The exciting adventures of Edina
The below blog post has been co-authored by Edina Opoczki (BA International Business student) and Hayley Iovannelli- International Recruitment Manager for the Faculty of Business and Law.
Hi! My name is Edina and I’m currently studying the International Business programme here, at UWE Bristol. Now I’m in my final year, I decided to continue my studies overseas as part of the ‘Study Abroad’ scheme. I chose to study at one of UWE’s partner institutions (ESSCA) as it provided me with the opportunity to study in two countries; Angers (a city in western France, about 300 km (190 mi) southwest of Paris) and I’m currently in Shanghai, China.
It has been an interesting journey so far, and I wanted to share my experiences to help anyone who may be thinking about doing this.
Things I now know (that I did not know before)
I spent a lot of time researching the institution and the area in France and China. But, as I discovered, there’s always more you can and should do!
Here are my top tips:
- Try to learn a bit of the language before you go – not everyone will speak English and if you can speak even the basics this will really help. And your language skills will evolve as you’ll have lots of opportunities to speak with other students.
- Find out about the local amenities and services – I needed a dentist quite urgently when I was in France and it just wasn’t something I’d considered before, so well worth finding out about local English speaking amenities
- Work out your budget – some areas are more cost effective than others so it’s worth scoping out the different places to live and eat
- Reach out and speak to students who have done this before – they can give you valuable information about what to expect, places to visit to really make the most out of your time there
- Be prepared for the cultural differences – find out the basics about how you should meet and greet people, restaurant etiquette, tipping etc. as each country is different
- Enjoy yourself! – take every opportunity to explore, discover, practice the language and make the most of it!
Things I wish I had done differently
While I was in Angers during my first semester, I felt like I was missing out on the opportunity to make close friendships with the other international students because I found my accommodation privately rather than staying in the dormitory where most of the students were. On the other hand, in terms of money – value proposition, my room seemed to be the better option and that is why I choose it in the end.
When preparing to head out to Shanghai, the only thing I wish I had done even more before arriving was saving up money for travelling around the country. Life in Shanghai is more expensive than in Bristol so be prepared. Travelling around this huge country is costly and time-consuming because of the distances so I would advise everyone planning to study in Shanghai to save up as much as you can.
Why France and China?
The reason why I chose France to study is because I wanted to make sure I can build more international experience through my ‘Year Abroad’ scheme and France just seemed to be one of the perfect locations to do so. My goal was to live in a country which is a founding member of the EU and is totally different from the UK in terms of culture.
China has always been one of those destinations I have been dreaming about ever since I was a child. When I found out ESSCA has a campus in Shanghai I was beyond happy. China for me is the Rome of business world where all businesses leads to China. Because of the nature of my international business studies, I wanted to further build my experiences in a country taking a lead of newness, innovation and world trade.
How do I find my way around in Shanghai?
Before I came to China, I already downloaded multiple apps on my phone, saved all important addresses both in English and Chinese, made sure I always had a copy of UWE Travel Insurance on my phone and I already familiarized myself with the metro lines. There are several websites and apps you can take advantage of, and these are the ones that I found to be the most helpful:
- TripAdvisor (guidance when visiting other cities)
- Bon App! (like TA but more complex with local metro map)
- SmartShanghai (detailed list of services, shops, information about SH)
- Moovit (navigation app)
- Sherpa’s (food delivery)
- Epermarket (online supermarket for Western style grocery shopping)
This list is not full and there are many other apps and websites available.
How did I develop personally and professionally during ‘Study Abroad’?
‘Study Year Abroad’ allows me to further extend my knowledge and experience on the following topics: cross-cultural management, international human resources, international marketing, artificial intelligence, the energy sector, old and contemporary European and Chinese history and politics, the European Union, French and Chinese languages, doing business in China and many more.
As well as personal development, I have gained and further extended my academic skills and abilities. Both France and China have prepared me to take on the next challenges. I believe, with cultural awareness my ability to adapt to change of circumstances and openness for newness has prepared me to gain new experiences and makes me brave enough to apply for international jobs in the future.