Standing at the cusp of graduation, fourth-year Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) student, Katherinne Zuñiga is wrapping up her ESSEC Business School education with a project management internship at telemedicine start-up, Doctor Anywhere in Athens. It’s a move that has taken her far out of her comfort zone—but one that she found the inspiration and courage to make thanks to the International Business Education Alliance (IBEA) program.

Tell us a little about yourself. What are your goals for the future?

I’m passionate about entertainment, traveling, culture, and fashion, and I would say that my goal is to work in something that has a social impact. I want a dynamic role that oversees different projects and requires my creativity, organization, and time management skills.

Why did you join the IBEA track instead of attending an exchange program?

I wanted to study, work, and live in different countries. The IBEA program was a chance to experience what ESSEC offers—like apprenticeships, exchange programs, double degrees, and more.

For example, like an apprenticeship, I would have the chance to work on projects with different companies each semester. Like a double degree, I would be considered a graduate of ESSEC and the IBEA program. Finally, studying in four other universities would be similar to doing multiple exchange programs.

COVID-19 hit when your IBEA experience started. How did it affect your experience?

It seemed devastating initially, but good things came out: The cohort bonded virtually through weekly team meetings for projects. We also learned to work within different time zones—sometimes with people from up to four different time zones in a group.

Overall, it made us appreciate the opportunities to live abroad in the following few semesters. Once we were all reunited in Singapore, we didn’t waste any time—everyone wanted to make the most of what we had.

So, what are your best memories?

My cohort started doing running dinners when we were in Germany and kept it up all the way until we were in Brazil. We would be paired with another IBEA track student we didn’t know for each running dinner. Each pair would need to create a dish—whether an appetizer, main dish, or dessert—and bring their contribution to share with another pair of students. I loved this; it helped us get to know each other better.

Looking back now, has the IBEA program lived up to your expectations?

It has enabled me to grow as a person. I’ve found that it’s possible to feel at home in countries I would never have imagined living in, and I’ve gotten to know some of the most unique people. I’ve also learned to enjoy being outside my comfort zone and become more open-minded.

This has prepared me for my new adventure in Greece and the steps I will take after that. To me, the IBEA program is a lifestyle. I can no longer see myself living a “normal” life, and I am motivated to develop an even more international profile now.

Any advice for future IBEA students?

Try to learn Portuguese or German because knowing the basics of either language will make you enjoy your IBEA journey even more. Start living the IBEA experience from day one by getting to know your IBEA classmates. Get to know the city you are in, and don’t leave plans for later!