Exchange Program experiences at CEU and LBS | Student Voices

Topics: Global Network, Student Voice, MBA Program

Posted by Hitotsubashi ICS on Feb 9, 2021 8:00:00 PM
At Hitotsubashi ICS, there are 18 business schools that offer exchange programs with our school.
Although many exchange programs are now online or postponed, in order for you to learn more about the exchange programs, we have asked alumni who have participated in exchange programs at Central European University (CEU) in Hungary, and London Business School (LBS) in the UK about their experience.

Jimmy Portrait

Zongya Gao (Jimmy), Class of 2017

Exchange School:
Central European University (CEU)

First of all, why did you choose CEU?

Dialogue with Former WTO President
There were mainly three reasons behind my decision to exchange to CEU.
First, CEU has several top-ranking programs in Europe, and as an exchange student I could choose from all the courses in all programs, including DBA programs. The network of the legendary founder George Soros also guarantees interaction with top industry professionals. Second, the location of CEU allows easy access to all the countries in Europe! I could fly to almost any European city within three hours. It was a great chance to fully explore Europe during weekends and holidays. Third, the cost of living in Budapest is rather low compared to Japan. Even the cost of living in Vienna is quite reasonable.

Which term did you choose for your exchange and why?

I chose the fall term for the following reasons. First, the fall term is the start of the program, so there are a lot of orientation programs that help you make an easy transition to local life. Second, autumn is said to be the best season of the year for Budapest and Vienna. There are wine-tasting events almost everywhere in Europe, and you can also experience Christmas season in winter.

What was your best memory during the Exchange Program?

I had countless precious memories in CEU. But, if you ask me to name the best, it would surely go to the CEU student protests against the Hungarian government. When I was there for the exchange program, I witnessed how hard the students fight to protect the school in Budapest. There were peaceful rallies in the streets, and the CEU students also took the initiative to organize assorted events to convince the Hungarian government that CEU is part of Budapest.

Do you suggest students to choose the Exchange Program for the 2nd-year activity?

I would definitely recommend this exchange program. The exchange time at Budapest has been one of the most memorable experiences in life. The growing business, the rich culture and the friendly people in Central Europe will surely give our students new perspectives in business and life.  
You will never regret if you choose to exchange to CEU!
 Student Tour


HitotsubashiICS Niko

Naoko Nogamoto (Nico), Class of 2018

Exchange School:
London Business School (LBS)

First of all, why did you choose LBS?


LBS offers one of the leading MBA programs in the world and missing the opportunity to participate in its exchange program was not an option for me. Of course, however, I chose LBS not just because of its brand name. Studying at LBS means that you can have first-hand experience of learning from the outstanding, dedicated world-class scholars, extensive researches, and best in class global colleagues with talents, experience and positive attitude.

In addition, locating myself in Europe had special meanings for me. First, as a student, I wanted to enjoy the freedom to travel around (being a student is awesome!!). In the first year of Hitotsubashi ICS, I could visit Costa Rica for Global Network Week, and Korea and China for Doing Business in Asia * (DBiA) with sponsorship from the program. Also, I already have lived in North America. Therefore, spending time in London with easy access to European and African countries sounded very attractive for me. Second reason was “pursuit of happiness”. During Human Resource Management course, Prof. Hiroshi Ono often made comparisons among the US, Sweden, and Japan, where he has lived. He described different economic structures and social policies as well as mindsets of citizens and businesses in each country. “Happiness” had been our topic in such discussions and Sweden was often featured. Since then, I had been curious about it and I wanted to conduct some face-to-face interviews in Sweden, which I did.

HitotsubashiICS Nico LBS
*To learn more about DBiA, you can read this blog article.

Which term did you choose for your exchange and why?


I chose to go during the autumn term in order to focus on job-hunting afterward.

In the second year, Hitotsubashi ICS students can decide their own activities from various options. My strategy was ‘embrace student life first and focus on job-hunting later’. In the summer of 2019, I published a marketing article with Prof. Satoko Suzuki, interned in Tokyo and participated in the DBiA program. Then, I enjoyed my student life at LBS from autumn to winter. From January 2020, it was the time for me to focus on job-hunting and I did another internship. After that, well, I had to stay at home like everyone else due to the pandemic. (Are you jealous of the perfect timing? Trust me, graduating in 2020 was…interesting. But, that’s another story.) 

What was your best memory during the Exchange Program?


So many great memories…! Every minute I spent with amazing friends at LBS was precious and we are still connected professionally and personally. For example, because of the networking at LBS, I could remotely contribute to the Great British Designer Face Coverings campaign during the pandemic. I hope the global connections I could make at LBS will continue, expand and create further positive impacts.

In addition, LBS provided with rich extracurricular activities, including career support, interactions with businesses, club activities, etc. and participating them was my great pleasure. Among those, one of the unique experiences was that I performed the standup comedy on stage thanks to the support of incredible comedian/instructor Cerys Bradley and my friends at LBS. It was a great and fun way to break through my public speaking anxiety.

Nico comedy 

Do you suggest students to choose the Exchange Program for the 2nd-year activity?


It's totally up to them. I think many people pursue their MBA degree to find a new career opportunity. However, let’s be honest, job-hunting requires a lot of time and energy for many MBA students nowadays. Maybe it’s better to dedicate your second year to job-hunting, just like some of my classmates chose to do. Therefore, I don’t want to give any advice without knowing individual situation, especially during the period of uncertainty.

Having said that, looking back, the exchange program at LBS was the best choice for me. As an adult, becoming a full-time student again was a precious time. I believe that I could take advantage of that period of my life pretty well by choosing the exchange program. Cherry on top, the time in Europe actually gave me a lot of perspectives on my career exploration. Personally, I have no regret in my choice of the exchange program.

Finally, I want to be extra sensitive here. I know studying abroad or exchange program may not be an option for students today. I am not here to brag about my pre-COVID experience. I agreed to write this blog article to illustrate potential extension of the Hitotsubashi ICS experience so that each student/prospective candidate can make their best decision for their second-year based on their available options, situations, strategy and purpose. It would be great if I could provide some reference information for them. 

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