variety of lessons are offered to solidify the basics, allowing participants to choose their area of interest. It was particularly impressive that the instructors in charge of the lessons had experience in both practical and academic aspects, and shared their practical experience to explain various theories, allowing students to easily understand.
Toulouse Business School usually offers classes in both French and English, and I selected all my courses in English. There were around 20 to 30 students in each class, approximately half being French students and the other half from other countries, creating a truly global class - although the others were mostly European students and international students from Asia such as myself were rare.
The class format was mainly lectures, group work, and presentations following the class agenda, and I felt that new knowledge was firmly established by immediate practical usage to utilise the information. In contrast to the case method of NUCB Business School, the feeling after a long time, which is similar to the class format I received when I was a college student, was also exciting. In group work, it was necessary for a multinational team to create one deliverable, but due to differences in the way each country thinks about working styles for example, everyone's opinions are divided by the approach of personnel strategy. I was able to gain an experience unique to studying abroad, accepting and thinking about the common sense of Japan even if I don't have an image.
Of course, I deepened my understanding of each class, but I think it was valuable to be able to develop a habit of thinking flexibly through conversations between students.
At Toulouse Business School, there are a several online tools to efficiently conduct classes, tests, and paperwork. Specifically, complete all kinds of things online, such as distributing the class agenda, video pre-learning, assignment submission, exams, pre-travel document submission, database access, meeting room reservation, etc. On the other hand, there is an emphasis on face to face support for international students and communication with the instructor which seems to be well balanced.
It was a great environment for study and for raising my children. Toulouse, in the south of France, is the 4th largest city after Paris, Lyon and Marseilles, and is home to the head office and factories of aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Known as the "pink city" due to its brick buildings and beautiful cityscape, the climate is relatively warm, people are calm, and the cost of living is about half that of Paris. Usually students move into the school's many student apartments, but I had two small children aged 2 and 4, so I rented a furnished apartment where my family could live, from where it took me 10 minutes to go to school by bicycle. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to select an apartment before traveling through a real estate agent recommended by the school, and upon arriving moved in smoothly, and had no particular troubles after that.
The school's library facilities are fully equipped, there is ample self-study space, printing is free, and you can devote yourself to studying as much as you like if you have time. For families with children, it was very helpful that there are many parks in the city where children can play, and above all, people treat their children kindly. Even in France, Toulouse is a city where it is easy to raise children, and many French people relocate there to improve their quality of life.
Regarding dining, it was easy to cook Japanese food at home, because seasonings were available at Asian food stores although there weren't so many Japanese restaurants. Of course, when you think of France, you think "wine", and the variety is endless - cheap and delicious wine is easily available, so it's really the best living environment for wine lovers!
Due to the pandemic, it was not clear if face-to-face lessons would be halted and switched online, but in the end all my lessons were conducted face-to-face and by deepening direct discussions with other students, I was able to achieve the goals I initially set myself, to some extent. I am glad that I chose to study abroad. Many of the lectures included content related to COVID-19 and current affairs, and I really felt that the quality of the lectures was high. Although it was a short-term study abroad program, I would like to make use of this valuable experience in my future career.
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