Case Studies is an ongoing series on Scholar Escolar where foreigners who have taken the graduate school plunge in Spain share their experiences. Today’s case study focuses on Stephany, from Peru, who did a Master’s degree in Business Administration in Madrid.
Country of Origin: Peru
Time in Spain: 1.5 years
Master’s in Business Administration, EAE Business School (one year)
Academic Background: Computer Engineering
Three years of experience in IT & Operational Risk, Security Information, and Business Continuity
What made you decide to go to graduate school in Spain?
At first, I wanted to study an MBA in the US, but as soon as I saw how much the tuition would be, I realized that I did not want study a Master’s degree and then spend 10 (or more) years paying back a loan. I even went to the States for a month to study English and at the same time visited a few business schools. Some offered partial scholarships, but they were not enough.
I began to look for programs outside of the US using the following criteria:
- Affordable tuition
- Country and city with a reasonable cost of living
- Degree that would be valid in my home country
After doing a lot of research, Spain seemed to be the best option and fulfilled all of my criteria.
Why did you pick that particular program?
During the first few years of my career, my biggest issue was the fact that I was able to understand all the technical terms used in my position, but found them difficult to communicate in business contexts. I needed to apply technical skills to business and then explain the concepts to higher level executives, like managers and vice-presidents. This was difficult to do, particularly during meetings, because it was like speaking two different languages simultaneously.
I really enjoy the career I chose, but I thought it would be a good idea to invest some times into studying business in order to have a complete profile- to be a computer engineer who was also able to understand business. When I found out that MBA programs in Spain last one year, I realized that they were the best fit for me.
What was the application process like?
It was quite fast. I had prepared all the documents and requirements a long time ago, so I had everything ready when I decided to apply. The school sent me some tests and essays to write, but other than that it was easy. My program was in English and because I’m a native Spanish speaker (from Peru), it was funny because all communication with the school in Spain was in English.
The only thing that took a long time to receive was the acceptance letter but in general, the process was easy.
What language(s) were the classes in?
The classes were all English. My friends told me that it didn’t make sense to take classes in English while studying in Spain! They were both wrong and right at the same time.
Wrong: People who did programs in in Spanish were mostly from Spain and South America (I’d say about 95%), and those programs did not have the multicultural factor that I wanted. I had studied with people from South America my whole life and I wanted to meet people from other parts of the world who may have a different way of working, experiences, perspective of the world and also a wider network. People in my Master were from India, the US, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Colombia and of course Peru.
Right: At least half of our teachers were from Spain and although they spoke English, their level wasn’t that good and sometimes they were hard to understand (especially for the native English speakers in the class).
How much was tuition? What about cost of living?
Tuition was around €20,000 (about $24,000) but I got a scholarship that covered 25%. The cost of living was not as expensive, but I was really impressed with how hard it is to rent an apartment in Spain and especially in Madrid. You have to pay a considerable amount of money for a small place with old furniture. Besides that, food and drinks are very affordable!
Would you recommend your program?
Yes, I would recommend my program but I wish I had known one thing about Spain before coming here: people do their Master at a really young age!
In general, I was lucky because in my cohort I had some classmates who were 28 or older, but a few of them were 25 or even 23. Once we started the program, I realized that in Spain, it was normal to start a Master’s degree right after finishing university (which to me did not make much sense). Because of this, it was sometimes hard to share experiences and the age gap was obvious.
What are you doing now?
Any final words of wisdom or caution?
Spain, and especially Madrid, is a great place to live. During the time I have been here I have met a lot of foreigners who have come here to study with the idea of staying in Spain. I get it because, as I have said, the city is awesome but don’t close your mind. If you want to come here you better have a Plan B, C and D because getting a job as a foreigner is not easy. At some point you will get frustrated and desperate but don’t give up!
Thanks Stephany! If you would like to know more about this degree program or her experiences, you can find Stephany on LinkedIn.