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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 numerus fixus study it was very hard to get accepted. I was doubting the choice as it would be a study with quite a fixed path as it would mean that I would learn to become a dental hygienist, and this felt like it was limiting my choices to be made in the future. 


For this reason, I decided to look for a study with a broader perspective and a broader curriculum that offers me more opportunities in my future career.  I knew that I did not want to go study at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen because the University did not impress me. Then I saw that Windesheim offered the study International Business and Global Project and Change Management. These two immediately caught my eye and to which I decided to read through the descriptions and do some more research on the Windesheim website. What I always really wanted was to work on an international base where I can 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. When I found out it would focus on the four key business areas them being Organizations & People, Marketing & Sales, Finance & Accounting, and Operations & Supply Chain Management, I knew this would be the perfect study for me. It offers a broad selection of courses, subjects, and case studies using actual companies whilst cooperating with businesses. 

It is important to keep good planning
My experiences so far are very good. In my first year, I was given a lot of individual tasks and portfolios to make as well as a vast amount 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 when you have French as a second language. In the first year, there were four periods of which each period covered one of the four key business areas. As there are quite a lot of different courses each period it is important to keep good planning and structure throughout the periods. 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 regarding the schedule. In the first period of my first year, I went to school fairly often whilst in the second period I went to the University merely 2-3 times a week. During the last period of my first year, I also had a lot of self-study time at home which I really liked. I get the most done when working from home so that really benefits me in a way that I can choose for myself when to work on what course or task. In addition to this, there is Community which is a so-called “office time” where students from several classes sit together in one room (usually X8.10) and are given the opportunity to work on group projects, individual tasks, or other activities they would like to work on during that time. Community, or Office, is always 4 hours and is super beneficial as that is the perfect time to work together with your project group on group assignments. This is because there is not really any other time during the week when there is that possibility to do so. Besides Community, there are lectures, practices, and workshops. Lectures always incorporate a presentation given by the teacher in which he or she explains something new about the specific course. Practices and workshops, as the names explain themselves, involve practical exercises and tasks for us students where we incorporate the knowledge and content gained from the lectures. 

I like the focus on personal and professional development
I like the broad selection of courses that is offered, especially in the first year of the study programme. Even though the study load is rather high, it is all very well doable when one is dedicated and motivated. I like the fact that we can work from home quite often as it gives me a lot of independence and time to choose for myself what courses I would like to work on. Additionally, I like 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, which really benefits my future career. 
Next to this, the programme incorporates courses such as Ways of Thinking and Ways of Working which 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 on English communication skills. What is also great about this study is that I learned many models, theories, and important business-related topics that I can make use of during my internships and future job positions. The fact that I had projects working with real companies and doing case studies that include 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 or can benefit a business in real-life. I like that the first year is very much about gaining knowledge in the four key business areas in which I learned a lot about different models, theories, and a wide variety of different skills in the designated topics and subjects at hand. Additionally, I like that this study also focuses on presentation and pitching skills as well as how to take on different roles when working with a group of people. This way, I was able to discover what role fits me best (for example leadership role). 

I really had to get used to working with so many different people
It was definitely challenging for me to make the switch from high school to university. Not only the workload but also how to approach things and how to work, differ a lot from each other. Another challenge for me was the wide variety of subjects and courses. It is amazing to learn so many different things but that also requires a lot of flexibility and open-mindedness when wanting to actively involve yourself in these courses as they are so different from each other. 
Another challenge for me was the many group projects. I like working together with people but I really had to get used to working with so many different people and taking into account so many different points of view. Sometimes it was rather challenging to find the balance in group work and I really had to learn how to cope with it because I work very well independently, by myself. I enjoyed all projects a lot though and learned so much from them. It also gave me many new insights into what it is like working with all kinds of different people and different cultures whilst talking English most of the time.

I learned how to cope with cultural differences
I learned that soft skills are just as important, and sometimes even a little more important, than hard skills. Knowing how to make use of both is very much what this study focuses on. I learned not only the content of the courses and the theories and models behind them but also learned how to implement them into the projects and assignments at hand which, for me, is the perfect way of learning. What I also learned is that as long as I am intrinsically motivated and eager to learn, I can achieve and manage anything, as long as I truly want it. Through this study, I also became a lot more aware of cultural differences and how to correctly cope with them. It is very important to not only gain knowledge in the part of business but also learn about the ‘international’ part when business. I think it is highly important to respect other cultures and be aware of those cultural differences whilst embracing those when doing business on an international basis. That is also what makes this study so much fun, the international aspect. 

I like the variety of lectures, practices and workshops
Windesheim, for me, 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 X building so I can only speak about that but it is also my favorite building. There is a Starbucks, several coffee stands, a cafeteria in X and a bigger cafeteria with a wider assortment in the C building, and a café in the S building. I like that the X building is very light due to its vast amount of windows. 
I like the variety of lectures, practices, and workshops, and the independence we get from the study itself but also from the teachers. Coaches have personal conversations with you and really care about how you are doing which I really like. It does not really matter what is going on, there is always a teacher that makes time to listen to you and is open to new suggestions, ideas, improvements, feedback, etc. In addition to this, I like the feedback and the sessions about Personal and Professional Development with the coaches. When delivering an assignment, one usually receives 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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