Advanced Masters Alumni | Answering the Unasked Questions

Deciding to pursue an Advanced Master's at Solvay Brussels School is a big decision. Luckily, there’s plenty of information available about the programme, what classes you need to take, who the teachers are, etc. But what about those questions that keep you up at night? You know, the quest...

Advanced Masters Team |Author

Our Advanced Masters Team comprises our Programme Managers and Academic Directors who take care of you throughout your academic journey - registration to graduation and beyond!

Blog Inner Image

Stay connected

Never miss the latest insights, blogs and news. Subscribe to our newsletter.


Deciding to pursue an Advanced Master's at Solvay Brussels School is a big decision. Luckily, there’s plenty of information available about the programme, what classes you need to take, who the teachers are, etc.

But what about those questions that keep you up at night? You know, the questions that you feel might be a bit too “silly” to ask: What will my classmates be like? What’s there to do in Brussels? Will I like the programme?

Guess what? Everybody has the same questions! But as nobody seems to be asking them, we decided to do the asking for you! Here's what Ramsey Chahine (USA), Yan Christiaens (Belgium), Benita Lukusa (Congo), Yann Vonderscher (France), Dimitra Pappa (Greece), and  Lena Schiller (Germany) had to say! 

What was your biggest fear about enrolling in the Advanced Masters programme?


My biggest fear was that I was putting all my savings into this Master’s programme, so I wanted it to be the best value for money I could get - Ramsey


At first, I worried that I may not have the right background or sufficient knowledge to enter a business school. That’s why I took several online classes, such as ‘an MBA in one course’, and on such topics as using Excel and business administration. I was also afraid of making the switch from an engineering background to a business environment.  - Yan


My biggest fear was being able to afford the tuition fees by myself. In fact, I originally decided not to pursue the programme due to costs. However, thanks to a scholarship from Solvay Brussels School and by taking advantage of the early bird enrolment discount, I was able to enrol in the programme. - Benita


First, there was the apprehension about changing careers after having gained over 10 years of experience. I was also concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find a job that would capitalise on both my Advanced Master's programme and my previous work experience. - Yann


The fear started the moment I sent off my application, where every day I wondered whether I would be accepted or not. As you can imagine, every step and every email just made my stress level higher. But then I met the programme director, during the final interview and I immediately knew I was in the right place. It was like chatting with a friend. His vibe, the questions, our discussion – all of it made me realise that not only was this something I wanted to do but that I felt good just imagining myself at Solvay. One week later I found out that I was accepted and had been approved for a scholarship – I must have been the happiest person on earth!

Fast-forward one week before courses started and once again fear came knocking at my door: ‘Am I going to be good enough for this programme,’ I wondered. ‘Maybe not having a business background would make it too hard for me?’  ‘Am I going to make new friends?’ -Dimitra


That there wouldn't be any fun people and it would be difficult to meet people. -Lena

What’s the most exciting part of studying at Solvay Brussels School?


I would say the most exciting part is the great atmosphere at the university. The staff are amazing and so helpful, it is very international, and you have the potential to meet students from all around the world. - Ramsey


 I really like that our teachers have real-world experience to share with us and that they draw on this experience to explain some of the challenges they have faced in their own professional life. This really brings value to the course and makes everything more concrete when learning. I’ve also been very impressed by the quality and prestige of the many guest speakers that join us. They always bring an interesting view and it's a great opportunity to network.

For me, every day is an exciting day of learning. Everyone is so knowledgeable and easy to access that I can continuously become a better version of myself. And it’s interesting to be surrounded by a range of different backgrounds and cultures – it is not always an easy task to deal with, but together we go further. -Yan


What makes this programme stand out is the school’s international and multicultural environment and the fact that our lecturers are people with outstanding experiences. The studying is not just theoretical at Solvay, you get to put your hands in the clay and actually make the pot. -Benita


Getting to know people from different backgrounds and cultures is definitely a highlight, as is the level of teaching. Most teachers are also practitioners with impressive careers. Being taught by and getting to know them in the close quarters of a small classroom is quite exciting. -Yann


Having the opportunity to meet and cooperate with so many different people, backgrounds, cultures, languages, and ways of thinking. -Dimitra 


The diversity of the people, both my fellow classmates and the staff. There are so many different countries and cultures represented. -Lena


On the night before your first day of class, what kept you awake at night?


