As a Lebanese student who had never lived outside her home country, I was paralyzed by the thought of doing a master’s degree abroad. However, I knew that I had to experience new things, get out of my comfort zone, and earn a degree from an internationally recognized institution to open the door for better job opportunities. While I was looking at different universities and programs all over the world, I couldn’t even decide what countries or universities to focus my research on. One day, while looking at programs and ranking websites, I found the perfect combination for me in the M.S. in Global Commerce Program.
The Program brought together multiple cultures and experiences from around the world, offered global strategy and marketing courses, and provided the opportunity to study at three great universities. This Program soon became my #1 choice. I organized my ideas, knew what I wanted to do, studied for the GMAT, applied to the Program and others, and was accepted to all of them. Making the decision to come here was actually really easy, I knew that it was going to be a tough, but an amazing year at the same time.
I couldn’t be more proud of my decision. Ever since I arrived at UVA in Charlottesville, my life completely changed. Meeting all these people from around the world opened my eyes to new opportunities and options I never considered before. We all love different things and have distinctive customs, but sharing, discovering them, and even adopting some of the routines is for me one of the best parts of the Program.
An accurate example would be our roommate relationships. In Charlottesville, everyone was assigned two roommates to share an apartment with. I have the pleasure of sharing my apartment with an American student and a Chinese student. During my first week, Ellie, our roommate from San Francisco, offered us waffles (Eggo Waffles to be exact) for breakfast. Iris, my Chinese roommate, and I were instantly addicted and now each one of us has our own box.
Another thing I love about the Program is the fact that in Charlottesville all of us are in the same apartment complex. We all live in proximity to each other in two buildings facing one another and have big living rooms where we gather all the time. One of my favorite things, maybe what I am going to miss the most, is the ease and habit we have of just going to other people’s apartments and spending time with them.
I also love Charlottesville. It is a great place that I never expected to love so much. The downtown area may be my favorite part of this city. It is beautiful and full of different activities. It is also famous for its restaurants, but keep in mind all the restaurants in Charlottesville are really good! The Belmont area is also a really nice place to spend an evening! As a cohort, we love to discover new places, go on road trips, and explore nearby places.
We went on hikes in different parks, tried several wineries with amazing scenery, explored Monticello, discovered cideries—so many fun adventures! We, the international students, also got the chance to discover more about the American football culture. We attended a lot of the UVA games (since they are free for students), and might I say that the first two times blew my mind. I had never experienced anything like this before. The sense of belonging to my university’s team was so strong, but the most impressive part was the atmosphere of the game, with the entrance of the players, the Cavalier Marching Band, the cheerleaders, and so much more.
What I definitely enjoy the most are our Thursdays, because every week we go to a brewery, gathering as many people as possible. I personally don’t like beer and don’t drink any, but it doesn’t change anything about how fun this is and we always have a fun time together.
I am very excited for our next study location at Lingnan (University) College in Guangzhou, China. I’ve never been anywhere in East Asia, so I am really looking forward to discovering this area. We will be there during Chinese New Year, which will be the perfect occasion to discover more about the country and its traditions. Keep up with our adventures by following the UVA McIntire Grad Instagram account.