My Journey to BI: From Mexico to Norway

Meet Karla.

Karla is our student ambassador for Mexico. You can learn more about her journey to Norway and her experiences at BI Norwegian Business School in this blog post and this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIN2lZ9QzXs&index=4&list=PLhDgkpjSKBP3OrYRL99R4iEfzHxzqOSF5

Name: Karla Mayela Montiel Carmona

Degree programme: MSc in Business, major in Logistics and Supply Chain

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor’s in International Business Undergraduate at the University ITESM Campus Monterrey (Tecnológico de Monterrey)

 Hometown: Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico

Citizenship: Mexican

I decided to go to BI because…

I had the opportunity to visit my brother on summer 2016 at Oslo. For some reason, I joined him to BI to pick some papers, and it was then when I fell in love with the University and then of course with the city (even though it is so expensive!). I was so hooked, that I started doing some research regarding BI and the possibilities to be accepted to do my master’s degree here, I wanted to have my chance as well to experience the Norwegian culture, just as my brother did. 

At the beginning, I had the idea of going back to Germany, but then I found out that BI had also the Major in Logistics and Supply Chain. Also, I had the opportunity to visit the stand of BI at Monterrey on the QS World University Fair in 2017, where I had a nice talk with Emma Pinto, and I was more than encouraged that I could make my way to BI. The application was very easy and straight forward, which helped me avoid stress during the whole process. 

I believe this will help my career by…

Getting used to working and interacting with people from all over the world; now that I have to interact every day during class and team work with not only Norwegians but also international students, helps me learn to be tolerant with different points of view, different ways of doing things, and also allows me to share the Mexican culture with them. Also living outside home, is a challenge where I am learning to adapt to Norwegian culture and their way of living, where sometimes I have to change what I had as standard practice. And, regarding my master, this will amplify my current knowledge about supply chain, as I think, when knowledge is increased, leadership can be improved. I have realized the reputation and recognition BI has on Norway, with the companies that can help you link or land your dream job or area of interest. For example, because I am a student at BI now, and being a former Tecnológico de Monterrey student, I was invited by NIMA (Norwegian Federation of Purchasing and Logistics/ Norsk Forbund for Innkjøp og Logistikk) to attend a procurement forum free of charge, as they are interested in connecting with BI students.  These type of opportunities will allow me to get more knowledge, which will support my goal of getting more expertise on Supply Chain. As they say, without knowledge one cannot teach, and those who cannot teach, cannot lead. I want to effectively manage a team one day, be able to change things, create vision and develop a team to deliver the results needed.

The best piece of advice I can give to a new student about my programme is…

Enjoy every single day you spend at BI, remind yourself every day the reason why you came for. Moving to a new country and enrolling again in University is a new challenge, a very exciting one. On the other hand, you might find that there are some subjects you might not like or where you might struggle, and you need to invest more time in it. BI is a University that keeps you busy all the time, that pushes you to be a very organized person and for you to succeed, you must work hard. The Autumn semester is a very short one and you need to keep motivated in order not to lose pace. At the end, hard work will pay off. Find friends that help you keep motivated, but at the same time, who can help you spend some fun time outside Uni. Find a way where you can meet your study goals and keep a healthy lifestyle, it will make your semester easygoing. 

I have been challenged by…

Having graduated from Bachelor almost 5 years ago, and having worked already in a company for 5 years and a half, being used to the 7-5 working hour schedule and after that being free to spend time on your hobbies or recreational activities, the biggest challenge has been to re-adapt to student life, to learn again how to organize myself to be able to hit every class assignment, as now my schedule is according to whatever I decide and also attending the lectures; and also some subjects that might be basic, like math are taking more time for me to understand again, since those years where I have been working, made those skills a bit rusty. But with hard work I should be able to be back on track.

The biggest culture shock for me moving here was…

Norwegians are very reserved people. I had been warned already about that several times, my brother had told me before and I was told about this on the Norwegian culture meeting at BI. It was kind of shocking for me when after the buddy week, after partying and interacting with my classmates, in the first week of class, some/most of the Norwegians classmates were still very silent, didn’t greet you whenever you saw them, or they simply avoided the small talk. It took me some time to accept that this is the way they are at the beginning, they love their personal space, but after having a bunch of team work opportunities, and some gatherings outside school during the weekend, this is over now, and we are all friends, we even study together. It was shocking because Mexican culture is very noisy, and love to know new people, we are inclusive since the beginning, but I know this is not common everywhere.

The most remarkable experience I have had so far was…

I have felt almost as if I was home. I have made friends that have helped me cope with the fact that I am far from my family and other friends, making me feel as if this was my home too. I thought that I was not going to be able to blend in with my classmates and other people I was meeting, because I was on an average 4-5 years older than them. But after some opportunities to gather doing different activities with Norwegian friends and being able to meet more people from other countries, I have realized that it was not as difficult as I thought. They are interested on knowing about me, Mexico and my hobbies, as much as I am interested in them, and they don’t care about the age gap. Everyone here has been so kind, and it is making this experience one of the best of my life, I enjoy every moment at BI, at the city, I don’t regret deciding to move to Norway at all.

The one thing you absolutely must do while living here is…

Spend time visiting every part of the city! I love that public transport is so good and it can take you everywhere you want to go. Oslo is a small city that can be visited by walking. It has so many spots that can make every weekend a different one. Embrace the Norwegian culture of walking and hiking, some countries need long trips or a car to make it to a lake or where you can enjoy nature. In Oslo that is not an issue, there are so many lakes nearby, where you can enjoy nature, where you can hike, have a nice walk to just have a break from the city or from school when we are tired of studying. 

The scariest thing about moving away from home was…

Not being able to fit in with the Norwegian culture, and snow. Having lived abroad before and being independent in Monterrey helped me be independent here and not to struggle being far from home, and I realized I am very good at adapting and meeting new people and new friends, so the first challenge was very easy to solve. On the other hand, coming from a city in Mexico where weather in summer is around 45° and winter is maybe top minimum 0° (if you are lucky you might get less than 0° in Monterrey), I have mixed feelings about winter and snow. I am excited to see snow, as it is something you don’t see every year where I live in Mexico, but I don’t know how long this excitement will last and if I will be able to adapt fast, so I can continue enjoying it.

The most remarkable/interesting thing I learned about myself at BI so far is…

That what I had considered that would help me having everything under control, didn’t. I wanted to organize the same way I did when I was studying my bachelor. When I was a bachelor student, I wasn’t used to spending that much time at University studying, because I was better when I studied alone, or when pulling an all-nighter. I realized it didn’t work out and I lost a lot of time, I realized I procrastinated a lot when staying at the dorms here in Oslo. So, I had to re-adapt and change all I was doing so I could meet my tasks. Now, I try to go to BI early every day, spending more time at BI, and that helps me get things done. Also, I carry my gym bag to school, it helps me keep compromised when going to the gym and maintain a balance between studies and health.

My career goal is…

To mix my current knowledge regarding procurement from my previous job with the knowledge I am getting with my Master and being able to maximize it too, as I said before, be able to get the skills to manage a team one day, as well as have the confidence that I can compete with people from all over the world for whichever job position I want to pursue. Also, on the short term, on these two years, I want to be able to learn Norwegian, learning a new language is one of my targets by the end of my master, so that the language, whenever I am looking for a jobs, is not a constraint, but a skill I have developed.

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