What kept me up was the excitement that I will be starting a new programme the next day, meeting a bunch of new people, getting to socialise, and broaden my network. -Ramsey 


Although I knew I was going to pivot from my career as a mechanical engineer to another one, the what, where, and how remained unknown. So, the night before the first day of class, I committed myself to taking every possible opportunity to learn everything I could and, hopefully, discover the answers to these questions. I was really excited about starting as I knew it was going to be something way bigger than what I could have achieved in the past. -Yan


Like any first day, I was so excited! I was curious how the day would go... and this not knowing kept me awake. To be honest, I was as excited as a little girl waiting to get her gifts from Santa on Christmas! -Benita


Nothing, I was just too excited to meet my new friends! -Dimitra


Missing my alarm (I’m German!) -Lena


The excitement of starting something new and getting to know new people with whom I would spend the next 10 months. -Yann


What was your best experience so far?


My best experience so far is definitely the Christmas dinner we had at the university. The student representatives prepared it and we invited all the AMISM students, as well as the programme director, to enjoy dinner and drinks on campus. A lot of us then continued the party at a neighbouring bar. It was a great way to really connect with my classmates on a more personal, fun level! -Ramsey


First of all, there is the quality of the exchange I have with my teachers. From hearing the biography and decisions of a former McKinsey CEO to receiving human and self-development advice and going through really challenging and reflective questions, these are the moments that will stay with me for a long time.

There’s also the interactions and good vibes I have in certain group work, where we really sit elbow to elbow to find innovative solutions to complex problems. On a more personal level, I had the opportunity to be invited to several networking events hosted by prestigious companies, and I really felt accomplished and in my ‘zone’ while attending these events. -Yan


Together with three of my colleagues, we are creating a company that aims to simplify the daily routines of blind people while making them feel socially included. This project, which started in a marketing class, has been granted an incubation programme from Strat.LAB. It is definitely something that we plan to continue even after we finish our Advanced Masters. -Benita


The first course, Design Thinking, for which we had to develop an idea from scratch and take it to prototype testing in a 10-day sprint. Another highlight is the Advanced Strategy course taught by the former CEO of GB and D'Ieteren, who shared his valuable and enlightening experience with us. But really, all the in-class discussions we have are engaging and add value to our learning.  -Yan


The kick-off day and the Christmas party we organised – we had so much fun!

As for the kick-off day, I must admit that at first, it was a little strange to go for dinner with so many people you don’t know. It was nice that they had us change groups every 40 minutes to make sure we had a chance to meet everyone. This, along with the after party at a nearby café, really helped break the ice!

By the time we got to the Christmas party later in the year, everyone knew everyone. We prepared food and all of us brought drinks and we spent the evening eating, dancing, and playing games. We also had our AMISM Awards and did a Secret Santa gift exchange. What a night! -Dimitra


I really liked our class about negotiation skills because it did not feel like a class but rather a hands-on workshop. I also enjoyed one of the first classes we took, called "Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship", which was exhausting but definitely worth the effort. In general, I like that some classes are more hands-on and not too theoretical. And let's not forget about all the socialising and fun that we have outside of our classes! -Lena


What advice would you give to someone considering the programme?


Be curious and proactive. If you’re considering taking this programme, it's either to shift your career or reach a higher position. These decisions aren't easy to make, but Solvay Brussels School gives you all the opportunities and necessary tools you need, so long as you really work for it and are willing to do it. If you are still on the fence, I suggest to really ask yourself what you hope to get out of this experience and what your final goal is. -Yan


The programme will equip you with both the confidence and skills you need to work in any kind of environment (start-ups or big companies). The group work gives you a keen sense of how working in a business environment will be. Knowledge is not only developed by focusing on books and lectures but also by sharing with classmates. -Benita


Do not hesitate to make a change, and always be a critical thinker. -Yan


Go for it! I can guarantee that it will be one of the best experiences of your life. -Dimitra


If you think this is going to be an extra year of getting to act like a chilled-out undergrad where all you need to do is "show up", you'll be very disappointed. The programme is intense, engaging, and consuming. That's what makes it's transformational. -Lena

What’s the best part of getting to live and study in Brussels? 

