Ah, the beauty of studying abroad! Your international classmates from across the world will become cherished friends, and possible business partners, your foreign professors will nurture your mind, and expand your horizons. And better yet, your nights out will become stories to tell for years to come. There’s nothing quite like the International Masters experience.
But first things first.
Getting cosy in a roomful of new faces can be hard, especially when you’re on your own and hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres from home. So how do you start making the most out of your International Masters class?
It’s easy. You just have to learn to enjoy it. Diversity comes in all kinds of forms during your Masters studies. Different nationalities, cultures, religions. Having the right mind-set will ensure that you don’t feel awkward. On the contrary, it will make for some of the most memorable personal experiences.
Think about it this way: your classmates don’t feel any less weird in this environment.
But instead of shying away, you’ll gain more by engaging directly with them.
Here’s an even bolder advice: look for the school with the most diverse cohort.
Do some prior research. A lot of universities announce statistics about the composition of their classes. Those may include Male vs. Female ratios, share of foreign students, and even the percentage lumps of students from a certain region.
Get out of your comfort zone
So why exactly diversity? What makes this such an important feature of an International Masters degree?
It’s about psychology. This kind of experience will get you out of your comfort zone, and thus, teach you to deal better with uncharacteristic situations. That, in turn, makes you more adaptable and more prone to dealing well with multi-layered problems. On one side there will be the academic collaboration between you and your foreign classmates, and on the other, you will learn to communicate more effectively with people from various cultures. These are typical situations in the ideal international workplace in which you would want to land a job after graduation. Simply swap “academic” with “professional”, and you’ve got yourself a classic Monday-morning Skype call with an angry client from across the ocean.
Learn from your classmates
Speaking of angry clients from across the ocean, you can easily practise your conflict-solving skills with your International Masters classmates.
Intercultural communication is one of the most sought-after abilities and experiences for both students and job-seekers. It challenges your beliefs, and by doing so, it enriches your mind. You will start thinking about things in more balanced terms, taking all sides into consideration instead of insisting on your point of view. Being able to consider all sides of an argument, no matter how outlandish it might be, will prepare you for those tough managerial decisions you will have to make ten years down the line, or the day after you begin work and you are faced with a team of diverse professionals from around the world.
And of course, in addition to all of the above, it will simply turn you into a more well-rounded person with elaborate interpersonal skills.
Gain first-hand knowledge
Besides the abstract advantages, there is tangible and meaningful knowledge to absorb during, or even between, your International Masters classes.
Think of how much deeper your knowledge of the Chinese Social Media landscape will be if you talk to that shy Chinese girl in Marketing class. And what about the impact of the Greek crisis on small and medium enterprises in Greece and in the wider Balkan region? We have a feeling that the dark-eyed Athenian guy smoking a cigarette between classes has something to say about that.
This kind of insight that you can get into the various global markets is incomparable to what you would get from reading a Bloomberg or Financial Times report, because it comes from a like-minded, bold enough person with first-hand experience and opinions on the matter. It might not be the most extensive information, but personal views are helpful if you decide to work, do business, or simply visit that country one day.
Think of your class as your future workplace
This simple advice is the most important. An International Masters degree is in many ways designed to emulate the environment of a multinational company. You will face all the intercultural challenges, disputes, collaborations and amazing moments once you graduate and dive into the professional world. And how well you can deal with them is a journey that starts in the classroom.
Learn how a Masters degree makes you The Value of the Masters Degree