Students from Singapore and Indonesia share how intercampus mobility and exchange programs offer SEA students an international experience from the comforts of home
Work attachments help develop both interests and character
Asia-Pacific community is vibrant and close-knit
The opportunity to travel and explore new cultures while completing an undergraduate degree may sound appealing to many, but for those fresh out of high school, the excitement can be tempered by costs and the fears of living far away from home.
This is perhaps why after graduating from SMA Kristen Petra 2 Surabaya, while Priscilla Ayleen took the leap to join ESSEC Business School’s Global Bachelor in Business Administration (GBBA) program, many of her peers opted to remain in Indonesia for their undergraduate studies.
Sentiments are similar for those growing up in Singapore, her classmate, Hiba Nizami notes. Having lived in Singapore and studied at the Global Indian International School, she explains: “I think a big concern would be leaving our families and the safety of our country to start a new chapter overseas.”
For those with these concerns, ESSEC Business School offers a solution.
Gaining the Best of Both Worlds
Southeast Asian students accepted to the GBBA program can choose to start their journey at the Singapore campus—a short car ride or flight away from home.
Intercampus mobility means that they have the opportunity to spend a semester at the ESSEC France or Morocco campuses, and as ESSEC has exchange programs with over 175 partner universities across the globe, there is plenty of opportunity to travel and see the world when they are ready.
“I personally chose ESSEC because this would give me the best of both words—being close to home, and being able to travel,” Hiba, who is entering her second year at ESSEC, shares.
She adds that the international experience is amplified by ESSEC’s diverse student body. One of her first few projects, for example, saw her work with people from France and Russia and learn volumes about their different cultures in the process.
“I believe this is important because in the globalized world, we need to be able to work with people from different countries,” she says.
Testament to this, Zachary Tan, an ESSEC GBBA alumni from the class of 2021, has found the skills gained at ESSEC invaluable to his career as a data consultant at Dubai-based firm, Artefact, where he needs to work with different nationalities.
“At ESSEC, there is a lot of emphasis on learning about different countries. This is reflected in all of our classes—from economics, to marketing, and even communication,” the Singaporean Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) alumnus shares, adding that this exposure is what led to his decision to work overseas.
“I gained a much greater appreciation for different cultures, realized that there is just so much to explore and experience out there in the world, and didn't want to limit myself to living in the same country I grew up in,” he explains.
Developing a Sense of Self
Like Zachary, Hiba and Priscilla have found their time at ESSEC Asia-Pacific to be one of self-discovery.
This is in part because of the emphasis on group work and presentations, which have boosted Hiba’s confidence and ability to articulate her ideas and thoughts. But it is also because of the school’s emphasis on gaining work experience and requirement for students to take three internships before graduation.
“I think it is a unique feature and huge benefit that as an ESSEC student, I can take on a paid internship and part-time job,” Priscilla says. While Hiba has used her first internship to learn more about marketing, she seized the opportunity to explore the hospitality industry as an F&B intern at luxury hotel, Sofitel.
She also found work as a barista to supplement her pocket money—and in the process, honed her skills in time management and communication.
“I’m still figuring out what I want to do in the future, so these experiences are helping me get to know myself better as I discover what I enjoy doing,” she shares.
Building Community and Connections
But their favorite thing about ESSEC Asia-Pacific? The small cohort size.
“The community is close-knit and it’s possible to get to know almost everyone,” Priscilla enthuses. Hiba agrees, noting that in just one year on campus, she has been able to develop meaningful relationships with both her peers and professors.
Despite the intimate campus size, there is also an abundance of student life activities, and while Hiba fondly recalls being able to host and perform on stage at a student talent night, Priscilla is full of stories about her time dragon boating and visiting popular local food spots with her peers.
“My advice is to come to ESSEC if you want to move outside of your comfort zone, take a hands-on approach to learning, and see what the world has to offer,” Zachary declares. After all, for those in Southeast Asia, the campus is both close enough to home, and brings experiences that hit home in all aspects of one’s professional and personal lives.