Nicolas Hernando AYALA RAMIREZ - Colombia - Master in Management (double degree program)
Where do you come from? (Country and university)
I come from the sometimes chaotic but always gorgeous city of Bogotá, Colombia. My country has lots of diversity of races and cultures, every kind of fruit there is, the most beautiful flowers and the greatest coffee. But most of all, it has happy, welcoming people. In fact, we have been classified as the happiest country of the world several times. It’s up to you to come to Colombia and check that for yourself…
I come from Universidad de los Andes, which is located in downtown Bogotá. Us locals, we call it just “Los Andes”.
What studies have you already done, and what exact programme are you doing at TBS?
I am finishing my major studies in Business Administration in Los Andes.
I am also doing a major in Music Production, because the university gives you the possibility of taking courses from two majors at the same time, and eventually get both diplomas.
Here in TBS, I’m doing a double degree program. This means I make the last year of the Grand Ecole program of TBS, and I get the title of Masters in Administration from the school. Then, I come back to Los Andes, and finish my bachelor. Here in TBS, I get to choose an Option Professionalisante (OP), which is a specialization in one topic in business. I chose then the OP of International Marketing Management.
Why did you choose TBS over other schools?
For several reasons, actually. It was one of the three schools that offered the double degree program, not just a six-month exchange as most partner universities normally offer. So I could experience a year abroad in Europe, including a Work experience as an intern, while getting a Masters degree. Quite a deal, I think.
Also, I knew a little bit of the school from my brother, who also studied in Los Andes and did the double degree in TBS eight years ago and from other friends as well. They all agreed on how incredible the ambiance of Toulouse and the school was.
Then, I research the school, and I saw it has a very international approach on business. For me, wanting to be a global player in the future, this was very appealing.
How has your integration into TBS gone?
The integration has been great! I think local students and the school in general is quite used to having internationals in their classrooms, so everything has felt very natural. Obviously, the way of teaching changes a bit from place to place, so it’s something I have had to get used to. The school is quite small in size compared to my University back home. I feel that this makes the overall ambiance to be more informal, and you also get to know a lot of people in as little as one month of being in the school.
About services, the best of them all is the Welcome Team. They are students like you, showing you the way around the school, the city, helping you with paperwork and other perks of moving to a new country. Not only this, but they do make sure you are always having fun with them. They will invite you to play football, and to have a few drinks after the game. They will go out dancing with you. They will really introduce to the student life of TBS, having a great time themselves while doing so.
About events, I really enjoyed playing football on a Sunday with International and French students. Also, you got to love the Open Bars. About difficulties, well, the language is always a thing, but that really does get better in time. What has been a bit of a problem is dealing with French bureaucracy, for the different things you have to get done when you arrive. All it takes is to be patient and be well informed.
So far, what do you appreciate about Toulouse: the people, the town, the School etc.?
Toulouse totally destroyed a stereotype I had about French people. I thought they were going to be rather reluctant to other cultures. It was completely the opposite. People in Toulouse are welcoming, and curious about what you bring to their atmosphere. And they love to just start conversation out of the blue. It’s surprising how interesting it is to talk to a stranger sometimes… The town is charming, with a lot of small streets and nice shops, cafés and restaurants; and it is also convenient as you have everything you need at a walking distance. If it’s a little bit far away, then you can rent a bike from Velo-Toulouse, and enjoy the view as you ride.
Can you give us a small anecdote concerning your time so far at TBS? It can be informative/funny/whatever you wish.
In an evening at Place St. Pierre, a bunch of people started singing a song (“Au Bord de la Garonne…”) all of the sudden. Then, half of the people that were there started to sing along. Not really singing, but shouting. When I finally could ask one of my friends what was going on, he told me, “That’s the song from the school, you have to learn it”. My first thought was, “What? They sing for their school in the evenings?” Then I learnt that “Au Bord de la Garonne” it’s not just a song to sing when they are having a good time. It’s an anthem that declares the pride of belonging to this school. Obviously, I made the effort of learning the song. Now I’m the one who shouts along in the evenings.
What advice would you give to a future incoming international student?
You are about to have a great experience in the Student’s city of France, Toulouse. You will find a lot of fun things to do here, but it takes to explore a bit. Don’t use the metro that much, I use the public bikes instead, so you don’t miss the landscape. Take advantage of all the associations of the school and their activities. Don’t fear to talk to French students, because they are very open, and willing to know you. Finally, learn to love the school as the other students do. Then, they will embrace you as one of their own.
What are your plans for the future?
I am really open for changes in my plans, but for the moment, I want to work independently in the music industry. Being a musician myself, I want to be very active in the medium. Also, I’ve always wanted to build my own entrepreneurship from scratch. In the long term, I would develop an idea that establishes a new paradigm in the music industry. But that will come in time.
For the moment, after my exchange in TBS, I plan on going back to finish my studies in Colombia, and start building this path step by step.