The possibility to spend three years in three different countries, while getting in contact with three languages and many more international minds, is perhaps one of the most appealing features of the ESCP Bachelor in Management (BSc).
This peculiar setup provides global opportunities that cannot be obtained through an exchange year or a semester abroad through a typical university programme. At the same time, however, it also brings to the table unprecedented challenges for students: arranging their living in a new and unknown administrative and regulatory environment each year.
That is where Marie-Claude, Caroline, Maria, Christian, Leon, and Giulio decided to step in by creating EIS, the Expatriation Information System born to facilitate a smooth transition for new international students and to inspire more young talents to consider studying abroad.
From the classroom to the World Wide Web
Initially conceived as a Collective Project, a didactical activity designed to consolidate students’ knowledge in the management field within a hands-on experience, EIS has soon become a long-term project for its creators.
Coming from this type of experience themselves, the BSc students were trying to brainstorm a Collective Project that wasn’t self-serving and that would leave a lasting and useful impact on the ESCP student community. “When Marie-Claude came up with the idea, the most difficult part was gathering the plethora of relevant and accurate information on a country by country basis,” tells us Caroline. “After half a year of research, we were finally ready to make the collected information available on our new website.”
EIS successfully fulfilled its purpose of a school project but, instead of archiving it, the team decided to continue working together as they understood that the value of their work extended beyond the boundaries of the original assignment. “Our second greatest challenge was COVID, which put global operations to a halt and essentially stopped study abroad programs in their tracks,” adds Giulio. “Despite the initial disorientation, it birthed the opportunity for us to expand into the service industry and help other students continue their education abroad.”
The enriching challenge of living abroad
“One of the main struggles for students moving abroad is to find accommodation and to adjust to the cultural gap,” tells us Leon. “It is hard to find your dream home or any home as a foreigner from your computer. Metropolitan cities such as Paris or London are hesitant to rent out apartments to people online while having so much demand in person.”
While the great majority of students probably find their biggest stumbling block in the accommodation search, those arriving from outside Europe are faced with a much greater challenge: obtaining a visa.
“Speaking as the sole American on the team, the most brutal and grueling part is undoubtedly the visa process,” shares with us Maria. “This is because it’s all-inclusive of everything else you need to move abroad (proof of accommodation, a bizarre amount of insurance coverage, proof of funds, language barriers, etc.). Having to provide all this before you even step foot in your desired destination is difficult, especially because landlords are hesitant to rent to foreigners who are unable to visit the flat before renting and due to the language barrier.”
The visa process in total takes about six months and requires documents from other organizations that sometimes take a long time to get back to you with the right paperwork. “Staying organized and sane enough to do this yourself is hard, and that’s why we’re here to help,” adds Maria. “I’ve lived the nightmare numerous times and have a running list of loopholes for those who seek assistance.”
While bureaucracy can sometimes turn into an unwanted and annoying side effect of living abroad, international education is indeed worth every effort. “On a professional level, we have learned how to handle inter-European cultural and linguistic differences,” says Christian. “It has opened a window of insight that we would’ve never gained otherwise. On a personal level, we have learned a lot about the internal and unthought-of prejudices held about business and life in different countries. We are thrilled that the experiences we gained at ESCP Business School are reforming everyone’s heart and mind.“
Learning by doing in an international context
Even though creating and managing an articulated project like EIS while studying may sound exceptional, students at ESCP Business School are encouraged to put into practice everything they learn as soon as possible.
“The variety of subjects such as psychology, international relations, and entrepreneurship give you a bigger perspective and knowledge of the business world, while real-world practice helps you put everything you learned into perspective,” continues Marie-Claude. “The most striking thing about ESCP though is the chance to meet other people interested in expanding their business mindset and being able to create projects together. The creation of the EIS project and a company during our first year of university is the best example of this.”
Not only working on concrete projects in teams but working in multicultural teams, this is the real added value of the ESCP experience. “Learning how to manage such a diverse group of people has been the most valuable thing! Sometimes, the Germans would passionately talk amongst themselves while the rest of us exchanged glances in exasperation, other times the French and American would loudly interrupt people (not meaning to be rude, of course), not to mention the times people showed up late to meetings. Over time we found our rhythm but in doing so we learned so much about different business etiquette in different places,” remembers Giulio.
“All in all we feel like every single one of us is constantly learning about how the business environment works. We face every struggle together and learn and grow together,” concludes Leon.
Because a challenge, when faced together, becomes a journey.
The EIS Project Team:
Marie-Claude Marson is a business-oriented student with a unique worldview, based on her passion to change the world.
French and Colombian, Co-founder & Director of IT at EIS.
Maria Pangalos is a young, multi-lingual entrepreneur. She loves traveling, being outdoors, and checking adventurous items off her bucket list.
American, Co-founder & Director of Public Relations at EIS.
Christian Beitzinger is a pragmatic student who is all about making the most out of every situation. He loves pushing his limits in athletics and following his impulses all while making new friends around the world.
German, Co-founder & Legal Council at EIS.
Caroline Carl is an enthusiastic international student who loves traveling, discovering new cultures, and meeting new people. She dives headfirst into every opportunity on her journey.
French and German, Co-founder & Director of Advertising at EIS.
Giulio Santoro is an ambitious, dedicated student, with an eye for capturing and sharing unique moments. He aspires to build bridges between cultures; blending his passion for travelling with his belief that you can change the world with one smile at a time.
Italian, Co-founder & Director of Marketing at EIS.
Leon Mathey is a dynamic and solution-oriented student. He loves to combine fun&work and always seeks new ways to do so.
German, Co-founder & Director of Finance & Accounting at EIS.