Hey Gilles, you are studying International Tourism Management here at Karlshochschule. Please tell us why you chose the Tourism Management program and why at Karlshochschule? And more importantly: Do you regret your decision?
Well, everything started in 2012 with the “Foire de l’Etudiant” in Luxembourg, which is a fair that is being held every year in order to inform the future students on their possibilities of studying. By hazard, I found some interesting booths where they promoted Tourism studies and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to study tourism.
By coincidence, a contact of my father would have moved out of Karlsruhe at the end of 2013. In that regard, he asked me to check if there exist opportunities to study tourism there. Having done some online research, I found the website of Karlshochschule and gathered some infos of the study program “International Tourism Management”. Having gotten a glimpse of what Karlshochschule and the study program are about, I decided to come to the city on the 8th September 2012 for the Day of the Open Door.
Being at the university at that day, I knew that this was the place I would like to study after graduating from the Lycée. As bizarre as this sounds, but I somehow felt a connection between myself and the building at that time. I was never a very confident nor excelling person in any perspective, just a normal boy from a small country, but being at the university, assisting some trial lectures, speaking with the people around and hearing the university president talk about the Karls just made me want to become a part of this building. It just felt right being there.
Having said that, you can certainly imagine that my answer to your second question is no. In the last two years I have lived and studied here, I must say that I am very happy to have made this decision some years ago. Of course I could also have gone to other universities, without a doubt. Nevertheless, I believe for myself that having chosen Karlshochschule back then was, in any possible perspective, one of the best decisions I could have made.
Alright, let’s talk a little bit about tourism management. Do you have specific goals for your future? A kind of vision what you may do after your graduation party?
For the moment, I am thinking of starting to work after my graduation. I will be 22 by that time, so I think that will be a good time to start collecting experiences on a practical basis.
If everything turns out well I would like to work abroad for some time, preferably in some Spanish or English speaking country. Where exactly I do not know yet. I could imagine myself working for a big tourism organisation such as the IATA or the UNWTO. Nevertheless, I could also imagine myself working for some smaller businesses such as specialised travel agents or tour operators or even working outside the tourism industry. That’s actually the cool thing about this study program. Although I am studying tourism, it does not mean that I am bound to end up in the tourism industry. I still have other opportunities open, for example in human resources or project management.
To be honest, the position I want to occupy later is not that relevant for me. I want to work in a place where I am able to constantly learn new contents and where I can work together with nice people in a context which allows me to develop and become better in the work I do. That is what you could state as my “vision”.
So what is so special about studying at Karlshochschule and studying International Tourism? Can you share any special experience or aha moment with us?
In my opinion, there are 2 main things that make it special studying here, which are in my eyes the open-mindedness and the familiarity.
You can see this in everything you do here: you meet people from all over the world acting together in one building. You see professors and students talking along on the floor or sitting together in the cafés. You speak about topics like sex-tourism as it is the most normal thing in the world. Concerning your personal interests, the uni leaves you a big marge of freedom concerning your study projects. If you are more interested in analysing the airline industry for example, nobody will stand in your way. If you want to go for it, then go. But go full mood.
A special experience? There are so many! If I’d have to choose 2, it would be the Touring Consumption Conference in 2013, just when I started studying here. Back then I got the chance to talk with some very influential scientists from tourism like John Urry or Steve Miles. That experience certainly helped me alot to settle down faster in terms of scientific research and thinking abstractly.
The other experience was the visit of the WTM in London last November. This is one of the biggest tourism fairs in the world, which is usually not accessible for students. Through a contact of the head of our study program we nevertheless made our way into entry and got the chance to be right in the heart of the tourism industry. An amazing experience. When you are sitting next to the Minister of the Tourism Board of Guyana drinking rum and discussing about marketing concepts, then you know something special is happening. All in all a great experience as well.
How about Karlsruhe? Is it a city worth living? What do you like about Karlsruhe? And what not?
To be honest, in the beginning I hated Karlsruhe. When I came here for the day of the open door in 2012 I did not feel good at all here. I nevertheless decided to come because of this university.
Now, I have to say that I quite fell in love with the city and the region. Baden-Württemberg is such as great federal state with a lot of culture. You have everything you need here: good food, amazing beer, some quite acceptable wines and the warmest weather in Germany. As someone coming from Luxembourg I can really tell you that the weather is sunnier than at home, at least it feels so.
What I do not like about Karlsruhe? Well, I don’t like the architecture of the city. It is not the city with this “wow-effect” you get when you go for example to Heidelberg, Berlin, London or Paris. Furthermore, with all the construction sites, it is difficult to see the aesthetic beauty in here. If you can ignore that and concentrate on the nice things, then the place is quite amazing to live.
Thank you very much!