During his 3rd year, Matthias studied at both our Dubai and Malaysia campuses as part of an Inter-Campus Transfer. He is an International Business Management student from Scotland/Germany.
Why did you decide to take part in a Global Student Programme at Heriot-Watt?
The opportunity to study in two vastly dissimilar cultures that had admittedly been off my radar beforehand promised to both broaden my outlook and turbocharge my career prospects. The programme offered a sound platform to analyse the nature of business in large commercial capitals, all the while within the comfort of Heriot-Watt's international campus network. In retrospect the year delivered beyond my highest expectations.
How did studying in Dubai and Malaysia differ from studying in the UK?
The study environment in Dubai and Malaysia was similar to Edinburgh in many respects. For one, the Heriot-Watt course material is used and often co-written by faculty from the overseas campuses, where lecturers then tailor presentations to the local student base. The Heriot-Watt ‘Vision' portal is shared so there was no need to accustom to a new IT system. Classrooms were a little smaller, resulting in interactive lectures and lively debate between class and faculty. Outwith the lecture theatre, life is much different.
What were the highlights from your global student experience?
The year was chock-full with activity and travel, with many memories to take back and reflect on. The opportunity to converse with the Ministers for Higher Education in both Dubai and Malaysia was special, however time spent as a volunteer primary teacher in a UNHCR school for refugees was perhaps most poignant of all. Travel also played a large part. I was very fortunate to visit the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, stunning Thai coasts, Singapore Gardens, and also to attend the Hong Kong Rugby 7s. It all goes by very quickly!
Was there anything that you found challenging about studying in Dubai or Malaysia?
While the default language in both Dubai and Malaysia is usually English and everyone is extremely hospitable, it did take some time to get my head around the local culture. One must decide how to conduct oneself appropriately under land rule that is more strongly guided by religion, and moreover the humour is different. It can take some trial and error to suss out quite how to be funny, something I'm not certain I had even cracked back home.
How do you think being a global student will benefit you in your career after university?
My time abroad certainly gave me the vocabulary and knowledge to start really talking to employers about international business. I've hopefully gained a heightened understanding of the decisions businesses need to make before entering foreign markets. Latterly, I was fortunate to pick up an internship in Hong Kong which opened up doors to yet another global commercial epicentre.
Do you keep in touch with anyone that you met during your Inter-Campus Transfer?
The great thing about the Dubai Campus was the vast diversity of nationalities in the classroom, from America to South Africa and Kazakhstan to Australia. I made some great friends from different backgrounds on both campuses and still keep in touch with them today. In fact, one or two seem to have tailed me back to Edinburgh and are now experiencing a Heriot-Watt Inter-Campus Transfer of their own.
What advice would you give other students thinking of taking part in Heriot-Watt's Global Student Programme?
To make the most of the year abroad, plan ahead. Building a small network of people to meet on arrival takes away the daunting feeling of not knowing anyone and may lend the opportunity to do things one may otherwise not have – try friends, family and the University for links. There are also a range of travel blogs, some of which written by Heriot-Watt students, that outline major musts and must nots for the year. Lastly, I urge students to cram in as much as humanly possible – regret and a long flight home don't pair well!