Sameer, Queen’s MBA
Why did you choose to study in Canada?
I had been working for a number of years before deciding to get a second MBA for the purpose of retooling. Since I already had one MBA program under my belt, I was keen that the second one should be a one-year program. That way, my sabbatical would be shorter and I could get back to earning sooner. Also, one-year programs being a lot cheaper than two-year programs, would translate into a lower financial investment. I initially looked at US programs, but none of the top schools there offered good one-year programs. Therefore I turned my search to Canada and zeroed in on the Queens program as it was a one-year program with a good ranking.
What did you like most about Queen’s MBA?
The features that appealed to me the most were:
- The Queens Program is based on team learning. From the first day to the last, you have to work in the same team, through all the subjects. This makes for excellent teamwork, learning how to manage group dynamics and also peer-to-peer learning.
- The Queens program lays a lot of emphasis on case studies rather than on theory.
- The faculty is very experienced and drawn from the top schools in US. They made learning very interesting by use of real life case studies and application of fundamentals.
What did you like most about Kingston?
Kingston is a small charming university town with a large student population. It had plenty of reasonably priced, decent accommodation for students. It was close to Toronto (3 hours drive) which is the business hub of Canada. Toronto could be easily reached for conducting the school projects, or interviews for placement, which required industry interaction. This was what I liked about Kingston.
Did you face any kind of a culture shock when you arrived?
Since I had travelled abroad (in Europe) before stepping into Canada, I did not face any cultural shocks as such. I noted some cultural differences between the student life in India and Canada, which were appealing to me. In Canada, unlike India, students valued work (study)/life balance. In India, students tend to study like maniacs, even through the weekend, especially when exams or project deadlines were around the corner. Canadian students preferred to take their weekends off and work saner hours. Another notable difference was that grades were disclosed to each student individually and never put up on a board for others to see. Non disclosure of grades led to less emphasis on competition among students and more on learning.
What do you miss most about Canada?
One misses the ease of life in a developed country. Cleanliness, orderliness that one found everywhere added to the quality of life. Kingston being a small town had considerably less traffic than a metropolis which made commuting easier. Kingston was a very pretty town and the Ontario lakefront was particularly picturesque. Autumn in Canada was spectacular with all its colors and the weather was very pleasant. These are the things I miss.
Do you have some tips to save money while studying abroad?
Rent takes up the lion’s share of the budget for living expenses, so it makes a lot of sense for people to share accommodation. Buying a car is tempting because used cars are available cheaply, but use of public transport makes more sense, especially as you should be able to get a student discount. Cooking your own food instead of eating in restaurants is much more economical as is figuring out the most inexpensive places to shop for food. Figure out which commercial establishments offer students discount based on your student id and use these whenever possible. It might make sense to invest in an international student card and a youth hostel card before you leave India as that will also help with discounts which might come handy when you travel.
How do you think you have benefitted from your study overseas?
The pedagogy followed at Queens was very different from that followed in India. There was a lot more emphasis on application of concepts than on theory which will make one job-ready. Multicultural environment at the school prepares one for working in multinational organizations, with teams constituting people of various nationalities. Alumni network is globally spread for networking opportunities in the future. These are the benefits that I have got from studying in Canada.
What advice would you give to an Indian student travelling abroad to study for the first time?
I would strongly advise students who have received admissions, to get the school to give them contacts of other Indian students travelling to same school/program. Try to organize a meeting so everyone can get to meet, interact and coordinate their travels if possible. It is less unnerving if you arrive in a foreign country with a friend or an acquintance, rathen than alone. Conduct research on accomodation nearby the school on internet extensively before you leave India. If possible, connect with prospective landlords and fix up your accomodation before arriving so you don’t spend money, or spend very minimally, on hotels. Plan to reach your destinationat least 4-5 days before course starts to settle down, because once it does, you won’t get time to do things properly and may end up making suboptimal choices. Do travel around the country and soak in the culture if your budget permits. It may be tempting to stick with other Indian students as you feel safer and more comfortable with them, but resist ghettoising and mingle with all nationalities. Otherwise you will cheat yourself out of the experience which you signed up for.