Marie Hjorth-Johansen

Country of origin: Norway

MSc International Management, Bocconi University, Italy

In the final year of my BBA Management at LUMS I spent a term at Lingnan College, Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. This was a really interesting and rewarding experience, through which I gained insights into a culture very different from my own. 

The University is located in the Haizhu district, close to the city centre and right on the Pearl River. The campus is massive, with beautiful green areas and parks. Lingnan College is one of two business schools at the University. A variety of different modules are offered, and two in particular are recommended for exchange students: China Business Studies, where you learn about the Chinese business environment, and Chinese Language.

On arrival, every exchange student is allocated a “buddy”, a local Chinese student who helps you with anything from finding an apartment, to booking train tickets and ordering water. The buddy can also teach you a lot about Chinese culture. We were about 50 exchange students at Lingnan College, mainly from Europe, and most of us lived together in apartments close to the University.

Guangzhou is one of the largest cities in China, hence an important part of the Chinese economy. What Guangzhou is best known for is the Canton Fair, which deals with import and export. The city has a hot and tropical climate in the summer and colder winters. It only takes two hours on a train to Hong Kong, and interesting travel destinations are only a short journey away. I visited Shanghai and Beijing (in addition to three trips to Hong Kong), where the highlight was a walk on the Great Wall of China.

I recommend going on a term or year abroad to Sun Yat-sen University if you are up for a challenge, and want to live somewhere completely different from England.

Placement year

I spent the placement year of my BBA working for IBM in London, undertaking operations for a sales team. I was responsible for forecasting for my sector – important as both targets and resource allocation are decided depending on the forecast. I produced information reports on revenue, pipeline movement etc, for the sellers and sales managers. I also did some work for HR, helping out with recruitment of students to IBM, and for the marketing department, where I worked on an internal marketing campaign.

At IBM, I was a member of the Lancaster University Campus Team. I represented IBM at two career fairs at the University, and I was also the Event and Marketing Lead, with responsibility for booking all events we held at Lancaster University.

I learned a lot during my time at IBM, knowledge that enriched my studies in the final year of my BBA. After graduating from Lancaster I will be taking the MSc in International Management at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. My experiences from both my placement year and term abroad will help me get the most out of my Masters studies.