Getting a Taste of International Master’s Life

As you might know, I am almost finished my Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. I am currently spending my final semester on an academic exchange in Chongqing, China. I finished up two of my five courses a couple of weeks ago and have been wanting to write about this experience so far in a blog since then. Unfortunately — and luckily — I found time to explore China and got busy traveling for a few weekends. So here it goes.

With the increase of globalization and government education partnerships, more and more students are finding ways to study abroad. Chongqing University’s (CQU) Master’s in International Business (MIB) program is just one example. Exchange may be happening more often, but not yet enough for the university to offer Bachelor’s programs to international students — simply due to the language barrier and lack of resources, i.e. English-speaking professors.

Through years of referrals and experience, CQU has a strong pool of visiting English-speaking professors, as is the case in many globally-engaged universities in non-English-speaking countries. However, the implications for students of these programs seem to go unnoticed.

Take my experience so far as an example. I am part of a group of around twenty-five students from countries like France, the U.S., Kazakhstan, Madagascar, the U.K., Italy, Mexico, Thailand, Russia, Belarus, and Spain, around half of whom are also exchange students and the other half are degree students. I have had the privilege to meet some interesting professors from the United Kingdom, who came to Chongqing for two weeks to teach us nine three-hour lectures each, and give us a final exam on the tenth day. Complete with short presentations, reports, and hundred-page readings, we all hammered through those two weeks and everybody passed (interestingly enough, the Chinese pass mark is sixty per cent).

The work load was fine — I am only making it sound bad (though it was really that many pages). The lectures were more about application, just as any Master’s program should be. There was brief introduction of theories as many people did not come from a business background. Even the final was more about application and real-world examples.

However, the time crunch makes me wonder just how meaningful the structure of this program is. Do not get me wrong — there are some key stories and discussions that I have taken away from both of those courses, some I even went on to discuss with my sister and friends in Canada. However, I do not believe the quality is the same as a more widely-laid out and demanding course structure such as the typical twelve- or sixteen-week courses offered back home.

I would like to ask readers: how was (or has been) your experience in a Master’s program, either at home or abroad? From what I know in my network, this is not a first for Bachelor’s exchange students. I would like to know, however, just how common it is.

Originally published at