As I highlighted on a previous blog post, Imperial was ranked by Times Higher Education as the UK’s most international university. Indeed, Imperial’s leaders have been very intentional about recruiting international staff and student talent, collaborating with universities around the world, and putting global issues on the agenda in forums and the classroom.
Unlike comparable MSc programmes at other universities, the Business School’s website actually emphasises the number of nationalities within each programme. These statistics demonstrate Imperial’s international values and are quite impressive (i.e. the MSc Strategic Marketing has 53 different nationalities represented).
Personally, I have really enjoyed the international aspect of this year and collaborating with classmates from all parts of the globe. A diverse classroom challenges you to think in new ways and creates an overall richer academic experience. In the words of President Alice Gast, “Innovation often emerges from the creative synergies that occur when people from different cultures, disciplines and sectors come together.” Besides the key benefit of greater innovation and discovery, being in such a diverse environment allows fantastic opportunities for travelling.
Over the past few months, I have received invitations from classmates to visit their homes in Holland, India, Italy, and Lebanon. Since I am still technically a student (and have to do student things like go to class and work on projects), I have not been able to go on all of these trips yet. Recently, however, I was able to accompany my classmate to her hometown in Savona, Italy, and had a very authentic Italian experience.
So what does an authentic Italian experience entail? Well for starters, it involves learning survival Italian (ciao, grazie mille, arrivederci, pasta fresca, gelato, etc.) and any taboos. Probably, the most important taboo is matching pasta with the incorrect sauce. I learned not to do this again when I asked for ravioli with pesto sauce (which is a specialty of the Liguria region). The waitress looked at me like I was crazy and suggested the more appropriate trofie pasta, which I did not even know existed beforehand.
Besides enjoying amazing food like farinata and many varieties of hazelnut gelato throughout the week, other perks included relaxing on secluded Mediterranean beaches and also hiking in places that I have seen on Pinterest and only dreamed of visiting like Cinque Terre. It was also fun to meet so many Italians and learn about a lifestyle that is much different than what I am used to in the States. I think I can get used to some Italian daily rituals like riding on Vespa’s or an espresso after each meal…
Especially in post-Brexit times, I am proud to be a student at a university that emphasises the importance of being a global institution and enables many opportunities for learning about other cultures, both inside and outside the classroom.