"Being surrounded by mountains is a sight I don't think I'll ever get used to. I am in awe every time I walk to class."
This is how George Mason University junior Bukky Adeyokunnu, an information systems and operations management major within the School of Business, describes her study abroad experience in Marseille, France.
After meeting an exchange student from Marseille at George Mason's Center for Global Education (CGE) fair, Adeyokunnu was inspired to do more research on the program offered in Marseille. This past January, she began her own experience at the KEDGE Business School in Marseille, ranked as one of the best business schools in Europe by Financial Times.
"I chose Marseille because it looked like a great place to live–warm weather, near the Mediterranean (aka great seafood) and I've always wanted to learn French," explains Adeyokunnu. "It seemed like a fun place to be for five months."
She adds that one of the greatest benefits to studying at KEDGE is that it is one of Mason's Direct Exchange programs. Through the Direct Exchange semester program, students are able to take classes with credits that transfer back to Mason and oftentimes pay regular in-state Mason tuition for the program.
"KEDGE had more classes for me to choose from that would transfer," says Adeyokunnu. "I kept into consideration the classes I had already taken and would need to take to complete my degree on time. And the photos on the CGE website looked absolutely amazing, I was convinced!"
Adeyokunnu has gone from admiring amazing photos to experiencing those gorgeous sites in person. During a two-week winter break from classes, she took advantage of Marseille's central location and traveled across Europe to Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain.
In addition to enjoying the sights and culture of life in Europe, Adeyokunnu has found opportunities to make lasting connections and build her network abroad.
"One of my favorite experiences has been meeting and working with a diverse group of people from multiple cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I've met people from just about every continent," says Adeyokunnu.
In addition to expanding her network, studying abroad has given Adeyokunnu real-world experience to apply to her career down the road. She describes how working in an academic setting with students from different cultures adds a welcome twist to group work.
"At KEDGE, about 80 percent of my assignments are in a group. When brainstorming, the diversity definitely adds to the creativity. Having to work with different cultures is great preparation for the 'real world' of business," describes Adeyokunnu.
With the lasting memories, relationships, and real-world experience she has gained already, Adeyokunnu encourages every student to study abroad, "You learn so much outside of the classroom."
Before students take the leap across the pond, Adeyokunnu makes a few practical recommendations for studying abroad. These include budgeting for the trip (taking into account exchange rates and over-budgeting), finding out if scholarships and financial aid will transfer, researching locations and their culture, and perhaps most important–learning a different language.
"I would recommend students learn a different language. Not only does it make you more marketable in the job market, it also helps when you travel," explains Adeyokunnu. "Additionally, if you are studying international business, though English is more or less a standard, your business partners from other countries will be impressed if you make the effort to learn their language."
To learn more about study abroad opportunities at Mason, visit the Center for Global Education.