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Blog post

First impressions after my first semester at JMSB

Graduate Perspectives series
December 18, 2019
By Omotayo Oyegunle, GDBA candidate, and Danish Jamal, MBA Candidate

Graduate Perspectives is a series of blogposts about the John Molson School of Business graduate programs experience from the perspective of current students and alumni.

This week, we hear from two new graduate students as they gather their first impressions at the end of their inaugural semester at JMSB. Omotayo Oyegunle is a student in the Graduate Diploma in Business Administration, while Danish Jamal is in the MBA in Investment Management program, studying in Toronto. Both tell us how John Molson has compared with their expectations.

Omotayo Oyengunle headshot

Omotayo Oyengunle

Gaining an international experience is always an asset. I recently relocated to Quebec from Nigeria with my family and have only been living in the greater Montreal area for a little less than two years. I really yearned for an academic upgrade, but was unsure of what field of study to pursue.

I had heard of Concordia’s reputation even while living in Nigeria and liked the fact that it is an English university in the heart of the French city of Montreal. So, it had to be Concordia!

I searched through the many courses offered and found the Graduate Diploma in Business Administration, which, by the way, is only offered at Concordia. This seemed like a nice point for me to start, so here I am now at the prestigious John Molson School of Business.

First impressions of Montreal

My first impressions of the city were very mixed and I had many questions and doubts. Nevertheless,  I would quickly find a positive response to these.

How would I cope in this soooo very French city with zero knowledge of the language? Maybe it was an opportunity to learn a new language and be soooo very French myself. Wouldn’t that be ‘trop cool’?

Moving to a new city felt like I was starting all over again! Would I succeed out here academically, career-wise and financially? But of course! This will be a good opportunity to fulfill all of my dreams and Montreal feels like a good environment to achieve these things. My career choices are still a bit hazy – there is so much to do, it gets so confusing – but I had to start from somewhere.

Would I be able to make friends and quickly grow a reliable network of people around me? Would my children fit in? How would the cultural differences impact on us all? Well, I guess it was a time of rediscovery for me. The kids will be just fine; they adapt quickly. Cultural shock! It was time to see how open-minded I could be.

Oh la la! The winter! Sigh. But at least I wouldn't need the air conditioning as much. Nigeria is summertime all year round.

So, as you can see, my emotions were everywhere, but I was pretty determined to succeed. I took it all one day at a time, opening up my mind to many possibilities and stayed optimistic.

First impressions of John Molson

My first impression of John Molson was “wow!” The building is so nice and I felt like I would definitely succeed just walking in through those doors every time I came to school. I remember telling my husband, “It feels like walking into the corporate headquarters of an organization.”  I loved the amphitheater and felt that I could never have a bad lecture day in there. I had thought the university campus would be this big, secluded community with all of the buildings in the same confinement, but I was wrong. Right next door can be your favorite clothing store or restaurant, depending on your preferences. The numerous windows of the tall buildings overlook the very busy downtown streets of Montreal.

First impressions of my class

The class is very multicultural, just like the city. The diversity is so rich that my network was going to span farther than my imagination. I have friends now from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Africa and, of course, Nigerians like me. Can you imagine my reach now, just being in class every day with all these beautiful people carefully selected by Concordia?

The professors and tutors are very knowledgeable and the students are open-minded. Some of the courses are more difficult than others, but the tutorial classes offered by the university help a lot. My classmates are success-driven and organize reading groups to help each other with those difficult courses.

One thing for sure though, there was an academic shock! I did not realise how much of a time gap there had been since my last schooling and so I have to study extra hard. I’ve had courses like accounting, which I had never done before because my background is in Engineering. While it was difficult for me and a few others, for some, it was a breeze. Professional Business Skills was a more relaxing class for me, but the Statistics course, ayaya! So much work! But the professor and tutor definitely top my list of bests. With their help, it suddenly became the easiest course for me.

I guess fulfilling my academic dreams definitely started in a good way; the right people in the right city with a right mindset and at the right place. JMSB! Bien sûr!