Beer, hands down! For me, you can’t beat a Duvel Triple Hop at Cafe Belga in Place Flagey. -Ramsey


Even if I am Belgian and have spent over four years living abroad, this is my first time living and studying in Brussels. I really enjoy how the school – and the city for that matter – is full of international and interesting students from which you can learn and have a lot of fun with. As the capital of Europe, many important companies are located in Brussels, so no matter what sector you want to work in, you can always be in touch with one of them. The infrastructures and facilities are great, and you can find lots of interesting cultural events. In Brussels, there is always something new to discover. -Yan


The best part for me is the ability to get a prestigious international education. I also appreciate the fact that I can be home away from home and reconnect with members of my family who have been living here for more than a decade. -Benita


Brussels is a capital city with a small-town feel. It has all the advantages of a large city in terms of activities, but without the inconvenience of being overcrowded. It’s also a very green city with lots of parks. Another advantage is that it’s easy to get out of the city to visit the surroundings, with weekend trips to Paris, London, Amsterdam, Koln, Strasbourg, and Rotterdam all just a train trip away. Plus, it's the most cosmopolitan, international city I know of, making it perfect for a first experience abroad. -Yann


The diversity. In terms of different cultures, nationalities, people, languages, and food, you’ll never feel bored in Brussels. Plus, there are just so many events. Brussels is the Mecca of Music, with festivals, live shows, clubs, and DJs happening all the time. -Dimitra

Solvay Brussels School and the city of Brussels are very international. With so many different languages and cultures, have you ever found yourself "lost in translation"?


Let's say that speaking with your hands, and in some cases even your feet, can often be helpful! But in general, people do speak English and are super friendly. And I try my very best to improve my French and study a bit of Dutch – the two main languages in Belgium. -Lena


Personally, I understand one of the two languages spoken in Belgium. I am trilingual, so I never found myself ‘lost in translation’ in that sense. However, it is very nice to be able to experience the different cultures and learn how to adapt your actions to take into consideration the sensitive issues regarding different cultures and nationalities. -Ramsey


This is a good one! Solvay is a very international and multicultural place, and at times I haven’t been able to understand what some people were saying. I also realise that sometimes others can’t understand me, and I have to repeat myself two to three times to be understood... Everyone has their own accent, but that's what makes it an even more beautiful experience! -Benita 


Not at all. Since I was 17, I have always been exposed to an international environment, regularly switching from my mother tongue to another language. In Brussels it’s great because I can practise several other languages. Since living here, I have been speaking French, Dutch, English, Spanish, Portuguese and even Japanese to some tourists I met at the Grand-Place. I always try to speak the mother tongue of everyone to fully connect with them. -Yan


No, not at all. Actually, it is because of its diversity that I have never felt like a foreigner. -Dimitra

When not studying, what's your favourite activity to do or place to go in Brussels?


My favourite activity is to go challenge basketball players playing in public courts and then invite the guys for a beer afterwards. It’s a fun way to socialise, stay active, and drink responsibly! -Ramsey


I like to go to the gym, which is just a minute from my place. I also enjoy exploring Brussels and going shopping, so I can often be found around La Toison d'Or, Avenue Louise, or the Grand Place. For dining, my go to places are Place Flagey and Place Jourdan. -Yan


Every weekend I visit Belgium's touristic places such as Bruges, the Grand Place, Atomium, Parc du Cinquentenaire, Citadelle de Namur... I also enjoy walking in the forest that surrounds the city. -Benita


Reading, gardening, going for a run, playing tennis, and grabbing a drink at Bar du Matin or Chatelain. -Yann


Walking and discovering new neighbourhoods, drinking double Americanos and eating a lemon cake at TICH, my favourite café. And of course, going out with friends to discover a new bar and try a different beer. -Dimitra



Stay connected

Never miss the latest insights, blogs and news. Subscribe to our newsletter.


Newsletter subscription

Never miss the latest insights, blogs and news

Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss the latest insights, events and blogs.