Applying to business school? Prepare for a wild ride

Posted By: Camila Galdino Mendes on November 28, 2017

A couple of years ago, I decided to pursue my MBA. Living abroad had always been a dream of mine so I started looking at programs in Canada and Europe and in 2015 attended my first MBA fair in Rio de Janeiro. From there, I couldn’t have imagined the rollercoaster ride I was about to experience.

Choosing the universities to apply to was the easiest task. The Queen’s MBA program at Smith School of Business was at the top of my mind from the moment I discovered the program. Nevertheless, the application process was demanding and completely different from those required by Brazilian universities. It involved translating my resume, writing a cover letter, researching the most random topic (my actions if I were president of my country), preparing for the interview, taking the GMAT - all while I was working and completing my first master's degree.

My hard work paid off when I received an offer. Now you may think that’s the end of the ride, not so. Once I got in, it was time to go after my visa, obtain a loan, and start packing. All of this was exciting until I got an email, from Prodigy, saying that I only got 50 percent of my loan approved. How was I going to get the money to pay for tuition without that loan? I gathered all my savings and created a Facebook page where I started selling everything I could, from nail polishes to furniture. With my parents and my sister loaning me the remainder, I finally had the money to pay the tuition. Great right? Now I can go to Canada!

I arrived in Kingston to an apartment that I rented online. I wasn’t sure if it would look like the pictures or turn out to be a total disappointment. Luckily, it was perfect. Everyone in Kingston is so friendly and willing to help. When you hear that Canadians are nice people, it is not just a stereotype. After six months, I am still surprised by how nice they are. For example, during our first week in the program, every single student that I spoke with became one of the nicest people that I have ever met. It was actually weird to see so many people coming up to me and acting genuinely interested in getting to know me because I simply was not used to it. I am amazed by how it is possible to have such smart, successful, interesting and genuinely good people all in the same room. If there is one thing that I will take forever in my heart from this program, I am sure it will be the privilege of sitting in a classroom and sharing this wonderful experience with these 81 other students.

During the first week of classes, I was completely exhausted by the end of each day. You can take English classes in your home country, have many conversations in English beforehand, and think you have enough experience to navigate an English-taught program, but realistically, listening to six hours of content-heavy classes in a foreign language is overwhelming. It requires twice as much effort and concentration. As an international student, you also have to work twice as hard to prepare to for a presentation to the entire class in English, however, it does not stop there.

Things never stop around here, so if you think you are getting the hang of it, just wait! There are constant challenges and self-improvement, but it is all so rewarding. If you are reading this blog and wondering if you have what it takes, just remember: you are more resilient than you know, and more capable than you can imagine. Follow your heart and give it everything you have.