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Significant experiences outside of your home country or culture (MBA Essay)


answers: 4
Sep 17, 2010, 04:41pm   #1
That's for an MBA essay. I feel my answer is all over the place as I wanted to list all the international experiences I had. Please let me know how I can improve to make the message stronger and improve the flow of the essay. Should I cut back on some of the expriences and just focus on one? Or any other specific suggestions on how this can be improved is much appreciated!!

Question:
Our school offers a truly global and diverse experience. Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country or culture. What did you gain and how will your experience contribute to London Business School?

Answer:
From a very early age, I had the curiosity to learn more about the world and expand my horizons beyond my home country. I was eighteen when I moved to the U.S., where I had no family or friends, to pursue my studies in engineering. Being in DC, I met people from diverse background and learned to appreciate the uniqueness of each.

The international experience I gained from my studies was put to the test when I started working in consulting. In my three years as a consultant, I worked with clients in four different markets in the Middle East and Africa. Growing up in Arab country, I did not expect to find difficulties integrating in other Arab countries. However, I was chocked to see the spectrum of culture within the Arab world. The work ethics in Egypt was very different than what I was used to, and their pace of work a lot slower. In Kuwait, I was pleasantly surprised with the level of freedom and empowerment of women in organizations. Most of the top position in the company for which I worked were held by local women, and their role was ever expanding in the society.

By far however the biggest cultural chock I witnessed was through my work in Nigeria. It was my first visit to Sub Saharan Africa. I had never seen a country with such high disparity between rich and poor. Upon arrival at the airport, as I was going through passport control, the security guard took my passport and to return it to me, he asked me for a "gift". Despite that disparity, I was impressed by the level of dedication people had for work, and how genuine and kind hearted they were.

Most importantly, the culture I learnt most about through these experiences was my own. Although I was born and raised in Lebanon, I had taken many things for granted and needed to compare our customs to other Western and Arab customs to gain a more critical view of the political situation in the country and understand the root of all the problems we have been facing.

All those experiences allowed me to have a more open minded spirit, and allowed me to understand the diverse cultures of this world, how to appreciate each, and how to quickly and seamlessly adapt my work style to those different cultures. I think I will be able to add diversity to the classroom, and offer my knowledge of the emerging market. Finally, my open-mindedness will help me appreciate what my peers have to offer and I will collaborate with them in creating the international experience that LBS has nurtured every year with students from across the globe.

Sep 17, 2010, 05:20pm   #2
I feel this opening line to be a weak hook. You want something that will grab the readers attention early on.
From a very early age, I had the curiosity to learn more about the world and expand my horizons beyond my home country. I was eighteen when I moved to the U.S., where I had no family or friends, to pursue my studies in engineering. I know that this must have been a significant experience in your life...but... Many people share this same experience and often write about it. Being in DC, I met people from diverse background and learned to appreciate the uniqueness of each. this last sentence also seems kind of weak. try to say it in a different way.

The international experience I gained from my studies what studies? was put to the test when I started working in consulting. In my three years as a consultant, I worked with clients in four different markets in the Middle East and Africa perhaps list the markets?. Growing up in Arab country, I did not expect to find difficulties integrating in other Arab countries. However, I was chocked (choked) to see the wide/narrow? spectrum of culture within the Arab world. The work ethics in Egypt was very different <= replace "very different" with better word than what I was used to, and their pace of work a lot slower. In Kuwait, I was pleasantly surprised with the level of freedom and empowerment of women in organizations. Most of the top position in the company for which I worked were held by local women, and their role was ever expanding in the society.
Talk about the markets in one big paragraph or 4 small separate ones or make it clearer that you're going to divide them into 2 sections: "Middle East" and "Africa"
By far however the biggest cultural chock shock I witnessed was through my work in Nigeria. It was my first visit to Sub Saharan Africa. I had <=have never seen a country with such high disparity between rich and poor. Upon arrival at the airport, as I was going through passport control, the security guard took my passport and to return it to me, he asked me for a "gift". Despite that disparity, I was impressed by the level of dedication people had for work, and how genuine and kind hearted they were.
Elaborate more on your experiences. You only seem to specify on Nigeria

Most importantly <=replace, the culture I learnt most about through these experiences was my own. Although I was born and raised in Lebanon, I had taken many things for granted what did you take for granted? and needed to compare our customs which customs are you comparing to other Western and Arab customs to gain a more critical view of the political situation in the country what is the political situation and understand the root of all the problems we have been facing what is the problem? please explain.

All those <=these experiences allowed me to have a more open minded spirit how so?, and (remove) allow me to understand the diverse cultures of this world, how to appreciate each, and how to quickly and seamlessly adapt my work style to those different cultures check parallel structure (grammar). I think I will be able to add diversity to the classroom how will you bring diversity, and offer my knowledge of the emerging market how will you offer knowledge. Finally, my open-mindedness will help me appreciate what my peers have to offer howhowhow and I will collaborate with them in creating the international experience that LBS has nurtured every year with students from across the globe.

Last comments:
Vary your sentences more, it will make your writing more interesting and use stronger vocabulary

You're also using too many broad statements. Talk about it. Show and don't tell.

Sorry if I sound mean :P
Sep 18, 2010, 03:29am   #3
Thanks!! No worries, you don't sound mean, I appreciate honesty! I updated it based your comments.

I only elaborated on one country because the word limit is 300. As you suggested it's important to show the implications that the experience had on me, so I preferred to focus on one only. Anyway, I changed the whole framing of the essay and mentioned that example in the context of my theme ("more objective perspective of my own country").

