The Pass-world Program – a GEM student’s experience

Published on 11/12/2017

The Pass-world is an international admission process for postgraduate students…

 Students from abroad who have already completed two years in higher education outside France can apply to 6 prestigious Business Schools in France, including Grenoble Ecole de Management.

The schools offer the students a chance to obtain a Master’s in Management degree. Additionally, it offers students who dare to try something different, not only an academic and professional advantage but also a rewarding cultural experience. Mengying XU, a pass-world student from Nanjing, South-East of China, reflects on her experiences in France so far:

I’m a 3A student in ESC from Pass-world program. I first came to France in 2015 when I took a gap year from my internship in China and studied for a year in France. Now, I am in my final year in GEM and when I look back, I feel grateful that I have had this chance to study in this school and in this beautiful nation.

My time here has flown by and when I look back to my first year in France, that sense of nervous excitement and anxious curiosity still feels like yesterday. To orientate myself towards a culture that is seems so different from mine is certainly not easy. It is no secret that Chinese students prefer to stay in groups to fit into the foreign culture, due to cultural difference and language barrier and it was the same case for me. In fact, at the beginning, I probably communicated more frequently with French people outside the school, for example, shop assistants or hairdressers, than I talked to my colleagues.

The reasons why I did not open myself up fully is not the overgeneralized reason – a lack of courage to step out of the comfort zone, because I have tried clubs, soirées, drinking till midnight but found it difficult to hang out with strangers. It might also have something to do cultural differences and personality types. Chinese culture is quite collectivist and highly contextual, which means we tend to act in a group and we take indirect approaches when communicating. For us, a lot of messages are not expressed directly but imbedded in the intonation and connotation of words. We think about how others could respond to us after we express an idea. We try not to make our ideas radical or too emotional to break the harmony, that’s why sometimes people have the impression that Chinese people give ambiguous opinions. It is a clash with French culture because the French tend to be very direct and quick in expressing their very honest feelings.

What’s more, according to my knowledge, Chinese people are more enthusiastic in welcoming foreigners and curious about foreign cultures than the other way around. Sometimes in China, we notice ourselves being more friendly and tolerant to foreigners than our compatriots. I recall that when I was a university student in China, my friends and I would take foreign classmates and friends often people from France and Korea to tour the city and hang out at shopping malls. However, in France, seldom have I met students curious about Chinese culture, except several who have been to China or who have rich international experiences.

As I have said in the beginning, although there have been difficulties, I am very grateful and happy with life in France. The experience of an internship in my gap year also has helped me a lot in becoming more mature, poised and open to new experiences. The past two years’ in France and in China is a metamorphosis period that will benefit me for my entire life. I love to travel to different cities in France and especially travelling to Italy is pure happiness. The food the monuments, the local lifestyles and the cities’ atmospheres are in the treasure chest of my life. I love and appreciate French culture as it is, and I do not expect change of others but of myself. As Gandhi has wisely said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

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