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Exams, papers, deadlines, and… overseas plane tickets? Most university students are guilty of looking up one-way rides to Australia or dreaming of escaping to tropical islands when they should be finishing up their final projects. Although it may seem like only a fantasy, combining travel and university is easier than one might think.

For students obtaining their MBA from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, going abroad is mandatory. UBC Sauder’s Global Immersion Experience allows students to travel and get first-hand business experience in exotic places like South America, South East Asia and Europe. 

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The Global Immersion Experience is a defining part of UBC Sauder’s full-time 16-month MBA program, offered by its Robert H. Lee Graduate School. After time spent preparing for consulting projects with organizations in assigned destination, students jet off and hit the ground running embedded with companies in countries like Denmark, India, China and Singapore. They get hands-on experience working in a new global environment and pair up with counterparts at UBC Sauder’s partner business schools. The authentic travel experiences enrich their lives and their abilities to apply business skills in new global contexts, ultimately enhancing their international career opportunities. 

“The Sauder Global Immersion Experience taught me not to be afraid to meet new people, and that making real connections is easier when you have a collective goal to work towards,” said 32-year-old UBC Sauder MBA graduate, Justin Penney, who travelled to Denmark with the program.

Not only did Justin get to test out working in a different culture, he also became immersed in Copenhagen’s daily life. “I would stop in at the same café on the way to the Metro each morning from my Airbnb flat. I began to notice familiar faces and, since I was ‘going to work’, I felt like I belonged there in a way that is very different from when I’ve visited other cities as a tourist.”

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When you travel while studying, you’ll also enjoy the sense of representing your school and country when abroad. “More than anything, it provided the feeling of performing for an out-of-town audience,” Justin said. “There was a heightened sense of responsibility to do our best in order to see how our efforts would compare to students from another country.”

Justin took a lot more away from this experience than simply a vow to return to Denmark someday. “I learned that we have a lot more in common with people from other cultures than we think, and that most people are facing the same kinds of challenges we are. Whether they’re looking for a new apartment in a crowded market, trying to get better at their jobs, or looking for something fun to do over the weekend, there is always a way to find something in common and make a connection with someone, regardless of where they are from.”

It’s rare for students who travel abroad as part of their program to return from the experience exactly the same as they left. It’s even rarer to find one who regretted their time overseas. At UBC Sauder, students graduate with a larger understanding about the world of business and the opportunities it presents.