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Business basics

Students exposed to international experiences

Business students participating in a semester long exchange at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, in Penang enjoy the sights during their first week of studies. Pictured L-R: Ann Jennings, Mike Johnson, Melissa Tulk, Anna Whelan, Laura Stewart, Adam Kilbride, Alex White-Dzuro, Sarah Whitty, Jenessa Byrne, Kristen Smith, Sarah Brett and Allan Kirkpatrick. The students studies in Malaysia focus primarily on international business practices.

Nineteen business students have traded in their snow shovels for sunscreen as they spend the winter semester at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang, Malaysia.

The Harlow-type Malaysia program is a new option for students who want international experience. The program was developed after the faculty noticed that many B.Comm. students said they wanted to study overseas but only a few were taking advantage of the exchange programs. The Harlow program, where students spend a semester at Memorial’s Harlow campus has long been popular with business students, so the Faculty of Business has tried to create something similar in Malaysia.

“We know our students want to go overseas and some of them like travelling with a group of fellow students,” explained Mike Burns, professor and director of the International Programs Office in the Faculty of Business Administration. “We talked to students and were careful to develop something that works for them.”
The students travel as a group and are accompanied by a MUN professor, who will guide them on the cross-cultural subtleties of the region as well as teach in two courses and give a number of research presentations. In addition to the business courses, the students will also take courses in Southeast Asian Studies from their host university.

Asia was chosen for a number of reasons. Over 60 per cent of the world’s population is found within the region, and Asia has been the engine of business growth and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Within Asia, the choice of Malaysia followed naturally.

“It’s a stable and friendly country. It’s primarily Muslim, with a number of significant cross-cultural elements. It is home to all of the major religions of the world, and it is a culture that is completely different from North America,” explained Prof. Burns. “It’s an opportunity for students to gain greater understanding about international business, the Muslim world, and the cross-cultural skills necessary to be successful in a global environment.”

Nicholas Langor has been in Malaysia for since the start of the new year. He said that he applied to the Malaysia program to enhance his degree. “I thought this experience would be an opportunity to gain an international outlook on business while broadening my horizons and availing of the opportunity to travel south east Asia.”

In addition to settling into the academic routine, he is also adjusting to the Malay culture. “The transition to the food, the values and norms of the Malaysian culture was easier than I initially thought it would be,” he said. “Although there are many differing elements from the Canadian culture we are used to, the university education at its core remains the same. Like at MUN, there is a particular emphasis on the quality of the education at USM. All of my courses have very engaging professors and I am eagerly looking forward to my studies here in Malaysia.”

Prof. Burns says the Malaysia semester is a new way for the Faculty of Business to create international opportunities for students that builds on existing programs.

“All of our students should develop international business competence, and this program is a new way we can do that. Between Harlow, international exchanges and this Malaysian program, 58 Memorial business students are studying abroad this semester.”

Prof Burns believes that if this program is successful, similar initiatives can be developed in locations such as China, Russia or South America.