FEB AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT
CONNIE WU, CHINA
Connie Wu came to Leuven to deepen and expand her knowledge of finance with a Master in Business Economics. She is now crafting her career path towards strategic consultancy in the Netherlands.
“An exchange to Edinburgh in the UK during my bachelor programme in accounting in China gave me a first taste of studying abroad. I liked the experience and the different educational system, so I wanted to further explore Europe.”
“An Italian friend recommended KU Leuven as a good university with serious research. The Business Economics programme caught my interest because I like finance but do not want to continue in accounting. To broaden my career options, I decided to learn more about different aspects and specialisations such as micro finance, security pricing … Business Economics offers quite some choice to customise your programme.”
“When I applied, I chose Financial Economics as my major and Accounting and Finance as my minor. I wanted to see how these subjects differed from my bachelor. On our first day, however, we had an introduction for all new students. We were divided into groups and informed about our programme specifics. There I changed my mind and switched my minor to something quite different, Production and Logistics. After all, my main aim was to diversify. I grew quite fond of Operations Strategy, not only because the professor is very funny, but also because I gained great insights.
It influenced my career plans towards a more strategic path. Joining a team for the BCG Strategy Cup, a case competition where you have to suggest how a company can improve its strategy, probably also affected my decision.” “Business Finance still remains my absolutely favourite course as it comprises all aspects of the cycle of a financial department – from start-up to growth and when you are big enough, investing in other companies. I loved the overview of how a financial department grows, what you have to do and what knowledge you need at different stages. Currently I am doing an internship in a venture capital company in Eindhoven to see how the different methodologies to invest in other companies work in practice – so interesting!”
THE NETHERLANDS “I have been living in the Netherlands since February as the pandemic makes it hard and expensive to return home. So I started as a consultant at PwC in Amsterdam in November. I like the strategy parts of my internship and meeting with companies to analyse different aspects: commerce, finance, business and some technology. Analysing and solving problems is my cup of tea, but I feel like I am not fully applying my financial knowledge yet, so I am slightly changing course from investing to consulting in the financial specialisation.” “I started my application at KU Leuven quite early, about one year beforehand, to get the admission tests and administration done. I actually feel a bit sorry about sending so many emails with questions. Nevertheless, I always received detailed and thorough answers, got a lot of help and the staff were nice.”
A GOOD TIME IN LEUVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC “In September 2019 I arrived in Leuven and had an amazing semester before the pandemic hit, so I feel very lucky. I am quite organised and already had arranged housing before I arrived. I did not want to stress about that any more upon arrival and focused on all the activities, such as the orientation days. I basically signed up for everything. In the week before the start of the academic year my daily agenda was full of events, lunches, making new friends and going out. I had a lot of fun!” “’Study hard, party hard’ is a good summary of my first semester. I lived in a student residence with both local and international students. We always said that locals party from Monday to Thursday and international students from Friday to Sunday, but if you have friends in both groups, you are never at home. I enjoyed the energetic and lively atmosphere, and I am very grateful for that experience before the arrival of COVID.” “Online classes were a big change for everyone. Professors needed to figure out what worked, and we had to get used to different methods. Although I definitely prefer offline classes, I can say professors and staff made a lot of effort to make sure we learned, understood and could always ask questions.” “Our residence became very quiet as well since Belgian students all went home during lockdown. Luckily, I still had the company of some international students. We cooked and ate together, and it helped a lot to still have friends around while you could not go out. Of course, we also had plenty of time to study and work on our thesis.”
FEELS LIKE HOME “I definitely recommend KU Leuven to other students. I had a great time and love the city of Leuven. To me it feels like home, so I returned from the Netherlands for the summer and the graduation ceremony. KU Leuven wholeheartedly welcomes international students and makes efforts to make a diverse audience feel at home. Compared to the UK, living expenses are quite affordable too. And not speaking Dutch is not a big hurdle since most people understand English. So do not be afraid. There are plenty of academic, cultural and social activities, events and organisations which you can join to try out and embrace new things. I have attended a lot and obtained and received a lot - not only friendships, but experience and new views from different people as well - and that is exactly the point of studying abroad!”