Here it goes it's above the word limit but just wanted to get the take on the content and flow, and I will then trim down accordingly. Please let me know your thoughts.


A few months ago, I was having dinner with a group of friends in Lebanon when someone, in the context of the conversation, said: "yeah but anyway Lebanese are the smartest people and everyone knows that" I was appalled. In my 25 years of living in Beirut, that sentence had never bothered me. People's behavior in Lebanon had not changed but my perception of it had completely turned around as I traveled the world and met people from diverse backgrounds, allowing me to look at my own culture from a more objective lens.

At 18, I left home to study abroad in the DC, meeting people from China to Chile. Learning about all these new cultures fascinated me. It was interesting to see how two countries as different as Indonesia and Brazil could actually have more in common than Argentina are Brazil. I started understanding the intricacies of cultures better, learned how to appreciate each, and improved my people's skills. I was able to adapt my communication style to different cultures.

As I came back to the region at 22, my ability to adapt internationally was put to test as I had to work in four different markets: Egypt, Kuwait, Syria and Nigeria. It was interesting to see the wide spectrum of cultures within the Arab world. The biggest chock I had was in Kuwait. I expected to see a very conservative patriarchal society but was impressed by the level of women's education and empowerment in the country. Many of the top position in companies were held by local women, and their role was ever expanding in the society, where they recently won four seats at the parliament. Our impression in Lebanon is that Arab-Gulf women were oppressed and that our society is by far the most open minded. However, reality showed, that while women in Kuwait worked hard to prove themselves, most middle and upper class women in Beirut just worried about their next lunch destination. Freedom and openness is not defined by appearances, but by actions.

The international experience I had really allowed to have a much more critical perspective of Lebanon. Why should I feel flattered that Carlos Slim or Shakira are originally Lebanese, when the people in my country cannot get along, when our politicians come from the same corrupt families that started the war, when we are deprived from very basic needs like electricity and water on a daily basis. I am proud to be Lebanese, but pride is seeing both the good and the bad, in the aim of collaboratively improving our situation.

The objectivity I gained from my international experience will allow me to add perspective to the existing diversity at the school. In addition, I will be able to contribute my knoweldge of business in Middle Eastern and African markets to the classroom. Finally, my open-mindedness will help me appreciate what my peers have to offer and I will collaborate with them in creating the international experience that the university has nurtured every year with students from across the globe.
Sep 18, 2010, 09:55am   #4
If you have not read the essay yet, please use the one below, I made a few changes to it. Thanks!

A few months ago, I was having dinner with friends in Lebanon when someone, in the context of the conversation, said: "Lebanese are the smartest people and can succeed anywhere" I was appalled. In my 25 years of living in Beirut, Lebanese strong feelings of superiority never bothered me. People's behaviour in Lebanon had not changed but my perception of it had completely turned around as I travelled the world and met people from diverse backgrounds, allowing me to look at my own culture from a more objective lens.

At 18, I left home to study abroad in the DC, meeting people from China to Chile. Learning about all these new cultures fascinated me. It was interesting to see how two countries as different as Indonesia and Brazil could actually have more in common than Argentina are Brazil. I started understanding the intricacies of cultures better, learned how to appreciate each, and improved my people's skills. By interacting with people from very diverse background, I was forced to adapt my communication style to others.

As I came back to the region at 22, my ability to adapt internationally was put to test as I had to work in four different markets: Egypt, Kuwait, Syria and Nigeria. It was interesting to see the wide spectrum of cultures within the Arab world. The biggest chock I had was in Kuwait. I expected to see a very conservative patriarchal society but was impressed by the level of women's education and empowerment in the country. Many of the top position in companies were held by local women, and their role was ever expanding in the society, where they recently won four seats at the parliament. Our impression in Lebanon is that Arab-Gulf women were oppressed and that our society is by far the most open minded in the Arab world. However, reality showed, that while women in Kuwait worked hard to prove themselves, most middle and upper class women in Beirut just worried about their next lunch destination. Freedom and openness is not defined by appearances, but by actions.

The international experience I had really allowed to have a much more critical perspective of Lebanon. Why should I feel flattered that Carlos Slim or Shakira are originally Lebanese, when the people in my country cannot get along, when our politicians come from the same corrupt families that started the war, when we are deprived from very basic needs like electricity and water on a daily basis, and worst of all, when a large number of Lebanese still mistreat migrant workers. I am proud to be Lebanese, but pride is seeing both the good and the bad, in the aim of collaboratively improving our situation.

The objectivity I gained from my international experience will allow me to add perspective to the existing diversity at the school. In addition, I will be able to contribute my knowledge of business in Middle Eastern and African markets to the classroom. Finally, my open-mindedness will help me appreciate what my peers have to offer and I will collaborate with them in creating the international experience that the university has nurtured every year with students from across the globe.
This is great, Ana. Congratulations! Not just about writing well, but about living a fascinating 211st century multicultural life.

I wanted to request that you put this back into the essay:

In my three years as a consultant, I worked with clients in four different markets in the Middle East and Africa. Growing up in Arab country, I did not expect to find difficulties integrating in other Arab countries. However, I was shocked to see the spectrum of culture within the Arab world.


This was an excellent sentence, because it really drew me into your world. I don't know how to explain it, but you do something great for the reader when you suggest the concept of being of Arab descent but being surprised to see the diversity even within what others might think of as one culture.

Hey, I think you keep using chock instead of shock. Maybe it is a computer glitch, but I wanted to let you know.



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