Kai Loon Chung from Malaysia received an MBA from the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management in the University of California at Riverside.
Why did you decide to study in America?
I wanted an all-around “university campus” experience that can be life changing. Since the USA is the financial capital of the world, I naturally first considered an MBA program in the USA.
How did you choose your program?
I was offered a place in the MBA program at the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at UC-Riverside (UCR).
What do you like best about studying here?
I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the two years of my MBA study at AGSM. Time flew as I kept myself busy with my MBA workload, extra-curricular commitments and meetings, and living the life of a full-time graduate student at a UC campus in a student-friendly city like Riverside.
What do you miss most about home?
The ubiquitous food and drinks in Malaysia. I also missed certain Chinese festivals that are big celebrations where I come from.
How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
Thanks to the positive and rewarding academic research experiences I had at AGSM, I realized that I actually enjoy doing empirical research, conducting lectures in classes and sharing with the students. Upon my return to Malaysia, I made up my mind to pursue a doctoral degree at a U.S. university. My two-year MBA program at AGSM really laid down a solid foundation for me to consider undertaking a research-intensive doctoral program at a U.S. university.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
A full-time graduate student’s life can actually be quite fun and enjoyable. What I like most about U.S. life as a graduate student is the trust that the school places with you. AGSM, like all American business schools, generally assumes every student to be an individual and treats each one of us with mutual respect. We are encouraged to be creative and to speak up confidently. While we are given much leeway to live our student life to the fullest, we also learned to be responsible for our actions at the same time. Throughout these “freedoms” that were showered upon us, I began to really appreciate the importance of time management and financial management.
How have you handled finances?
I was lucky to have secured the AGSM Fellowship and Teaching Assistantship for both years of my MBA endeavor. This financial assistance went a long way to cover most of my tuition fees. I also managed to save up some money during my working years in Malaysia prior to taking my MBA. With a proper level of prudence and financial discipline, I managed to bridge the financial gap comfortably, and remained financially self-sufficient.
What are your activities?
I joined the Investment Society of UCR, where we invite external professionals to drop by our Society to give a short speech on their work nature and life/work experiences.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
The open and free society in the USA allowed me to make friends effortlessly. From my personal experience, the important thing as a foreign student is to mentally accept everyone with an open mind, and respect friends simply as who they are. Once we are able to overcome the initial stereotypes and biases, we will be able to reach out and make a lot of friends — both within the campus and outside the campus.
How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
Through my MBA thesis, I noticed that I have a strong interest in doing empirical research works and crystallizing my thoughts into working papers. My career goal these days is to be involved in academia — either being a professor, an academic researcher, or both.
What is your advice to other students?
My advice for prospective students is not to be too bothered with the financial cost of a good MBA program.
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