2024 MBAs Abroad: Aria Nurfikry, Cambridge Judge Business School

Aria Nurfikry

Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

Home City and Country: Jakarta, Indonesia

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Country Growth Manager, Jiva Agriculture

How has studying business in the United Kingdom enriched your learning experience? Cambridge has provided me with an immersive working and studying environment that has a combination of rich history and a passion for future innovation. In this environment, I also benefit from adapting to the working and studying culture that has different nuances than the culture I have in my home country of Indonesia. Additionally, seeing how Cambridge Judge has put such strong importance on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) has given me a broader perspective in understanding many issues that are important for business leadership. The combination of these factors undoubtedly will give me a better ability to adapt to the rapidly changing dynamics of global business.

Beyond the learning culture, the UK is such a melting pot that attracts many amazing people from all parts of the world to study here. The network I am building at Cambridge Judge, as well as the things I am learning as part of a global MBA cohort, is one of the best things about my experience here in Cambridge.

I also believe that a rich experience of studying in the United Kingdom means that you should do and try other things that are available here to also enrich you. In my case, as someone who enjoys art, especially by going to the museum and theatre, the UK offers such an amazing breadth of experiences. I have spent many days this term enjoying beautiful museums and great plays!

What has been the toughest transition to living in the United Kingdom so far? What have you done to overcome this difficulty? I came from a tropical country in Southeast Asia, so the immediately obvious adaptation is the climate difference – but not in the way that I expected. I found that I can adapt to the colder temperature easily by having the right warm clothing. What is surprising is how short the day is and how rarely I see the sun. At 4 pm in the winter, it is already dark in this country! I overcame this by shifting my sleeping and waking hours to make sure I get more sun, and I got a lamp for my room that helps simulate sunlight on darker days.

A tip for all tropical people in preparing for the UK winter: Don’t waste your luggage allowance by buying jackets in your home country, there are more options here when you arrive and there’s a lot of student discounts you can also take advantage of in many stores!

What school service has been the most helpful in transitioning to living in the United Kingdom? How has it helped you adapt? There are two Business School services that I have found the most helpful: The Cambridge Judge Business School Careers Team, and the counselling service offered by the university.

The main reason for many people to pursue an MBA is to take their career to the next level. Outside the main curriculum of the Cambridge MBA program, the school is assisting us through the career service, that offers many workshops and industry events to help students gain a better understanding of how to relaunch their career after their MBA, in the best way possible. I have personally learned many useful things in these workshops.

Studying, and handling the workload of the MBA courses, while adapting to a new life in a new country can be a stressful experience. I have found that when I am overwhelmed, talking to a counselor in the University has been a helpful way to cope and gain a better perspective of my situation. The University of Cambridge counselling service can offer you a consultation session with a very thoughtful and empathetic staff member who is ready to listen to you and help you to process your thoughts and emotions more clearly.

What has been the most interesting cultural nuance of people living in the United Kingdom? Why has this struck you? So many pubs! Pubs everywhere you look!

It immediately struck me because even in a small town like Cambridge, whichever direction you walk, you will find pubs within every 10 minutes of your walk.  And the sport that got people excited in these pubs is different than in my country. When I first arrived, everyone in every pub was excited by the Rugby World Cup. In my country, many people don’t even know what rugby is!

Are you seeking a Visa to work in the United Kingdom after graduation? If so, what obstacles have you faced and how did you overcome them? Yes, this is one of the options that I’m considering. What’s very interesting about the UK is the Graduate Visa scheme, where we can immediately apply for this visa after completing our studies. This visa scheme then allows graduates to stay in the UK for up to three years while we are looking for employment in the UK post-MBA.

With this current visa scheme, there are not many obstacles. However, do keep an eye on any news about the UK Government’s immigration policy, as this is quite an active topic in the UK and things are changing rapidly.

What have you done to make it easier to make friends with people from outside your home country at business school? Food exchange! Offer delicious food from your country and ask for recommendations about where to get great food from your friend’s country. Often, your new classmates and friends will invite you for a delicious home-cooked dinner from their own country’s cuisine. These dinners across the MBA cohort and among my international classmates have been the most amazing experience I have had.

What piece of advice would you give to an international student looking to study in a UK graduate business program? Know what you really want to get from your experience and learn how to prioritize that.

The most significantly different aspect of a UK graduate business program (as well as in some other European MBA program) is the 1-year timeframe. You are getting good value out of this because you can relaunch your career faster, and the cost is obviously lower than a 2-year program. However, you also need to be aware that this means you will take the same number of courses that you might find in a 2-year program, across a shorter time – (12 months) or 4 terms, as at Cambridge Judge Business School. This means that your time during those University terms will be very busy and your workload quite intensive. Your time will become so valuable.

In facing this situation, you need to be very good with your time-management and prioritization. Whatever it is you want to do during your MBA program, you will find opportunities to do it, but sometimes many interesting opportunities will also conflict with your schedule. When this happens, be honest about which opportunity aligns best with your MBA priorities and choose that opportunity. Manage your fear of missing out (FOMO) because, with your schedule, missing out on something is a reality you need to accept.


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