Just 2 years ago, Margaret Xiao, then a 25 year old Chinese student, knew next to nothing about Israel. All she has ever heard of this distant tiny dot on the globe was a passing story on CNN. It seemed nothing could be further from her life. A recently married graduate of Changsha University of Science & Technology, Margaret has always dreamed of getting her MBA in the US, mainly because she wanted to perfect her English. She even made it a point to inform her husband as much before they were married, though they both knew he would have to stay in China for his work.
However, when she started the registration process to US universities, she realized it would be very difficult and expensive for a Chinese national to study there. She began searching for a better alternative. Asking around, she found out that the Chinese government was offering full scholarships for graduate studies in Israel. Once she realized that some universities in Israel, such as Bar-Ilan, offer MBA programs in English, the choice was easy.
“I did some research and realized that Israel had many holy and historical sites, and a very diverse culture. As a spiritual and curious person, that was very appealing to me. If I was going to move to another country for a year or two, I wanted it to be some place where I can absorb and learn a whole new culture, language, be in an entirely different world from the one I know.”
She made inquiries among her friends about Bar-Ilan University, International MBA (iMBA) program, which doesn’t only provide an international perspective of world markets, but also offers a 1 year study program (October to October), instead of having to study for two years, while still allowing time to work professionally. Once Margaret’s parents and husband gave the ok on their part, that sealed the deal. Margaret came to Israel to join the iMBA program, which this year has a total of 7 students from China, and 1 month later has managed to move into an apartment in Tel Aviv, start school and even find a job for in Israeli company trading with China.
“At first,” she shares, “It was like living on another planet. Everything here is so different! The weather, the food, the people, the language… but now that I’ve been here almost three months, I feel much more comfortable. Although I miss my husband and family, the staff and faculty at BIU could not be nicer. They made it very easy for me to assimilate, and helped me with everything I needed. I am so glad I didn’t go to the US and chose to come here, I think Israel is very special, and I love Bar-Ilan, the people here are so nice and spiritual!”
Margaret decided that when in Rome… she might as well perfect her language skills. Not only is she studying and speaking English all day, she has also joined Hebrew classes, because she thinks this is the best way to assimilate and to learn a language. “I want to know everything that is going on around me, so I must be able to understand what everyone’s saying!” she laughs.