How to stay calm and focused when you’re doing an MBA abroad

Doing an MBA abroad can be a wonderful and enriching experience you’ll never forget. It’s a heady mix of new places, people, skills and experiences, not to mention new job prospects at the end of it all. Of course, it’s not all glitz and glamour. You’ll come up against new challenges and obstacles on a daily basis, both relating to your studies and to life in a foreign country, so it’s wise to safeguard against getting stressed out and overwhelmed. To help you do just that, we’ve rounded up our top tips for staying calm, focused and sane during your MBA abroad.

  • Keep your goals in mind.

Business school has a lot of offer – networking events, seminars, company visits, mock interviews, student clubs, and more – but you can’t do it all. Keeping your goals at the forefront of your mind will help you prioritise competing tasks and events. If you’re feeling overcommitted, stop to check in with the bigger picture of why you’re doing your MBA in the first place. Then, reshuffle your commitments and schedule to better serve your end goals. Streamlining your schedule will help you get more out of each activity you engage in.

  • Prioritise rest.

As a driven, ambitious businessperson, maintaining a healthy work/life balance is probably already a challenge for you. But you need to accept that you aren’t a machine; you can’t work and study 24/7 without risking burn out. Scheduling downtime for socialising and resting is just as important as scheduling time for job interviews, study groups, and field trips. Force yourself to take the time to unwind and recharge, whether that means going out for a festive dinner with classmates, taking a yoga class, practicing your favorite sport, meditating or just spending an afternoon in bed with a cup of tea and a novel. You’ll come back to your studies with renewed focus and vigour.

  • Form strong relationships with your classmates.

One of the benefits of doing an MBA abroad is that you’ll grow a diverse network of international business contacts. But there’s another reason to work hard at making lasting connections with your classmates: they’re one of your biggest support structures when you’re doing an MBA abroad. Try not to view your classmates as competitors, but rather as friends and allies. After all, they’re in same boat as you, dealing with the same deadlines, decisions, anxieties, and doubts. Whether you’re struggling with the workload, a particular assignment, homesickness, or language barriers, turning to your classmates for support can mean the difference between staying the course and heading home early.

  • Enjoy your surroundings.

If you’re doing your MBA abroad,  it would be criminal not to take advantage of the awesome travel opportunities at your feet. Soak up some culture, try the local delicacies, and take a day trip to see the sights. Doing an MBA abroad isn’t supposed to be torture, after all; it’s supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll remember forever. Making an effort to enjoy your surroundings will help you stay sane during your studies.

  • Look after your health.

You might think that pursuing an MBA abroad requires a strong mind, and nothing else. Wrong. A sharp mind is no good if it’s trapped in an ailing body. Eat a healthy diet and make sure you exercise for at least 30 minutes a few times a week. You can’t focus on a complicated spreadsheet if your backache is killing you, and you can’t charm a potential employer if you’re sleep-deprived with bloodshot eyes.

  • Reach out to a student advisor.

If you’re really struggling to manage the pressures and challenges of doing an MBA abroad, reach out to your school’s student advisor or mentor. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, and most business schools have resources in place to support students who need help. An honest conversation with someone who’s been through it all before, or a few sessions with a counsellor, can help put things back into perspective.

If you’re considering pursuing an MBA abroad, but haven’t found the right programme yet, check out our guide, How to find the perfect MBA.

Alternatively, download the ESSEC Global MBA brochure. The ESSEC Global MBA is a 12-month intensive programme with a focus on international markets and campuses in Paris and Singapore.

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