Offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, PhDs, MBAs and more, Nova School of Business & Economics (Nova SBE) is the leading Portuguese school for Economics, Finance and Management.
To gain an authentic outlook of what it is like to study on the Portuguese Riviera town of Carcavelos, in the Lisbon District of Portugal, we spoke to two of Nova SBE’s students: Julian Harzheim and Molly Maahs.
Julian is originally from a village near Cologne, Germany and Molly from a small town in northern Wisconsin in the United States. While Portugal is a beautiful country and Nova SBE is a first-rate school, it can sometimes be tricky for international students to acclimatize to a new country, culture and language. Let us see the challenges Julian and Molly faced as well as how they overcame them.
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What attracted you to Nova SBE initially?
There are any number of reasons why a person may study in a particular place - the weather, the academics, the people. It just so happens that Julian and Molly share similar motivations with one another, despite coming from such different backgrounds.
“I decided to only apply for Nova SBE because I felt that the university supports entrepreneurial activities more than the other schools and because I was attracted to spending a longer time in the beautiful city of Lisbon,'' Julian explained. “Lisbon [also] combines relatively low living costs with extraordinary life quality.”
Molly agreed. “The low cost of living was a big factor […] I knew I wanted to study abroad and Nova SBE was affordable and had competitive rankings on an international scale”.
Julian continued, “It is sunny and pleasantly warm for the majority of the year, people are friendly, the food is delicious, and in terms of nature I believe that no country in Europe can offer such a variety of landscapes in such a small geographical distance. You can spend the morning in the mountains of Gerês, have lunch by the beach facing the Atlantic and stroll around Oporto in the afternoon.”
Molly on the beach
And while Lisbon offers a beautiful landscape, the people there are also a strong influence on the area, with Molly suggesting, “It’s really cool to be surrounded by people from all over the world. There is a very tight knit international community on campus. Also you can’t beat having the beach right next door.”
How difficult was it to become accustomed to a new country?
Julian and Molly agree that it is really easy to make friends as an international student at Nova SBE, since it is so diverse. “Everyone is open to making new friends from a different country.”
Just how international the campus is proves a point of great pride for Nova SBE. 50% of master’s students are international, originating from over 45 countries and Nova SBE’s Alumni currently reside in over 60 countries throughout the world.
Perhaps so many international students are attracted due to Nova SBE’s language adaptability. English is the official language of the institution, so all courses are taught in English. “In Portugal, most people speak English in the city, so it was not a problem at all,” Julian suggested.
However, Molly found the language barrier a little trickier. “It’s understandable that it’s hard to live in a foreign country if you don’t speak the language. Although most Portuguese people definitely understand at least some English making most everyday tasks doable without being able to speak Portuguese.”
What does make the transition easier is how beautiful the setting is. Lisbon is the safest city in Europe, has 70% sunny days and is right by the coast.
Julian’s favorite place “in Portugal is a beach 45 minutes away from Lisbon. It's called Praia Grande which is known for its white sand, beautiful cliffs, and good waves for surfing. Spending a day there is a lot of fun and having a beer and a joyful conversation with friends while the sun sets over the Atlantic is something I will never forget.”
Molly recommends “K Urban Beach is where all the cool cats hang out on Thursday nights. Capricciosa is also a great place to grab a pizza and some sangria with friends after class.”
Nova SBE is known for its excellent academics. Do they hold up?
Nova SBE has a Triple Crown accreditation (EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA), one of only 70 business schools in the world with this honor. It is top ranked as a European business school by the Financial Times and is a Eduniversal 5 Palms of Excellence Universal Business School.
Nova SBE’s Campus
At certain universities, only particular students feel the benefit of these types of qualifications. This is not the case at Nova SBE, as evidenced by Julian’s experience:
“I was especially surprised by how close the school is to its students and how many opportunities outside of the curriculum were offered to us. Professors are always excited to support student initiatives or entrepreneurial activities and schedule personal coaching sessions. The staff helps with establishing connections to the industry and invites us to exclusive events. One great example is that I was approached by the university if I would like to attend a conference led by a renowned Harvard professor. After attending the conference, myself and a friend were invited to the exclusive networking event where we could meet the professor and the organizing team in person. We connected well with the organizing team and a few weeks later I found myself at the National Geographic Conference in Oporto. Those were unique experiences that I would not have been able to live if the university did not support its students to the extent they do.”
This is true for all the students at Nova SBE. While Julian is studying his Master’s in Finance and CEMS International Management at Nova SBE and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Molly is studying her Bachelor’s in Management after a gap year in Macedonia (Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Program), living with a host family and attending a local school.
And while Molly plans on taking her experience back to the United States and looking to “improve my community at home”, Julian is considering staying in Portugal.
“In the past few months, myself and two other students have started working on a social business idea aimed to reduce the wildfire risk in Portugal. The idea is a spin-off of one of our courses and we are strongly supported by the university and our former professors. We hope that we will be able to develop a sustainable business model and stay in Portugal to make this project a reality.”
Nova SBE’s students finding some time to relax
Nova School of Business & Economics is very supportive of its students. With a strong link to the corporate world, with over 60 corporate partners and two international career fairs per year, Nova SBE makes sure that students find employment as quickly as possible.
This is in addition to the over 30 student clubs, knowledge centers, labs and hubs that give students an edge when it comes to life after graduation.
Was the study abroad experience beneficial?
Julian thinks so: “Studying abroad helped me see things from multiple angles. It gave me the perspective that I was lacking before and made me, in general, a happier person. After spending many years abroad, I have friends all over Europe and the world.
If I was to do it all over again, I would invest more energy in learning the local language as fast as possible. This shows the appreciation of the country we are staying in and opens the hearts of the locals much faster than if you do not speak a word.”
And Molly agrees, “Going abroad has presented me with a lot of challenges that have forced me to grow as a person. I would not have faced these challenges had I stayed in the USA so I guess I would have been a different person.”
Any suggestions for other international students?
Julian: “When you come to Nova SBE, you will have incredible opportunities at your fingertips. In order to seize those opportunities, however, you need to be proactive and start building relationships with employees and professors at the university. Once you know the people at Nova SBE, they will provide you with chances you could not have imagined before.”
Molly: “Be patient. It takes time to adjust but if you open your horizons there’s a lot to learn and enjoy from the abroad experience.”
If you would like to know more about Nova School of Business & Economics, and you have a high level of English, please fill in the form below.