He left for Australia two years ago not only to pursue his tertiary studies but also to broaden his horizons. Loic Munso, Finance and Accounting student at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, confides that it was not an easy task for him to move to a foreign land but he now feels that it was all worth it thanks to incredible learning and teaching experiences he has had. General-Secretary of the Murdoch Guild of Students and Treasurer of Murdoch Business Society, Loic shares with us his pathway and his advice to Mauritian students heading abroad for their university studies.
Leaving one’s home and country to fly to a foreign country to study is definitely not as easy as many may think it is. Besides coming out of your comfort zone, studying abroad implies adapting yourself to a new environment, new culture, new mindsets and most importantly, learn to stand on your own feet. For Loic Munso, it was curiosity and the will to expand his sociocultural knowledge which motivated him to pursue an undergraduate degree in Finance and Accounting at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.
“I was ready to stand on my own feet. Part of the reasons I left were the opportunity to be exposed to the manifold cultures that a foreign country possesses, getting to discover a new environment and also for the quality education,” he utters. Former student of the Lycée des Mascareignes, Loic states that it was not easy for him to switch from a French system of study to move to an English one. “Switching from the French system, which I was so familiar with, was not an easy option. Moving to Perth straight after high school was a hard and scary decision, but the authenticity of its environment and the learning and teaching experience I’ve gained are all worth it.”
Being the only child, there is no denying that the move was a hard and important decision for my family. The adaptation and safety were a priority for them and for myself."
Loic says that Australia was the most appealing option for him given its location, reputation as an educational hub and beauty of its cultural diversity. “Being the only child, there is no denying that the move was a hard and important decision for my family. The adaptation and safety were a priority for them and for myself.” Once he arrived at his university in Perth, he noticed that he had a lack of confidence to interact and mingle with other students.
“Rubbing your shoulders with other students is not as easy as one would think. I have witnessed students who faced loneliness due to their lack of interaction with other students, thus impacting on their wellbeing and academic performance, while adjusting themselves to those challenges. As expected, through the move to Australia, I experienced the culture shock. The different mentality, language and customs were hard to digest at the beginning, but I can now assert that the more diverse, the better it is.” The young man was, however, ready to take the bulls by the horns and face whatever challenges that came his way.
Helping others overcome barriers
With his go-getter personality and enthusiasm to give the best of himself, Loic slowly climbed the ladder of not only academic success but his studies also brought him a lot of personal fulfillment. The Mauritian student was in fact the first international and youngest student to hold the executive position at the Murdoch Guild, the advocacy, support and service organisation of his university. “My will to make the most out of my university life and become an asset to the student representation overcame the idea that I was only 18 years old and an international student. Throughout my time as a Guild executive, my team and I aimed to increase Murdoch students’ exposure to the real-world experience and set an environment that will help students to overcome the daily barriers that they may face. My consideration for other students, refusal to isolate myself and constant involvement on Murdoch campus, helped me expand my network at the University and more importantly, maintain a good relationship with many students,” he utters.
He explains that welfare and support services for international students were already set up on Campus but he believed that raising the awareness on those different lines of services offered by Murdoch was necessary. “Creating an inclusive and supportive environment for international students, which would provide different means of encounter, is important but would only be effective if we correctly assess Murdoch International students’ needs.” He states that many international students are not aware of the many challenges awaiting them. “One of the major issues was the difficulty to mingle with other students due to lack of confidence. Through my position as a Change Agent and Guild Executive, helping international students to gain more confidence and to break the language barrier were a priority. A colleague and I set up a Public Speaking workshop, which would rely on its student-led approach, supposed to lower the barriers, resist the consequences of homesickness and ease the learning experience of those students.”
