Kristi Ellison, Master of Science (MSc)

‘Waist deep in midterm projects, I actually found myself intrigued and appreciating what I was learning rather than pulling my hair out in annoyance, just wanting to “get it done.” Maybe because it’s grad school, maybe because I’m a little older now, maybe a combination of both. But it’s mostly because I found my ideal program. The subjects, the content, the faculty, the students, the class dynamic, the support team. I’ve found more practical use of this grad program in both personal and professional contexts than in any other course I’ve taken in my life and it’s pretty astonishing.’

‘So, here are some photos of our dazzling campus, a palace built in 1517 for the Borgherini family, and the people who truly make it a powerful experience. Along with some of my thoughts for anyone considering graduate school or pursuing a degree abroad (DO IT):

-Our program – Master of Science in Management through the European School of Economics, a British style private international business school, in Florence, Italy (other locations: London, Madrid, New York, Rome, Milan, and they recently added Istanbul to the list).

– Business School – It blows my mind what I’ve learned in the last 4 months here. Some of it is shockingly missing from public high school education and the other is due to my undergraduate degree in Journalism. To start, I’ve come to realize that business and economics are the root of almost anything you do to live. It’s incredibly basic. And I am dumbfounded that I’m just realizing this – was I not paying attention, not picking the right courses, or are the core lessons completely missing? Again, maybe a mix but now I often regret not doing my Bachelor program abroad in business. At least I realized it in time for a Master’s. Another note, degrees abroad are often a fraction of the cost of a US degree and yes, many are just as quality if not more prestigious.

– Diverse group of students – ESE offers small class size (15 or so max, mostly 7-8). This intimate group prompted more discussion, collaboration and exchange (I’m used to classes of 200-500 students, 30 probably being the smallest once you get into your major courses). As an international school, those small groups represented more than a dozen countries and languages at one time including Italy, Mexico, Jordan, Colombia, England, Cameroon, Romania, the Netherlands, Brazil, Serbia, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Syria, the US (English, Italian, German, Portuguese, Romanian, Arabic, French, Dutch, Spanish, etc.)

This was an invaluable resource, to be exposed to so many different mindsets, cultures, and perspectives. Us Americans were embarrassed to be the only ones fluent in only one language. It’s pretty remarkable to hear so many conversations in different languages all around you at the same time and to watch your peers, teachers and school professionals switch seamlessly from one to the other and converse effectively.

– Quality faculty and staff – are not to go without mention. What a killer team at the Florence campus. First off, one thing I valued most is that unlike traditional academia, our professors were successful and often renowned business professionals in their respective industries, who also taught on the side or picked it up once they retired. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Classes often felt like mini internships or mentorships, like we were training for the job. Our professors were often business owners, independent contractors, or built their careers with highly reputable organizations like Volkswagen, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fiat, General Electric, IBM, etc. We felt like we were learning from international professionals who had “been there, done that,” and not the ones who never practiced what they preached. Classes were filled with first-hand professional experiences, examples, and practical information. Both the faculty and staff were well traveled, often spoke multiple languages and had lived in other countries. This demographic represented Italy, Germany, Spain, Canada, the US, France, Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Argentina, etc.

Another perk of a small private school is that the staff’s priority is you. Never have I experienced such devotion to their students’ wellbeing and success. They felt like a family to us when we were so far away from home.

Tyler and I are incredibly fortunate to have this experience and the people who helped get us here – THANK YOU, it fills us with gratitude.’

Kristi Ellison (US), MSc student at ESE Florence, Italy

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