LYNN KURNIAWAN, INDONESIA
Veterinarian Lynn Kurniawan decided to leave her comfort zone and dove into the unknown world of economics in Brussels while studying the Master in International Business Economics and Management (MIBEM).
“After working for 3,5 years as a veterinarian, I felt ready for something more. I have always been curious about business and economics, but these topics were rarely talked about in my family nor a substantial subject in vet school. The field thus became very distant and intimidating. Slowly, I started looking into universities that offer a master’s programme in business and economics. Who knows what I can achieve with the added value?”
“Europe was always on the back of my mind when looking for a suitable place to pursue a master. I have travelled quite a bit but mostly within Indonesia. I wanted to know what it was like to live in Europe. So when a friend recommended KU Leuven as an old and renowned university, I looked for suitable courses almost immediately.
I stumbled upon the MIBEM and had a hunch that the programme would be a good fit for me, as it was tailored for people with no economic background. Before applying I visited the Brussels Campus and spoke with the programme coordinator. The fact that she took the time to meet in person and explain about the programme and the university really got me interested. I immediately felt a connection.” “No matter how well I prepared before my arrival, I still felt stressed in the beginning, particularly about administrative things such as visa application and university registration.Thankfully KU Leuven provided detailed information about the process and support to get things done properly. The checklist, personal suggestions for my ISP, and the information sessions about insurance and other administrative matters at the start of the academic year were particularly useful.”
HELPFUL PROFESSORS “I started the one-semester preparatory programme leading upto the one-year master and attended one semester of normal classes before the pandemic hit. I felt more at ease once the lessons started. The professors provided clear explanations and were open for questions and discussions both during and after class. The same effort was made during the pandemic when we had to switch to online classes. Some professors really went out of their way to help us, which I appreciated very much. Going online and staring at a screen the entire day was probably my biggest challenge during my studies as I have always been a dynamic person. But I always look for the silver lining in less favourable situations, so I realised that online classes gave me extra time to take notes, enabled me to replay parts that I didn’t immediately understand, and gave me the freedom to stop and continue class when I wanted.”
“The course which I found most relevant was Human Resources Management, as my research and master’s thesis was about mental health and burn-out among veterinarians in Indonesia – a first in my home country. The insights in mental health issues among vets were eye-opening for both myself and my colleagues. I have so far been invited to share my research results in two podcasts and the engagement was overwhelming. People were grateful that the subject was finally brought up, which made it extra special. I also liked Accounting. I am a fan of numbers and hope to put my knowledge to good use in the future.”
“I am glad that I was able to join a few extra-curricular activities before the pandemic, such as the Wolfpack Sessions and the student ambassadorship. The Wolfpack Sessions about entrepreneurship brought together a group of students from different programmes and with different interests. We discussed various topics in a casual and relaxed environment. An international programme like MIBEM puts so many interesting people on your way with whom you can have nice discussions. I even met an Indonesian whom I would probably never meet at home!”
BRUSSELS: GREAT CITY! “The worst part about the lockdown was probably the limited contact I had with my friends and classmates. We could no longer meet in the city centre for lunch or for a drink. This was quite apparent during graduation, as I saw people from my programme whom I had never met before. On the bright side, some time during the pandemic I bought a better bicycle to explore Brussels and its surroundings. Cycling was less stressful at the time because there were less cars and the streets were quiet. That was somewhat relaxing.” “My study period in Belgium was not entirely as I had imagined it, but I certainly enjoyed it. I have proven to myself that I too can comprehend and work in business and economics. I am quite proud of myself, and I thank the staff, professors, and my friends and family for their support.”
“I can definitely recommend MIBEM to anyone without a business or economic background who wants to learn more about this field. Check the website to see if it is what you are looking for. If you have questions or doubts, never hesitate to contact the student ambassadors or programme coordinator. They are always happy to help.” “Brussels is a big city, so be prepared. Take this opportunity to explore and get to know new people. People at the university are very open to conversations, so do not be too shy. You never know what you might learn.”
Veerle De Grauwe