Balázs Besenyei: My exchange in Rotterdam
Last semester I had the opportunity to study in the Netherlands. I did my CEMS MIM exchange at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, one of the best business schools in the world. For those who haven’t heard about CEMS MIM, it is a global Master's in International Management program: alliance of 31 leading business schools across 6 continents with nearly 100 corporate and social partners. I am very glad to be part of this lively and inspiring community.
When I first arrived in the Netherlands from Hungary, I quickly noticed the difference of well-being between the two countries. The grass was also literally greener due to the always rainy weather, which was the only think I didn’t like there. Dutch people are very friendly, talkative, liberal and outgoing. Everybody speaks fluent English, even homeless people. I was lucky to have my own flat in the city center for the price of a single room. I lived close to the Market Hall in one of the most vibrant areas of Rotterdam.
The semester was a very good chance to learn a lot, gain professional experience and meet new people from different cultures and backgrounds. In my class 25 nationalities were represented, 59 students from 23 business schools. Most of them had already studied and lived in 2 or 3 countries and worked for many companies, so I experienced a huge knowledge and culture shock in the beginning. We really had a “work hard, play hard” attitude during the semester, I made many good friends from all around the world.
The lectures were more interactive than in Hungary and the courses had more diverse requirements. Teachers asked students frequently and we discussed a given topic or a problem together. The evaluation of the courses based on a 10 scale grading system and our final grades were usually divided into individual contribution, teamwork and peer evaluations. I studied Strategic Management Consulting, Management Challenges in International Organizations, Responsible Global Leadership and we also did a 15 ECTS International Business Project during the semester.
This business project was an interesting real-life consulting project. We had to find additional revenue sources to a Dutch company to fill a nearly 20 million EUR revenue gap. They are planning to launch 5 satellites in the following years to create heat maps of the Earth’s surface for agricultural purposes. We were asked to investigate further opportunities in different industries. Finally, we created a comprehensive business report and presented our solutions to the company, to a jury and to our classmates. It was a very useful learning experience, I worked with a German, Italian and Canadian student.
We had many company events thanks to the extensive local partnership of CEMS Club Rotterdam. For instance, we took part in a negotiation skill seminar with Henkel and visited Salesforce’s office in Amsterdam. Both of them are located in the most sustainable office building in the world, the Edge.
I also had some free time to travel and enjoy the beautiful Dutch environment. I visited Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Giethoorn, Brielle and Kinderdijk, I even brought home some good old cheese from Gouda. We climbed up to the top of Delft and had a look around in Ghent and Bruges in Belgium. Among the first CEMS events we traveled to Cologne to celebrate its crazy carnival in costumes, but we did not forget about the Chinese New Year either. We explored Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in Europe and its endless tulip fields around. I felt myself in Wonderland when we arrived. One day I cycled 110 km along the Port of Rotterdam, the biggest port in Europe, to see large container ships, industry parks, crazy seagulls and the eye-catching nature along the way. We had many other gatherings, like running dinner, pancake boat and random parties. I gained many beautiful moments, friendships and experiences.
The total living expenses were around 1200-1400 EUR monthly. Comparing a price-value ratio to other CEMS schools I think RSM is a very good choice. Good tips for saving money: rent a bike from Swapfiets, visit the Tuesday-Saturday markets often and drink less alcohol in bars.