Danish Jamal headshot Photo: Allen McInnis

Danish Jamal

I have always lived in Islamabad, Pakistan. Although my family and I have travelled to almost all cities in Pakistan, I find Islamabad to be the most peaceful. Islamabad is a beautiful city, blessed by all 5 seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter & Monsoon) evenly spread throughout the year. North of Islamabad, you can hike the Margalla Hills where you can enjoy seeing the entire city once you reach the top. If you are feeling hungry after a long hike, countless cuisines can be found in the heart of Islamabad, ranging from national to international food. At Lok Virsa, you can take in the cultural heritage of Pakistan and enjoy traditional folk songs. Islamabad has a lot to offer to both its local people and tourists.

First impressions of Toronto

When I first visited Toronto this past August, I noticed that the streets and sidewalks are never empty. You would never find anyone stopping, except at a red light of course. There is always something happening in Downtown Toronto and you would never get bored if you decided to go out for a walk. Before my first class, I had some time to roam around Harbourfront, a very calm and peaceful downtown neighbourhood along the shore of Lake Ontario.

I saw the famous 3D Toronto sign in front of the curved structural building that is Toronto City Hall. I decided to head up to any nearby shopping plaza and ended up landing in CF Toronto Eaton Centre. This placed reminded me of the Centaurus Mall in Islamabad, which has the same vibe of a shopping plaza. After wandering literally every shop, I decided to go and eat from the food court at the bottom of the plaza. Being a Muslim, I knew finding Halal outlets would be difficult in any Non-Muslim country, but I was mistaken. The food court catered for all ethnicities.

After eating, I decided to look for some winter clothes. I personally love winters and snow. Winters in Pakistan are cold, but not as cold as in Canada – and it doesn’t snow in Islamabad. Although many people have told me not to keep my hopes up, I am really looking forward to the winters here in Canada!

First impressions of Montreal

I visited Montreal for my orientation at the beginning of this semester and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful architecture of the buildings, which give the city an old, vintage look. I only had a two-night stay in Montreal so I couldn’t roam around much, but I got to see the downtown and it has a completely different vibe than downtown Toronto. The people were hanging around in pubs and having a good time. I decided to eat a sandwich from Le Parisien Sandwicherie. I had some difficulty communicating in French, but the staff understood what I wanted. I wanted to visit some shops but everything closed at 9pm so I headed back to the hotel and slept because I had to wake up early for the orientation.

First impressions of John Molson

Coming from National University of Sciences & Technology where you don’t have classes in skyscraping buildings, it felt a little different coming into the John Molson building. The building’s glass exterior gives it a more professional look. The staff I met were very welcoming and the whole orientation was perfectly organized. I had a chance to talk to the faculty who would be teaching us and it was nice to know that some of them had studied at Concordia as well. The classes give off a very professional vibe as well, with advanced high tech facilities to gear us up for the capital market of Canada.

Being a foodie, I was very pleased to learn that the program will be constantly keeping our stomachs full by providing us with supper for our Wednesday evening classes as well as breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout our Saturday day-long classes. However, I was a little jealous that Montreal students have a whole dining room. But we Toronto students have our own advantage in being right at the heart of Canada’s financial district!

First impressions of my class

When I got to know that under 10 students will be in the Toronto class, I was a little shocked. But once I thought about it, I wouldn’t have to memorize a lot of names. Jokes apart, this will provide me the opportunity to get more one-on-one interactions with the teacher. The 2019 class has a lot of diversification (as should our portfolios!) in terms of culture, profession and educational backgrounds. We have few Concordia students in our class who did their bachelors at Concordia and a handful of Canadian citizens.

I’m sure this small yet diverse class will help me not feel so lost in a completely new city. I also look forward to hanging around with my new classmates to get to know them and understand Toronto and Canada’s finance industry. I am really looking forward to spending the next three years learning with such a wonderful class and being taught by such an experience faculty at a renowned institution.


For more information on the full range of John Molson graduate programs, visit our website. Then connect with a recruiter to arrange a one-to-one meeting or participate in one of our many online information sessions.

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