My Online Semester Abroad: Sergio @ Bond University, Australia

Screenshot of the Bond University website

MBS bachelor’s graduate Sergio Mateo Avila Ortiz completed his semester abroad as part of the Master Top-Up Program at Bond University in Australia – however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic not on site, but from his home country Colombia and i.e. with one of the largest time differences possible . Why the semester abroad was a rewarding and formative experience despite all the challenges, Sergio tells in the blog post.

I decided to take advantage of the Master Top-Up Program offered by Munich Business School and Bond University in Australia for my semester abroad. This program allows MBS students to take selected master’s courses at the university abroad already during the last semester in the Bachelor International Business – which is the semester abroad. This option was very exciting to me because it gives you the additional opportunity to earn a master’s degree from the partner university in just one year after successfully completing the bachelor’s degree. Bond University is a renowned Australian university, accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the European Foundation for Management Development’s (EFMD). Therefore, the Master Top-Up Program is a great chance to get a master’s degree from an excellent university in a short period of time. MBS students can choose between a master´s in financial management, sports management, or business administration. I picked the master´s in Financial Management, since finance was my favorite subject at MBS and it was the field I wanted to specialize in.

I was very enthusiastic about going to Australia. I wanted to experience the student life there and visit all the beaches and natural wonders that the country has to offer. However, due to the pandemic, Australia put in place very strict restrictions to international travel. Nobody, other than Australian citizens stranded abroad, could enter the country. This was disappointing, because I was eager to fly to Australia, but ended up having to do my entire semester abroad remotely from Colombia. This situation made my experience abroad unique.

Sergio in front of his laptop while participating in online classes

Bond University invested heavily in online-learning technology. This made remote classes friendly and interactive. Most professors were also very willing to make remote students feel comfortable, despite the difficulties of teaching from a computer. Therefore, although I think that remote learning can and will never be as good as face-to-face learning, Bond University and its very kind and capable professors really made the online experience as good as it can get. Furthermore, the quality of the education at Bond University itself is excellent. All classes were challenging and interesting, activities and projects let us put the knowledge acquired during class into practice, and the overall way the program was structured made every course very insightful.

Nevertheless, there were various challenges and disadvantages due to the fact not being able to travel to Australia. The main one was probably the time difference. Bogotá and the Gold Coast have a time difference of 15 hours. Meaning that I had classes until 2am, which in turn affected my entire daily routine since I was going to bed around 3am almost every day. Furthermore, another major disadvantage was that during the entire semester I did not meet a lot of people. The classes, although very interactive, did not bring students closer together, and given that classes were the only space to meet people, it was very difficult to interact with other students.

Looking back, I would say that my experience abroad in Australia was very insightful and formative overall. Not only did I learn a lot about financial management, but also about myself. Sleeping late and not being able to interact with fellow students really makes online learning difficult, because it is hard to find motivation. But thanks to the excellent program offered by Bond University, I not only found motivation, but I also became passionate about finance. The experience of my online semester abroad has reassured me that finance is the path I want to pursue for my professional life and taught me that motivation comes mainly from oneself.

I know that my semester abroad was very unusual due to the pandemic. However, I am very happy with this experience since it has taught me a lot about myself and helped me to clear out many doubts about the path that I want to pursue. Thus, I am very grateful to Munich Business School and Bond University for allowing me to have this great opportunity!