MSc Luxury Management from Switzerland — “It’s about being independent, innovative”: life at a foreign university

I’ve always wanted to study marketing, but I knew it had to be more than just a normal course. I started researching niche programs and stumbled upon ‘Luxury Management’, a course that suited my passion and expectations.

At a time when the world was recovering from the Covid pandemic, I took a big leap of faith and began pursuing a Masters in Luxury and Guest Experience Management at Institute of Higher Education Glion, Switzerland.

I had previously visited Switzerland with my family as a tourist and fell in love with its scenic beauty and warm people. My other option was a few universities in the United States of America, but I chose Switzerland on purpose because I had close relatives staying in the United States, and I wanted to study somewhere where I wasn’t dependent on anyone. Here in Switzerland, I know that I have to be my own support system, and that is what has helped me become an independent and strong person.

Choose the right institute

For me, curriculum and academic framework were always of utmost importance when making decisions. Coming from a marketing and management background, I intended to specialize in the luxury business to enter this immersive sector. When I searched for the best institutes around the world for luxury management, Glion was the first one mentioned everywhere. The fact that this institute also provided me with “guest experience” training was an added bonus. This was the main reason why I chose Glion for my master’s degree.

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In addition to this, the faculty, facilities, student-friendly admission process and inclusive environment helped me complete Glion. Along with the reputation of being synonymous with excellence in the hospitality and luxury industry, it was also the scenic location, multicultural environment and international exposure that strongly supported my choice of opt for this institute.

Admission process for students

My admissions process, from applying for the right program to getting the final confirmation in the form of an acceptance letter, was very simple. I was able to manage the entire process myself, with a little help from university officials.

In a year, Glion has two intakes: spring and autumn. The entry requirement for a master’s program is to be at least 21 years old and have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in business or hospitality. The level of English proficiency should be IELTS 6 overall, (minimum 5.5 in each subcomponent), Internet-based TOEFL 80, Paper-based TOEFL 550.

After submitting all relevant supporting documents such as my CV, letters of reference, academic transcripts, plan of study and post-study, English certificate and a copy of my passport, I had an interview with my director of program, Dr. Nicoletta Guisti, for the final round of admission. I also have a merit based scholarship which was awarded to me, and each individual can search for the most suitable scholarship for their profile on the official website of the institute.

First hand experience

In luxury management, you learn how to create brand value for luxury products and services, and also how to communicate brand value with luxury marketing. This program teaches us the innovation, understanding and long-term experience to understand this different appeal of a product or service in the market. Customers tend to buy the experience rather than the goods or services.

The structure of Glion’s academic courses is broad and up-to-date; working perfectly according to industry standards. My master’s was broadly divided into luxury business environments, marketing and brand management, luxury experience and innovation, business strategies and models. We were taught business trends in luxury hotels/resorts/events, luxury fashion design, cross-cultural leadership, digital transformation and data analytics, sustainable luxury and design, digital marketing in the luxury industry, strategic management of luxury brands and business management.

Our theoretical classes were backed up with a business trip to Paris and a luxury event organized by our group. This was ideal for acquiring extensive first-hand information about the world of luxury retail, fine art and hospitality to name a few. The business field trip was a highlight as it allowed us to integrate our academic learning into practice. Academically, it provided me with a dynamic overview of the luxury industry. It helped me grow personally and professionally and fostered in me a greater initiative towards what life has to offer.

More than academic knowledge

My experience of studying in Switzerland has been one of a lifetime. I come from a family where I had the privilege of not having to take out a loan to pursue my study plans abroad. But I made sure to use my time here for all the right reasons.

The Glion Spirit sustains all the moments I have lived through my study. The feeling of being embraced and appreciated in a diverse environment as well as gaining lifelong connections was by far the most precious element of my trip for me. The university offered not only academic forums but also quasi-forums for students to have a possible university life. We had the opportunity to be part of different committees that organized events.

Glion is located in the city of Montreux, which is also known as the city of retirement. So there are not many Indians in the city, but there are many Indian students in the university itself. As a result, I can interact with people in my community from time to time, which provides comfort when needed.

However, most of my interactions are with locals, and I think that’s the biggest advantage I have here. Interacting with locals ensures you don’t fall into a comfort zone. It helps me push my limits and gives me access to learn more about the local culture, food and traditions and also helps me learn things that I wouldn’t have learned in my comfort zone in India.

When I arrived in the city of Montreux, this became a staple memory for me as I was greeted with a stunning view of Lake Geneva and the aesthetics of the campus certainly made me feel welcome. The locals here were so warm and welcoming, and I never felt out of place even on the first day. I started my journey here with student accommodation provided by the university, and the people on our campus were helpful in getting us settled.

Later, I switched to an Airbnb, which was very affordable and comfortable. Therefore, students who cannot find student accommodation can also choose an Airbnb for a few weeks or a month.

Studying abroad: an intellectual experience

As an international student, I had experiences that I lacked in India. The international study experience often presents students with opportunities to acquire more than academic knowledge. It is an intellectual experience that includes personal growth, professional exposure, travel and cross-cultural diversity. New experiences can be quite challenging, but they dramatically increase your initiative, as well as organizational, communication and leadership skills. It has the potential to be profoundly transformative, and it is up to each individual to embrace it. Combined experiences that lead to fresher perspectives make the study abroad experience more valuable and rewarding.

When it comes to balancing expenses, I believe that planning ahead is the best method for managing living expenses abroad. I chose not to work part-time as I intended to allocate my time to potential opportunities on campus. I was the class representative of my batch, a member of the Master Committee and a Glion ambassador.

As a class representative, I had the opportunity to personally learn about all the academic content while under the continuous supervision of the program director. The Ambassador program allowed me to represent the university on many occasions. Being in these positions encouraged me to improve my organizational skills, conquer my flaws and discover a new version of myself.

My advice to future aspirants — Research, plan, seize the opportunity

It is essential to thoroughly research the institution and curriculum. In addition to early planning, having a back-up plan is essential. Studying abroad is certainly a life-changing experience, and you should take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, as these experiences allow you to develop your full potential.

One important thing to remember is that you don’t go beyond your comfort zone, even in your study abroad experience. I have intentionally chosen a country where I have no relatives so that I can become independent. I would advise aspirants to ensure that they too step out of their comfort zone as only this will help them grow in life.

Discover your passions and don’t be afraid to take advantage of opportunities. Be committed, passionate and motivated. Given that the world is so dynamic and fast-paced, you rarely know where you’ll end up tomorrow. If you live your life and make every day an experience, I believe you will reach your highest potential.

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