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Understanding Diversity: A Cross-Cultural Study Experience

08.07.2019Comments are closed.

Azaliya Baymukhametova, Student of the University Degree programme in Business and Economics, English track

Jure Šutar, Student of the Master Programme International Business

SEB LU provides students with cross-cultural experience through enhancing the importance of student body diversity. SEB LU’s students come from more than 70 different countries, forming an environment where students have to learn how to work in groups with individuals from different backgrounds. SEB LU’s students study in programmes delivered in the English language, and two of whom, Azaliya Baymukhametova and Jure Šutar, talk about their cross-cultural study experiences.

Can you share with us your most inspirational moments during your studies?

Azaliya: One of the most inspirational moments I have experienced during my studies was the Erasmus Exchange Programme. I started the academic year 2018/2019 in Oslo, at one of the best business schools in the world, BI Norwegian Business School, as ranked by the Financial Times. I never imagined that I would ever live in Norway. I am very happy that the Faculty of Economics gave me this opportunity.

Jure: The most inspirational moments of my studies happened when I was an exchange student in South Korea and got a chance to work with some of the best innovation consultants in the world. Together we advised the Korean low cost airline, Jeju Air, and tried to come up with innovative solutions for their business. In the process I learned a lot of new things and was inspired by the best in the industry. Definitely something I will never forget!

What inspires you the most when working in groups with individuals from different cultures?

Jure: When working in groups with individuals from different countries, I am usually inspired and motivated by the outcome. We always managed to come up with something incredible, and for me that was the driver. Creating a masterpiece and not settling for something that was average!

Azaliya: The most inspiring thing I noticed during the group projects was the diversity among people from different cultural backgrounds. Each person thinks differently. When we are a group of people from different countries, I feel like our opinions or views are the pieces of a huge puzzle that shows the full picture of a particular situation, especially if we speak about politics.  

Student body diversity is of strategic importance for FELU. What is your experience with cultural diversity during your studies?

Azaliya: When I was applying to the Faculty of Economics, I had the choice to go take the Slovenian or English track. Cultural diversity was one of the reasons why I chose the English track. Today I can say that I made the right choice. All the time that I have spent with different people from different countries has been an enjoyable time. The cultural difference makes the studies more impressive. Now I can say that I have at least one friend in almost every country.

Jure: I always loved the cultural diversity aspect of my studies and enjoyed every moment of it. I also believe that it helped me significantly when I went abroad. It was like a preparation for my life in a foreign country.

How are you trained to work and study with students from different cultural backgrounds? Are professors keen to adapt to working in classes with many different nationalities?

Jure: Although there are some classes that focus on those skills, I believe that you learn as you go. You simply need to experience things first hand in order to really learn and adjust your behaviour. With regard to professors, I would say that they definitely do their best adjusting the classes to work with students from different cultural backgrounds.

Azaliya: The most important thing for working and studying with students from different cultural backgrounds is to be patient and respectful toward each individual, in her or his culture, religion, and opinion. I can say that our professors are very good at working with students from different nationalities. Moreover, professors take advantage of the diversity in our class and ask people to present their opinions about their home countries. It makes the lectures more interesting and gives an opportunity to expand our knowledge.

What are the main difficulties you have encountered when working with students from diverse cultural backgrounds? 

Azaliya: Of course I have experienced some difficulties with some individuals during the group work, but it was not because of a cultural difference, it was more because of their individual personality.

Jure: Most probably their values and diligence when it comes to work. Sometimes it was just hard to get over the fact that some people really don’t care much about the outcome, and are there simply because of the grades.

Could you say that through your studies you gained competencies for understanding and accepted different cultures and habits?

Jure: Definitely! This was one of the key things I learned during my studies, and I’ll be always grateful for that.

Azaliya: Definitely yes. FELU is a good place to gain, not just knowledge related to economics, but also it is a favourable place to understand different cultures and become more open-mind.

What would you vote for the best learning experience for you in 2018?

Azaliya: For the two and a half years of my studies in FELU, I have come to understand one important thing. At every opportunity, it is essential to pay attention to the personality and not to the nationality of a person. A lot of times we are hostages of the stereotypes we have, that are not true at all most of the time. Each nation, religion, and country has good and bad people. However, what is good and what is bad are also quite subjective concepts, and everyone can understand them differently.

Jure: In 2018 life gave me a lot of important lessons. The most important one is probably the one about balance. I learned (the hard way) that you should not over work. Although you are young, you need to balance your life and avoid working 12, 13, or 14 hours a day. Most importantly, I learned that our body always warns us about these kinds of mistakes, and we just need to make sure we aren’t too busy and can hear that silent internal voice that is telling us to stop.


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