Students can gain international exposure with campuses in Singapore, Cergy, and Rabat, 175 exchange partnerships, and ESSEC Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA).

Having lived in Asia her whole life and gotten a glimpse of European culture while studying at ESSEC Business School, Student Ambassador Sagarika Majumdar set her sights on North America and landed at the Smith School of Business in Canada.

On the other hand, her senior from China, Manqi Zhao, took on the International Business Education Alliance (IBEA) program on a journey that brought her to Singapore, Germany, Brazil, and the USA.

Different though their pathways may have been, the ways they have found to make the most of their time overseas are remarkably similar.

1 | Travel, Travel, Travel!

Sagarika’s advice is to carve out time to travel near the school and to nearby cities and even countries. Being based between Toronto and Montreal has allowed her to explore both cities and to date, some of her best memories include admiring the view at the top of the CN Tower and the breathtaking sight of Niagara Falls.

“It was the most fun and a sight I’ll never forget,” she recalls. And to keep things budget-friendly, it helps to plan these trips in advance so you can take advantage of lower-priced flights and train tickets!

2 | Find Your Tribe

The two have also found that it is not necessarily what they do but who they do it with that matters.

For example, Manqi says, “One of my best memories was on graduation day in Brazil when the IBEA family gathered on a rooftop with a view of the entire city of Rio and just enjoyed the sunset!”

Sagarika feels similarly. “It was delightful when we organized a potluck to share food from our home countries. There were dishes from Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, India, and France,” she recalls, adding that although it was a simple meal, the experience made Canada feel like home and is now one of her best memories in the country.

What are her tips for finding one’s tribe while on exchange? Besides mingling with housemates, she actively befriends classmates of all nationalities through group projects!

3 | Keep the Momentum to Learn

Despite the fun an exchange can bring, it is essential not to let one’s grades slip and to continue seizing learning opportunities. For Sagarika, actively participating in class has brought benefits. She says:

“I’ve learned about international business strategy, data analytics, and forecasting. I’ve also had the opportunity to understand the nuances of how Canadian companies function and gained valuable insights from professors—all of which I believe will support my career in the future.”

Manqi, who had the privilege of working on business challenges with local companies in each country she visited, agrees. Taking these projects seriously earned her the trust of the companies, which in turn offered her and her peers more opportunities to learn and grow, she says.

Now, a marketing analyst at furniture brand Castlery, Manqi testifies to how the projects done on the exchange have helped her understand different business functions. She says, with her experiences in new cultures, “I can easily connect with colleagues and vendors from various backgrounds. I believe the experiences have shaped my communication skills and perspectives on life!”