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My Experience Of Travelling To China To Study An MBA

Despite facing border restrictions at the time, Brazilian international student Carolina Pereira Maciel decided now was the right time to pursue an MBA in China—here’s her experience so far


Thu Jan 12 2023

The Chinese economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. For example, China’s e-commerce market generates almost 50% of the world’s transactions and is estimated to reach $3.56 trillion by 2024. 

For international students, China's tight Covid restrictions since the pandemic began have made it difficult to take advantage of this growth. 

As travel restrictions begin to ease in January 2023 however, China's business schools are once again becoming accessible to international talent. Yet, it's understandable if prospective students remain cautious about making this big move.

Carolina Pereira Maciel is one student who made the decision to travel from Brazil to China to study her MBA at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), despite facing strict border restrictions and China's 'zero-Covid' policy at the time.  

Working in investment management, she felt that now was a crucial moment in her career to immerse herself in the Chinese economy and learn from ecommerce giants such as Alibaba and 

BusinessBecause caught up with Carolina to discuss her experience of travelling to China, highlights of the program so far, and why an MBA in China is important for her career. 

Why did you decide to study your MBA in China at CEIBS?

I work in investment management as a partner at Nucleo Capital—a fund that invests in public equity in Brazil. Brazil is several years behind in this field, so we look to companies in the US, Europe, and China to gain a valuable insight into how to invest and progress. 

In terms of ecommerce and financial services, everything is happening right now. China’s e-commerce market is booming, so looking to Chinese companies who are pushing ahead in the market is crucial. 

I was apprehensive of whether to come to China, but I spoke with a Brazilian alum who is currently living here, and it became clear that there are more opportunities than ever before. I felt I could not fully understand the market until I experienced it.

I chose CEIBS because of the international exposure I’ll gain—there was no other choice for me.


As an international student, how did you find navigating China’s border restrictions?

It was a long journey. I travelled to the US, then to South Korea, then finally to China. On arrival in China, I was picked up from the airport and taken to a hotel where I had to quarantine for 13 days. 

I don’t have any connections in China, so it was difficult at first and I faced a few challenges such as how to operate my health care code. Yet, saying that, I don’t have any regrets about my decision. 

When I arrived at CEIBS, the staff and professors were so grateful that I’m here and understanding of the struggle to travel, which really made me feel welcome. 

What have been your highlights of the CEIBS MBA program so far?

First of all, there are so many international professors—from India, Malaysia, the US, and Europe—so there’s really a global mindset. 

On the MBA program, they’ve also connected us with Executive MBA (EMBA) alums who are in global executive positions and know a lot about Chinese business, working one-to-one with us as mentors. 

I’m also looking forward to the ‘China Modules’ where we travel to different areas such as Nanjing to study ‘The Globalization of Chinese Companies’, or Shenzhen to study ‘The Rise of A Global Innovation Hub’, or Jinhua for the ‘Design Your Life’ module.

There’s an International Exchange program too, where I think I’ll decide to go to Singapore.

What is MBA student life like on campus?

As I live on campus, I don’t have to worry about lockdowns that may happen. We have to do a PCR test every eight hours but there are SharePoints around the campus that make this really easy. 

Outside of classes, there are lots of opportunities for networking. Companies come to campus to do recruitment events, or you can join student clubs such as the Finance Club or Women in Leadership Club, which I’m part of. 

We organize events with companies we want to meet or industry professionals we admire who will come and give talks or skills training.

It’s great to have this extra support system where we share knowledge and advice with each other. 

What are your career goals after your MBA in China?

We work a lot with the Career Development Center to discuss how hard it is for international students to get a role in China, or how to switch careers so that has been useful.

My long-term goal is to help build a bridge between investors in Brazil and China as there are lots of opportunities for Brazil in terms of energy transition, but Brazil doesn’t have the technology that China does. 

In 2021, almost $88 billion Brazilian exports were to China, so it’s crucial to understand the market and technology here.

What advice would you give to an international student who wants to study an MBA in China?

If you really want to study an MBA in China, then come with an open mind. 

Yes, there are restrictions but once you understand them and deal with them, there’s a lot to gain and learn from being here and experiencing China’s business world first-hand. 

Some of this information may be out of date at the time of reading due to the changing situation in China. Please refer to your country's government advice for foreign travel to China.