With an interest in travelling around the world and developing his art, Raf wanted to study at a University that would allow him to experience different cultures and have the opportunity to study abroad. Now in his final year, Raf looks back at his WBS experience.
My name is Raf and I am a BSc International Management finalist, currently on the brink of graduating. Originally a French national, I consider myself more of a 'citizen of the world' because I love travelling around the globe.
After getting my French Baccalaureate, I moved to the UK to the University of Warwick to begin my business studies. I knew from the start that wherever I went to University, I wanted the opportunity to study abroad. Before deciding on Warwick, I had looked at schools in the USA and in Canada, but after visiting them and weighing out the pros and cons, Warwick Business School (WBS) was by far the best choice of all. Campus life, quality of teaching and staff, and the openness of the educational system altogether were key. When it came to the BSc International Management course in particular, the unique opportunity to spend a full year abroad further convinced me to take on this specific course. Last but not least, I chose this course due to the opportunity to select different modules throughout, adapting the course to reflect my interests (you have elective modules which cover a range of subjects and departments across the university).
I have always been passionate about art and photography. My childhood was filled with bold visuals, vibrant colours, spray paint, ripped posters and newspaper doodles. As far as I can remember, life for me has always been surrounded by art. I am mainly self-taught with my friends characterising me as a "DIY guy". When I first started at University, I was focused quite heavily on my interest in business, but as I progressed through my studies, the student-led societies allowed me to also focus on other interests. I found that my passion for design could really benefit the societies on campus, when I first arrived to Warwick in 2015, many societies were still forming and I took the opportunity to help them from a branding and visual perspective.
Throughout my time at Warwick, I managed to become the creative design/artistic director of 12 student-led societies. I used my business knowledge developed at WBS to help create the visual identities and branding for each society. I also, of course, wanted to make the most of this from an extra-curricular CV perspective. As time went by, I was falling for Art more and more and found my business studies were really helping me develop this passion. At the end of my second year at WBS, I asked myself how I could use the skills I had been using to help societies to develop my own personal brand. It was time for me to create something new. Luckily, it all fell into place as I was about to go on my year abroad as a part of my studies, in Hong-Kong and Singapore. My first semester was at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the second semester was at Nanyang University, Singapore.
My year abroad can only be described as a beautiful ride; again, something hardly describable with words. WBS were really supportive during this experience, before I went they made sure I had all the information I needed, meetings to discuss any queries I had, and I was given the opportunity to hear from previous year abroad students.
I undertook two modules during my time at Nanyang University (Singapore) that really impacted me as a person. First was ‘Marketing Health: Consumers' Pursuit of Wellness’ which ended up being my favourite of all the year abroad modules by far; it ignited my interest in social corporate accountability and (inter)personal empowerment. The teacher was amazing. My other favourite module was ‘Gods, Ghosts and Ancestors: Explorations in Chinese Religions’, which ultimately opened my usually quite business-related chakras and made me rediscover a lot about South-East Asia.
Away from my studies, three of the most vivid memories would include immersing myself in Japan's culture. I bathed in a Japanese Onsen (a hot spring), wondered at places such as the Tsukiji Fish Market (the largest fish market in the world), and explored the unusual city of Kamakura (home for the biggest Buddha statue in Asia) and Mount Fuji. Whilst in Shanghai, I went on a trip with one of my great friends from Warwick (who happened to be studying at the Chinese University of HK at the same time as I was out there) and another friend that we met whilst in HK, who thankfully spoke Chinese and was able to act as a translator. I also took part in a road trip in the Philippines and Vietnam; you can see in the photo below just how beautiful the locations are.
The year abroad experience has been incredibly beneficial to my studies. I came back a new man; my mind-set was different, I was more mature, more comprehensive/open to ideas, more genuine. Overall, my year abroad gave me the opportunity to meet different people, embrace different cultures, and experience a portion of the world that I had not seen before.
Coming back to Warwick, I really wanted to focus more on my art and photography and use my business and year abroad knowledge to excel in that area. Without a shadow of doubt, there is an increasingly creative environment on campus. There are opportunities available for us to further embrace our creative side. It is an exciting time to be a student at the University of Warwick. For instance, I feel like WBS understands the importance of having entrepreneurial, creative, and design-related experiences alongside business studies. When it comes to managing my photography and art interests alongside my studies, I always aim big, set my targets high, and work as efficiently as I can. Time, network, and resources are key. Finding a good balance between academic and extra-curricular activities, friends (social life) and family, is not always easy but it is worth it.
My next step will be completing my Masters at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, studying Contemporary Art Practice. Receiving my offer was truly a 'big highlight' for me. I am grateful for everything I have experienced so far and I am excited to continue to develop my craft, perfect my art and develop my entrepreneurial side even further.
For those thinking about taking a year abroad I could not recommend it enough! The experience is perfect for those who want to explore new aspects of themselves and their surroundings, you gain more than just academic knowledge from spending a year abroad as a part of your studies and luckily, WBS’s courses allow you to do that.
Everyone who studies BSc International Management is guaranteed a year abroad, either studying at one of our partner universities, in a work placement or a combination of the two. Find out more about Raf’s course here.