The number of countries represented at Munich Business School continues to increase each passing year. I remember times at MBS when the only groups of so-called non-Germans were the visiting exchange students. Now, each of the programs has a strong international student body. Each year, we continue welcome students from countries that have not previously been represented.
The current MBA International Management student body is 100 percent international. To highlight some perspectives from countries that have not been represented before, I sat down with three MBA students: Armyanda Wongso from Indonesia, Mor Schenavsky from Israel, and Alexandra Mayer from Kazakhstan. The following is a summary of the conversation and it was truly enjoyable to hear their perspectives.
What has been the most culturally challenging for you living in Munich, Germany?
Alexandra: Easy, the constant planning. Having been raised in Asian culture and having a hospitality background where such words as “unexpected”, “spontaneous”, and even “chaotic” are sometimes very normal it was very new to deal with constant planning, which is very common for Germans.
Mor: The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that though people are very nice and polite here, they are not exceedingly warm, meaning greetings with hugs are not very common and private life is something that is often being kept for only a close group of acquaintances.
Israel in many cultural aspects is very similar to Latin-America and thus many times it feels like “one big family”. Moving from living in such an environment, with shared history and common beliefs and behaviors to a European city sometimes feels a bit strange.
Another big difference that I feel even on daily occasions is that people here are sometimes impatient to mistakes or misunderstandings. There are laws/ common rules/ manners and you should know them. Issues, by the way, start when life encounters situations that the regular rules don’t cover. Israel is very different since the whole culture is about improvising and living the day. The state of mind is “something for sure will go wrong, we will deal with it when it comes”. The lack of flexibility is a challenge indeed. But I still think Munich is great!
Armyanda: For me, the most challenging issue has been the rigid structure of the German culture. In moving to Munich from Indonesia I have encountered differences in punctuality and social interactions, I have also noticed differences in the presence of religion. I view Munich as a community that values tradition, history and social norms.
It has not been easy adjusting to life in Munich, but I have fallen in love with all of the cultural values that Munich offers – which was one reason why I chose to live here and pursue my studies at Munich Business School.
How does MBS fit into your global aspirations?
Alexandra: MBS can absolutely satisfy that “itch” to get or expand the global experience. Exposure to an incredible amount of different cultures (both students and lecturers), international case studies and projects, guest speakers from all over the world and of different backgrounds.
Armyanda: I was born in Indonesia, went to university in Malaysia, studied language in China, and worked in a Singaporean environment. One word that connects all for me is “exposure”. I believe exposure and networking are the keys to success. And those two things are what MBS can offer me. Something that I believe, no other university in Germany can offer are: an international community, German environment, European businesses and worldwide case studies. I believe MBS has equipped me with the experience I need to face the global challenging world.
Mor: After graduating from a top university, I felt that I had a broad academic knowledge but that the practical aspect was still missing. Most of the relevant-knowledge and experience I have was primarily gained from working. At MBS, I have the opportunity to learn from highly experienced, industry-oriented professors, which helped me a lot in gaining further knowledge and better preparing for the job market.
In addition, the opportunity to study with students from all around the globe and experience different cultures is something that I always wanted to do. The lecturers are also quite international which adds more to the multiculturalism and uniqueness of this school.
What did you enjoy most in the MBA program in comparison to your previous study experiences?
Armyanda: Application and case value. Theory is one thing, everyone can read a book and learn theory. But how to apply it, how to adapt to the surroundings, and how to learn from other’s mistakes and successes is the key for me to write my own future.
Alexandra: For me, it has definitely been the inspirational environment. All the lecturers care so much about their subjects and related topics that it energizes you to learn more, to do more, to achieve more in the field you like. Events and gatherings organized by MBS cover most if not all interests any student could possibly have and provide the opportunity to obtain that extra knowledge, contacts and inspiration to pursue whatever passion you have.
Mor: I really enjoyed the practical orientation and preparation for the job market, for example presentations and group projects.
Being able to study in a small group created good dynamics and openness within the group and with the lecturers. We get full attention from the lecturers and the discussions are usually very enriching.
In addition, we managed to create strong friendships and go out a lot together.
How have you changed since arriving in Munich?
Mor: I feel I am more open to hearing different opinions and more accepting of different ways of living. I have become more flexible in adjusting to unfamiliar situations or unexpected scenarios. I feel I am more self-confident in being able to share my opinions and knowledge and even being critical when needed. The most important thing: Realizing that I often underestimate myself, but when the time comes I am able to deal with complicated situations I never thought I could manage.
Alexandra: I definitely got used to and even enjoy that planning! That definitely made me more organized. Also settling down in Germany, learning a new language, working and studying, going through the good and bad sides of those experiences made me more mature and somehow more flexible towards what life brings.
Armyanda: I have learned the value of the German community and that organization on a daily basis is important. To be organized day in and day out. I believe since arriving in Munich, I now plan better and I execute better.
How will your time and experiences here influence you in your international careers?
Mor: Being able to communicate and approach people from different cultures. Being aware of differences and respecting those differences. Knowing how to manage diverse teams and adjust to tight timelines. Having a network of graduates in top companies and different locations around the world.
Armyanda: With my previous experiences and the experiences I gained in Munich, I will be prepared with the knowledge, and the social experience of east meets west. I believe in a holistic way, that I will be better suited and equipped to face the international world.
Alexandra: The MBA definitely brought my business competences and cultural intelligence to a completely different level which opens new opportunities globally and that is currently even more valuable in international companies in Germany.
What advice would you give to someone interested in the MBA International Management program at MBS?
Alexandra: Get ready for a challenge! It will be a very busy year. You will have lots of work but also lots of fun, there will be no day without new experiences – guaranteed. Be ready to push yourself to limits you didn’t know exist, stay open and remember no matter what – it will pay off well in the sense of personal development and career opportunities! All the efforts you made will look like a super tiny sacrifice you made for all the benefits you got.
Armyanda: The MBA IM program at MBS is a dynamic program with very attractive modules to enhance your analytical thinking yet also improve your soft skills at the same time. The program evokes your curiosity to understand business from many aspects. Through practice on cases, this program gives you new problem-solving ideas which can be applied to your real working-life situations. The very thoughtful and experienced professors offer the most insightful lessons you can learn from.
Mor: Prepare for hard work but do not forget to also enjoy the experience, create new friendships, explore the city of Munich and the surrounding area. “Take advantage” of the great professors and learn whenever and whatever is possible! Create good connections with the professors, too.