Loic confides that his role and experience was both a challenging and fulfilling one. “Additionally, one of the best aspects of this year’s Guild was the diversity of our passionate team members, which led a greater student experience. Eventually, my commitment to my university students helped me in getting reelected.” The latter was also selected by Pro-Vice Chancellor and Provost for the International Institute of Students as Partners held at MacMaster University (Canada). “The students as Partners concept, that I embraced, goes beyond the student voice as I see students as co-tutors, co-researchers in the learning and teaching sphere. In fact, through my current role, I witnessed the positive impacts of empowering students in making decisions, on the student body and university in itself. Based on this ideology, part of my project is to setup a non-academic leadership award for Murdoch students, offered and administered as a joint initiative between Murdoch University and Murdoch Guild,” he shares.
Throughout the semesters, Loic dedicated his spare time to his University’s business society, the board of Business and Governance School and Academic Council, a senior decision making body of the University. He would listen to the students’ complaints and then provide feedback and share his opinion with the senior decision making bodies, which include the Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors. “My activity in the Business Society represents a good opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals,” he claims.
In addition, as the Guild General Secretary, he encouraged and supported the creation of an Indian Society on Campus, which is now considered as one of the biggest clubs on Campus, based on the amount of members. “My team and I, diverse as we are, encourage the association of the different communities on campus and we plan on having more events bringing those students together.”
In February last year, Loic’s hard work and dedication were rewarded. He obtained a scholarship to attend the Asia Liberty Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia, organized by the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, which aims at developing future leaders of Free-Market. “The Atlas Network's 2018 Asia Liberty Forum brought more than 200 people from 30 countries and featured several thought-provoking breakout sessions examining the trajectory of liberty, property rights, and technology in the region and speeches by prominent business, think tank, and civil society leaders. I was also tasked to assist the Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies (Co-hosters) in organizing the ALF 2018,” he shares.
The same year, he was recommended by the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, and became a Fellow of the Fund for American Studies. “I was selected to take part in the Asia Institute for Political Economy program, held at the Hong Kong University. AIPE is a unique program that brings together approximately 65 students from across Asia and the United States together to explore fundamental issues related to political economy and government. During the program, I was given the opportunity to work at The Lion Rock Institute, Hong Kong’s first independent free-market think tank, where I produced some researches that were used for a submission to the Environmental Bureau of Hong Kong in relation to a proposed new Offshore LPG Station.”
Loic is more than grateful for all these exceptional learning experiences that were offered to him. “My curiosity opened the doors to those opportunities, where I widened my horizons and opened my eyes on key matters such as decisions taken by our governments. Your curiosity will take you to great places, open several doors and structure the walk to your goals.”
Advice to Mauritian students
Loic agrees that students who go to study in a foreign country can definitely suffer from psychological issues, especially as they feel homesick, lonely and find their enthusiasm falter. “I have seen serious cases, where students’ psychological and physiological wellbeing have been affected when adjusting to the culture which is significantly different from their home country. Indeed, the absence of family, friends, customs, among others, will cause frustration and homesickness,” he says. He advises students not to let that take over their mental health. “This will affect your academic performance, which may not be worth the tremendous amount of money spent on your education overseas. I would highly suggest Mauritian students to take part in the events organized by their University or Campus Living village. Additionally, most universities have a wide range of clubs and societies, which play a key role in bringing students together. Therefore, you may join a club that would match with your interests or even culture (Mauritian society).”
Moreover, he also encourages students to seize the opportunity to get work experiences through internships during their tertiary studies. “I trust they should keep in mind that employers value graduates with work experience. With today’s robust job-market, I highly recommend students to make effective use of their time and try to get work experience during their tertiary studies.
I firmly believe that this will give an advantage when it comes to the application for a graduate level job. Indeed, you may develop the basic and needful ‘employability’ skills, such as teamwork, time management and communication skills. Additionally, the work experience will give you a real taste of what to expect as you would balance work along extra-curricular activities.”
He underlines that it is also important for students to keep a balance and focus on academic achievement while effectively juggling between your studies and part-time job. “Eventually, nothing ventured, nothing gained, the work experience will expand your network and the long-lasting connections made may become the keys to open other doors at a later stage,” he states.