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I learned to cope with cultural differences

Britt International Business
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I am Britt, originally from the Netherlands, but currently living in Germany. I am a second-year International Business student. Originally I was supposed to study Dental Hygiene, but since it is a restricted-intake programme it was very hard to get in. I doubted the choice as it would be a study with quite a fixed path. I would learn to become a dental hygienist, which felt like it was limiting my choices to be made in the future.

For this reason, I decided to look for a degree with a broader perspective and a broader curriculum that offers me more opportunities in my future career. I knew that I did not want study at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, because that university did not impress me. Then I saw that Windesheim offered the programmes International Business and Global Project and Change Management. These two immediately caught my eye. I decided to read through the descriptions and do some more research on the Windesheim website. I really wanted to work internationally, make use of my language skills and work with different people from all over the world. Of these two studies, International Business was the study that aligned most with my goals and desires. I knew this would be the perfect study for me when I found out about the four key business areas: Organizations & People, Marketing & Sales, Finance & Accounting, and Operations & Supply Chain Management. It offers a broad selection of courses, subjects, and case studies, using actual companies whilst cooperating with businesses. 

Planning well

My experiences so far have been very good. In my first year, I was given a lot of individual tasks and portfolios to make, as well as a vast number of different group projects. I chose French as my foreign language, which also means that I get to do my first internship abroad in a French-speaking country. I am going to Paris, but there are many other countries and places to choose from. In the first year, there were four periods, each covering one of the four key business areas. As there are quite a lot of different courses each period, it is important to plan well. What really helped me was to make a list of all the deadlines and clearly write down your process. 

Office time is very beneficial

The schedule also differs per period, even per week and per day. There is not a day that is the same. In the first period of my first year, I went to school often. But in the second period I went to the University merely 2 to 3 times a week. During the last period of my first year, I also had a lot of study time at home, which I really liked. I get the most done when working from home, so that really benefits me in the sense that I can choose for myself when to work on what course or task. In addition to this, there is the Community, which is a so-called “office time” where students from several classes sit together in one room (usually X8.10). We are given the opportunity to work on group projects, individual tasks, or other activities. This lasts 4 hours and is super beneficial as that is the perfect time to work together with your project group. Besides Community, there are lectures, practices, and workshops. Lectures always incorporate a presentation in which the lecturer explains something new about the specific course. Practices and workshops involve practical exercises and tasks in which we incorporate the knowledge and content gained from the lectures. 

Focus on personal and professional development

I like the broad selection of courses that is offered, especially in the first year. Even though the study load is rather high, it is all very doable when you're dedicated and motivated. I like that we can work from home quite often, as it gives me a lot of independence. Additionally, I like it that this study is taught in English whilst all teachers always talk English and all assignments are also in English. I have improved lots on my English ever since I started to study International Business. What I also like about this programme is that it focuses a lot on personal and professional development, as well as developing soft skills. 21st-century skills are highly prioritized. This really benefits my future career.

Next to this, the programme incorporates courses such as Ways of Thinking and Ways of Working. This also contribute to your personal and professional growth in a way that they focus on critical, creative, and design thinking as well as building and improving English communication skills. I learned many models, theories, and important business-related topics that I can make use of. The fact that I had projects and case studies with real companies, makes it a lot more interesting and exciting to work on. It motivates me to know that what I am doing actually benefits a real organization.

Additionally, I like that this study also focuses on presentation and pitching skills, as well as on how to take on different roles when working with a group of people. This helped me discover what role fits me best (for example, a leadership role). 

Working with many people

It was definitely challenging to make the switch from high school to university. Not only the workload but also the approach and way of working is very different. Another challenge for me was the wide variety of subjects and courses. It is amazing to learn so many things, but that also requires a lot of flexibility and an open mind when wanting to actively involve yourself in these courses, as they are so different from each other.

Another challenge was the many group projects. I like working together with people, but I had to get used to working with so many different people and taking into account so many different viewpoints. Sometimes it was rather challenging to find the balance, and I really had to learn how to cope with it because I work very well independently. I did enjoy all projects. It gave me new insight into what it is like to work with all kinds of different people and different cultures whilst talking English most of the time.

Coping with cultural differences

I learned that soft skills are just as important. Sometimes even more important than hard skills! Knowing how to make use of both is very much what this study focuses on. I learned not only theories and models, but also how to implement them into projects and assignments. I also became a lot more aware of cultural differences and how to cope with them. It is very important to not only gain knowledge of business, but also learn about the ‘international’ aspects of doing business. We have to respect other cultures and be aware of those cultural differences, whilst embracing those when doing business. That international aspect makes this study so much fun!

Variety of courses

Windesheim is an amazing university. There are great opportunities to study at school, as it provides a lot of study areas where everyone is free to sit. I am mainly in the X-building, so I can only speak about that, but it is my favourite building. There is a Starbucks, several coffee stands, a cafeteria. There is also a bigger cafeteria in the C-building, and a café in the S-building. I like it that the X-building is very light due to its vast number of windows.

I like the variety of lectures, practices, workshops, and the independence we get from the study and lecturers. Coaches have personal conversations with you and really care about how you are doing. There is always a teacher who takes the time to listen and is open to new suggestions, ideas, improvements, and feedback. In addition to this, I like the feedback and the sessions about Personal and Professional Development with the coaches. When delivering an assignment, you usually receive a feedback sheet where the teacher has written down some improvement points, tips, and tops. It actively contributes to developing yourself during that time.

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