The International Perspective on the GSM
Today I’m interviewing Ming Ee Ong.
Alex: Good Afternoon Ming, how are you doing? Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Ming: I am from Malaysia as you already know. I was previously in the manufacturing line that did custom-designed and custom-made cleaning systems and I’m currently a first year student at UC Davis.
Alex: Great, why did you choose UC Davis among all the worldwide business schools? What attracted you to the UC Davis MBA program?
Ming: Ok, I knew I wanted to come to America because I felt that this place would be the best place for a MBA degree. I narrowed the whole world down to America. Like everyone does, we look at the rankings in the Economist and everywhere online and looked at the first ten schools and started applying for them. But, ummm instead of choosing the first ten I decided that maybe I should choose the top 50 schools. So UC Davis was one of them and after looking into the whole country I said OK, California seems to be the least cold place on earth. I said hey, let’s go to California and also because it was near Silicon Valley.
I had some experience targeting Silicon Valley companies so I decided to apply for schools within California, but when I looked into it, schools like Stanford and Berkeley had really big classes like 600 for Berkeley and Stanford had 200-300, I can’t remember anymore, but Davis was one of the only students that had less than 100 students in it and I thought to myself – if I was going to pay this much in tuition I should get more out it. So that was one of the main reasons why I chose Davis.
Alex: Ming, you’re an international student; did you have any expectations of America what were they when you got here?
Ming: Ok, I don’t know if it’s because I watch too many America movies but I expected everyone to have guns. I’m just kidding. (laughter) I expected people to be less friendly than they are. People in Davis are really friendly, you go anywhere and people ask you how you are and how your day is and where you’re going and I thought because California has big cities, people would be really unfriendly, more into themselves than they are.
The friendliness of people in Davis really struck me as different and unexpected. I didn’t expect too much because I was kind of worried if I expected too much I would let myself down but I didn’t expect this school to be this pretty and high tech because before I came here I couldn’t find that many photos of this place (GSM building) because it was new, it is still very new I didn’t expect the school to be this brand spanking new.
Alex: If you were to describe this building to an international student how would you describe the UC Davis GSM building and the area around the school?
Ming: The building itself will be way beyond your imagination. It’s full of glass and full of natural sunlight and I think it is just great. So what you think the school is going to look like; just be prepared for it to be much more than what you thought it was going to be.
About Davis, umm I know when you go online and look at reviews about Davis, it is going to say it’s agricultural, a spin off of Sacramento, but it’s not, it’s actually a pretty little place. Everything you need is within arm’s reach and everyone cycles, as it says online and it’s really cool that everyone does cycle. So it’s actually a really nice place to stay.
Alex: Ming, your English is excellent can you tell me how your English got so good and what advice you’d give other international students that want to come to the U.S. to study? Did you have a hard adjusting to English when you got to the U.S.?
Ming: I grew up speaking Chinese at home. So basically English was self-taught. All through school we only had one English subject, if you just relied on that one subject you would probably not be able to get by outside of Malaysia. So if you think your English is not good, start speaking it as much as you can to as many people as you can right now. It would be a very good way to bump up your English.
Read a lot like newspapers and that is what I did when I was younger. I read a lot of story books and from that graduated along to magazines and then to gossip magazines. (I laugh) it’s still okay because you’re still reading English stuff which will make you speak better. Yeah I think that is basically it.
When you come over here to America you don’t get a chance to speak any language apart from English. That was a little bit of a culture shock for me because back in Malaysia I could speak Malay or English or Chinese to anybody or a mixture of all three languages to fellow Malaysians who understood what I was saying.
Over here I have to watch my works because I couldn’t mix languages. The first few weeks when I was here, I had to run sentences and conversations through my head before I would say out loud in case I sounded too much like an international student. But it gets better in the first month or so and everything becomes more natural, especially if you practice more.
Alex: What do you want to do after you graduate? Do you want to stay in the U.S., go back to Malaysia? What kinds of options do international students have?
Ming: If you’re here in America and here in Davis, when you start orientation they will put you into this big project called Career Development and Career Development is going to push you to get an internship here in America. So I’m more geared towards working in America right now. Everyone is looking for a job around Silicon Valley, in California and in America. Most of my classmates have not thought about leaving California. They are pretty much based here.
International students are looking at this experience as their way into America. As for myself, I would be open to live anywhere. Working in America is good I think, it’s a whole different culture compared to Asia. Working here would give me lots of good experiences, but I would prefer to go back to Asia sometime in the next 5-10 years cause I think Asia is up and coming and I would like to be a part of that uprising. And according to the career development people at this school, they just started a website that has a database for jobs all around the globe. So I think it we’re going more international and I think we’re being pushed to think outside our boundaries.
Alex: I know as a first year student you have four core classes. Which classes do you enjoy? Which classes do you find challenging?
Ming: I have four classes, one is accounting, one is stats, one is economics and the last one is critical thinking and speech. So accounting is challenging because the professor goes really fast but we can’t blame her because we have lots of things to cover in a little quarter.
Professor Yetman starts off with the basics and graduates onto difficult things. I enjoy accounting even though I have never taken it before. It was kind of challenging the first weeks. But I think that I’m pretty much getting it right now. Economics is fun because I feel that it relates to a lot of things in my life. Every little thing that goes on around me, like when I buy something or when someone gives me something, it relates back to economics. The way the professor talks about it, he also relates it to a lot things in our life so I think it is great and makes me understand the class really well. Stats is a challenge because I am not that good at Excel. But the second year students had a little workshop where they taught the first-years how to use Excel within the first three weeks of school which I thought was great. But I got rather good results after the midterm so I must be doing something right.
Critical Thinking is currently about talking in front of class and I think that is really good for us because lots of us have never had exposure to talking to a lot of people so it really pushed us to find our presentation skills and I think all of us are getting along good in that class.
Alex: Ming thank you very much and I wish the best of luck.
Ming: Thank you!!