2024 MBAs Abroad: Maria Luisa Mena, Imperial College

Maria Luisa Mena

Imperial College Business School

Home City and Country: Santiago, Chile

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product Manager Hush Puppies Kids, Forus S.A

How has studying business in the United Kingdom enriched your learning experience? Studying business in the United Kingdom, particularly in London, has significantly enriched my learning experience in several ways. I have always desired to study in a country with top-tier universities and a native English-speaking environment. London emerged as the perfect choice due to its fulfilling all the criteria and my love for the city, including its vibrant parks, and unmatched diversity.

The diverse environment in London has proven to be an invaluable aspect of my learning journey. Leveraging my past international experiences, I acknowledge that diversity serves as a unique and powerful teacher. London’s unparalleled diversity has expanded my horizons, fostering personal growth and allowing me to establish a network with individuals from various backgrounds. This exposure has been instrumental in my professional development, offering insights into navigating a truly global and challenging business environment.

London’s unique combination of entrepreneurship, business hubs, and vibrant sectors like design and fashion aligns seamlessly with my professional interests. Studying here provides inspiration through observation of people, businesses, and the diverse market landscape, offering a profound understanding of opportunities. Additionally, creating networks with individuals from around the world has proven to be the most enriching aspect of studying business in the United Kingdom. The interactions with people from diverse cultural backgrounds contribute significantly to my education, providing a holistic and global perspective on business studies.

What has been the toughest transition to living in the United Kingdom so far? What have you done to overcome this difficulty? The primary challenge during this transition has been the distance from my familiar support system, which comprised family and friends providing daily support. In this new environment, I’ve had to reconstruct this support network to regain a sense of companionship and love. Given Chile’s significant emphasis on family life, being far from them and their daily support has proven to be the most formidable aspect of this transition.

I’ve invested significant energy in fostering new friendships to address this challenge, and luckily, I found amazing friends in my cohort. The crucial aspect involves nurturing and safeguarding this developing support network, ensuring my comfort and sense of value within it, and also tending to the well-being of my friends. The process of building these connections has played a pivotal role in overcoming the difficulties associated with the absence of my familiar support system, offering a profound sense of belonging and companionship in my new surroundings.

What school service has been the most helpful in transitioning to living in the United Kingdom? How has it helped you adapt? I’m genuinely impressed with the school’s services. They provide excellent resources and care for all students. The team in charge of our program is fantastic – they’re professional and caring. The school’s international team, who help with visas, and the health centre have been extremely helpful and valuable in making my move to the United Kingdom easier.

What has been the most interesting cultural nuance of people living in the United Kingdom? Why has this struck you? What has intrigued me the most about the people living in the United Kingdom is the cultural diversity and the vibrant atmosphere it creates in London. The coexistence and the joy of meeting people from all over the world have been particularly striking. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of respect shown towards individuals of all backgrounds.

Additionally, another aspect that has caught my attention is the friendliness of people in the UK and their delightful sense of humour.

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, after graduation, I am looking to get a visa to work in the United Kingdom. The good thing is that once I finish my programme, I can apply for a graduate visa, which is available for some master’s degrees and lasts for two years, allowing students to stay in the UK without a sponsor visa. In that regard, the experience has been positive, and I feel at ease.

Regarding obstacles, I’m not entirely sure yet because I still have almost a year left on my student visa. I will have to identify any potential challenges later when I start the process. For now, everything has been going smoothly.

What have you done to make it easier to make friends with people from outside your home country at business school? To facilitate making friends from outside my home country at business school, I’ve prioritized building connections within my cohort. I make sure to take advantage of social opportunities within the Master’s programme, including events organized by friends and various school initiatives. Actively participating, being present, and sharing experiences have been crucial in strengthening my bonds with classmates and forming meaningful friendships. Additionally, the university’s network is highly supportive and beneficial in fostering connections with people from diverse backgrounds.

What piece of advice would you give to an international student looking to study in a UK graduate business program? I would recommend actively reaching out to current students and alumni who have gone through the graduate business program you’re interested in. Listen to their insights, delve into their experiences, and thoroughly explore what the program and the UK have to offer. Additionally, I would advise dedicating time in building a strong network of contacts and friendships. In my opinion, it’s the most crucial ingredient for a positive international experience.


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