Gull Life

SU Spotlight: Nelli Balkarova takes the principles of Perdue abroad

Gull Life

BY HALEY DICK

Gull Life Editor

Nelli Balkarova headshot. Tom McCall Photography

Senior Nelli Balkarova, a double major in international business and marketing, embodies the principles of the Perdue School of Business and takes her learning outside the classroom as a Student Business Leader.

The Perdue Student Business Leaders, or SBL, are a resource for business students to utilize to get any questions they have about the business program, or SU in general, answered. They also assist with various job fairs and networking opportunities to help connect students with local businesses, serving as a middle man between the two.

Balkarova’s biggest advice for students is to fully immerse themselves in classes and in the information they are learning.

“Don’t go into class and memorize things,” Balkarova said. “Go into class and actually take it in.”

Balkarova moved from Russia to the US at age 11, facing her first challenge: the language barrier.

“I remember sitting in sixth and seventh grade, because I went to middle school here, and it was very hard to understand everything,” she said. “It’s like putting you in a room and everyone speaks a different language and are talking about things like environmental sciences and English, and it was difficult.”

Having grown up in another country she can sense the differences between the two.

“I feel like a lot of time I am split into two people because I grew up there, but live here,” Balkarova said. “I always say I have two minds in one body because I have the half where I was raised there and the last 10 years I’ve lived here, and the two clash sometimes.”

She grew up in Howard County, and was attracted to Salisbury University because it was in-state and the perfect size.

“Salisbury was one of those universities that was small enough to have that one on one interaction with the professor and the ability to get the most out of your classes, and then big enough where it is not too small,” Balkarova said. “Then they had the international business program which, since I lived half of my life in another county and half of my life here, is really interesting to see where I could go with that.”

Balkarova spent the Spring 2017 semester in Grenoble, France, studying abroad at a partnering school called Grenoble Ecole de Management, or GEM. After wrestling with the choice between Europe and Australia, Europe was the chosen destination.

Learning at the GEM was an entirely different experience, Balkarova said.

“When you take classes in Europe, they give you your schedule for like 10 weeks straight and your classes never repeat the same week,” she said. “This is because the professors have to fly in from other countries and teach you.”

This is different from the way our universities work because we are given a weekly schedule of classes for the entire semester, and they occur at the same time on each scheduled day of the week.

“The coolest thing about it was that the professors that would fly in are not just professors, but work for companies,” Balkarova said. “The professors have the experience in the industry and they come in and teach on their time, and the students schedules get adjusted to it, so anything that changes in the market you get a constant insight on it because they are in the field.”

Understanding the cultural aspects of business in different countries can be difficult to grasp in the classroom, but are brought to light in an international setting.

“All of those things you learn in the classroom, there you get to experience because there is people from all over the world who are studying abroad or pursuing their master’s there so when you really get a group project growing you get to experience all of the culture differences, which was really cool,” Balkarova said.

She travelled all over Europe during her semester abroad, visiting places like Italy, Barcelona and her favorite, other than France, which was Greece.

Balkarova currently works three jobs on top of being a full-time student and a SBL. One of her jobs includes working as the front-end coordinator at Marshalls.

Following graduation Balkarova hopes to attend graduate school or land a job in either the corporate world or in the European market.

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